Welcome to Synthiam!

Program robots using technologies created from industry experts. ARC is our free-to-use robot programming software that makes features like vision recognition, navigation and artificial intelligence easy.

Get Started
Asked — Edited

Roboard RB-100 & EZ-B ?

First off I want to say I am a big fan of Mr. Sures and am SO grateful there is someone making these kind of products available to the robot hobbyist.

My goal is to build a self contained autonomous roving robot.
Can I hook up the EZ-B to a RoBoard RB-100 or RoBoard RB-110 running Windows XP over bluetooth?
If so that would be super awesome because of the small form factor but I thought I should ask here before I go and experiment.
Thanks in advance!

I was planning on using a mini-itx board to achieve the same goal but I'm really diggin' the RoBoard's little bag of tricks.

You may not need to bother with bluetooth in your scenario. You should be able to unplug the BT module on the top of the EZ-B and plug in a suitable serial module to connect to the RoBoard. We've been discussing this possibility over here but have yet to test it.

I say get the boards and start experimenting!
Thank you:D

The original plan of the ez-b was to be an embedded programmable system.... Until I realized the potential of combining the PC processing and peripheral power with a microcontroller. This introduced features like voice recognition and camera tracking, for example.

I had considered embedding a mini itx board in one of my larger robot shells (omnibot). I kiboshed the idea after considering the downfalls. Instead, I spent $200 and purchased a brand new laptop from Best Buy. I call it my "robo-top". It boots right into ARC and has the EZB files for my robots. I have absolutely no other programs on it. It uses a micro usb bluetooth adapter for communication to the EZ-B's of my robots.

By using a laptop, which some may perceive as an inconvenience, I feel the opposite.

The laptop lets me visually control, modify, create, tweak, etc... The robots in real time. Plus, it's small enough to carry around without getting in the way. Showing people the robot's ARC project configuration and camera view receives great attention from interaction.

Also, because I have many robots, switching between them on one computer is very easy. I keep building robots, and adding more project files to the robotop:D

Additionally, if the PC is embedded within the robot, voice recognition becomes a bit hairy. The microphone needs high amplification to hear your voice, therefore it amplifies internal noises from servos and motors which causes interference.

The camera color tracking module "sometimes" requires a bit of human intervention for specific lighting conditions. My first algorithm would normalize the colored image which would automatically determine the brightness of the specified color. Many color tracking examples in practice use this theory. However, I created a brightness slider that modifies the variable for a complicated equation to remove false positives. The visual display comes handy when fine tuning the slider for odd lighting conditions.

So I guess what I'm saying is weigh the pro's and con's of an embedded system controlling the EZ-B:)

I'd love to hear what your robot project is
Thanks for the heads up radmeck!:)
It sounds like we might want similar capabilities for our robots. It might be creatively beneficial to collaborate and or compare notes since we would be the first to do this kind of configuration as far as I know.
But to be honest the 256MB of memory on the RoBoard scares me a little. I wonder if it will be enough to run all the applications compatible with the EZ-B.

I have been 'hacking' the Hasbro Interactive R2-D2 (Designed by Creature Labs). I have several units and have a empty shell which I was going to use to update the already advanced droid.
I wanted to recreate what they did with there R2 from the ground up in a new unit and add additional functions for pie panel flipping and such in the dome.

Heres a video of some of my cosmetic/circuit mods to the Interactive R2-D2:
Geez! How did you come across so many R2D2 shells? I was probing the net a while ago and they were very pricey... You can do so much with the EZ-B and ARC in a R2D2 platform! I'm hardcore jealous:D

If you really want to get craaaaazy, then consider throwing on of these Eyeclops VIdeo Projectors into the R2 unit so it can project princess leia videos on the wall:D Those projectors are super cheap and very tiny!

Also throw in one of the webcams and use the camera tracking to follow a red ball or something. Then you can take him for walks down the street and he'll follow you. Man, so many wicked ideas with an R2 unit!
Lol, great minds think alike.
I use the SHowWX+ Laser pico projector from Microvision to display the Leia hologram from my R2 unit because it never needs to be focused and can fit in the body cavity of R2. (I'll post a video tonight or tomorrow.)
I am really excited to play with everything once I get everything in. I'll keep everyone posted.
taoworm23, impressive work on the R2!

Yeah, 256MB of memory probably wouldn't be up to snuff for Windows development. I've been going back on forth on the whole issue of an embedded PC, weighing the pros and cons based on what I'm trying to achieve - pretty much as DJ described them.

I was planning on using RDP or Logmein from my laptop to access/control an embedded PC in my Omnibot. That way I can still use my laptop for work/development/other robots while the Omnibot goes on his autonomously merry way. I've put the idea on the back burner for now while I focus on other things.

DJ, I was planning on mounting a 4-mic array around the Omnibot's neck so he can respond and turn towards you when you speak to him. I was hoping that mounting them high and pointing up would help with background noise. Also, if he's moving and hears his name (may have to yell it due to motor noise) he could pause and wait for further instruction...

taoworm23, looking forward to more of R2!
Thanks radmeck!
Well the way I am going to tackle voice recognition in my motor driven robot is to do exactly what they did to solve the same problem with the Interactive R2.

R2 performs a skit or action or phrase and then turns his voice recognition mode on to listen again. If he says something else or does a movement he temporarily turns it off.
(The Interactive R2D2 was written in less than 16,000 lines of code.)
I was going to implement the same feature in my robot as well so as to keep a robust voice recognition system in the body of the robot without the motor noise interfering with him hearing commands.

What do you think?
That sounds similar to what I was thinking. If at all possible I'd want voice recognition to be active at all times for the sake of realistic interaction. Due to motor noise concerns, etc. my thought was that he would be limited to specific commands when in the process of performing a command (rather than turning off voice recognition entirely). That way I could yell "STOP" or "DISENGAGE" to cancel the current action and then have him listen for the full command set.

Oh, and was that an Ultimate or a U-Command WALL-E in the background of the video?
It's a Ultimate Wall-E. I now own 2. I just bought another because the former one broke his neck shaft lock on the bottom of his eyes. He will be used as replacement parts should my new Ultimate Wall-E ever need it.:)
Excellent... I picked one up a few months ago on eBay. I haven't worked up the nerve to crack him open yet but I have a few ideas on how I eventually want to modify him. I'm saving him for some point in the future while I hone my skills on the smaller bots...

Have you done any mods yet? One thing I'd really like to do is replace his solar charge panel with an LCD that displays his charge level the same way it does in the movie, complete with startup sound. After a quick search it appears that the LCD from a 2.4" digital photo stand fits the bill nicely:

Might be a good platform to collaborate on!
United Kingdom
Noisy blighter isn't he?

That is a brill idea to utilise a digtal photo frame!!

Other ideas I have had are

Laser Pico projector Clicky doesn't need focussing a bit expensive though but ultra cool to have your bot play a movie for you

Laser keyboard Clicky cheaper but just as awesome

And finally adding a Microsoft Kinect as in the Turtle Bot and ROS operating system

. Great for seeing and mapping in 3D the Kinect also has a very sofisticated microphone array and Microsoft have released an SDK for it

Loads to play with!!
I think I saw that turtlebot at maker faire. it came over when ppl were interacting with omnibot. it's given me some ideas for the kinect module in ARC:D
Oh great, now I need to buy a Kinect!

Was the TurtleBot jealous of the attention Omnibot was getting?

There should be some sort of universal robotics component that allows all bots to instantly recognize (and be drawn to) other bots, similar to how most living things tend to behave towards others of the same species. Would make for an interesting Maker Faire...
This is a great place to see people modding and working on robots. Anyone from Ohio?
Pennsylvania Here! All the way over on the Southeastern side...