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Electronics Hardware

Personal computer robotic platform

The PC-BOT mobile robotic computing platform
Perhaps the ultimate casemod or is it something much more interesting?

I don’t know how many people will remember the old Heathkit Hero-1 robotic kits yould buy in the early 80’s. However, as soon as I saw this “mobile computer platform” I was instantly reminded of the Hero kit which I dreamt about for so many hours as a young kid with no money.

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The White Box Robotics PC-BOT is essentially a mobile x86 class computer that’s fitted into a motorized framework. The chassis is driven by a couple of stepper motors for mobility and has the requisite controllers, batteries, power supplies, and all of that good stuff. The electronic load-out includes a Via Epia mainboard, a Logitech webcam for sight, a sensor array, and of course, the usual hard drive, RAM, wireless network, etc.

This PC-BOT looks like a modern-day Hero-1 — a platform ready for experimentation although more at the software level vs. the Hero’s hardware hacking. I suppose that these days, most people are used to working with software and for them, this $5,000 platform is probably an excellent investment. I, however, would prefer a good set of assembly programming on a limited 6502 platform which needs FPGA hardware assistance, to the bloated world of Windows C++ programming, but then again, I’m weird like that. Oh, the PC-BOT can run Linux as well, so that does make it a bit more “hackerish” 😉

The only thing I see missing is some kind of manipulator arm, which was one of the Hero’s upgrade options.

I wonder what an old Hero-1 goes for now that it’s 30 years old…

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