I am doing a project with the Arbotix-M board which involves some servos including Dynamixl AX series.
I am using the arduino IDE and I started by downloading the blink example and noticed that the programs dont run unless I open the serial monitor on Arduino.

I thought, eh, I need to use Serial anyways. I write some more code to send serial commands (connected via FTDI). The weird thing is, when I read serial messages back on the PC side, I see messages like this:
Pose Reads: 1149 365 1023 341 450 538BAD 1:-1BAD 2:-1BAD 3:-1BAD ......

I am not sure why this is happening, as I have the arbotix writing back the exact same message.

My python side looks something like this:
open serial port
while true:
select message to send
send message
get message back from arbotix
My arbotix arduino side looks like this:
open serial port
while true:
if serial message is available:
read message
send message back
I am quite confused where the weird serial message im getting comes from. Could it be the arbotix is mixing the serial for the dynamixl and the serial to PC? I dont have the XBee on it.

Here is the code i am running on the arbotix: