Just about a year ago we were invited to a private seminar put on by Kondo introducing the RCB-3HV robot controller, and we have to admit we were really impressed. Our initial enthusiasm was validated by the extremely positive market response to the KHR-2HV, KHR-1HV, and MANOI AT01 robot kits that use versions of the controller.
Not willing to sit back and relax, during the past 12 months Kondo has been working hard to improve and enhance the controller. Now they are ready to take the wraps off an updated version of the controller firmware that offers significant performance improvement while adding new programming flexibility. We spent Sunday afternoon at the Kondo RoboSpot facility in Akihabara getting briefed, and having the controller for our MANOI AT01 updated.
We need to point out that this is a new version of the RCB-3HV controller, and does not apply to the RCB-3J controller - at least not at this time. Kondo will be posting more information on the update process for existing boards on their website.
The upgrade includes some really exciting features that enhance the robots performance considerably. And, like many upgrades of this magnitude, some of the functionality isn't backward compatible.
Here are some of the changes and improvements that impressed us:
- The speed that motion sequence branch objects are processed has been increase considerably, which allows faster response and tighter motions, but it means that existing motion sequences will need to be adjusted to compensate when they are moved to the new version. Kondo's documentation seems to cover the process well, and includes several explanatory diagrams.
- SET objects have new 'jump' capability that will improve program flexibility, and complexity considerably. This allows SET objects to setup jumps from one motion to another, or to return to the original motion.
- A new MIX object provides for changes to the mix settings within the program flow, and may be useful when you want to turn off the gyros during certain moves or routines.
- A "Trim Position" has been created that is similar to the Home Position in some respects but allows for a separate base operating position. While logically it seems like a very good approach, and should prove very useful, it's going to take us a while to get our head around this particular aspect.
- A function that we're going to call 'interpolation' for lack of a better term at the moment. Select two POS objects, then in the pull-down menu click the 'interpolation' selection. It prompts for the number of intermediate POS objects you want to create - for example, "3" - and then creates them in between the two existing objects.
- Additional parameter functionality that should prove useful when you want to transfer motion sequences between robot types - say from a MANOI AT01 to a KHR-1HV.
- The ability to create and save more data, including LINKs in files, and apply them later.
- The ability to create templates.
The video clip below should give you a good feel for what can be accomplished with the new functionality. The robot is a KHR-1HV equipped with the new controller firmware. This particular robot also has KRS-2350HV servos installed in the legs, though that is not related to the controller update.
Unfortunately we didn't have our regular video camera with us, so we took this with a digital camera in video mode, so the quality isn't as good as we would have liked.
Kondo Robo Spot Website (Japanese)
Kondo Robot Website (Japanese)