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Heathkit Reincarnates the Hero Robot

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the no-no-that-os-is-for-human-robots dept.

Robotics 119

DeviceGuru writes "Heathkit, which produced and sold mobile robots aimed at hobbyists and students back in the 1980s, is about to reenter the educational robot business. Heathkit's new HE-RObot incorporates an onboard computer running Windows XP Professional on a Core 2 Duo Processor. It stands 21 inches tall, weighs 55 pounds, and has a built-in 80 GB hard drive, IR sensors, bright LED headlights, and lots of space for custom project circuitry." As robots go, it also looks very much like certain models of SGI workstation. Now I'll need to update my 1980 Christmas wishlist -- it's probably lost between pages of Popular Mechanics.

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favorite robots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816254)

i like this robot best!! [t35.com]

I'd rather have Julie Newmar (1)

IvyKing (732111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816728)

Anyone here old enough to remember "My Living Doll"?

Re:I'd rather have Julie Newmar (1)

ExRex (47177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816826)

Who wouldn't?
As a boy sooo envious of Bob Cummings. Oh, those three little beauty marks.

sex robots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816266)

this article should be about sex robots [ripway.com]

Re:sex robots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816296)

i own this robot but its considered a extreme sex machine [tinyurl.com]

linux! (3, Insightful)

prichardson (603676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816294)

I hope the drivers for all the robot parts of this are available for linux. What good is a robot if it doesn't run linux?

In all seriousness, why would they go with Windows XP? That really doesn't make sense to me. Linux works better as a headless operating system, and would allow for more tinkering.

Re:linux! (4, Informative)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816374)

The Microsoft Robotics Studio [microsoft.com] is supposed to be really good. And why provide drivers? I hope the interface to the sensors is really simple and fully documented.

Why provide drivers? (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816814)

Because they know their market? Obviously not.

Re:linux! (2, Insightful)

x_man (63452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818530)

This is a very sad imitation of the original Heathkit Hero robot. The original Hero had a programmable robotic arm. This robot looks more like the Hero Jr, the less expensive, less featured version of the Hero. I built a Hero Jr. in 1985 (worked all summer to save up the $650 I paid for it) and it was a more functional robot than what is listed here. My Hero Jr. had the IR bit but it also had a sound detector, sonar, and speech synthesis. I would expect something made twenty two years later to be a little bit better than Windows on Wheels. Where's the arm? Where' the AI? Where's the ability to dynamically explore and map out the environment?

Very disappointing.

Re:linux! (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | more than 6 years ago | (#21819134)

The AI? Isn't the point of building a robot to write the AI for it yourself? Being a windows machine, it'd be easy to plug in a mic for sound detection, probably even with voice recognition software. Speech synthesis wouldn't be a problem either (built-in speakers). You could add an arm yourself, although I'll agree that not including one with the robot is a raw deal.

Re:linux! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816614)

it really must suck to have such a narrow understanding of xp and probably computing as a whole.
 
what else should i expect out of a common fanboi as to not know about what microsoft offers that target this exact market. i guess you're one of those morons who thinks that ms is windows, office and visual studio.
 
educate yourself. or just keep looking like a moron and an asshat.
 
btw: tay zonday says 'youz a bitch'

Re:linux! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816634)

Linux works better as a headless operating system

I really don't think Linux should adopt that as their public motto.
     

Re:linux! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816714)

That's easy.
They're still stress testing the hardware

Re:linux! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816740)

Likely the Chinese motherboard/computer manufacturer is telling them they only run on Windows. They do not and will not support Linux.

Seriously. Been there. Done that. When you tell them you want to buy thousands of OEM computers without Windows and are going to run Linux instead, first they give you a befuddled look, then an argument.

I'm guessing they get quite a kickback from Microsoft to load Windows, and they are loathe to remove the Microsoft tax from the price.

It took some doing, but finally we got the machines we wanted without Windows.

Re:linux! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816948)

that was silly meeting. we no have time to try linux we no know english. we busy to make 10,000 steel balls you order from us, we think you take back home to stick up your asses.

Linux won't improve a crappy design. (2, Insightful)

Noodlenose (537591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817530)

While I'm a diehard Linux/*BSD fan myself, this machine wouldn't even be improved with a genuine OpenBSD install done by Theo de Raadt himself (apart from that it would probably swear really well). Look at the design: it looks like a watercooler on wheels. Where's the robotic arm?

Before committing a large amount of money to an overpriced Dell on wheels it really has to stand the 'get me a fecking bottle of beer from the fridge' test.

MS already has robot support, MS Robotics Studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21817738)

If I can't video drivers for Linux, how the heck can I get Robot drivers?

Aside from that, Microsoft actually came out with ROBOT support, http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/robotics/default.aspx [microsoft.com] , a while back.

From the site: The Microsoft Robotics Studio is a Windows-based environment for academic, hobbyist and commercial developers to easily create robotics applications across a wide variety of hardware.

Re:MS already has robot support, MS Robotics Studi (2, Informative)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818466)

The .Net Robot Studio stuff is a clone of Player Project [sourceforge.net] .

Andm Player has robot drivers for this platform already. Check here [whiteboxrobotics.com] for more information.

Linux and FORTH and where's the arms!! (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818704)

Right now it looks like a typical Windows machine; dumb.

Its just a primitive roving sensor platform (and I don't think much of its roving capabilities.)

Until it gets some way to affect its environment, say a mechanical arm with a few axes of freedom, I'm not turned on in the least.

I think a swarm of small "insectoid" robots is a much better way to go.

Small, light, mobile, easily trainable, remote camera platform, swiveling head with mounted pincers and able to carry out simple tasks.

Hey that's what an ant does right?

An ant alone can't do much (apart from being able to survive falls that would turn HeRoBot into shards and twisted fragments) but when acting in concert, then can build enormous structures.

Screw HeRoBot. I want an "ANT" ((C) TM :-)

Alternate OS? (5, Funny)

deckert_za (837816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816298)

Not that I religiously dislike Windows, but if you can run Linux on it, it puts a whole new spin on being able to remotely ssh to your robot and issue the "kill" command ;-)

--deckert

Re:Alternate OS? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816464)

Does have Linux, if you go to the White Box Robotics website, they have a version with Ubuntu. That's the "Player" software on their site. Since they're running mini-ITX motherboards, Linux should run OK. Not cheap, the MS version is ~ $8K, with the Linux version at ~$6.8K.
For my money, I'd spend $350 and get the Pleo, it does run Linux on an ARM CPU. Would be more fun to work with too! http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS9421520726.html [linuxdevices.com]

Re:Alternate OS? (2, Informative)

Enigma2175 (179646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818954)

Not cheap, the MS version is ~ $8K, with the Linux version at ~$6.8K.
WOW, I had no idea they were so expensive. They really don't seem to have much hardware to account for the massive cost. This robot [corruptdb.com] has similar capabilities (same sensors, batteries, etc.) and software (runs Linux/Player) and has a 4 axis manipulator arm that the WBR bots lack at probably 1/10th of the price.

Re:Alternate OS? (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816490)

Not that I religiously dislike Windows, but if you can run Linux on it, it puts a whole new spin on being able to remotely ssh to your robot and issue the "kill" command

Not to fear, Windows provides an automatic version of this feature where you don't even need to log in to have processes randomly killed.

Re:Alternate OS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21817176)

Not that I religiously dislike Windows, but if you can run Linux on it, it puts a whole new spin on being able to remotely ssh to your robot and issue the "kill" command ;-)
--deckert

Hans Reiser already tested this out.

Re:Alternate OS? (1)

zeketp (888795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817266)

So you have a process, lets call it "safety". This process continuously tells the hardware to keep off the trigger. When you issue the kill command for this process, it does!

*Disclaimer: This is a horrible approach, and should obviously not** be implemented on a Windows based machine. If you are dumb enough to do it this way, use some version of ultra-hardened, enterprise grade *nix. And don't go patching the OS or software until you've done extensive testing on an unarmed model.

** Should Not = really really should for comedic value. Try it!***

*** No, I'm still not responsible for your own stupidity.

reincarnation (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816302)

I didn't know Heathkit was still around.

Re:reincarnation (3, Insightful)

bhodikhan (894485) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816506)

I live in the same town as Heathkit. At one point they were part of Zenith Data Systems. Later on they were spun off as their own company. Since then they have catered mostley to the technical education eTeaching type fare (Macromedia Director Training Curriculum). Given that they've lost all the people that made Heathkit great long ago I seriously wonder what would make them try to sell such a closed dead-end robot. While I'm always happy to see Heathkit alive and kicking this robot endeavor makes me wonder who's running the show? My guess is that they're listening to the marketing guys more than the techies that used to drive the products. It's too bad. Heathkit was really cool (about 30 years ago).

fond memories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816926)

Yo, howdy! Grew up in that area. Does the "house of david" still exist? Just wondering used to go to their park all the time and ride their little half sized trains. First beer I ever drank was in their beer gardens, they didn't seem too concerned with age limit nonsense ;) Used to sell the S.J. news-palladium across the entrance to the whirlpool plant, too, back when the amusement park right next door was still operational, the silver beach one. Good times, nice community back then, great place to grow up at, about as close to "andy of mayberry" life as it gets I guess. Lot of my friends dads worked at heathkit (and everyone had heathkit-kits of this or that, I had the walkie talkie), my dad was a mainframe guy for whirlpool there. Oh ya, "maize and blue", I was across the river from you, heh. Been 40 years since I have been there...

Heathkit in name only (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816304)

The awesome thing about Heathkits was that it was just some components you soldered together. You could understand each piece of it, and then see how they get put together into something that actually worked. (I still use my Heathkit stereo receiver at home.) There was no magic black box. I've never seen a permanently broken Heathkit: if you can build it from scratch, you can fix it. Anything else electronic tends to just get thrown away, because there's no way for us mortals to know how to go about fixing it.

Now it's a PC running Windows XP. It's a blue PC on wheels. It doesn't even look like you get to assemble it. It's "Heathkit" in name only.

Re:Heathkit in name only (2, Interesting)

cjsm (804001) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816476)

Well, I think the cool thing about this, to some people (not necessarily me) is that its a PC in a Robot. Assuming you can also use this as a regular PC, this might have appeal as a novel gaming PC or whatever.

But like others, I'm surprised Heathkit is still around. I built a Vox Combo Organ from scratch that Heathkit offered in kit form back in the day. Wasn't very reliable, though. Some of the springs on the keys broke off after I had pounded on it for a year or two. Not Heathkit's fault, since they were just supplying the standard Vox components.

Re:Heathkit in name only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21817588)

Yey! A computer that can carry itself. How long until it shows up at a LAN party somewhere?

Re:Heathkit in name only (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816504)

Now it's a PC running Windows XP. It's a blue PC on wheels.

Oh come on, Windows doesn't crash that often!

Re:Heathkit in name only (1)

Deb-fanboy (959444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816552)

Heathkits of old...

I have a Heathkit stereo pre-amplifier with two 12W stand alone valve power amps.

Built by my Dad in 1964 ish.

As I had the original construction manuals I knew the circuits down to component level and could rebuild / refurbish these with ease. They work superbly.

The matching Speakers which stand four feet high and three feet wide, were not up to the standard of modern speakers, so I gave these to my Son who uses them as PC speakers. They go pretty loud with a tiny 2W amplifier!

Yes the Heathkits were phenomenally good and as Mr Anonymous Coward said above you could fix them, so they last as long as you want them to.

Back to the Robot, may it last as long.

Re:Heathkit in name only (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817720)

Yup. My dad had a heathkit clock in the 70's/80's. It was very pretty, and much nicer than what you would buy pre-built at the store back then. It was always fast, though.

Re:Heathkit in name only (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818540)

The awesome thing about Heathkits was that it was just some components you soldered together. You could understand each piece of it,

There was no magic black box.

Sure there was - Heathkit simply labled it "Resistor R1" or "Capacitor C17" to make you feel like a real electronics tech. Except you weren't - any more than someone who uses a paint-by-numbers kit is the equivalent of a Matisse or a Picasso.
 
 

if you can build it from scratch, you can fix it.

That's true - of something you build from scratch. But you don't built a Heathkit from scratch. You build it from a kit closely following the directions provided to you. A Heathkit is the electronic equivalent of Hamburger Helper.

Re:Heathkit in name only (1)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21819112)

A Heathkit is the electronic equivalent of Hamburger Helper.

In a world of takeout and TV dinners, Hamburger Helper is a step up.

REAL Heathkits are not around any more (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818718)

I had an AA-35 with linear controls that was a constant pain because of the linear controls. fixed four times, had to reorder the volume pot once. when it went again, I winged it.

everything else Heathkit I built, a dozen of them from three amplifiers to a touch light control to the ET3401 microprocessor trainer in 1976, worked until I sold it or set it on the shelf. came back to my AA-14, which I had sold my sister and was in mom's paint closet for 25 years untouched, and it worked right off. I just bought an AR-13A off eBay for stereo at the wife's sewing station, appeared to be big trouble.

the skills I learned reading the "how it works" sections as I went, along with a bunch of Lancaster "cookbook" stuff and eventually designing and building my own digital test equipment, allowed me to get 'er up despite a bunch of mouse excretia, exploded goo from tantalum capacitors and a few electrolytics, without a manual or schematics.

I like heathkits. once I get my Signal One CX7A rehabbed and get back in hamming, I'd like to get an SB10x with the full S-line of accessories, crank 'em back up.

I'd like to see REAL heathkits come back. they always had Zenith TVs, Conn or Vox organs, at one point a PDP-12 desktop, that they broke down so Joe Wannabe could get assembled and working. they started with airplane kits, as in two-seater prop job, FAA certified. that was little cut wood parts, steel cable, and a crate with an engine in it. THAT is the real heathkit spirit, make something you can fall half a mile out of and kill people you land on if you screw up.

the reason I'm a tech and I get trusted with a multi-billion dollar comms network goes back to growing up a TV brat, and learning to do it myself with heathkits.

I want 'em back.

Obligatory... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816312)

Heathkit, which produced and sold mobile robots...

Heathkit is not in charge of Gundam.

Mr. Wizard had one (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816326)

If it was good enough for Mr. Wizard, it was good enough for us.

We had a small army of those at my high school. We used to take entire classes to program it to swear phonetically.

Re:Mr. Wizard had one (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816528)

Come visit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816330)

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Obligatory Windows Put Down, with a twist... (2)

joetheappleguy (865543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816338)

So it runs XP, which with the release of Vista is now supposed to be really not that bad, but it is still running Windows and this is Slashdot, so that is bad, but it's not Vista, which is good, but I want to make a "bot net" worm joke, but with Vista the joke wouldn't be right, but it has XP which is supposed to be better, but you know the whole security thing, but, but, but....

AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

Who knew that making smart ass comments about Windows could get so complicated?

Re:Obligatory Windows Put Down, with a twist... (2, Interesting)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816572)

So it runs XP, which with the release of Vista is now supposed to be really not that bad...

Kinda OT, but...did you ever stop to think that maybe the whole Vista mess was a calculated debacle to make XP look better? I mean, people used to fuss and cuss at XP all the time, and now when Vista comes stumbling along, XP suddenly seems (comparatively) wonderful. (Kinda like how Americans have become so obese, that even I with my 30-40 extra pounds feel like an anorexic model when I look at the other hogs at the buffet trough.) Maybe this whole Vista thing was a decoy to actually sell more copies of XP and make us more complacent and satisfied with it? Vista = New Coke and XP = Classic Coke? Or am I attributing too much wisdom and business savvy to the MS overlords?

now that you say it... (0, Offtopic)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816662)

If there wasn't Vista, i wouldn't have asked for an XP when buying a new computer (i would have used a pirated version dual booted with linux).
But with Vista around, I somehow felt compelled to buy XP! I really did that!
So, yeah, these MS overlords are really, really tricky.

Re:now that you say it... (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817952)

"If there wasn't Vista," it would be necessary for Microsoft to invent it.

55 pounds? (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816340)

That's heavy for what's essentially a laptop with wheels.

Apparently its main sensors are just little IR ranging devices. Those things are basically non-contact bumpers. Not too impressive. It really is a rehash of 1980s technology. I don't see much use for a 55 pound dumbbot. Robotics is way beyond that point.

This thing ought to have at least two cameras, stereo vision, and SLAM software. [wikipedia.org] Wouldn't add that much to the cost, and they have the needed CPU power onboard. A pair of webcam chips mounted rigidly to the same frame, so that they stay aligned within a pixel, would make stereo vision work. You can buy stereo camera pairs for robotics [ptgrey.com] , but they cost too much because they're made in tiny quantities. Made by a toy manufacturer, they'd be no more expensive than two standard webcams.

Re:55 pounds? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816516)

The ptgrey stereo cameras are probably so expensive because they contain two industrial firewire IID cameras. Those are quite expensive in anything higher than 640x480 resolution, and their smaller model already has 1024x768. I suspect (or at least hope) that the two cameras are somehow synchronized, so there's probably some additional electronics on top of just two cameras involved.

In addition to stereo cameras, I'd have hoped for this thing to have ultrasound range finders, and at least some kind of platform to mount your own instruments (like laser scanners).

Re:55 pounds? (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817222)

Those are quite expensive in anything higher than 640x480 resolution, and their smaller model already has 1024x768.

Actually, Unibrain "consumer" (about $100) and "industrial" (about $400) FireWire cameras are the same electronics in different packaging. Their industrial camera has the voltage regulator further from the imager, so its heat doesn't add noise to the image. That's about the only difference in the electronics.

Synchronizing two FireWire cameras is straightforward, too, FireWire cameras running in isochronous mode on the same FireWire tree are all running off the same clock (the "isochronous master"). If you start them in sync, they'll stay in sync. The Linux driver doesn't support multiple cameras (did that get fixed in the 2.6 kernel FireWire re-implementation?), but I once wrote a QNX driver that did, and could run multiple cameras in sync. It doesn't take any extra hardware.

All you need is solid mechanical and optical alignment between the two cameras. Yes, you can try to correct for angular misalignment in software, but if you can get the cameras aligned so that the rows on both cameras are parallel, the stereo processing is much easier.

Heathkit has lost touch with its core users (1, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816362)

The biggest evidence is that the robot does not run Linux. Heathkit was beloved of inveterate tinkers and people who play with technology. Such people may run Windows at home, but I suspect most of them would rather play with Linux. The core user base of Linux is made of those kinds of people. Heathkit as lost touch.

Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (2, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816452)

The division of the company that once sold kits to ham operators and electronics geeks no longer exists (hasn't since the 1990s, IIRC).

The name lives on, being used by "Heathkit Educational Systems", which sells overpriced technology training equipment and materials for classroom use. With the educational market firmly in the grip of M$, the fact that this thing runs XP rather than linux should be no surprise at all.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816520)

That's depressing to learn. :-(

Depress yourself further... (3, Interesting)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816560)

http://www.heathkit.com/ [heathkit.com]

Re:Depress yourself further... (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816834)

I find it amusing that you get modded up further for just providing a link that demonstrates your much more substantive and interesting comment a couple levels up.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1, Interesting)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816622)

Growing up in the '80s and '90s, I saw that half of my Dad's electronic equipment had been custom-built from Heathkit plans, and I longed for the day when I could finally get into the action and start ordering kits myself.

Thanks to Heathkit, that day will never come.

I really can't believe that no one has stepped up to replace them. You would think that there would be a decent-sized market out there.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817454)

You would think that there would be a decent-sized market out there.
You would be wrong. Do you think Heathkit would have shut down their core business if they had any customers? Once integrated circuits made it possible to buy cheap, sophisticated gadgets, people lost interest in do-it-yourself kits that were less powerful and more expensive.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817756)

Except that Heath is largely unnecessary nowadays. Yes, it would be nice to get the catalog, there are plenty of great kit available. From some guy who puts together a circuitboard in his basement to the basic stamp guys and even Ramsey Electronics. Don't like solder? Spend hours custom building PCs.

And as I recall, their ham gear was the only somewhat affordable stuff in the book (compared to Colllins and Hellicrafters). Everything else was way overpriced, including their lousy computers.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

autophile (640621) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817990)

I really can't believe that no one has stepped up to replace them. You would think that there would be a decent-sized market out there.

What about Ramsey Electronics [ramseyelectronics.com] ?

--Rob

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (2)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818176)

Ramsey's BEST offerings can't hold a candle to the worst of the old Heathkit, particularly in terms of the quality of the assembly manuals.

There is one modern company that comes pretty close, but they are solely in the ham radio market, with a very small (but wonderful) product line.

http://www.elecraft.com/ [elecraft.com]

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

El_Oscuro (1022477) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818658)

My introduction to computers came on a Heathkit H-89 my dad built, which I wrote a Pac-Man game using 8080 assembly. In todays world, I probably would have never got started.

Re:Heathkit has a NEW group of "core users" now (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817424)

The division of the company that once sold kits to ham operators and electronics geeks no longer exists
To be precise, the marketplace that the old Heathkit sold to no longer exists. Its may be fun and educational to build a gadget from a kit, but it's hard to sell such a kit when the factory version is a fraction of the cost, smaller, and easier to use.

Re:Heathkit has lost touch with its core users (3, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816646)

Heathkit was beloved of inveterate tinkers
Maybe they're trying to appeal to invertebrate tinkers now.

Re:Heathkit has lost touch with its core users (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816854)

I wonder if cephelopods tinker. I think they've been known to.

Looks like (2)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816364)

Does anyone else think it looks more like a vacuum cleaner?

Re:Looks like (1)

NexFlamma (919608) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817250)

That's only because nowadays our vacuum cleaners look a lot like robots.

Battery Life? (1)

zhang1983 (1058000) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816400)

I see no mention of battery life anywhere... Is this a dumbed-down version of iRobot Roomba on XP?

ok... (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816414)

so wheres Dewey and Louie?

Re:ok... (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816650)

In particles, somewhere beyond Saturn?

wiimote (1)

n3tcat (664243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816420)

All these articles about the wiimote and IR and whatnot made me connect some dots and now I can't stop thinking about the possibilities of using this robot's IR sensors to make it mimic human motion.

Imagine... (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816424)

...a beowulf cluster of these.

in mother russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816428)

you educate robot!

Wither Heathkit? (4, Insightful)

Snorpus (566772) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816456)

Last I heard of Heath(kit), they'd been purchased by Zenith. I think the name is still used on motion-sensor fixtures, sold as "Heath-Zenith", in places like Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.
I suspect the only connection to the Heathkit we love is the name... somebody probably bought the rights to use the name.

Now, if the instructions (yellow cover mandatory) include a 200-step procedure for aligning the RF and IF stages, using the S-meter as a VTVM and the BFO as a signal source, then we know we're getting somewhere.

Provided, of course, that the robot only comes in a two-tone green color scheme.

Re:Wither Heathkit? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817458)

"I suspect the only connection to the Heathkit we love is the name"

Zenith bought Heath way back in 1979.
The only connection of that Zenith to the current Zenith is the name, as they hit hard times, sold a majority stake to LG in the 90s, went bankrupt in '99 and were absorbed by LG. About their only "product" at the time was HDTV patents.
http://www.zenith.com/sub_about/about_corp_history.html/ [zenith.com]

Heathcliff Reincarnates the Hero Robot (3, Funny)

Sergeant Pepper (1098225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816462)

Did anybody else read this as "Heathcliff Reincarnates the Hero Robot"? I had imagined some bastard child of Wuthering Heights and Snow Crash...

Heathcliff: "Wait a minute, Cathy. Make up your mind. This Love thing--is it a virus, a drug, or a religion?" Cathy shrugs. "What's the difference?"

Or, alternatively:

Y.T.: My love for Hiro resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Juanita, I AM Hiro!

meh (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817128)

I was hoping for Heathcliff's robot to launch his fists in a Rocket Punch as the dog watched from his Pilder.

Shame that it instead looks like a wheeled PC tower with headlights and a set of ports embedded in what appears to be a pouring spout without the hole on top. At least I could mod the drive bays to do Breast Fire...or at least add a flashy ineffective square fan or something.

no arm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816510)

they used to have one with an arm - this one needs a fold out arm with 3 fingers and a usb interface.

and why didn't they make this thing ~4 feet high? r2d2 style?

xp seriously?

Re:no arm? (1)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816944)

You can build an R2D2 droid for cheaper. You might wind up sinking a couple of grand into it if you want it to be fully functional, and it will pretty much be a radio controlled puppet and not a genuine robot, but you'll have a lot more fun with it. Besides, one of those radio controlled R2 units won't bluescreen on you (sorry...give you a "stop error") like this steaming hunk of XP-powered cybertrash.

Keep an eye on http://www.astromech.net/ [astromech.net] because right now the site is down for retooling. These guys haven't been "foxed" by Lucasfilm, though...they exhibited at Celebration IV and have Lucas' blessing along the same lines as the 501st and the Rebel Legion. The site had tons of plans and tutorials about droid building. Too bad they aren't keeping the old site up in the interim...sigh.

No Arm? (1)

teddaman (854135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816514)

How is it going to bring me a beer? Seriously, what is this thing good for other than torturing the girlfriend's cat? I can do that with a Roomba off Woot! for a lot less money.

huh? (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816534)

"Heathkit Reincarnates the Hero Robot"??!

that brought a mental image of a mad scientist with frizzy white hair in a lightning storm between two massive jacobs ladders screaming...
"IT LIVES! IT LIVES!".

second the other posters, if it does not come with linux, an SDK, circuit diagrams and full specs then I am not interested.

Re:huh? (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816820)

No no. That crazy, white-haired scientist can be found attempting to scale a clock-tower on an industrial-strength extension cable. In a lightning storm.

Power source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816630)

Doesn't seem to be batteries.. so does it need to be plugged in? And where are the robot claws?!

But doe it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21816644)

The world (or at least slashdot) wants to know:

Does it throw chairs ?

Alternative (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816656)

I like the approach that Evolution Robotics took: use your existing laptop as the brain and control panel of the robot. Their robots are basically Erector-Set-like stands that hold a laptop and have sensors. Pretty cool idea.

Re:Alternative (pics) (3, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816682)

It does run Linux (2, Informative)

cozytom (1102207) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816664)

This robot is maybe made by Heathkit (a subsidary of Zenith, which is really LG, at least in the US for TVs and such), but the design is Whitebox. The top of the line Linux one is $1000 less than the windows version:

      http://www.robotshop.ca/home/suppliers/white-box-robotics-en/white-box-robotics-linux-914-pc-bot.html [robotshop.ca]

It does seem the Heathkit is out of touch, but it is more likely some school administration that would want to buy some of these. Since the administrators don't do any real computer work, other than write Word documents, and do budgets on Excel, to them every nail needs the M$ hammer. They want to teach a software class, well, the old M$ hammer works good for them, they will stick with it. Even many teachers are afraid of anything they can't buy at WorstBuy or the Apple store.

IF these are reliable, and white box can take care of them, then confidence may grow, and people will buy the linux versions to replace the buggy M$ ones. It could happen.

Re:It does run Linux (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817028)

"Even many teachers are afraid of anything they can't buy at WorstBuy or the Apple store."

Question: Suppose you have a class to teach and you're using a device that you already know backwards and forwards. Then, suppose, I come up to you and say you need to use this other device you've never heard of before. Are you going to be afraid of my superior device and keep using the tried and true?

Looks like a HeathRoomba (1)

keltex (990064) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816676)

Wonder if it includes an upholstery attachment?

Whitebox (2, Informative)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816712)

This is basically a repackaged White Box 914 PC Bot [whiteboxrobotics.com] which is priced at over $5000... Unless Heathkit can get the price to a reasonable range, it's probably going to be out of the price range of most hobbiests. Still, a very cool gadget. Wish I had a lot more disposable income...

And it could probably linux (1)

djlemma (1053860) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816896)

Check it out.... [robotshop.ca]
There are multiple robots from white box robotics that make use of Linux..
They sure aren't cheap, though.

RB5X robot kit (2, Interesting)

oaklybonn (600250) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816888)

For a vintage kit from the same era, you might want to check out:

http://www.rbrobotics.com/ [rbrobotics.com]

The kit was about $1000 for chasis and boards. Lots of discrete components here, lots of hackability. All that its lacking is a time machine so I can actually get a chance to work on the one I bought two years ago...

Screw that (2, Funny)

l00sr (266426) | more than 6 years ago | (#21816982)

Screw the HE-Robot. Call me when they release a SHE-Robot.

I, SGI (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817476)

As robots go, it also looks very much like certain models of SGI workstation.
Actually, it only looks like one, the O2 [wikipedia.org] . Which was, I suspect, designed to look like a robot!

Heathkit Is Still Around? (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817504)

Whoa - I remember mis-reading the resistor color codes for a couple of boards my Dad let me work on (for a 1970's era color TV kit). . .

Damn good thing by the time I joined the Air Force and started working on ECM pods they only trusted us to swap circuit cards or the tax payers would have been out a few tens of thousands of dollars.

Re:Heathkit Is Still Around? (1)

Randwulf (997659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21819578)

Ha. I remember the Hero 1. Some geniuses in my high school electronics class soldiered the IC chips into the circuit board instead of the sockets the chips were supposed to go in. I don't think anyone ever got that thing running.

Thought that was going to be different.... (1)

dbolger (161340) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817542)

I spent a few hours today StumbleUpon'ing through the "writing" channel. I read this headline and my first thoughts ran to "Hero Robot" as a character archetype :D

Descendant of the SGI O2? (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21817708)

I shall name mine Erwin.

Why not run it on Linux? (1)

alchemist68 (550641) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818282)

Windows XP? WTF? If there's plenty of space for tinkering, then give the 'space' to people who know what they're doing, namely, the Linux community.

All we need now is a virus or other exploit that turns these harmless 'iRobots' into killing machines...

The Terminator said 'I'll be back', apparently, so did Heathkit.

'nough said.

New HERO vs old HERO? (1)

nothingtodo (641861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21818290)

Have not read the entire article, but this new robot does not seem very impressive. I have a HERO1 (complete but needing restoration) which has speech capability, programmability, a grasping arm, sonar, battery charge, remote control and even a keypad and breadboard for extending his capability and all of 32K RAM! No hard drive or Microsquish OS needed.

Hero ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21819280)

now that's a name I've not heard for a long time.

I guess somebody must have reincarnated Heathkit.

Apparently it can climb stairs (1)

cavebison (1107959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21819460)

But, like Daleks, only while you're looking at something else.
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