Robotics
Review: EZ-Robot Six and the EZ-Builder Software

Starting a Revolution

EZ-Robot has a full line of kits and parts
EZ-Robot has a full line of kits and parts.

Back at Maker Faire Bay Area in 2013, EZ-Robots founder and CEO DJ Sures provided a sneak peek of his new EZ-Builder software. Today, EZ-Robots has a full product line of ‘Revolution Robots’, parts, software and a robust support community… the Revolution has begun.

Revolution Six Robot

The Revolution Six Robot arrived (mostly) fully assembled.
The Revolution Six Robot arrived (mostly) fully assembled.

EZ-Robots loaned me a fully assembled Revolution Six robot for review. I have to say right up front, this robot was a blast to play with! I charged up its battery, downloaded the EZ-Builder software, loaded the example project for Six and was making it walk, dance, move to music and navigating with the on-board camera within an hour.

Parts

All EZ-Robot parts include plastic EZ-Bits connectors that allow you to assemble robots quickly and easily. The Clip’n’Play male and female connectors on the EZ-Bit parts slide together with a firm friction fit. I found them a little stiff at first, but they worked fine and never slipped or loosened.

EZ-Bits attach with Clip'n'Play connectors.
EZ-Bits attach with Clip’n’Play connectors.

The EZ-Bits on Six are high quality injection molded parts and look very good. Although a nice feature is that EZ-Robots lets you print your own EZ-Bits right from their free software if you have your own printer.

Robot Controller

Under the hood... the EZ-B v4 Robot Controller.
Under the hood… the EZ-B v4 Robot Controller.

The EZ-B v4 Robot Controller includes 24 digital I/O ports and 8 analog input ports, all with 3-pin servo (GND-PWR-SIGNAL) configuration. There are also 3 UARTs ports, 3 i2c ports, and a dedicated camera port. You connect to the controller over WiFi.

Power

Six came with a 1300mAH 7.4V LiPo battery and included a balance charger. The system has a battery monitor that automatically prevents over-discharging. When the battery gets low, Six announces that its battery needs charging and stops responding to commands. The power system works well, though I’d have preferred a charging port to the short cable protruding from the robot shell.

Balance charger attaches to a short cable on the underside of Six.
Balance charger attaches to a short cable on the underside of Six.

Worth noting is that the PWR pins on the digital outputs of the EZ-B v4 are battery voltage. This provides full power to the servos. If you want to run a 5V device, for example an ultrasonic sensor, you will need to regulate the voltage separately. However, sensors you buy through the EZ-Robots store include an on-board regulator, as well as a nice molded plastic body with Clip’n’Play connectors.

Servos

Six’s Heavy Duty servos have metal gears and ball bearings. Despite this my loaner Six experienced three servo burn-outs while I was evaluating it. According to the EZ-Robot product manager, they are aware of the issue. The few customers that have contacted them about servo problems have been shipped replacements immediately.

So I do have a slight concern that there might be a quality issue with these servos, but at least EZ-Robot’s customer service is being very responsive.

EZ-Builder Software

An important thing to understand is that the EZ-Robot controller must work together with a controlling computer running the EZ-Builder software or a mobile app you buy or write yourself. It will not work independently like an Arduino or a PICAXE. This took me some time to wrap my head around, but once I understood the philosophy behind it I found things easier to follow.

Within EZ-Builder, you set up your project, add controls, configure the controls and optionally add scripting.

EZ-Script

The EZ-Script programming language behind EZ-Builder is pretty easy to understand if you have any programming background at all. They’ve included plenty of built-in functions. All of the controls you can add can have scripting added to them.

Controls

The example Six project that comes with EZ-Builder includes controls for the camera, a microphone and Six’s soundboard, and even a Wii Remote. There are multiple desktop panes, one of which has a custom control panel giving a single control for Six’s most common functions.

Actions and Frames

One of the controls in the example Six project is AutoPosition. AutoPosition lets you move Six forward, backwards, left or right with your keyboard arrow keys. A set of pre-defined actions like ‘Fast-Forward’, ‘Strafe Right’, ‘Wave’, ‘Attack’, and a collection of cool dance moves provide more options and give Six a lot of personality.

Each action consists of a set of frames. For example there are four frames named Walk 1, 2, 3, and 4, each of which sets Six’s legs into certain positions. The Forward action cycles through those frames in order from 1 to 4. The Reverse action cycles through the same four frames, only backwards from 4 to 1.

You can easily create you own frames and link them together into an action. Or you can custom script movements for an action using EZ-Script.

EZ-Robot Community

EZ-Robots has an active user community that shares designs and helps each other. When I found myself a little lost trying to program Six as an automomous rover, I posted a question on the forums. Another community member responded with a helpful answer in just over 20 minutes. I can’t say if that is typical or not, but I was very impressed.

Conclusion

EZ-Robot has developed an impressive set of products in a relatively short period of time, and continues to refine their offerings. There is an active and growing community, online tutorials, downloadable manuals and built-in help functions in their EZ-Builder software to get you started. If you are looking for an all-inclusive robotics solution, this is definitely worth a look.

The EZ-Robot Developer’s Kit; humanoid JD, tracked Roli, and of course the hexapod Six robots are available in the Maker Shed.

23 thoughts on “Review: EZ-Robot Six and the EZ-Builder Software

  1. EZ Robot is what I use in my robotic humanoid Dave.
    I hope you get an EZ Robot board and get creative with it and see what you can create.
    This is something people new to robotics can get creative with and those with years of experience can have a blast with also.

      1. Which Robosapian? The V3 can control the original Robosapian with just 2 wires going to the robot from the EZ Robot board.
        I think the V4 wont work the same way, I have a V3 in an old Wow Wee Elvis.
        I replaced the old motors with servos then found out it could have used the old motors, but still would have been some work.
        That Elvis wasn’t working when I got it, so replacing the old motors may have been the right way to go anyway.

          1. Someone may have a V3 for sale.
            I wouldn’t sell any of mine, not without buying V4s to replace them with. My humanoid could use more servos.
            The V3 can drive 20 servos and the V4 can drive 24 servos.
            If you have some of the servos used in Bioloid robots, you can control over 70 servos at once with one EZ-Robot V4.

    1. The servos got really hot and there was a burning smell. I’ve been exchanging email with EZ-Robot about it. Although it’s possible I got a bad lot of servos, I may have over-stressed them in some cases. They are looking at the Fast-Forward action I was using, and other possible causes. The EZ-Robot team have been very attentive and great to work with.

        1. Yeah, I guess that’s what happened. I wasn’t going out of my way to coddle the robot… on the other hand I wasn’t purposely putting it through a torture test.

  2. Hey Andrew! We fixed your Six Avoidance project and created an App in the EZ-Cloud AppStore for you. It’s a little different programming over WiFi than directly on a Microcontroller – Here’s a video of the new App… Download it so you don’t burn out any more servos! :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=venvZcnmWs4

  3. I don’t have an EZ-Robot revolution “Six” just yet (planning to get one soon), but I have had a few of their development kits and built my own robots using these along with their EZ-Builder software, and I have to say it’s a fantastic product.

    Just over a year ago I jumped in and built my own K-9 robot from scratch using the EZ-Robot platform with no prior robot building knowledge whatsoever. The whole process was a learning curve, but in a good way. There’s plenty of help and tutorials along with examples to help get you going, and once you figured out how to do something using the EZ-Builder software, such as setting up the robot to respond to your voice, the amount of satisfaction you get is so great, you just want to keep on going. And if you ever get stuck with something, there is a very active community forum full of friendly customers from all walks of life and varying skill sets who are willing to help, with response time so fast you can have your questions or issues resolved in under an hour, sometimes within a few minutes.

    The products that EZ-Robot sells from their online store (and other suppliers) are quality stuff, and their product range is growing all the time. Out of the 80 or so heavy duty servos I have purchased from EZ-Robot, I have had two burn out on me, but that was due to me over-stressing them so it was completely my fault, and buying replacements was not a problem as they are at a very reasonable price.

    All in all, the dream of having my very own robot, not just one that moves around with flashing lights, sound effects and follows a line on the floor, but a proper fully functioning robotic project with multiple sensors, the ability to use speech/face/object recognition, and that can be fully and easily programable to do so much more, has now become a reality thanks to EZ-Robot. To see what somebody with no robot building experience can do with the EZ-Robot platform… check out two of my robot project videos below.

    https://youtu.be/-I_INQ1Vndg

    http://youtu.be/htI1Cd8HKSY

      1. Thank you Andrew. That’s very nice of you to say. I’m pleased you liked the lil guy. :)

  4. I was lucky enough to get one of the first Six robots dispatched
    (probably the first in the UK) and from day one it was simple to use,
    easy to assemble and even easier to program. Since then, which is over
    12 months ago now, the software (EZ-Builder) has been improved numerous
    times with more features added. My video (link at end of post) was
    programmed using just the EZ-Script controls however now there are
    controls which will automatically animate the robot for you and even
    sync movements with music.

    EZ-Robot have created an amazing “brain”, the V3 which I started with
    was powerful but the newer V4 is mind blowing. If your robot can hold
    an on board PC or tablet (or if one is near), EZ-Robot is the way to go.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFhVB1haqU0

    1. That video is blocked for me, but I checked out some of your other EZ-Robot work on your channel. Very nice!

  5. EZ Robot is great “Easy” to operate robotics, and program software that is very versatile.
    I have a EZ Robot J.D. humanoid, and many custom homemade E.Z.Robots.

  6. I am relatively new to the EZ-Robot scene, but have substantial experience programming at the assembly level and above. Although I do enjoy coding at the hardware level, I have been totally blown away at the speed of “rapid application development” available with the EZ-B and EZ-Builder combination.

    If what you are after is the development of a robotics project for your children or for your personal enjoyment, the EZ-Robot product line is well worth your consideration. I have been watching the community discussion forum for hints of quality issues with hardware or software, but have never seen issues materialize. I am waaaay impressed with the quality of both, the ease of use, the dedication to customer support, and the vitality of the user community.

    You will never regret choosing EZ-Robot for the most exhilarating robotics experience. (And a great educational opportunity for children as well.)

  7. I have the EZ-Robot, and it is really fun, you can add stuff to your EZ-B program, by pressing “Project”, and then pressing “Add”, there is even a radar to track your EZ-Robot. Also servos to set up how your robot stands.

  8. I have two of these robots and I am very impressed. They have all the coolest features of spy toys and DIY kits but they a versatile like legos. You can assemble parts from other robots or buy add on pieces. Ez-robot is community driven and there are dozens of people online helping you with your goals at any time.

  9. I have used EZ-Robot in my classroom for several years not. I have found it to be extremely well supported. A great educational tool with a ton of extras and great community support!

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Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and author of How Things Are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers. Andrew is also an electronics and robotics enthusiast and has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children's Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Enrichment in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.

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