8 Replies Latest reply on Sep 1, 2020 4:24 AM by topls64

    1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent


      This cropped up in discussion elsewhere on Element 14 and may be worth considering for a future show.



      Heathkit in the 1980's produced and sold an educational/personal robot in kit form or pre-assembled called the 'Hero 1' and then later the 'Hero 1 Jr.' and the 'Hero 2000' models.



      They were much sought after by young technical enthusiasts at the time, but the pricing probably placed them more in the college/university domain.


      If one can be obtained (around 20,000 were sold according to Wikipedia) then it may make an interesting teardown project for the show. If not, then perhaps building a modern equivalent would be an alternative idea for the show.

        • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

          Hi Dave,


          This is a great idea to start a thread on it! Even if it isn't considered for a show, the information could be useful to anyone who wants to recreate something similar.


          Here is some basic information on it, I've had to re-type in my own words, since I didn't want to publish a photo of the entire article since it is copyrighted.


          HERO 1 Basic Information



          (Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hero1.jpg  (license CC BY-SA 3.0)




          Around 500mm high



          14 PCBs!

          1 PM DC motor

          7 stepper motors



          Contains motor drive and steering, and three of the four total batteries.

          The batteries are 6V, but in series to make 12V. So there is a 12V supply for the motors, and a 12V supply for the electronics.



          Most of the PCBs fit here around the body. There is a door for the wiring looms.



          Rotates almost 360 degrees. There are a variety of sensors on it including movement (ultrasound), light, sound and distance (using ultrasound). There is also the fourth battery here.

          The top of the head has a proto-board area, LED display, and hex keyboard. The proto-board allows access to GPIO, supply lines and so on, for connections into the CPU of the robot.



          This is attached to the rotating head and can therefore rotate close to 360 degrees. The arm moves up and down 150 degrees. It is possible for the arm to expand by about 120mm.

          The gripper can bend by +-90 degrees from the arm. It can rotate about the arm axis by close to 360 degrees. The max opening is about 85mm.



          There is an RTC, and a speech synth. The processor is 6808, 8k ROM (expandable up to 16k total), 4k RAM.



          The keypad has an 'Abort' button which won't quit the program, but will halt the robot and display the program counter value. It can be resumed.

          The keypad is hexadecimal because HERO is programmed in machine code instructions. As far as I understand, it is possible to jump to a interpreter which will handle simplified instructions for doing tasks like moving the arm, and then you can jump back into the machine code. This means you don't have to do everything in machine code if you don't want to.


          There are in-built utilities that can be run from the keypad, to perform tasks like move the head and arm to a set position, setting the time, load programs, save programs, etc. (Load and save uses a tape player/recorder).


          Teaching Pendant:

          This has a rotary switch which can be used to select Head, Arm, Gripper etc., and also left/right push-buttons and a go finger-trigger button. So, you can select a part of the robot using the rotary switch, and then move that part using the left/right push-buttons or the go trigger. As a result it is possible to move the robot (at three different speeds) forward or backwards, make it turn, and control its head, arm, gripper and so on. The pendant is used for either manual control, or for the learn mode, i.e. the robot remembers how long you press the finger-trigger and records all the settings.

          4 of 4 people found this helpful
          • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

            Just discovered you guys. Y’all ever get round to doing this?




            I have all the Hero’s. My 2000 is still brand new in the box and never been built yet. Been planning to do the build and post videos of it on the web. Life keeps getting in the way though. I also have two Hero 1’s I’m repairing. I tore one down and was planning to do a series of videos on re-assembly.


            Never enough time to play with all the toys. :/




            Oh and I scored the Heathkit alarm the Jr interfaces with in guard mode as well. I’ve never seen anyone show that off yet on YouTube so I figured I’d do that eventually as well.



            Cool site.



            1 of 1 people found this helpful
              • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent


                Sadly most of the current information online is ancient, the photos are from the 1980's etc., low-resolution.

                That's awesome that you have them all. A video would be great to see!. If you don't mind, some high-res photos could be uploaded here too if you're ok with that. Either in these comments, or if you create a blog post, photos can be inserted inline, and they can be huge (up to 10MB in size) so that it becomes a nice resource of detailed information on the Hero's. I think many people would find that helpful, and might even have suggestions on how to upgrade parts of it.

                This link shows how to insert pictures and videos (these can be inserted as youtube links, and they will appear as inline videos too) into either the comments, or in a blog post (the editor tools are the same):

                Using Editor Tools for Blog Posts

                This website has a lot of engineering information, so lots to explore, and if you need help with repairs or enhancements, or just general engineering discussions, usually someone will always respond.

                Here's my crude robot attempt:

                Building an XMOS and Raspberry Pi Robot XMP-2

                There were a lot more projects here, there was a competition a few months ago:

                Robots with Wheels

              • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

                Adding some photos - these are not mine, and I wish I knew who to ask for permission, but if anyone has a copyright on them, I'll remove them.

                The photos were publicly accessible in some e-bay listing a few years ago.

                • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

                  Just to add some more pics info.. unusually there are several HERO robots on ebay currently (at the usual high prices), but I was more interested in the photos.

                  Since the larger pics may be copyrighted, there is just a thumbnails summary below, but anyone can view and download the photos from ebay until they disappear...

                  There's more than enough information to make very good, and similar-looking if desired, modern replacements : )

                    • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

                      (April 27, 2020) - Hi Folks, I just rediscovered this fine group.  I have a 1985 HERO-1 with a voice module working nicely in our living room.  (It usually sits and displays the time). I updated the batteries and cleaned it up since my wife and I built it in the late 1980s. Thank you for being here and your interest in teaching electronics to folks.  That was one of the reasons this 'Bot was made (I am told).  I can be emailed at daveboyer55@gmail.com or text 585-329-4982 .  Take care. Stay strong and healthy, Dave Boyer, Rochester NY USA.

                    • Re: 1980's Heathkit Hero robot teardown / modern equivalent

                      Hi! 30 year Hero 1 owner here. Had to join, just wanted to offer my Hero 1 knowledge to anyone that may stumble upon this in the future.

                      Heathkit never mentioned some of its cooler abilities in the manuals, like serial up/download and the ability to run BASIC on board. It is just a 6800 series computer after all.


                      I can be found at personal a+ jeffgolenia.com if you ever need guidance.

                      If you need parts, ROMs or manuals, I recommend you talk to Robert at https://www.robotworkshop.com/robotweb/


                      Take care!

                      Jeff Golenia

                      Chicago, USA