The S2 robot is one of the finest products Parallax has ever produced. Parallax has sold over 17,000 S2 robots and it’s quite popular in education from middle school through university. Those who have never worked with an S2 might discount it as a toy due to it’s humble physical appearance; those who have used it are amazed at what’s possible with the high-resolution encoders and GUI programming environment.
Like any product, the S2 must be evolve to stay attractive. We’re at that point today - we have to make some decisions about improving the S2 design to become an S3 in order to time production with reordering.
Bringing an S3 robot to market would not be trivial. The design team is here in the USA with fabrication and QA/QC in Shenzhen, China. Test procedures, child safety testing, production jigs and molds must all be resolved with lots of documentation, even more communication, and a trip or two to the factory. WIth all of this in mind, design revisions must be determined and incorporated a year before we expect a new model.
Working backwards from the day our current supply is consumed, we’ve determined that our go/no-go design decision must be made by April and that the design revisions would be completed by this June. If we are unable to make the design decisions now, it'll be another year before we can visit this again.
As the S3 would be a 100% restriction-free open source design, we would like to obtain more community input before we make the go/no-go decision under an Open Propeller Project. That’s all we’re looking for - your input on what an S3 robot would ideally become.
These are the known improvements we would consider to specifying an S3:
There are limitations to what we we can do. First, our primary design goals must be driven by our volume educational customers. Class-pack purchases drive our decisions, so I am inviting them to take a look at this thread. Next, we don’t want to mess with the mold design more than small inserts or material removal. The S2 molds cost $35,000 in hard tooling and machining and even more to design. Significant changes to the mold are not practical. And finally, we have to keep our target price at $129 to $149 - no more. We’d have less than $5-10 of additional Bill of Material costs allowed in our budget.
- S3 would be yellow. S1 was blue and the S2 is red.
- GUI would need to be rewritten to accommodate a wider range of operating systems and hardware. We have strong interest in using MIT’s Scratch, Blocky, or Google's Chrome (which one is TBD based on many factors). We could also delay the GUI re-design for a year.
- Bluetooth programming interface. Serial port would likely be retained for use with the BetterBots Fluke, unless their needs could be met inside the S3.
- Formalizing the Neil Rosenberg tutorials into an introductory curriculum with more STEAM concepts.
- Rechargeable battery, with accompanying mold changes and charge circuitry.
- Openly accessible hacker port, by hatch removal.
- Remove microphone circuitry for cost savings.
We would make the entire design 100% open, free of restrictions.
We are interested in what improvements you might like in the S3. By April we will be fully engaged in the new design, or. . .