Robobuilder at CES and New High Torque Servos

Korean company maker of Robot kits and servos designed for of articulated robots. Re-incarnation of Megarobotics.
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21 postsPage 2 of 21, 2

Post by Joe » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:47 pm

Post by Joe
Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:47 pm

Any news on the new servos?

Thanks,
- Joe
Any news on the new servos?

Thanks,
- Joe
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Post by PedroR » Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:30 am

Post by PedroR
Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:30 am

Hi Joe

I guess a year has now passed but Robobuilder hasn't yet geven us any definitive dates for release.

We know work is underway towards getting servos to production quality but they've really taken an ambitious project here: one of the servos has 150kgf of torque so I can imagine this needs a serious testing and improvement loop.

As I mentioned, we are not aware of any definitive dates at the moment.

Regards
Pedro.
Hi Joe

I guess a year has now passed but Robobuilder hasn't yet geven us any definitive dates for release.

We know work is underway towards getting servos to production quality but they've really taken an ambitious project here: one of the servos has 150kgf of torque so I can imagine this needs a serious testing and improvement loop.

As I mentioned, we are not aware of any definitive dates at the moment.

Regards
Pedro.
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Post by Joe » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:16 pm

Post by Joe
Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:16 pm

Thanks, Pedro — I appreciate the update even if there isn't much to say.

I love the RoboBuilder platform, but I worry sometimes about whether they're going to stick around... their competitors (currently) offer a wider range of servo strengths, allowing for an upgrade path for when you want to build a bigger/stronger/better robot. As long as RoboBuilder does not, it's going to be perceived as an entry-level platform only. To that problem, add that their support is weak, their website is awful, and they're virtually unknown here in the U.S. (I think that maybe I and two of my friends own the only three RoboBuilders in the country!), and it becomes hard to see how they stay in business.

But I do think they have a great product, so I'm going to stick with them as long as I can. I sure would love to see some servos in the 25 or 30 kg cm range, though!
Thanks, Pedro — I appreciate the update even if there isn't much to say.

I love the RoboBuilder platform, but I worry sometimes about whether they're going to stick around... their competitors (currently) offer a wider range of servo strengths, allowing for an upgrade path for when you want to build a bigger/stronger/better robot. As long as RoboBuilder does not, it's going to be perceived as an entry-level platform only. To that problem, add that their support is weak, their website is awful, and they're virtually unknown here in the U.S. (I think that maybe I and two of my friends own the only three RoboBuilders in the country!), and it becomes hard to see how they stay in business.

But I do think they have a great product, so I'm going to stick with them as long as I can. I sure would love to see some servos in the 25 or 30 kg cm range, though!
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Post by PedroR » Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:18 pm

Post by PedroR
Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:18 pm

Hi Joe

Robobuilder is REALLY popular in Korea (I've been there and seen it with my own eyes :) ) and it's also doing very well in Europe.

RoboSavvy is one of their lead distributors on this side of the world and we have offered direct support to all customers who buy from us.

You're not the first US user or potential US customer that mentions "poor support and poor penetration in the US".
I don't really know how that perception got into the US market but on our end, Robobuilder has always been very responsive and their products have been doing well.

I also believe that the fact that Trossen adding Robobuilder to their line up and a few months later dropping it completelly didn't really help its penetration in the US market.

I can tell you what I've told other US customers before: the early batches of Robobuilders experienced issues with gears breaking occasionally; that's a known fact.
Since then Robobuilder has upgraded the main gear on their servos to Metal and that has significantly improved reliability. We haven't had any such complaints after that upgrade.

Apart from that we get really low incidents with Robobuilder. I think that since we started selling them we've had 2 issues where we had tor replace the controller.
We keep both controllers as well as servos in stock so we're able to offer very fast response time for support requests.


Additionally, Robobuilder has been investing continuously on the platform using a two fold strategy:

1) On one hand they didn't release much of the protocol or C code in the first year and only gradually released this information into the public.
This allowed new interest to continue being drawn to the platform. Currently:
- there is a documented Serial API that lets you query and control the full robot (sensors, servos, play motions, etc) that is something no other Humanoid has out of the box

- Support for MSRDS (although the full Serial API is not exposed unfortunatelly).

- Community built .Net libraries (built by member l3v3rz) that encapsulate the serial protocol and let you control and query the Robot using a more powerful MCU.

- They've also released an Android APK to serve as Remote control for Robobuilders with Bluetooth (this is was released a year ago I believe).
There is also a second APK, contributed by forum member l3v3rz.

We also worked with them towards introducing intermidiate level options such as the Bluetooth module (1 unit for the Robot only). They didn't offer this option at the time of release (only sold it in pairs plus a serial board) but we worked together to bring it as new option and put a reasonable price tag on it.


2) On the other hand they've invested in adding new accessories to the platform.
The success of this strategy has been a bit limited in EU.

a. For a while we offered the possibility to upgrade the servos to Full Metal gears (which let you use a 3 cell Lipo and boost servo torque up to 14kg I believe)

b. They've also released a full Metal Brackets Kit

c. A Hip Kit has been added to extended the robto to 18 DoF

We used to stock all the options above but interest has been fading in option a. and b.
We believe this is mostly due to cost: Robobuilder is positioned as a value platform and if you start adding expensive extras you easily spend as much in extras as you spent on the Robot itself.

For that reason we're now investing more on partial Metal brackets kits which for this Christmas: we already have the Metal Fighting Forearms and we'll be finally adding Metal Chests (this is mostly modding).

On our end, we also need to do our homework and have been offering Packages of 5710 and 5720 that extend beyond the basic offer (addind Distance and Acc Sensors) and position the Robots closer to competing offers in terms of features (while retaining low price) and make them appealing to the EU user.

One of the keys for the success of Robobuilder on RoboSavvy was the fact that from day 1 we offered the Distance sensor with the 5710K (stock 5710Ks have no sensors at all (only Sound Sensor)).
It was not a big thing, but it made a huge impact in the way users perceived the Robot: at the time only Bioloid Comprehensive was out with 3x IR Sensor and Sound Sensor so we were able to approximate the 5710K in terms of features by adding the Distance Sensor.


Today we still work on new packs and features and we're preparing new offers for Christmas, going back to basis and all the way up to full extras.

It's a continuous work but I personally believe and like the Robobuilder platform for the fact that it's affordable and offers a wide range of options for Beginners to advanced users with a very smooth learning curve.


Sorry for the long post... I tend to get a bit excited about Robobuilder but I hope I was able to clarify the current status with Robobuilder.

You do have a point though: their roadmap for other products keeps changing unfortunately and they often get ahead of themselves announcing products for which they don't yet have a release date.

Announcing a 150kgf servo is not for the faint of heart so I assume they're hard at work on it.

Regards
Hi Joe

Robobuilder is REALLY popular in Korea (I've been there and seen it with my own eyes :) ) and it's also doing very well in Europe.

RoboSavvy is one of their lead distributors on this side of the world and we have offered direct support to all customers who buy from us.

You're not the first US user or potential US customer that mentions "poor support and poor penetration in the US".
I don't really know how that perception got into the US market but on our end, Robobuilder has always been very responsive and their products have been doing well.

I also believe that the fact that Trossen adding Robobuilder to their line up and a few months later dropping it completelly didn't really help its penetration in the US market.

I can tell you what I've told other US customers before: the early batches of Robobuilders experienced issues with gears breaking occasionally; that's a known fact.
Since then Robobuilder has upgraded the main gear on their servos to Metal and that has significantly improved reliability. We haven't had any such complaints after that upgrade.

Apart from that we get really low incidents with Robobuilder. I think that since we started selling them we've had 2 issues where we had tor replace the controller.
We keep both controllers as well as servos in stock so we're able to offer very fast response time for support requests.


Additionally, Robobuilder has been investing continuously on the platform using a two fold strategy:

1) On one hand they didn't release much of the protocol or C code in the first year and only gradually released this information into the public.
This allowed new interest to continue being drawn to the platform. Currently:
- there is a documented Serial API that lets you query and control the full robot (sensors, servos, play motions, etc) that is something no other Humanoid has out of the box

- Support for MSRDS (although the full Serial API is not exposed unfortunatelly).

- Community built .Net libraries (built by member l3v3rz) that encapsulate the serial protocol and let you control and query the Robot using a more powerful MCU.

- They've also released an Android APK to serve as Remote control for Robobuilders with Bluetooth (this is was released a year ago I believe).
There is also a second APK, contributed by forum member l3v3rz.

We also worked with them towards introducing intermidiate level options such as the Bluetooth module (1 unit for the Robot only). They didn't offer this option at the time of release (only sold it in pairs plus a serial board) but we worked together to bring it as new option and put a reasonable price tag on it.


2) On the other hand they've invested in adding new accessories to the platform.
The success of this strategy has been a bit limited in EU.

a. For a while we offered the possibility to upgrade the servos to Full Metal gears (which let you use a 3 cell Lipo and boost servo torque up to 14kg I believe)

b. They've also released a full Metal Brackets Kit

c. A Hip Kit has been added to extended the robto to 18 DoF

We used to stock all the options above but interest has been fading in option a. and b.
We believe this is mostly due to cost: Robobuilder is positioned as a value platform and if you start adding expensive extras you easily spend as much in extras as you spent on the Robot itself.

For that reason we're now investing more on partial Metal brackets kits which for this Christmas: we already have the Metal Fighting Forearms and we'll be finally adding Metal Chests (this is mostly modding).

On our end, we also need to do our homework and have been offering Packages of 5710 and 5720 that extend beyond the basic offer (addind Distance and Acc Sensors) and position the Robots closer to competing offers in terms of features (while retaining low price) and make them appealing to the EU user.

One of the keys for the success of Robobuilder on RoboSavvy was the fact that from day 1 we offered the Distance sensor with the 5710K (stock 5710Ks have no sensors at all (only Sound Sensor)).
It was not a big thing, but it made a huge impact in the way users perceived the Robot: at the time only Bioloid Comprehensive was out with 3x IR Sensor and Sound Sensor so we were able to approximate the 5710K in terms of features by adding the Distance Sensor.


Today we still work on new packs and features and we're preparing new offers for Christmas, going back to basis and all the way up to full extras.

It's a continuous work but I personally believe and like the Robobuilder platform for the fact that it's affordable and offers a wide range of options for Beginners to advanced users with a very smooth learning curve.


Sorry for the long post... I tend to get a bit excited about Robobuilder but I hope I was able to clarify the current status with Robobuilder.

You do have a point though: their roadmap for other products keeps changing unfortunately and they often get ahead of themselves announcing products for which they don't yet have a release date.

Announcing a 150kgf servo is not for the faint of heart so I assume they're hard at work on it.

Regards
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Post by Joe » Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:37 am

Post by Joe
Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:37 am

Thanks again, Pedro. It's encouraging to hear that the platform is doing so well overseas.

Since you're trying to help it along with your own store, I have a suggestion for you: put out articles/products that emphasize what a great servo (or continuous-rotation motor!) the wCK is in its own right. Make an Arduino plug-in for it, or just show how to speak to it with the standard serial component. Then show how you can start out with just a couple of servos and make a 2-wheeled bot. Oh yeah, you might need to make some wheels for it too. :) Or make a simple 5DOF robot arm kit. There's so much it can do, but I think people don't realize how versatile and powerful it is even without the RBC module.

Best,
- Joe
Thanks again, Pedro. It's encouraging to hear that the platform is doing so well overseas.

Since you're trying to help it along with your own store, I have a suggestion for you: put out articles/products that emphasize what a great servo (or continuous-rotation motor!) the wCK is in its own right. Make an Arduino plug-in for it, or just show how to speak to it with the standard serial component. Then show how you can start out with just a couple of servos and make a 2-wheeled bot. Oh yeah, you might need to make some wheels for it too. :) Or make a simple 5DOF robot arm kit. There's so much it can do, but I think people don't realize how versatile and powerful it is even without the RBC module.

Best,
- Joe
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Post by PedroR » Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:40 am

Post by PedroR
Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:40 am

Thank you for your suggestion Joe.

The servos are indeed very good in terms of protocol and capability.
They are however a bit expensive compared to chinese RC servos (which also work with Arduino) and we always felt customer interest in them - for this reason - might be a bit limited.

That's mainly the reason why we haven't invested in producing software and documentation for use with Arduino although this is definitely possible.

We will have a new team member dedicating to tech projects and I'll make sure to add your suggestion to his To Do list :)

Regards
Thank you for your suggestion Joe.

The servos are indeed very good in terms of protocol and capability.
They are however a bit expensive compared to chinese RC servos (which also work with Arduino) and we always felt customer interest in them - for this reason - might be a bit limited.

That's mainly the reason why we haven't invested in producing software and documentation for use with Arduino although this is definitely possible.

We will have a new team member dedicating to tech projects and I'll make sure to add your suggestion to his To Do list :)

Regards
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