Kondo GENEX Robot Suit Review by CrabFu
I-Wei, the founder, designer, and resident mad-scientist behind all those wonderful steam robot creations from CrabFu Steamworks, has been bitten by the humanoid robot bug really hard. It's become much more than just a hobby or passing interest, it's his primary passion and perhaps even obsession.
Right after RoboGames 2007 in June, he purchased a Kondo KHR-2HV and started his humanoid adventure. It wasn't long before he had the robot performing realistic moves that would make some of the top ROBO-ONE builders green with envy. And, through a constant stream of 'why?', 'how come?', and 'what if?' questions he
pestered inspired us into developing a series of software applications/tools for the Kondo robot products.
His most recent project with the robot was to assemble the Kondo A-621 "GENEX" robot suit, and in the process he also created a very straight forward set of LED eyes for his humanoid companion. We're very pleased that he shared his complete product review (see below) including the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of this new Kondo option.
Kit: A-621 GENEX suit for Kondo KHR-2HV
Material: Polycarbonate, plastic, and screws & fittings.
Requires: Kondo KHR-2HV, Kondo "Tub Feet" Model number 01162khr
equipment needed to complete the kit: lexan/polycarbonate scissors and reamer, screwdriver.
The GENEX suit is made from vacuum formed Polycarbonate, it is pre-painted, and requires cutting. Here you will find the body shell parts, manual, sticker sheet, plastic parts for the head and hands, and various fittings for you 2HV.
The body shell pieces are made from Polycarbonate, which is basically the same as "Lexan" that most R/C model bodies are made from. The material is what soda bottles are made from, vacuum formed, and is extremely light, flexible, and durable. The GENEX suit is painted from the inside, leaving the outside shinny and glossy. This is what most R/C models bodies are finished as well. If you scratch the outside, the paint and color will remain, and is very difficult to see the scratches. If you are not familiar with these lexan shells, your first impression will probably be that this is flimsy and cheap. Yes it is, but it is also very durable. If you've ever drop a plastic soda bottle, you know how tough this stuff is to crack, for being so thin. The material must be light as not to effect the center of gravity of the robot, as well as strong enough to not crack and break when the robot falls. So Polycarbonate is probably the best choice for the job.
What to expect:
I'm sure somewhere in the Japanese manual, it says "subject to change without notice", because there are some differences between the photos in the manual and box, the press photos that you see floating around the web, and what you actually get in the kit. LED eyes are not included, neither are the tub feet (it will not mount to the stock 2hv feet). There are other subtle differences in the hands, the head, and the arms, from the stock photos.
My kit came with 2 of the same part for the arms, only upper arm parts, no lower arms. The manual shows the cutting and mounting of the illusive lower arm shell. This is not a huge deal, as the wrong part fits, but would have been nice to get exactly what you'd expect. After contacting Trossen Robotics (where I bought it from), they generously offered to replace the part from one of their other kits, and deal with Kondo about the problem..... Awesome customer service! But it turned out that every kit in their stock had the same issue. Either Kondo has a poor QA department, or decided to change out the part because it is so similar?
The feet.... you need the tub feet to complete this kit. The feet body shells mounts to the holes on the side of the optional plastic "Tub Feet" (Model number 01162khr). The stock 2HV feet are aluminum, without the mounting holes for the Polycarbonate feet parts. The stock feet are rectangular, and are slightly too big around the corners.
It looks simple, but actually took me a few hours to put it all together. The instruction manual is in Japanese (which I can't read), but has many nicely printed pictures. The pictures are a bit small, so be careful that you make the correct cuts... there is no going back! The body has lots of difficult corners to cut, so I strongly recommend special Lexan scissors and reamer for the job, they are well worth it. If you use normal scissors, you risk scraping the silver paint off of the inside with the tip. Normal scissors are also a pain to cut these tight curves and corners... trust me, I've ruined up many R/C body shells before.... use special scissors. It's a bit easier if you cut small sections, instead of trying to complete the cut all the way around. Lexan reamers also come in handy. You can use a drill instead of a reamer, but center punching lexan can be risky, and drilling without slipping on the smooth surface can also be challenging. Special scissors and reamer can be purchased from your local R/C hobby shop for around $10-$15, for the set.
The kit contains inner and outer shell parts. The inner parts are not visible when assembled, they are simply mounts between the 2HV and the suit. To mount the pieces to the servo, and the inner and outer body parts together, the kit uses servo tape. Servo tape is very strong, yet removable, so it will not have any problem staying on. The shell has a clear protective cover, just like R/C model bodies, or like the chest and back covers of the stock 2HV. The protective cover is to protect the outside of the shell during painting, and need to be removed. Make sure that you remove it BEFORE mounting or applying stickers!!! otherwise they will peal off as soon as the protective cover wears off. The Japanese manual has lots of pics, but does not show an example of pealing the protective cover off!
As part of the build, you have to replace the stock shell mounting posts with the new longer mounts. This was a bit of work to install, requiring the removal of the front aluminum body plate, but it is well worth it. The little tabs on the posts on the chest holds the top aluminum plate down! This may not sound like a big deal, unless you own a 2HV and know how much of a pain it is to fuss with the top plate every time you change the battery. There is quite a bit of room in the chest and back covers, no problem fitting the upgraded 800 mAh battery (a tight fit with the stock 2HV chest cover). I have the KRR1 receiver, and 2 gyros installed, and the suit fit over them with room to spare. However, the suit completely covers up the shoulder handles holes, which I was using for a safety harness. In time I will probably cut the body to modify it for the harness, as I like working on motions hands free.
LED eyes mod:
Not content to wait for kondo to release a LED eyes upgrade. I decided to rig up the eyes myself by using a LED mini key chain flashlight. The flashlight had 2 LED's, and I simply soldered long extension wires, and taped the flashlight on the lower back with servo tape. The LED's were fixed to the eye holes using servo tape as well, and ran the wires through the back cover. This allowed for simple on and off of the LED's without using the main battery. The unit is also small and light enough to not effect the center of gravity for the motions. LED's don't eat up much juice, so if Kondo comes out with the LED upgrade kit for it, I'll probably loose this rig and go with that.... as long as it has an on/off switch
With all of the issues associated with the suit, I have to say it was well worth it to me, once I saw the final product. It just looks awesome, and the body did not effect the full range of motion for any of the servos. Is it worth the high price for the kit? you are paying a lot of money for very low cost of materials, but it's the price you pay to get this level of polish for your 2HV. The GENEX suit is a beautiful makeover for your 2HV. The smooth and shinny body makes the whole robot seem more finished. It's looks so perfect, like everyone else's GENEX 2HV..... I wished that Kondo had an option of an unpainted, but cheaper version, so that you can give it a custom paint job. People love to personalize what they love, and humanoids are no exception. It is possible to paint the outside of the shell, but after paying the price for the kit, it's a bit too nerve wrecking for me to try. It would also become more prone to paint scratches as compared to painting inside of the body.
- Beautiful design
- Quality parts, nicely painted
- Longer body posts keeps the top aluminum plate in place
- Provides plenty of space for the battery and optional gear
- Full range of servo travel without any binding
- Expensive as heck!
- Only comes pre-painted in silver
- Does not come with LED eye s
- Need to be used with the optional tub feet, not included
- Upper and lower arm shell parts are the same part
- Covers up the shoulder harness holes