Hexy Goes Exploring

Finally got around to starting another project with Hexy. Delays on my part due to laziness, lovely British summer weather (therefore Pimms) and being jaw-dropped by the awesomeness of this guy.

Note that the cable has the black wire on the left at the bottom, but on the right at the sensor

Note that the cable has the black wire on the left at the bottom, but on the right at the sensor

Rather embarrassingly, had to ask the lovely forum users for help at the outset and got given some really useful code-snippets back to help me on my way.

Some tweaks and fiddles later and I had Hexy swinging his head back and forth and some distance information being passed back to the Python code to allow it to make some decisions about what Hexy should do next. This is the start of a closed loop controller for Hexy.
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Hexy will have a friend!

Those clever folks over at Arcbotics have undoubtedly been up late and working very industriously of late. From the makers of our beloved Hexy, they have just started a new Kickstarter campaign for a little robot called Sparki.

Top-Front-Side with Logo copy

Aww.

Sparki is set up to work straight out of the box (3D printed, no less), with a stack of sensors and tricks that it can play. This simple, entry level robot is more aimed at education than Hexy, and even cheaper to boot.

I've backed it. You should too. They could swarm together. It'll be awesome.

Fear not though, Hexy is not forgotten. He's still got plenty of tricks to learn and more excellent videos to post. Incidentally, Hexy has gotten me over two thousand total views of the stuff that I've uploaded to YouTube. Not too bad. The Thriller video has gotten nearly 1,000 view just by itself, although I suspect that this might have something to do with Arcbotics' enthusiasm for this particular vid:

I wonder how Hexy and Sparki could be made to work together? Any suggestions/ thoughts?

Final comment about the new robot on the block though: Hexy was writing even before Sparki was born. Don't know what the little upstart thinks they're doing trying to show off on their Kickstarter page. Bah! ;)

Hexy 2.0

... well possibly Hexy 1.01.

After Hexy's demos at the Big Bang Fair it became apparant that Hexy's writing wasn't up to all that. It seemed like this was due to his feet slipping about relative to the pen; more grip was clearly needed!

So here comes Hexy's first upgrade. Better socks give his feet more grip. The plastic dust-caps were removed and replaced with a small patch of neoprene (yep, the stuff that wetsuits are made from) whipped in place with some fishing line.

Unfortunately, I forgot to do a control test before hand to measure the old feet friction relative to the new feet. Perhaps I'll get around to doing this measurement, but needless to say: Hexy is a lot more sure on his feet now!

Hexxy's upgrades

Because of the spares bought for Hexy he could also have some of his servos replaced: we can rebuild him, we have the technology*. Notice the shiny blue box on the right of the photo above, that's a metal-geared micro-servo. Hexy should now be less susceptible to injury. Huzzah!

Apart from when I've had a few glasses of wine :(

*ask your parents.

a robot in disguise

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Hexy, for various reasons, had to be disguised. He got invited to his first party, but the invite said "please bring other halves, children or pet tortoises" (again, something about my friends could be derived from this invite). Necessarily, Hexy … Continue reading

Art | feat. Hexy

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This gallery contains 1 photo.

I have awesome (and possibly mad) friends. Through a website that gives offers on a range of items, my friend Rhian spotted a voucher for a discounted A2 photo canvas. Well now, if you've gotten yourself a canvas to fill, … Continue reading

Hexy's First Words

In order for Hexy to understand how to write, he had to be taught the alphabet. There are many ways to skin a cat and I figured that the easiest way to record the required letter paths was for me to write up some Matlab code. Pretty straightforward stuff, just lets the user click through the points that define a letter, which is then written to a text file as a Python if-elif statement.

NB I'm aware that this isn't an open-source offering (Matlab is a commercial product), but I'm no good with Python GUIs. If someone would like to port this, please be my guest :)

Once the if-elif statement has been generated, just needed to be packaged with my full robot IK code and made to step through a string, letter by letter.

The fully modified PoMoCo can be downloaded from my GitHub repo. It's not especially efficient with the code or packaged in a sensible manner, but it does muddle by to demonstrate the required functionality.

So here it is. Hexy writing his first words:

Now I know that a good metric for the simplicity of a programming language is the ease at which you can make a Hello World program. In the case of Hexy, I've got to admit it's fairly tricky. It's taken me two months to get to this stage and even so, Hexy as a console output method isn't great. Don't get me wrong, it's not as hard as Malbolge, but this really doesn't feel like Hexy's calling.

If you'd like your very own signed postcard by Hexy, please get in touch!

Hexy Gets Schooled

Through a colleague in the office, Hexy got invited to present at a local primary school. With three groups of children coming to see Hexy ranging in ages from 3-4 up to 9-10 years old, Hexy would have his work cut-out to keep everyone entertained.

I was introduced to everyone as "Robot Rob" for the day and demonstrated Hexy's muscles (servos), and brain (microcontroller), which seemed to provoke some interest in the young minds. What really got everyone going was the dancing though, I was even super impressed by one young lad who recognised the Thriller dance - even though he was only 4!

Hexy even had his first go at writing his name (fairly unsuccessfully), but the children forgave his poor handwriting as he was so young (only two months). In all, everyone seemed to be impressed/ inspired by what Hexy could do, the children has a few suggestions of what robots could do in the future (heavier on Gangnam-Style, light on surgical robots).

Fun day.

PoMoCo Demo Teaser

Have learned enough about Python Tk to have redrawn the PoMoCo interface and put up some child-friendly icons on the buttons. Code behind it mostly already exists, just needs to be integrated. That's this weekend and next weekend's jobs. Watch this space!

New layout preview of PoMoCo software

New layout preview of PoMoCo software