Anyone have experience with a CRS A465 robot and its controller

A friend has a new CRS A465(still in the boxes) which he never used and will donate it to one of the schools I’m working with. I’ve only found a few videos so far and lots of simulators but not much about the controller and its interface. Wondering if I’m going to need to run a Windows 98 VM to control this or if there’d be a way to control it via a Linux based machine.

I did some searching around today and found some info based on a CRS F3 robot arm which uses the same C500C controller box. The F3 robots seemed to be more popular so what I found was that there’s a serial port( RS232 ) which can be used via the RAPL/3 language which is a text based command set with commands like “joint j 30” to move joint j 30 degrees or “move taughtPos” to move based on a stored/taught motion. The software normally used with this old robot was a Windows based program called RobComm3.

I was able to find an RAPL/3 user guide and I found a brochure for the A465. It looks like a nice manipulator arm albeit over 15 years old. The arm weighs 68 lbs and this is so old that the controller box also weighs that much and has a larger footprint!
Repeatability is stated to be 0.05mm so very nice.
a465.pdf (231.6 KB)

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I found a guy who’d tried to use the F3 version as a CNC machine using ROS. He found the hardware wasn’t upto the task since it was made for repeating procedures in a lab, not a machine shop, and ROS integration was difficult.

He recommended I reverse engineer the serial(RS485?) communications between each joint controller and the C500C controller/power supply box then use LinuxCNC to control the robot. I find that an interesting possibility if indeed each robot joint has its own controller unit and takes serial commands for motion. As you can see from the picture below, the controller/power supply box is huge and weighs over 80 lbs. The little UNIX like OS they called CROS runs in there on a 486 computer( circa 2000 ) but so far I don’t believe it was open sourced.

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CROS‽ That’s a blast from the past! I also haven’t heard anything about open sourcing it, and the idea to use LinuxCNC sure seems to make sense.


I was just informed that the F3 has controller boards at each joint but that the A465 has all the joint driver control logic in the main controller box with motor and encoder wiring cables to the robot. So not just a bunch of RS485 lines.