I just received the five AREXX RP6 robots that I ordered from Conrad Belgium. The robots looked pretty cool, but starting playing around, the real stress started.
No robot was calibrated, all five failed the self-test and stopped with an emergency shut-down (nice, btw, that they have such a thing).
No calibration means RTFM and tinker, so not a big deal in general. The RP6 PC-side software is written in Java and once running, it provides a great calibration tool!
Making it running on the other hand can be a bit of a challenge due to the practically non-existing support of RS-232 by Java. The existing open-source libraries are quite old and it’s a bit difficult to figure out what library for which processor type (32/64) to download from where and to copy to what place, depending of course on what operating system you use. Trial and error!
Once you got the clue, calibration should be a no-brainer. Unfortunately not in my case. The (known) weak point of the RP6 is the motor regulation potentiometer and in two of the robots, they were physically twisted. Two other potentiometers, of course in in different robots, where defective, so at the end, I ended up with two robots out of five good to be used in the G4G project.
Actually, I’m a bit under time pressure to get the simulation software finished in time, so no time to handle this right now, but once the event is over, I’ll get back to the guys to make clear that I’m not delighted about this quality issue.
Update 12/2011 and Happy End:
After the event, I contacted AREXX directly and they where as disappointed as I was about the issues with the delivered hardware. Seeing the posts on different robotics forums around the net, I really had bad luck, I have to admit.
They told me that they know about the quality problems having their origin at the suppliers in China (at the end, the low price for this complex robot has to come from somewhere) and this issue is currently being addressed. The RP6 will see a revision in 2012 with the goal to have a more stable hardware quality coming from the suppliers.
Beside of this, they sent me 5 pairs instead of the 4 single regulators that I modestly requested. No discussion, just quick help! That’s the way a client support has to work! Great Job, guys!
My five robots are working well now and I’m looking forward to what the year 2012 will bring to our little RP6.