EZ-B History

The EZ-B was created by DJ Sures to be a modular complete robot platform. The concept has taken many years worth of development in both hardware and software to achieve the EZ-Robot's innovation. We asked DJ to provide us with details about the progress of hardware from the beginning to present.


EZ-B Wired Prototype
The EZ-B wired prototype (seen above) was created in 2007 by DJ Sures for his K-9 Doctor Who robot. Due to his modular method of hardware and software development, the code was split into functional modules to provide scalability. As you can see by the photos, the entire circuit board was assembled and designed by hand. The first version was not Bluetooth enabled, so the application code was included within the microchip programming. However, the modular code for servos, ultrasonic ping sensors, ADC ports, etc. from this prototype is still the heart of the current EZ-B firmware.

Interesting Fact: The concept of the EZ-B came to DJ at 2 AM, where he awoke from a dream with the concept. He rushed to the lab and built this prototype - as you can tell, he only had two wire colors available.



EZ-B Printed Prototype v1
Once DJ had the wired prototype working, he started drawing the printed circuit board design. His first version included an under powered 7805 voltage regulator, and a L298 motor driver. The idea of combining everything on a single board was a good one, but not practical for the voltage regulator.



EZ-B v2
DJ had spent time to source a high amperage 5 volt DC reculator. The regulator he found was able to provide 3 amps! That was a great find, and now he was confident the EZ-B could power multiple servos, sensors, chip and bluetooth module. However, he was a bit wrong (sorry DJ!). The voltage regulator did not have enough power for more than 3 servos, which would cause the microchip to brown-out when servos were moved. This would restart the CPU and cause a disconnection from the computer. Back to the drawing board :)



EZ-B v2.1
This v2.1 of the printed circuit board looks similar to the v2.0, but it has two major differences. The Bluetooth module and microchip are powered by a 7805 +5 DC voltage regulator, while the I/O ports are powered by the 3 amp LM323 regulator. This seperated the microchip/Bluetooth power from the I/O power and prevented brown-outs. Because the I/O may require additional power, an optional power header was added by removing a jumper. The lengthy screws on the voltage regulator also acted as a heatsink. This version of the EZ-B was sold in limited quantities online as a proof-of-concept. The original version provided only an SDK Library, and eventually evolved into the graphical EZ-Builder. Only 100 of these were sold, making this a valueable collectors item.



EZ-B v3 Prototype
Now that the prototype had been proven by 100 users, DJ was convinced there is a need for a complete robot solution platform. He took the v2.1 concept to his friends at Solarbotics where he worked with Jeremy to produce this v3 prototype. Only 4 of these prototypes exist, and are considered to be very rare. One of these boards is in the wild, and has never been located. It was used in a robot built by DJ Sures for Make Magazine Volume 27 - the robot was called Digger, which was a dog. The robot was left in the hands of the Make Magazine staff and now is considered lost. The robot and the PCB are considered very important collector items if found.

Due to the Arduino compatible form factor, the old 3 Amp LM323 had been replaced with a new I/O voltage regulator of the LM1084, which provides 5 amps of current! :)



EZ-B v3
The EZ-B Prototype was a success, so the PCB file was sent to the printers for the first mass production product. There was a small mistake made to the PCB Gerber file before it was sent to the printers. An accidental shift of a part caused a short within the circuit. The PCB has a cut and larger hole drilled to prevent the short. Also, the PCB was designed for a specific Bluetooth module, but a new better version was choosen with a different pin-out. These first v3 EZ-B's have a small adapter connected to the Bluetooth module also.



EZ-B v3.1a
The EZ-B v3.1 included a new voltage regulator for the microchip and Bluetooth module. This new voltage regulator cost a little more than a 7805, but DJ Sures cares about quality. The new voltage regulator can provide up to 3 amps, which is more than enough for only the Bluetooth and Microchip - but has only a 0.3v drop-out! For the I/O ports, the 5 amp LM1084 is still used.



EZ-B v3.1b
There are very few differences with this EZ-B v3.1b. This version boasts a larger heatsink that passed great heat tests. Other than that, the PCB is the same and changes are minor.