HERO (robot)

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HERO (Heathkit Educational RObot) is the name of several educational robots sold by Heathkit during the 1980s. The Heath Company began the HERO 1 project in October 1979. The first units were available in 1982. Models included the HERO 1, HERO Jr., and HERO 2000. All three were available as kits, or for more money, prebuilt by Heathkit. Currently,[when?] the 1980s models are considered collectors items, due to their apparent rarity. For the most part, they cannot perform practical tasks, but are more geared toward entertainment and education above all.

HERO 1 (ET-18)[edit]

HERO 1 was a self-contained mobile robot controlled by an onboard computer with a Motorola 6808 CPU and 4 kB of RAM. The robot featured light, sound, and motion detectors as well as a sonar ranging sensor. An optional arm mechanism was available. HERO 1 was also featured on Mr. Wizard's World on a few episodes.[1][2]

HERO 1 (left) and HERO 1's control panel (right)

Technical data[edit]

CPU Motorola 6808
RAM 4 kB
Monitor ROM 2 kB
Input Hex keypad with 17 keys
Output six 7-segment LEDs
Storage Compact Cassette
Height 20 inches

HERO Jr. (RT-1)[edit]

A smaller version of HERO was released later, called HERO Jr. Heathkit intended it for the home market, and therefore made it less complex, and more self-contained. Like HERO 1, HERO Jr. had a 6808 processor, but only 2 kB of RAM. As well, it sported onboard speech synthesis, a Polaroid sonar range sensor, a light sensor, and a sound sensor. An optional infrared sensor was available as well. Other optional components included a pair of extra batteries to double the operational time between charges, from an estimated 4 hours to 8 hours. A remote control accessory allowed users to drive the robot around. It included a motion sensor that caused the robot to croak "SOM-THING-MOVE" when it detected a source of motion.

Heathkit released several add-ons to increase the robot's capabilities, including a transmitter to activate a home security system in the event it sensed movement while on "guard duty". Also, additional cartridges with programs and games were available, as well as a components to allow the user to directly program the robot.

The drive mechanism is backward compared to the HERO 1, with the drive and steering wheel in the back of the robot. The head section featured an indentation to allow the robot to transport up to 10 lb (5 kg). The robot could speak several phrases from various films that either involved robots or computers. It was also capable of remembering and repeating back its masters name, as well as singing songs, reciting poems, and making its own combinations of phonemes to create a robotic gibberish.

Hero Jr.

Technical data[edit]

CPU Motorola 6808
RAM 2 kB, expandable to 24 kB
Monitor ROM 32 kB
Input Hex keypad with 17 keys
Output 9 LEDs
Batteries 6 V 3.8 A·h x2, x4 optional

HERO 2000 (ET-19)[edit]

The much more powerful HERO 2000 included several onboard microprocessors, onboard speech synthesis, several sensors, and the ability to add expansion cards using a passive backplane.[3]

HERO 2000.

Technical data[edit]

CPU Intel 8088
RAM 24 kB, expandable to 576 kB
Monitor ROM 64 kB with integrated BASIC
Input RS-232 serial port
Output RS-232 serial port

HE-RObot[edit]

The HE-RObot was the result of a strategic partnership between Heathkit and White Box Robotics. When available, it cost as much as $8000. The HE-RObot was marketed to the educational market. Heathkit sold approximately 50 of these robots before their bankruptcy in 2012.

HE-RObot is a badge-engineered version of the 914 PC-Bot (pictured) by White Box Robotics.[4]

Technical data[edit]

CPU Intel Core Duo
RAM ?
Monitor-ROM ?
Input ?
Output ?

Reception[edit]

BYTE called HERO 1 "a product of extraordinary flexibility and function ... If you are interested in robotics, Heath will show you the way".[5]

Literature[edit]

  • Mark J. Robillard: HERO 1 - Advanced Programming and Interfacing, H.W. Sams 1983. ISBN 0-672-22165-9
  • Howard Boyet: Hero 1 - Advanced Programming Experiments, Heathkit/Zenith 1984. ISBN 0-87119-036-2
  • John D. Hubbard, Lawrence P. Larsen: Hero 2000 - Programming and Interfacing, Heathkit/Zenith 1986. ISBN 0-87119-153-9

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark J. Robillard: HERO 1 - Advanced Programming and Interfacing, H.W. Sams 1983. ISBN 0-672-22165-9
  2. ^ Howard Boyet: Hero 1 - Advanced Programming Experiments, Heathkit/Zenith 1984. ISBN 0-87119-036-2
  3. ^ John D. Hubbard, Lawrence P. Larsen: Hero 2000 - Programming and Interfacing, Heathkit/Zenith 1986. ISBN 0-87119-153-9
  4. ^ HE-RObot: The Next Generation of Heathkit HERO Robots Posted by james on December 26, 2007 at 03:16 PM in Do-It-Yourself, Robots - Retro Thing
  5. ^ Leininger, Steve. "Heath's HERO-1 Robot". BYTE. p. 86. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 

External links[edit]