Here's the scenario: A few years ago we bought a Kondo KHR-1 (the original version) and took a two day class covering how to assemble, test, and program the humanoid robot. As fate would have it, we also had the opportunity to sit in on a pre-release private seminar on the RCB-3 robot controller board. The board was released for sale within about a month, and was quickly followed by the new KHR-2HV humanoid robot that used the controller board.
Now, a couple years later, Kondo has just announced a brand new controller board, the KCB-1, that looks pretty sweet, at least from the published specifications (see below). Will history repeat itself? Will Kondo release a hot new humanoid robot in the near future? It's any body's guess. We don't have any inside info on this one, but we would sure love to...
The new KCB-1, which we assume stands for Kondo Controller Board, is a significant departure from it's predecessors like the RCB-1 and RCB-3. For example, it doesn't have two dozen servo connectors packed in tight on the board. Instead, it supports serial servos, specifically the Kondo KRS-4xxx serial servo series. It also features 6 general purpose programmable I/O ports, and 4 of them can be configured for PWM output
Of even more interest, the new controller board has 7 analog input ports. This is an area where Kondo has traditionally been very weak, and the RCB-3 took a lot of criticism because of its extremely limited sensor input specs. Kondo seems determined to respond to, and overcome, that weakness.
Kondo has announced two KCB-1 configurations. The first configuration (#03000) includes the controller board, starter CD-ROM including the SDK, and a serial USB adapter. This particular configuration will retail for 12,600 yen (roughly USD$115). The second configuration (#03002) comes without the serial-USB adapter, and will retail for 9,450 yen (roughly US$86).
So, what does Kondo have in mind for this new robot controller? Will it be the basis for an exciting new humanoid robot from Kondo? Or, will it be positioned as an add-on to be used in conjunction with the RCB-3? Who is Kondo specifically targeting with the new board?
There are at least two strong possibilities, perhaps more. First, from earlier technical briefings, we believe that the Kondo and Futaba serial servo formats are compatiable, if not completely identical. And, the Futaba RBT-1 (HPI G-Robot in Japan) was an excellent example of what can be accomplished, at relatively low cost, by applying serial servos to humanoid robot design.
Second, Robotis, with the popular Bioloid robot kits that use a serial servo design, has a strong group of supporters and advocates world wide. They cannot be ignored.
It's going to be interesting to find out. Thankfully, we probably won't have to wait very long. ROBO-ONE 13 is coming up in almost exactly one month. Several of the top ROBO-ONE competitors happen to work for Kondo for their 'day-jobs'. Given the timing of the KCB-1 release, it's likely that we'll find one, or more, KCB-1 boards in actual use during the competition.
- Size: 30 x 35 mm
- CPU: Renesas Technology Corp M16C - timer, A/D converter, serial port, 64kB FlashROM, 2 KB RAM, SDK available.
- Programmable I/O Ports: 6 general purpose input-and-output ports (PIO). HIGH (5V), LOW (0 v). 4 ports can be setup for PWM from a PIO port.
- Analog Inputs: 7 analog input ports for use with accelerometers, gyro sensors, etc.
- External Storage: 2 EEPROMS, 1 MHz clock, storage capacity of 128 KB each.
- Serial Servo Ports: Serial servos (KRS-4014 for example) can be controlled via the S101 (4 terminals) and S102 (2 terminals) serial I/O ports.
Integrated Development Environment-
- Integrated Development Environment HEW (Renesas Technology Corp)
- Sample program library organized by function
- Reference manual
- KCB-1 SDK development library (C language), includes commented source code and program examples.
Note: At this point all information on the KCB-1 addresses only the Japanese domestic market. There is no indication so far as to when the new robot controller would be released outside of Japan.