ArcBotics Metal Gears and Custom Servos


#1

Hey everyone!

Just thought you guys might like to know we’re in the process of two things:
1.) I’ve successfully found the factory that makes the hobbyking metal gear servos, got samples, tested them, and have negotiated a pretty decent rate for them to make our own servos!

We’re still trying to figure out how to offer an upgrade path for existing users, and how to sell kits going forward. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve stopped selling all colors but blue. This lets us mass-manufacture at a factory now without having to worry about keeping wacky inventory numbers of 7 different colors. Blue was accounting for ~40% of sales anyway, and we haven’t noticed a dip in sales since we stopped selling anyway.

Our current thought is to offer a discounted packs to existing hexy owners, and then to offer both plastic and metal gear kits. (metal gear being $300 vs $250 plastic). If it turns out we’re selling metal gear as much as we sell plastic gears or more, we’ll just switch entirely to metal gear.

We’ll let you know when we start getting shipments in - I’m sure more than a few people would be interested.

Now the bonus: We are also getting some factory samples made of special ‘servos’ made. These are less servos than fancy gear boxes with built-in pots already attached, as we’re ripping the controller board out. Each one would have 5 wires coming out (two for motor, 3 for the potentiometer). The idea is that control would be way better (and servos cheaper) if control was off-boarded to one or more processors on a central board. While it makes for a more complicated central control board, this would be awesome because it would make each ‘servo’ programmable and let you start doing fancy stuff, like position readings (poses anyone?) or even footfall detection. With raw pot data and motor control, the sky’s the limit.


#2

+1 for feedback control of the motors being handled by some custom electronics. I’d suggest that foot-fall detection should be very achievable with this. Of course, your controller board will have to provide 19 different voltages @ power current levels to control each of these. Hmm, methinks some challenges await.

Q: does this mean that I can claim my (red) Hexy is a limited edition model?


#3

I eagerly await!

a servo upgrade – gives me servos to use on other projects – awesome!

gear motors with encoders?, woot! cool options.
Tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough :smiley:


#4

This should give you guys a good idea what I mean by “pivotable” hole on the bottom

We’re also looking at just having the potentiometer wire broken out and leaving the electronics in. On further examination, unless you want a ridiculously large board because you’re using all those 5x1 0.1" header pins, you have to use a custom connector. That would mean the board would be pretty incompatible with any other servo (also the ‘servo’ incompatible with any other board). I’ll be investigating to see how much a pain it would be to get custom electronics made that you can stuff inside the servo. If we can do that, it’d avoid the problem by letting you use 4 pins for uart (or 3 wires if you wanted to get fancy and use 1-wire).


#5

I think the best idea would be to leave the electronics inside the servo and just pull out the pot wires out. No need for new electronics board that can handle the servo. You would just need a few analog pins for the pots if im understanding this correctly.


#6

Great news on the servos!

… are these the servos that you’ll have available?

adafruit.com/products/1404


#7

Even better! (and cheaper). They’ve be metal gear, strong, and we’re aiming for $6 retail.

Yeah, I have to admit I kind of shat a brick when I saw they came out with those, though.

But basically, yeah, that’s the idea. Imagine being able to calibrate your Hexy just by moving it into place, or capturing move by posing it.

Hexy, or say, a humanoid robot… :wink:


#8

Any updates?
been really needing to replace the plastic servos


#9

Yes! We’ve gotten the samples, tested them, nailed down our plan with the factory, and are getting injection molding tooling started to make the custom plastic bottoms. We’re still discussing how long it will take exactly, but we should have an estimate in a couple of days. Even cooler: We’re going to be doing a factory tour on Monday. I’ll be the annoying white guy taking tons of pictures, which I’ll be posting on the blog (I’m getting more serious about communicating with you guys more, I just spent a few hours cleaning it all up last night).


#10

that’s great news… i cant wait… hoping the price comes down a bit but eithereway they sound like they are going to be highly durable servos and im gonna want em :slight_smile:

on a side note i have been checking in here and there but your blog page does seem to have and RSS feed

do you think it would be a huge deal for you to add RSS to your blog page? i try and follow many project companies and stuff like Arcbotics and when they have something i can stick in my news reader (rss reader) it makes it so much easier for me to keep up with what you guys are doing. Especially now that the Kickstarter stuff is in the past its a good way to help get your stuff out there. Mailing lists are an option but i prefer RSS feeds personally


#11

We’ll definitely be offering a discount option for existing Hexy users, probably something along the lines of a coupon code. It will probably be a hair more expensive than hobby king, but we’re also offering the analog feedback.

RSS feed is: arcbotics.com/feed/

I’ve updated the sidebar appropriately to now show RSS/Facebook/Twitter.


#12

well i think that discount would make it quite reasonable for a good quality item… thanks

Also i appreciate the update for the feed… now i can keep a better eye on your news and updates. cant wait to read more


#13

Okay, we started production and they’re projected to be done 35 days from today. We’ll start taking even further discounted pre-orders soon. We should have it all sorted about by Monday, which will time nicely with the factory tour. I’ll lay out how to pre-order in a blog post then.

Yay! Its finally happening :smiley:. Seriously, this has taken months of detective work and haggling. Should be worth it though, the samples have been super awesome to work with, especially in prototyping the new humanoid.


#14

Okay, servo factory was awesome! We’re going to be adding the analog feedback to all future hexys after this current batch, and to all servo replacements once our existing stock sells out, too. Blog post about the tour in a day or two. I would have had it out sooner, but Sparki is design is sooo close to being done.

We’ll be selling metal replacements for $10 per servo, $9 if you preorder, with an additional $3 per servo off for existing Hexy owners (you’ll have to email us for a coupon code).


#15

so for existing customers and KS backers, a full set of replacement servos should be $108 right?

From your post it seems these new servos will become standard on all new Hexy’s? assuming that will cause the base price of the hexy to increase?


Tips for Reducing Servo Failure
#16

Analog feedback plastic gear servos will now be standard. Metal gears will not.

Yes for existing Hexy customers wanting metal gears for all leg servos, $6x18 = $108.


#17

They’re up for sale!
arcbotics.com/2013/08/new-servos/


#18

yay! just waiting on coupon code


#19

Hey so quick question

Will I be able to simply just replace the original servos with the metal gear ones without having to mod the existing hardware and software for hexy? I see that there is a new controller IC included and was wondering how I may go about installing that properly :stuck_out_tongue: if any one has any ideas.


#20

Yes, they’re 1-to-1 replaceable with the existing servos.