And then there’s the ‘App’

MeccaNoid Android Application Version 2.4 (31)

A year waited for and a few waited longer before Application with ” Behavior Builder”showed up in Android Market.
Open Source. yaaaaa. Funny. When Meccano / Spin Master declare properly what is and what isn’t “Open Source” of what has been released then I will take it more seriously instead of a buzz-word sales tactic.

Copied from the Meccabrain.cpp Arduino IDE library posted on Meccano.com websiteinside a compressed folder named “meccanoid library” as of June 26, 2017:
“”
/*
LEGAL NOTICE:
Meccanoâ„¢, MeccaBrainâ„¢, MeccanoTechâ„¢ and Meccanoidâ„¢ are trademarks

of Meccano. All rights reserved.
The information contained in this document is Proprietary to Spin Master Ltd.
This information should not be used in the creation and sale of any commercial

product.”
*/
“”

That bit of text in the header of program Library made freely available to me says: NOT OPEN SOURCE. I guess there’s no web resources describing Open Source. NOT.

It is reasonable to assume API is free for use with Meccano hardware. IMO.

********//// The Meccanoid Arduino Library is not complete and has typos,errors.  Meccano_Smart ModuleProtocols_2015.pdf has same. Library does nothing by itself and requires a program written by You or someone else brave enough. It is an Application Programming Interface (API). It implements low level protocols used by Meccano servos and modules made available by inclusion (#include) in user program.

Basically it’s a translator so your program can talk to Meccanoid hardware through whatever microcontroller.

******It is not a Meccabrain ™ control program and as of present
Meccabrain is a closed system.  The use of Meccabrain name in its declaration in Library is misfortunate and adds to confusion. It would be nice if Meccano would release the BLE controls protocols so actual Meccabrain could be used in true Open Source. \\\\*********

It really is disappointing to diminish a perfectly usable 16 bit processor to a singular use when could easily be left open. *sniff* some blue.

*Sigh.*

Perspective:
I’ve been Building robots and electronics way too long.
I’m a ‘long-time’ fan of Meccano and Erector. From the disappointing 70’s of Erector to the glory of Meccano up to 90’s and A.C. Gilbert Erector Type II sets far Older than me; there will always be a fondness.
So when Spin Master manned up a Meccano(id) Robot I was thrilled. Honestly.
Was almost preschool child like giddiness on Christmas eve night thing.
Robotics and Meccano. My favorite hobby and construction toy. I already had a pictured model in mind with all the elegance of past Meccano gorgeous fine tooth brass gears, and style of Type II Erector, with modern flare for a New Generation and big HONKING hulking powerful motors like yester years. Now with: stand alone semi-autonomous programmable microcontroller, servo control , modern batteries, fancy L.E.D. lighting and color changing, modern voice synthesis, and array of sensors.  Of course there had to be WIFI and Bluetooth. Duuuuhhhh. Another assumption would be odometery on drive wheels or at very least a reliable Navigation of some kind.

Ah sweet fantasy.

*POP* goes the bubble.

Reality sucks.

Got some bit of what fantasized anyhow and usable voice control. Sea Monkeys anyone? Alright not that bad- mostly. No sonar either. Is like: but everybody else has one on their systems. Well if everybody else jumped off a cliff — Yup probably in this instance. Of course without sonar, Infrared, or other way of determining the edge of cliff it can be reasoned that leg motors will continue to push forward til gravity forces ugly termination of program. The original drop down and through programming style.
So with that in mind:

Some of this is me whining and venting.
Some may be constructive criticism.

 

Meccanoid Android Application.
Don’t know about that other thing or those Other fruity things.
Overly fat power sucking Unity stuff. Not picking on Unity. Is good portable library on multiple platforms but can be taken to less than good use. Seriously bad processor / battery drain for what appears to be doing little to nothing.

Ummm…. Program audio control? Oh. No. Turn your volume off and on manually on your smart-er device.

Besides bad sound effects are much better than anything else you might need or want to hear.

3D Ragdoll Avatar on 2D display more work than useful.

Would it have been so difficult to put icon on the sides with backward -forward-left-right? I get it. It skid steers like a tank. Differential. Can think of at least a half dozen better ways to do this than having to press two icons to go forward, wait for Avatar to turn around, and then use two other icons.

Screenshot_20170625-061356

Ragdoll Slider controls better but lack edit labeling and specific positioning or speed control. They do have labels now but too generalized: Head, Left Arm, Right Arm, Feet and Eyes.   Labels only there in offline not connected to Meccanoid. Needs work.

Color wheel selection of LED lights on servos and LED light bar are fairly simple and allows transition speed for light bar. So one thing I cant really complain about. Wait a bit and some complaint will manifest.

I’ve seen the LED light bar referred to as Smart LED Servo with other names. Check definition of the word ‘servo’.
It’s not a servo mechanism. The official name in the construction manual is “Head LEDs” and “eyes”. Elsewhere “Smart LED module”,” Programmable LED Eyes”. According to Owen Lu it’s “Meccanoid Brain – RGB LED”. That’s hardware and so back to APPlication program.
All is limited by a timer based storage window which must be saved once full or “new”ed out. Needing to start another session. That can be irritating when desiring only to drive bot around. No setting for turning off recording session and run continuous.
No reasonable way to edit what was made either.

>>>Motion Capture was cool but again no editing and it needed it. Shadow gets confused and messes up an otherwise perfect sequence. Motion capture is no longer available sadly. Supposededly replaced by “drag and drop” AKA “Behavior Buider”.
Don’t know which is worse name. Alternatively I like to call it Crazy ArRoWs. That is excluding a list of derogatory names. <<<.

Shut off App or Blue Tooth and robot returns to dumby. The illusion of autonomy gone.
Not dumby really. Plays a bit. Have L.I.M. to work with.
Who thought using BLE (BlueTooth Low Energy) cutting off large number of available devices was a good idea?
BLE also tends to be on newer more expen$ive devices.

Drag to death and drop in trash programming. “Behavior Programming”.

Crazy ArRoWs everywhere and sometimes can’t always see where they’re going.  Often not to where intended. Drag to point intended. Drop. Goes somewhere near butnot where needed or not at all. Combines several elements together that were never intended. Sure, watch the little red dot pop on and out in modules while program runs.

Ya. Sucks.
Damn it dropped wrong place. Drop in trash working elements so can fix. Redo.
Lack of OOPs or BACK or Undo buttons. What the smeg?

Single step backup at least…. come on- sheeeesh.

Maybe start from ‘SCRATCH’ and work upward. Top-downward? Freaking 1980’s Turtle language maybe? LOGO, Pilot, Forth with Turtle, anything. I would welcome BASIC here or Micro ‘C’. Ya know like the Arduino but without having to buy an 8bit MCU when a 16 bit is already there and 32/64bit speed demon number cruncher in Smart Device. There’s a bad pun and a suggestion there somewhere.

For navigation … nothing. It has no odometery. Turn driving motor(s) on for ‘ x ‘ seconds at unknown speeds labeled very slow to very fast. 5 seconds minimum at very slow single drive or differential gets about 90 degrees turn. So much for fine control. Can use Ragdoll to make a recording for less run time on motor but still sad. Worse is Ragdoll recordings may not work as entered in Bad “Behavior”.
Lack of environment input not helping. Could use some simple switch inputs minimum. Using a servo’s feedback silly but it’s there. Not great mostly due to losing a servo to do it. Can be worked around.

IMG_20170701_060504

Dragging four menu buttons out of the chest (Meccabrain) to something and some where more useful comes to mind. More on that laters. maybe. Ha. Assuming Crazy Arrows can handle it.
Has voice control but no method to implement in programming. Yes or No response to question would be nice.
There is no provision in App for saving programs externally. Alternatively snag programs and sounds from Android file structure but will not include  L.I.M. which is on Meccabrain. Have to use a File Manager as there is no provision in program. Assuming access to files not blocked by firmware and permissions on smart device.

***Drone Mode: Another issue with “Behavior” is that it may not let you make a program if less than four servos are attached. If it does it may not work. Nothing happens or only some work. Sliders under Ragdoll may not work either. They go up and down without response on Meccanoid. Especially on channel 1 servo socket. Channel 8 sometimes works. The ‘start star’ wont be there with less than four servo in some modes and certain sockets.

IMG_20170701_060512
More Quarkiness. Configuration that usually has no problems is at least 2 servos on slot 1 and 2 servos on slot 3. Which not surprisingly follows G15 original wiring and it’s

Dino variant. Drive motors always seem to work.
True on G15 and G15KS.
Learned intelligent movement (L.I.M) recordings can be included into program.
L.I.M. seems to have no trouble but not reasonable to try all variations of slots and servos. Unlike App, LIM will recognize extra servos and record from them. App Programming and sliders may not.

LIM allows saving up to 15 recordings at about 3 minutes each. Approximately 45 minutes of recordings that can be used in Crazy Arrows and stand alone without App on Meccanoid.

Presently “Behavior” programming has numerous quirks and bugs.
A for instance or e.g.:
Setting any servo to LIMp to get a position may force all servos to LIMp. Once it gets what you asked it for everything goes back to active where last left them.
LIM(p) is the icon element for servo input where can be chosen a condition of less or minus 90 to -90 degrees of servo position. Smart servo disables motor on selected servo. Waits for servo position to match within a range entered.

180 degrees represented by a ~90 degree angle. Technical illustrator was where?
Work around bugs and bad representation to best patience will allow.

Wrapping it up:

Altogether a good toy. Far more of a programmable animatronic than programmable robot in ROBOT mode. Semantics somewhat. Drone mode allows more control and variant builds, but vast majority of capabilities in Robot Mode disappear including voice control. Not a big issue as I see it. Coolness factor 1.0 but noisy environment non functional.
Can and could be more of a learning system. S.T.E.M. worthiness questionable and limited at that. The sparse Maths in programming language particularly dissuades. There’s some in there. Look harder. It will inspire a few kids into finding out more. Where inspiration is encouragement then yes it encourages STEM.

Can a child learn to program on one of the smart device compatible with Meccanoid and it’s application? ***** Please note the qualifier ‘compatible’.*****
Yes. Programs will have to be simple and will probably require much more thought and planning than should be necessary.

Learned intelligent movement (L.I.M) is cool. It’s Meccanoid’s ‘programming’ feature that doesn’t require a smart device. A series of movements by motor servo position can be recorded and played back. Sound is also recorded through microphone. Servos turn off motor allowing them to be positioned within a range of 180 degrees with little resistance. I don’t consider programming exactly. It is path mapping. Little more than Recorder with playback. Ragdoll allows re-recording over to a point in time by slider bar , but missing any reasonable definition and inability to edit. LIM doesn’t allow stopping, back-track, or re-recording from a point in time so no editing either..

It should be noted that LIM likes to cut off approximately a second to two off the end ofa recording on some firmware. 2.8 firmware doesn’t seem to have that problem.

Lack of Drive (foot motor) control in LIM LIMiting. If LIM can be moved to a programming or at least event scheduler environment that would allow editing or conditionals then it would be programming.
LIM recordings can be included in Drag and Drop programs. The programming part of App lists LIMs by number not given audible name. Write down which is what recording in order helps.
Don’t remember order or which ones? Ask Meccanoid to list them. It will in order by the name given.

Crazy ArRoWs errr, um,  “Drag and Drop” AKA “Behavior” programming environment is NOT polished and lacks basic editing capabilities. It has quirks that may likely lead to a disdain after a period of time. May be a patience endurance test. I have an evergrowing list of Bugs, Quirks, and various dysfunctions.
Frustration is what is NOT wanted for young folk.

If noticed frustration then it’s time to move on to:

*Arduino also Genuino. Uses Meccanoid free Library. The Arduino company has split up a bit. Another topic in itself with the addition that processor manufacturer Atmel (ATMega) and PIC Microchip also are an issue somewhat. A PIC processor can also be used but it has its’ own IDE. Online Support communities vary. Arduino in my opinion the greater. Leaning towards cheap *uino knock offs myself lately.

*Other microcontroller control. Like Texas Instruments (TI LaunchPad) or ESP – 8266/32 by Espressif , or ST Thompson ST8 , or ________ . ESPs being popular due to WIFI and 32s’ bluetooth and dirt cheap.

Many other MCU manufacturers have adopted the open IDE for programming.

Raspberry Pi (Linux) is a ‘virtual machine’ and does best with the help of a microcontroller. It can do some low level but timing gets tricky.
Older model Pi like the B less power then the newer Pi2 (B) but still looking at around 1.5-2 Amps @ 5VDC. Pi2 is faster but likes more power. 2.5A average so far. RPi2 has a little lightnig icon show up on display when power goes brown. Power sucking an issue. AA NiMh not gonna do it for long. Maybe several banks. Probably should check to see how much the little feet motors can handle weight wise.
RPi does have Scratch and other programming languages. Is easily the most supported SOC (system on chip).IMG_20170320_034636

********//// The Arduino Library and “Open Source” Protocol are not complete and have errors. Library does nothing by itself and requires a program written by the User to implement the protocols used by Meccano servos and modules made available by its’ inclusion’ in program. It is not a Meccabrain ™ control program and as of present Meccabrain is a closed system.  The use of Meccabrain name in its declaration in Library is misfortunate and adds toconfusion. \\\\*********

IMG_20170320_035843

*one of the other building systems and respective related controllers and software.
They all have strengths and weakness. Meccanoid not only helps build itself when Meccabrain is running, it is also pre-programmed to perform under Robot Mode.

UNFORTUNATELY if u have original G15 it NEEDS the update from 1.0 firmware via USB and Robot Updater program running on PC.

Meccanoid Expansive? No not directly other than buying more servos. Servos addedmay require some experimenting to get to work with Application. LIM does work tho. Meccabrain 2.0 is out for ~50$US to replace G15 Meccabrain. Not feeling it. A good microcontroller with an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) would be far more useful add on. Adding other erector sets with servos and a better APP would be ideal.

Irregular shaped pieces would likely be substituted out for conventional Meccanoand/or Erector pieces.

Home computer free or self sustained it is NOT. Needs firmware updateminimum. Going further with “drag n drop” programming requires an Application programrunning in another computer smart device with BlueTooth LE (BLE) capability. More devices being incompatible then compatible. Cheap tablet thoughts vanish. This will change as BLE comes to be more standardized in newer devices. No Desktop or laptop versions of programming language available yet, and yet requires USB interface for firmware updates.

Been holding back and is good to let out. I was holding out for would had been fixed. Apologies for all the Quotations but needed to make clear that my terminology may notmatch others or the term-name-intention is not mine. Hopefully helps someone.

IMG_20170320_035535-e2

Yes I could go on, and will. Laters.

G15 Dino

IMG_20170326_031832April -01 2017
Finally got around to building the Meccanoid G15 Dino variant.
The plans are on Meccano site under instructions .

It is at least as cute as humanoid version. Roughly same build time. Maybe a little less.
Noteworthy if Building Dino from already constructed G15 is that it’s not needed to completely disassemble servos. ONLY down to the Yellow rotating bracket. Servo motor, motor mount and white cylinder case stay together. Legs can stay together too.

If your clever you can keep the legs attached feet motors and just remove cross brace.  Saves some time.

IMG_20170320_034357

Tricky points are back bone/carrying handle and left/right head servo wire. Instructions may be a little vague on backbone. Takes a little bit of force to push into place then put a screw in it on the “tail” servo box and there will be some stress on the LED plate up front. Once in place stiffens Dino up and makes for great Dino Carrying Handle.

IMG_20170320_034339
The left/right head servo wire is too tight if you try to route it as shown; though it will fit.  Find the easier and less stressed path.

IMG_20170326_032428
Wired by instructions.
IMG_20170320_034408
What?

Dino has limited functionality without Meccanoid App. Meccabrain must be switched to ‘Drone Mode’ for Dino. Same for any of your own creations. This will limit voice commands but not L.I.M. Meccanoid App Rag_Doll and Avatar don’t work but Slider and Behavior modes do.
Meccabrain looks for the Robot Mode configuration of servos but only in Robot Mode.. If not available then Meccanoid will respond with ” Module_Name is disconnected” if not where it should be or “That’s not where that Goes” if it’s not in the slot it should be in. Module_Name being servo or LED out of place or missing. Is coolest part of assembling Robot. Hard to mess up routing of wire. Dino and any other creations using Drone Mode presently don’t have this feature.
In Robot mode the cables can be connected and disconnected with power on and Meccanoid will update telling you if wiring is not right.
This excludes the foot motors and of course if you disconnect the battery nothing is going to happen. You can also change back and forth from Drone Mode to Robot mode without shutting Meccabrain power off.

IMG_20170320_034820
My that’s a tasty looking battery you got there.

HINT and HELP: If you rename your robot and it doesn’t respond to name you can press any of the Meccabrain buttons to get the robot to listen mode. It’s eyes change color indicating Menu selection and not listening for it’s name.
Then you Change the name again and/or try another name. This might help get Meccanoid’s attention in noisy environments as well.
RAnTinG:
Big butt battery pack problem persists. Worstened in G15 Dino’s instance. Weight on caster wheels instead of drive wheels. Teeter -tottering due to weight being in back and some up front Slips wheels excessively especially in left turn and right turn. Go forward only and your good. Not really No. Not as much. Going slow in behavior mode works.
I used my version of a 5S pack attached cross bar between legs . Removed but pack and clears up most of problem. A better place for C cell pack would be between the legs but need longer screws or possibly duct tape. Quack.

IMG_20170320_034249-m

Apparently the site (Meccano) has undergone some revision towards the newer Meccanoid 2.0. Including the availability of Meccabrain 2.0. Listing about 50$USD. Allowing G15 owners an upgrade path.
I guess. Other than a revised voice control menu-ing system and a few more games and Trivia. I don’t see it. 2.0 Meccabrain has more SPI memory and so can store more data. How much more is useable by the end user? Don’t know yet. In theory should allow more L.I.M. storage. Most likely taken up by extended vocabulary and new Games, Trivia. Unfounded theory and speculation. Don’t have 2.0 yet. G15 has more servo slots that are not present on 2.0 AKA G16.

The G15and KS building plans are still available however the G15 and KS are no longer on their own pages and have been moved to a comparison chart. You’ll need to go to : http://www.meccano.com/instructions select keyword search and enter “G15” in Reference box. Dino plans and original G15/KS Robot plans should show up.

The newest version firmware is 2.7. Get it. It has a few extras including voice commands:
What Time is It
Play A Game
Dance With Me
Hug Me
and the battery Level display is back on App start up.
Hidden command “set alarm” seems to have gone.

Tangent sort of:
Meccasaur coolness. Toddler walker linkage bar setup. Doesn’t really stomp around.   More like a graceless shuffle. Does roar good. Uses a light sensor to detect movement in guard mode. Not exactly a trip point setup. Need to set light source on side opposite Meccasaur across pathway you plan to monitor. Works best in darkened room with single light source.
That is: Meccasuar== > Pathway <=== Light Bulb
In other words: a shadow must be cast over the sensor to activate.

IMG_20170326_032303

Anyhow I like the brow ridge and eyes on Meccasaur better.  Lose the Dino big eyes.

Later.

End for Now.

Meccanoid G15 Brain Surgery

Oh the Horror

Not exactly Brain Surgery.  It is a brain of sorts.

Having trouble with the clock not holding time since day one I knew I’d have to replace the clock battery sooner or later, or so I thought.  Ha.

After updating the firmware flash and downloading the new App; the clock not functioning is now an issue because the drag and drop “behavior” programming has a use for it.  There’s also a hidden function in ‘settings’ menu that allows setting an alarm.  Woo hoo.  I was thinking that would be a nice function about a year ago.  Scary.

I had it apart once before but only for cursory examination  to check the board to see if it was indeed the one that had a clock battery and not a third farad capacitor.  Sure enough it had a battery hard soldered.  Not having an extra one of that type or any other suitable replacement to be soldered in I quickly slapped it back together without much further examination.

Oooops.   Ya.   Assumptions and all that.  Take a look.  Nice solder job.  NOT.

g15-controller-4

Can you see it?  Just above the clock chip.  No?  Look closer to battery to the right of “C24”.

g15-controller-5-1
Somethings aren’t better at higher res just uglier.

How about now?

g15-controller-7-1
Magic.  All purty like.

You know when you give a people a bowl a rice a day and work for 14 or more hours this happens.  I’m just saying.  I could be wrong, but given that the vast majority of chips on this board are China Mart , probably not.

There were some other nice pieces of solder slag laying on the board.  I’ve become accustomed to checking boards from overseas manufacturers.  Not only China.  Please don’t think I’m picking on China.  Many manufacturers produce quality products cheaply.  This is not one of those.  Lots of nice cold solder joints too.

g15-controller-6
Short waiting to happen.

Here’s one the larger pieces for example.  Doesn’t look like much but was laying across traces next to the blob.  The black blob is the CPU/MCU.  It didn’t appear to be attached by anything other green protectant paint layer.  Most were like that and smaller.  Not cool.

Checked the clock battery at 2.85VDC,  not great but good enough for a while.  Not worthy of a replace.    Cleaned up what I thought I should and put it back together.  FWIW that solder slab was shorting to clock crystal to one of the clock IC pins.  The clock does work now.  However the Firmware /ROM has issues.  More on that laters.  ONE Down.  Pencil in another dozen problems.  Sigh.    A few more pics for ya:

g15-controller-3g15-controller-2g15-controller-1

 

MeccAnnoyed

IMG_20160813_233841
11 hole Meccano strip and 3×7 bent plate and a velcro cord wrap.  Ooo feel the tech.
IMG_20160813_233800
Battery cable with spade connectors

G15 MeccaBattery sucker refit.

What kind of sadistic toy manufacturer … rhetorical?

Relating to the 4 ‘C’ cell butt battery pack.  The G15 is cute and fun in itself.  The build is tedious.  Keeping a ten year old interested for 6 to 11 hours is questionable, and the G15 is the shorter build than the G15 KS.  Then to have the fun cut short by battery.  Sad.  A rechargeable sufficient power battery pack for G15 should have been made available at the beginning.

This article is intended for those who can at least wire and load batteries in flashlight.  It is also for those who find big butted anthropormorphic robots that are not decidedly female are disturbing.

Usual disclaimer:  Don’t do it.  Damage to life, property and unicorns may result.  I’m serious.  Don’t hurt no unicorns.

First thing first go to Meccano.com and download the robot updater:

http://meccano.com/meccanoid-robot-updater

This is essential.   The old rom needs the update if you haven’t already.  It’s a power piggy.  Get the update.  It’s not just for changing the language.

If your an electronics type of people you’ll probably want to know a 6.0V /5 cell 2000mah NiMH pack works well in the G15 Meccanoid without complication.  It’s fused at 2.5A.  A six cell is not recommended due to review of some of the peripherals onboard as well a using a 3V linear regulator which may get hot.  It’s also what is used on the G15 KS.  Which is the same controller as best any one can tell just with 4 extra servos . Look for the leaked schematics from the FCC. 🙂

Yes I am running this minor MODification and have been for many hours now without error or problem other than what was already irritating me whilst running alkaline.

For Instance:  One Noisy servo whining at me and clock which doesn’t hold time which probably means I’ll have to actually crack the brain and pull the defective coin battery.  Yes there is one even though there’s no facility(s) to use it other than to reply to “What time is it?”  Notice that there’s no “What day is it ?” command.  Oh a “wake me at 5 a.m.” clock function would be nice.   But noooooo.  A moving alarm clock would be harder to hit or  smash.

Four ‘C’ cells.  Yaaaa.   Own stock in battery manufacturer do you?  Good quality alkalines will MAYBE get a half hour to 45min. run and those are NOT cheap.  New Meccanoid 2.0 (AKA G16) at least has ‘D’ cells.

Sure,  buy the more expensive KS unit and get some run time.  It uses the 5S NiMH.  Comes with battery charger too.  5S meaning five cell Nickel Metal Hydride.  5C means something different in rechargeable World.  The ‘C’ refers to charge/discharge rate. Which should not be confused with ‘C’ type batteries which refers to physical size.  Stop here if you’re confused.  Intentional.

Using :

5 that’s FIVE commonly available AA size NiMH rated 1200 mAH or better.  I’m using 2200mAH  NiMh.  Charged and ready.  Duh. Could use AA NickelCadmium (NiCd ) but those are usually about half the power rating.  Roundabouts  400-600mAH mostly for NiCd.  Useable.  Rechargeable and more power are the key points.  Work with what is in your possession first.  If NiCd charger and batteries is what you have.  Use them.  I highly suggest NiMH.

NEVER NEVER NEVER

NEVER mix battery types.  Alkaline only with alkaline.  NiCd only with NiCd.  NiMH only with NiMH.   Lead-Acid only with Lead-Acid.  Same size (AA, C, D ) with same size, Try to keep same Amp-Hour(AH or mAh) rating on rechargeables.  Carbon zinc (Zinc chloride/Ammonia Chloride) only with the trash can. They have no place in this.  Ignore this at your own peril/demise.  Burning, exploding, injury, possibly fatality.  Yes I’m laying the scare on thick here and not being unreasonable.    There are other newer cell chemistries which pack more energy per unit but increasingly dangerous as well that I refrain from mention herein.

6 cell AA battery holder with one cell holding jumpered or shorted, or a 4 cell holder with a single cell holder or an eight cell holder with 3 shorted/jumped cell holders.   Getting the idea that 5 cells are needed in series yet?   What’s  ‘series’?  Probably best you not be here or at least type in “series batteries” in your search engine.

IMG_20160813_233659
Tamiya mini battery jack.

Tamiya battery connector. mini Female.  Round Ground black.  Square power B+ red. Tamiya on Meccanoid.  Either snagged from battery box or new.  Available at your local Radio Control (RC) hobby shop and online.  For to and so much one could simply get a RC battery and charger from a knowledgeable RC hobbyist working there.  Bring the battery box connector with you.  Saying Tamiya may not be enough.  A 5 cell 6.0v NiMh or NiCd pack that you think u can secure on bot frame.  Not 4 cell.  Not 6 cell.  FIVE. Five Cell.

5.    F-I-V-E  .   5.

Also known as an 5S 6.0v NiMH or NiCd pack having mAH ratings of 1000 and up.  No you don’t need the fancy 20 cell charger and 200amp power supply it needs.   A simple AC wall wart charger and connector with idiot light for on and charged is good ’nuff fer now.  Honestly some of them hobby sellers are worse than used car salesmen.   Yes the cheap chargers suck and are somewhat detrimental to battery life but they work.   Should be able to get out of there around 25-35$USD.

A four cell will work for a bit but on board battery power detection will shut down in a few minutes.   A series four cell pack of 1.2v is nominal 4.8 volts.  That’s a dead set of battery in Alkaline land where 1.5v times 4 is a nominal 6.0v.  Also why jamming four fresh 1.2v rechargeable AA in the C slots of the battery fanny pack  only works for a bit.  Ya sure you didn’t try that.

The disadvantage is being stuck with a battery and charger that may be good for only one thing.  Individual cells are better in my opinion.   They are: configurable, common charger, useable in other devices and projects.  If you and/or others in your dwelling get into this hobby “Robotics” there WILL be other projects needing those batteries and most likely not just in 6.0Vdc.  Then they get bigger and more advanced.  Then the chargers get bigger and more capable,  and then  … well.  Have you seen the Frankentstein movies where there’s huge power arrays, Tesla coils, Jacob’s Ladders,  Townsend gas discharge globes/tubes,  Faraday cages, Van de Graff generators and the like sprawled across the lab floor and an ominous work table on which delicate arranged rats nest of wires in certain spots  with an assortment of slightly smoking soldering irons?  Like that, only more modern and slightly less chance of electrocution.  Slightly.

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Installed.  Plugged in.  Ready.
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Connector with spades for adding or removing items like fuses.

Basically that’s it.  The battery box does have a 2.5A slow blo poly fuse.  That’s a fuse that resets itself assuming the power though it isn’t excessive. It’s up to you if you want to add one in line(series).  An automotive type blade fuse or even an older glass style in the 2A to 3A slow blo range would be good.  Some manufactured battery packs have them in the blister wrap of the battery pack.  I haven’t had my hands on an official K15GS battery pack so I’m without my ball of twine. (no clue).  But, whereas the G15 has one on its’ fanny pack I’ll assume there’s one on the KS as well. At the least the leaked schematics suggest that it is so.  It is a good idea to prevent damage due to shorting on the  the servo outputs which aren’t fused.  Those do have ESD protection on signal line but not fused.  So if ur tinkering in that side please do. Barring stupid  like try to bypass the key way and slamming servo connector in upside down.  I havent fused on my quick rig yet and so picture shows.  When I get to that I will put a fuse.  There is a  mosfet switch and current sense on the v-mot line and v_bat which suggests that there would be a shut off if excessive current was detected by the processor.  Guess there.  Assumption.  The processor , USB, and peripherals have their own fuse and blocking diode.  The servos have their own regulators.

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Polyfuse on G15 4 ‘C’ cell fanny pack.

One could also us a 6v sealed lead acid.  But that’s covered on Youtube by someone else.  The charger and battery can often be bought at department stores and sporting goods where hunting supplies such as deer feeders and camping supplies such as 6v lanterns are sold.  SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) 6v batteries come in several sizes.  4AH being the most available and resembling physically the same size as 6V Alkaline Lantern battery but being able to be recharge a couple hundred times usually less. YMMV. Improper use as in trying to put too many amps out or overcharging usually kills them.  Majority of batteries are rated 20hr rate. Take the 4AH SLA battery divide by 20.  That battery would put out 200ma per hour for 20 hours without harm to battery. That’s less than what your bot wants.  So it’s gonna want more.  The more it sucks the less run time and the less battery life overall.  Same goes for NiCd and NiMH but far less effect on overall life.   Again “cheap charger” can cause issues but with care should be fine.  Most notably some chargers may push the fresh SLA to significantly higher voltages than 6V.  This is temporary effect.  Let the battery sit off charger for ten minutes and is likely to go down to usable voltage less than 7V. SLA are heavy and don’t last as long recharge-wise and cost easily as much as a Five NiMh.  Five times the life or more, and less weight, but only little more than half the power per charge with AA NiMH.  The weight of the SLA may be helpful for traversing rugs.  Helps the wheels from slipping by more friction.  Where it’s put makes a difference.  The robot builders quandary: Power vs. weight vs. run time/ functionality then at cost per unit say WH (watt-hour) and serviceability cost.  That’s just the battery concern for rovers.

Have fun.

There’s a “the the” in there somewhere.  One last butt picture:IMG_20160810_061908.jpg

You been staring at robot but pictures.