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Open Source Kit for Robots - OSKR

OSKR basically is a software solution to turn any Vector into a development machine. On this it is should be or will be possible to develop new firmware features like behaviours, animations or sounds that run without the need of an external server and/or the Python SDK. This of course is not something for the average users, but for the more technically inclined.

OSKR was “released” in october 2020, however, so far only an OSKR firmware is available and nothing else. You are able to SSH into an OSKR Vector, you can look around in the filesystem and the Yocto Linux and you are able to change some json configuration files. But everything else to create new functions or “plugins” for the robot as advertised by DDL on the Kickstarter ist still missing as of now (end of 2022, nearly two and a half years later later), e.g. source code, documentation worth the name, dev tools or tutorials on how to create new functions or the “plugins” they mentioned in their crowdfunding campaign. I can only assume that DDL wants to sell their “Vector Boot Camp” and does not release the neccessary tools and informations because of that. What was already released on Github is under a very restirctive license that not really qualifies as 2Open Source“. Read more about it in a blog article.

The installation of the OSKR firmware is a very tedious process that is very prone to bugs, mainly because of Web Bluetooth. With an Escape Pod, even with the latest version, it should be way easier to flash an OSKR OTA onto a Vector, I have no idea why this was not implemented by DDL. (This actually may be possible since you are able to load OTAs onto Escape Pod, now we only need an official online repository of OSKR firmware images).

OSKR documentation - Here you finde the instructions to turn a retail Vector into a development version via OSKR and some mor einfo on comparable trivial tasks you can do with that as changing the boot animation. Despite the first OSKR iteration was released in october 2020 the information there is very sparse.

For the Vector Web Setup you need Chrome as the browser (other webkit based browsers that support Web Bluetooth should work theoretically, but there are problems, Chrome is confirmed working) and a device that supports Web Bluetooth. Since desktop computers usually are not equipped with Bluetooth you may want to use a laptop, or buy a Bluetooth dongle for your desktop computer. Not all dongles may be compatible. I can confirm that this one works: TP-Link UB400 Nano USB Bluetooth 4.0 Dongle

The Big Bluetooth Mess

Do not expect that this works for you. I have personally tried multiple Desktop computers and Laptops with Bluetooth dongles and inbuilt Bluetooth on Windows and Linux and it worked only repeatable und reliable on a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with inbuilt Bluetooth. With all other platforms and OS combinations it sometimes worked on the first connection, but subsequent connections were not possible, even after doing more occult stuff as deleting devices in Chrome Bluetooth settings.

This mess is so gigantic that DDL decided to ditch Web Bluetooth for Escape Pod and instead relying on the Bluetooth that comes with a RasPi 4 for connecting to the robots.

Because of that I would expect for the future that DDL will make the use of a RasPi 4 for flashing an OSKR OTA onto the robot mandatory, since the possible combinations of platforms, OSes and Bluetooth devices will make it nearly impossible for them to write code that will work on all of them. That is most probably also the cause why they do not offer Escape Pod for other Linux flavours or for Windows. Or to say it short: DDL bit off more than they can chew and thus search for easy ways around that (easy ways for them, not for the users).

Vector Web Setup

DDL Vector Setup DDL's version of Vector Web Setup for OSKR

Wire's Vector Setup Since DDL's Vector Setup is buggy, use Wire's version instead, this works:

oskr.txt · Last modified: 2022/11/07 22:06 by xanathon