Rhino Robotics Arm Apple IIe Items wanted

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Rhino Robotics Arm Apple IIe Items wanted

I am looking for Apple II software disk, and controller card for Rhino Robitics XR-1, XR-2, XR-3 systems.

I have the book "Fundamentals of Robotics" by Larry Heath and it mentions that there were two cards that shipped with some versions of Rhino Arms. One is referred to as the California card and the other is vague. Each had its own version of the Robot software.

I would like to find 1) the disk, 2) controller card, 3) teach pendant, or 4) any combination of part including complete system. So far I have the arm and Mark III controller but finding just parts may not be possible anymore. Let me know what you have as maybe you have an old diskette that got separated from the arm or other device that you have in your box of stuff.

I would very much like to get my Arm up and running. I do not have a teach pendant. Help in programming it or suggestions would be appreciated. I don't know if it would work without the teach pendant. Lots of questions and no-one I know has one. Even rarer to find someone who wants to use it for Apple II series.

Let me know if you have Books, manuals, disks, parts, etc


gsmcten's picture
Last seen: 5 years 4 months ago
Joined: Oct 4 2005 - 18:52
Posts: 2629
Previous Thread...


If I remember correctly, there was another thread here concerning the very item you are talking about. It was not all that long ago.

You may want to go searching in the forums for it.

Good Hunting. Smile

Last seen: 9 years 3 months ago
Joined: May 8 2009 - 11:41
Posts: 5
Update to: "Rhino Robotics Arm Apple IIe Items wanted" msg

I'm please to announce that I got one Rhino Robot to function and repaired several things about it. The gripper motor is an early version and even the service manual goes into detail about how the metal gear breaks. I found an easy solution to this problem. I purchased a second Rhino XR-2 (with version 4 motors making it XR-3 equivalent for the most part) and also a third Mark III controller. The aquisition of the second set was great in a few ways- it came with student manuals, owners manuals and even software for Apple II and even IBM PC software. The 2nd robot arm is missing the large square base and had motor problems and broken encoder disks and ribbon cable problems. I'm still solving the ribbon cable problem part but have aquired the connectors I need and can look off the now-working robot (was piecemeal too) to see how it should all go together. The aquisition of the second robot gave me enough parts and pieces and software to finally get my first arm up and running. Very thrilling after all of the work and research. It seems the incompleteness of both robots offset each other where I was able to learn from the two. That is how it is when you are dealing with obsolete items and no references. To be these items are high-tech even by today's standards. I don't know anyone who has a robot. In those days, I didn't know anyone who had a computer either. I built my first computers from mail order parts and was thrilled. I have the same thrill today by getting my robot to work.

In the early days people would ask me why in the world do I need a computer for- what are you going to compute? I didn't really know why I just wanted a computer and learned to program by checking out library books and magazines. I can't really say why I want a robot, once I figure out how to get it all running I'm sure I will find a nice use for it. Just like computers even back then I found great uses for. No-one nowadays would have the reaction- what do you want to computer because there are uses like the internet that are very popular and common.

Once I had one up and running, I'm able to swap out the 3ea Mark III controllers one at a time and noticed that there are differences in the way each box operated due to eprom differences. For example the gripper on one box lets you take tiny steps manually to open and close the gripper (all on purpose as controlled by the user) The other box opens and closes full open and full close with one keypress (also the way it should be)

My third Mark III controller works too but I need to fix the electronics as the wrist doesn't operate. I'll need to figure that part out.

Having one set fully functional is the key for me to get the rest up and running. So far I have about $1000 invested in the Rhino system. I also learned that my teach pendant is really not the right one for my Mark III controller box and so only really lets me jog the arm but no learning or saves etc.

Another thing I came across is that the Apple II software homes on all of the axes except th up/down wrist - I believe that is a software issue not a hardware. The home position is REALLY important and without it the robot loses steps- for example picking up a pen and moving it- is no problem the first time. The second time- the gripper may be a little off. Or the elbow may be a little off etc. It depends on the exertion point. When picking up the pen- pressure on the gripper closing caused it to skip a step. Or having the elbow bend to resta gainst the table and then pick up the pen - cause the motor to skip a step as an obstacle (the pen or the table) was present. This is not a defect but just having a home function eliminates the skip the next time you run that sequence of motions. WIthout the home function- in the wrist or gripper (the robot has home switches on all parts and axis) it is kinda useless. I will need to learn more about how to add the home function to the Apple II software or write my own. Repeatability is the key to what I want to do with my robot system. I've already stripped a gear in my large motors (fixed it the other day) due to running a sequence 5 times and by the 5th sequence the robot was doing pushups and the gripper on the table and pushing itself up and down which was enough to bust a gear in the large elbow motor.

The robot itself has features that the old Apple II software that came with it didn't take advantage of like homing on all axis. I would imagine that school kids would have broke alot of gears. I broke mine and I was careful and the thing just started getting away from me and doing pushups. Back then the system was I dunno $8000 back then which equates to big bucks historically speaking. My $1000 used/broken/repaired system in today's dollars has had numerous repairs (by me) most of which was probably damaged in a school. The robot has enough power and torque to damage itself- which is cool in a way. The hard part is figuring out how to fix it. So far I've managed to replace parts and figure out how to solve that sort of thing. I bet some people are/were afraid to run it because it might break. I look at it as a functional robot as I want it to do work. It is not a collector's item to me- I want to use it and learn about it. If it breaks again I'll figure out another way to fix that part - whatever it is. My Apple IIe is also there to use and is not gathering dust.

I also learned that the teach pendant is not required at all. I run my Apple II software with the teachpendant completely disconnected and the Mark III switch in down position.

The cable was a real big issue because the cable pinouts are all different than IBM PC cable for Rhino robots. The mfg website, the service manuals, the owner;s manuals all give a different diagram. I tried it all in all combinations. I thought I had a deal controller or robot because none of the cable configurations I tried worked. So I made my own and figured out baud rates, settings inthe control box and the SuperSerial Card II and more. What a challenge that was. And the effort was all worth it. Now it works! Awesome. Just by trial and error and persistence figured it out and the parts and pieces if a second junk robot which was sold as "working" also- you get that alot when you buy junk - don't you? You gotta love the "junk" enough to stick with it and make it functional again. Not junk anyore.

I also have interests in Microbot's teachmover and the MiniMover5 and will be working on restringing a very torn up one I bought off of ebay. The Microbot and MiniMover I have don't have any home position switches and I can already tell what that is going to do with repeatability. It is quite a challenge and I'll attempt that after my Rhino system is more complete.

Tom Owad's picture
Last seen: 13 min 8 sec ago
Joined: Dec 16 2003 - 15:14
Posts: 3331
This calls for pictures. (

This calls for pictures.

(And incidentally, I've been playing with a pair of Alpha II's, which I believe are the industrial equivalent of the Teachmover.)

Last seen: 13 years 2 months ago
Joined: Feb 17 2008 - 12:45
Posts: 195
Delighted to hear you got the

Delighted to hear you got the Rhino up and running.
Not just pictures we want video!

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