Tutorial: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

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    darkback2 darkback2 is offline Mech Warfare Veteran
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    Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Taking a cue from Crabfu...
    [youtube]HNU8VqJv9iI[/youtube]

    The I-sobot by Tomy

    Before you go on I should tell you, that I wish I could write two reviews for this robot. On review from the stand point of a serious hobby roboticist, and another from a lay person looking for a neat gadget.

    In a word the I-sobot is small. Like Guinness book of world records small. 6.5 inches to be exact. Its the worlds smallest humanoid robot. For what it is, the robot is pretty capable featuring seventeen degrees of freedom and packing some relatively powerful servos. I loaded one I-sobot up with about 1/4 lb strapped over its shoulders and it was still able to walk, though balance became an issue. The I-sobot also features a built in gyroscope and does a decent job resisting being pushed over. Unfortunately the I-sobot does not have rotating hips, and uses slip to turn in place. This means that it is completely useless on a lot of different floor surfaces. I have had a decent experience on wood floors, but on other surfaces the robot turns more slowly, or gets caught up and falls down. In a nutshell if your expecting a fun little toy, the I-sobot is for you. I fear that most users will wish they had spent more money and gotten a larger more capable humanoid.

    I-sobot can be used in four modes. Voice control, Remote Control, Special Action, and Program. I was pleasantly surprised by the voice control responsiveness. the robot responded well in a quiet small room, in larger areas, or with any background noise the I-sobot didn’t do as well which is the case with most voice recognition software. The voice control mode has a limited number of commands.

    Users will find themselves using the remote control mode most of the time. The robot uses an Infra-red remote connection through which a user can command the robot to perform a number of basic motions. There are special buttons for punching, kicking, and guarding suggesting the robot is meant for fighting, There are also soccer moves that are preprogrammed into the robot. Given its size the I-sobot will probably struggle to cause any damage to opponents in a fight. One thing I noticed when fighting two I-sobots against each other was that they tended to fall over if they came in contact with anything while trying to perform their various martial arts movements. One good thing is that the robot can stand up from both its back, or its front with the push of just one button on the key pad. You can also enter a special “arm mode” when using the remote. Each arm is controlled by a different joystick, and the arms can be locked when the desired position is achieved. Arm control mode was difficult to use accurately, especially because of the location of the IR receiver. The head or arms sometimes move between the robot and remote breaking the connection. That said, given the size of the robot, I doubt anyone will be using it to defuse any nuclear bombs. While operating it could be a challenge, the robot is a hoot to play with.

    Through special action mode you can make the robot perform a number of preprogrammed movements. These include different dance moves and poses, and even impressions. Some of the motions really show off this robots incredible flexibility. They are also fun to go through, but get boring pretty quickly. Most exciting is the robots ability to perform a forward roll and balance on one foot. One drawback is that users are required to memorize, or look up key combinations for each of the specific movements. The key combinations tend to seam a bit random. Another draw back is the I-sobots annoying voice and sound effects. The good news is you can turn these off using the IR remote, but after restarting the robot you have to wait until after the startup sequence to turn off the sound.

    Finally there is program mode. In program mode the user can set up to 99 individual movements and string them together. Some useful aspects are that you can move and lock the arms as different movements. Stepping between locked arm positions allows the user to pose the robot and step between poses. While a pose and capture setting in program mode would be amazing, it would also be a lot to ask from a sub $200 humanoid. After playing in the other modes you figure out pretty quickly that program mode is the most useful. You can access programs through remote control mode. This can come in handy during robot fights.

    robodance is free software that you can use to control various robots. In order to use it with the I-sobot a user will have to find a serial lego mindstorms IR tower, and drivers, or purchase a UIRT. This software can be used to control the various pre-programmed motions, and general movements available to the I-sobot, but cannot be used to create new motions..

    The I-sobot uses special triple “A” rechargeable batteries. Don’t bother using disposable triple “A”s, they won’t last 10 minutes. The rechargeable take six or more hours to charge, and last from about 15-35 minutes depending on the user.

    The bottom line is that I-sobot is a great little robot for the money. There are some enthusiasts who have gotten some really cool things out of this little guy, and it is pretty capable given the price. The hard part is that you find yourself forgiving the I-sobot a bit too much.

    I understand that all of the above is a lot to ask from a robot of this size and price point. That said this is not an entry level robot that you can modify or upgrade. For $200 more or twice as much, a user could step up to the entry level robophilo. Which is a much more usable and upgradeable humanoid. All in all the I-sobot is a fun robot toy to have on your desk, but not good for much more. If you are looking for a cool toy that will provide a few hours of entertainment, then the I-sobot is for you. If you are at all serious about robotics, save your money, and put it towards something else.


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Replies to Tutorial: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot
  1. Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    AWESOME in depth review DB!!! Despite the lack of this and that.... an entry level humanoid for the price, is hard to beat. It's good to know that the sound can be turned off, I don't know what the fascination with robots with sounds.... to me they just poke some big holes in the illusion of life, hearing the same exact thing over and over. I also have a fetish for micro machines, so I may have to finally break down and get an i-sobot one of these days Like you've said, it would be cool to have around the desk to play with. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to do a review, it's nice to see and hear more about potential money pits....

    -Crabfu
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Nice review DB, Thanks for all the info appreciated. When I get my Robophillo from the Instructables competition I will do a review of that for you guys.Thanks again DB.
    People yearn after this robotic dream, but you can't strip your life of all meaning, emotion and feeling and expect to function.

        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Very nice! I thought I'd add a video we did awhile ago as well. We ran iSobot through a strength test and were really surprised how strong he is.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1UiKEcZfDY"]YouTube - Goofing around with i-SOBOT[/ame]

    PS: Want an iSobot? buy him here
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Very cool review! I still would like to pick one up at some point.
    This ain't nothing but a summer jam
    Brown skin and cinnamon tans, whoa!
    This ain't nothing but a summer jam
    We're gonna party as much as we can
    Hey-yeah, ooh, hey-yeah
    Summer jam alright
    Hey-yeah, ooh, hey-yeah
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Very nice review! It would be nice to have a section for these kinds of reviews of robots. Like Trossen robotics has for the tutorials. I like havig someone tell me how he likes it. What he like or dislikes. It gives me a better idea of what I could do with a certain robot. Sometimes just the specs aren't enough for me, well very often they aren't enough.

    The first robot I bought was way over my head at the time and I didn't manage to do anything with it for almost 500$. It really bumbed me out. Having review like this could help for choice.
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Agreed Sam, good point.So Admin, A section for this area??
    People yearn after this robotic dream, but you can't strip your life of all meaning, emotion and feeling and expect to function.

        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Thats a really good idea. A product review section, not only for robots, but individual products could be very helpful!
    I for one have no idea what the specs even mean half the time, so I have no idea what part I'm looking for. I could see something like that being very useful.
    This ain't nothing but a summer jam
    Brown skin and cinnamon tans, whoa!
    This ain't nothing but a summer jam
    We're gonna party as much as we can
    Hey-yeah, ooh, hey-yeah
    Summer jam alright
    Hey-yeah, ooh, hey-yeah
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    yep, Matt and I were talking about this earlier today. I'm working on a few other things at the moment, but once I get a chance I'll "review" our options

    �In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed�
    - Charles Darwin
        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Cool, Thanks Alex.
    People yearn after this robotic dream, but you can't strip your life of all meaning, emotion and feeling and expect to function.

        

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    Re: Darkback2's Review of the Isobot

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
    but once I get a chance I'll "review" our options
    Made me smile.
        

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