Robonova-1 humanoid robot kit from Korean RC-servo company Hitec was introduced to the Japanese market a year after KHR-1 humanoid robot kit was first launched from competitor company Kondo. Between July 2004 through the end of 2005, Kondo sold over 3500 units of KHR-1 out of which it is estimated that not more than a couple of hundred units were sold outside of Japan and Korea.
Hitec engineers were very much inspired by KHR-1 to the extent that many of the Robonova-1 building blocks seem to be almost identical to its rival. Nevertheless, Robonova-1 is an evolution from KHR-1. It is easier to build, its software is more comprehensive, and it looks and feels a bit less like a bunch of servos hacked together by some aluminum brackets.
Robonova comes in a very nicely planned and finished box about 30x40x10cm weighing about 2.5kg. The CE logo appears on the side of the box. This is an indication of one major evolution from Kondo's KHR-1. It means that Hitec have taken the European market seriously and expect to sell many hundreds of units in the European Community. The CE certification process can cost several thousand Euros/Dollars, it can be done outside of Europe, it can imply the destruction of several units of the product, it can imply changing of some components or manufacturing process of components and it is essential for any company wanting to wholesale in EC market. CE requirements for a mechanical and electronic product that comes in kit form, which is not intended to be used by children under 14, can be a bit vague. It would imply compliance with radio frequency emission regulations, refrained use of certain toxic materials, covering of any exposed electrical or electronic components and maybe ensuring that sufficiently smooth parts are used on the outside parts of the item. The CE logo means that the importer and seller of the item can produce on demand, some papers describing what kind of tests have been conducted to the product and show that sufficient care has been taken to ensure safe use of the item as instructed. If someone gets hurt from use of the product as directed, although Europe has not yet adopted the American suing culture culture, one may have a more difficult time claiming damages from the importer if the product has really undergone CE certification.
As you can see, the items in the kit are neatly packed and easily identifiable against the inventory list in the manual. The kit comes with a remote control like RoboSapien and the keys can obviously be mapped to pre-programmed movement sequences. This is an European kit and it comes with a separate box containing the battery charger. More about this in the following pages.
The screws come inside about 15 little marked plastic bags. There are supposedly just the right number of screws , washers and bolts to build the robot and a small bag with some extras just in case. Don't know if it was a mistake in the manual, the fault of the people who assembled the box or our construction but we were left with extras. In the early 70's it was fashionably geek (so i heard) to completely disassemble your portable Sony radio just to understand how it works. Whenever you reassembled it back, you'd be left with spare parts although the reconstructed radio would still work. It was then theorized that if you repeat this process enough times, you eventually end up with two radios.
Even though this kit is certainly not for his age group, I summoned the help of my 11 year old brother in the construction of the robot with the hope that it will get him interested in robotics. Most of the work revolves around inserting and and later extracting and re-inserting about 200 screws.
Each servo is marked with a number ranging from 1-12. There are a total of 16 HSR-8498HB2 servos. Number 2 and 4 appear on 3 servos each. The differences between the servo boxes is in their casing and right/left symmetry.