Robotics
Heathkit HERO

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Back in the 1982, Heathkit released the HERO 1 educational robot. HERO 1 had a Motorola 6808 CPU and 4k of RAM on board. He came equipped with motion, light, sound and sonar ranging sensors. You could even add an optional arm attachment and max out his capabilities.
Taking a cue from the success of the HERO 1, Heathkit’s consumer division released a simplified version, the HERO Jr – with half the ram of it’s predecessor and a lower pricepoint. Later still, the expandable, speech capable HERO 2000 was released to the educational market. By far the most advanced iteration, the 2000 would be the last training robot released by the company. That is until now – Heathkit is planning to release a reincarnation of HERO, the HE-RObot:

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Popular Science explains –

Built on a Mini-ITX mobo with Intel Core Duo microprocessor and using Windows XP for its operating system (unlike the model 914 PC-BOT which can be outfitted with Ubuntu), HE-RObot is being built and priced towards the educational market. A market that sorely needs a sophisticated robot platform. The hobbyist DIY market, on the other hand, could suffer from sticker shock. The HE-RObot’s 914 PC-BOT counterpart is priced from $5,000 – $8,000 which could make the HE-RObot a tough sell to even the most rabid roboticist.

Personally, I prefer the boxy look of the old model anyway. (Instead of this boxy looking new version) – [via] Link

Detailed HERO History on Robotgallery.com – Link

Check out Donnie V. Savage’s site for a bunch of relevant build info – Link

Related:
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Heathkit schematic diagram archive – Link

18 thoughts on “Heathkit HERO

  1. Heathkit — the unknown ancestry of many makers. I think the history and products of Heathkit would be worth a whole corner of “Make” — this was product hacking (then often called “kitbashing”) long before a lot of the readers were born. I still have a late 60’s tube (yes)amp that I built and a bunch of their amateur radio gear is still floating around.

  2. Lord I loved Heathkit. My dad taught me about electronics by buying Heathkit products and letting me help assemble them. I miss them. The original business model was to let people acquire high quality products at a substantial savings through self-assembly. In the digital age with cheap labor from abroad that model died. Pity – you could even put together an electronic organ.

    The “heir”, if you will, to the Heathkit mantle is Jameco Electronics at http://www.jameco.com. Lots of educational kits there.

  3. I didn’t know Heathkit was still around at all. I built my first “thing” from Heathkit and it opened a whole world of DIY to me. It was a “digital thermometer” the size of a large alarm clock with a red digital readout and two 10 foot long wires, one for inside and outside temperatures. I still remember the calibration instructions: stick one wire in boiling water and the other in icewater. It really opened my eyes that its possible to make something interesting that were not ashtrays or bookends.

  4. I too thought Heathkit was gone forever, I’m glad to hear they’re still around. I’ll have to look them up.

    My first Heathkit project was a metronome. I wonder if my sister still has it?

    The HERO 1 and the Unicorn 1 (Radio Electronics magazine) where the impetus for my interest in electronics and robotics. I wish I had held on to those issues of Radio Electronics, I can’t even find them at the library any more.

  5. I got one at a school auction for $10 when I was in highschool, and the thing was pretty cool. It had all the options… sold it, shoulda kept it.

  6. Hi guys.

    You can download the complete article for the Unicorn Robot from the “Radio-Electronics magazine” website.

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