WowWee RoboRemote ReviewPosted by milw on Wednesday, 25 June 2008
Say hello to the Roboremote, the niftiest, handiest little contraption yet seen by WowWee enthusiasts! Roboremote is a universal infrared (IR) remote control designed for use with any of WowWee's past, present and future IR-controlled robots.
Table of Contents:
Roboremote is a small hand-held IR controller that is capable of sending the proper IR patterns to control all existing WowWee 'bots, and will also be able to control future IR bots from WowWee. The remote itself has 4 programmable function buttons and a 3 level shift button. The WowWee icon in the center of Roboremote illuminates to indicate the shift level (green, orange or red) and flashes to indicate a repeating command. Roboremote also sports a small USB socket and comes with the necessary USB cable to connect the remote to your Windows PC (sorry, Macs and other operating systems are not supported at the time of this writing.) After loading batteries into the remote, you can press the shift button to cycle through the levels. After a short period without additional key presses, the remote will go to sleep. I'll mention here also that holding down one of the four function buttons for 0.5 seconds will put it into 'repeat' mode, which is indicated by the LED cycling through the colors; Roboremote will continue to send that command indefinitely, or until the same key is pressed again.
Roboremote is shipped from the factory with basic commands for all (current) WowWee bots assigned to the green level of the four function buttons. I'll refer to them as 'top', 'bottom', 'right' and 'left' (but remember that they don't have to correspond to direction movements). The top button sends the 'Forward' command, the 'left' button sends a 'Turn right' command; the 'right' button sends a 'Turn left' command; and the 'bottom' button sends a 'Stop' command. You may notice the LED flashes green while sending these commands - that is because Roboremote is actually sending the same command for every robot sequentially (like 'Robopet Forward, Roboreptile forward, Roboraptor forward, Roposapien forward' etc etc.). If you have several WowWee bots, you can try this with all of them on at the same time. Watch out though, it can get pretty chaotic!
To get the most out of your Roboremote, you'll want to download the latest software and install. Note that only Windows XP and Vista are currently supported. The software is usable for creating and saving control functions, even if you don't have the Roboremote connected. After launching the program, you will see in the lower left either 'RoboRemote is not connected!', and after you plug in your Roboremote, you should see 'RoboRemote is connected!'. You should also see the Roboremote LED turn on green while connected to your computer- it uses power from the USB connection to save your battery life while programming.
The software has several main sections- on the left, you'll see a column of robot icons representing the currently available compatible robots. Adjacent to that is a column of action category icons, each of which will contain multiple possible actions. The black circle and square 'magnifiers' at the top of the columns indicate the current selection- click on various bots and actions to get a feel for how you select a particular bot and action category to work with.
The large area to the right of the bot and action categories is the command list selector. To add commands to your new program, simply click the command name and drag it down to the horizontal selector pane. You can add multiple commands (up to 12 in the
visible area, but more can be added by using the scroll buttons <> under the selector pane) up to a limit of (40? available memory?). Notice also that each command can have a time delay associated with it (roll over the command icon to see its sequence number, robot, command name, and delay time). This is to allow for the completion of lengthy moves before sending the next command in the program, for example the RSMedia 'Get Up' command.
Once you have created a sequence of commands, the best thing to do next is test it. Turn on the bot that you have used the commands for, aim the Roboremote (still connected to your PC by the USB cable) and click the red 'Play IR' button at the bottom of the window. If you watch the lower left status message, you'll see 'Sending - 1 - RSMedia - Get Up', etc for each command in your program. Now is the time to adjust the delays, for example if a command did not have sufficient time to finish before the next command was sent. A hint here- click on the command in the selector pane, enter the delay time that you want, and remember to click on the check mark next to the delay setting to apply the delay time. Roll your cursor over the command again to verify the delay was applied (this caught me off guard a few times!).
You may want to save your program-in-progress while you are working on it, and definitely after you are happy with how it is working. The file save function is at the very top of the interface, above the action category list (second icon, arrow pointing to computer). This will save your program as a *.RCF format file, which is actually just a plain text file that you can examine in Notepad to see how your commands are saved. You can also exchange your favorite programs with others just by sending the RCF file.
OK, you've got the bugs worked out, or perhaps we should say, your robot got a good workout! Now is the time to save your program to the Roboremote. To the right of the Play IR button is the appropriately named 'Store to Roboremote' button. Click this and you will see a larger than life-size image of the Roboremote with clickable buttons! Simply click the shift button to choose which shift level you want, and then the function button to store your program to. Click OK, and that's it, other than training your brain to remember which button you just stored your program to (or like me, jotting it down on a handy piece of note paper.)
I haven't played with this aspect of Roboremote yet, but it has the capability to record commands directly from another WowWee IR remote. This should allow you to capture sequences of commands by simply pressing the buttons on (say) a V2 remote, while aiming it into the Roboremote's IR receiver.
I find the Roboremote and its software to be very straightforward and easy to use, and it gives you access to all of the possible commands that you might have forgotten about, for every IR-controlled WowWee robot. Coupled with the very reasonable price, this is one must-have gadget for the WowWee bot owner.
Buy the Roboremote at the WowWee Store
Roboremote Software Download (3.2 Mb)
Roboremote User Manual (2.8 Mb PDF, more detail than in package insert)
Hacking the WowWee Roboremote
Roboremote Downloads at RoboCommunity