Hexy as an education tool / STEM demonstrator

I’ve just presented Hexy to some key people within my business and it has been volunteered to demonstrate robotics the possiblities which arise from studying Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) and to generally be something cool at a couple of events that we’re involved with.

One is Rampaging Chariots, which will be held where I work in June. This is a robotic games event entered by teams (usually 15-16 years old) from some of our local schools with the intent on boosting interest in STEM subjects. Demonstration time ~2 hours max, no of students ~60.

The other is going to be our corporate stand at The Big Bang Fair in London during March. This national event is aimed at children from about 4 years old up to university level and is a “celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people”. Demonstration time ~8+ hour days for 4 days straight, visitors through doors in 2012 event ~56,000.

I have two questions (primarily aimed at Arcbotics, I’d guess): 1. What spares/ repairs should I have on hand to support a Hexy at these events (currently I have one stock Hexy, one spare leg, one spare servo) and 2. What should I have Hexy doing? What have you found successful?

Currently I have the following ideas for Hexy demonstrations:
[ul]
[]Navigation of a simple maze. I envisioned that an area be populated with some cardboard boxes (placed by the children) to form a maze that Hexy could walk through by following a wall and use of its ultrasonic distance sensor.[/]
[]Self stabilisation. Using something like a smartphone as a controller (with inbuilt accelerometers) place Hexy on a platform with limited movement about two rotation axes. As the robot is a hexapod it should be able to position its feet in such a way to maintain neutral body position as the platform moves (imagine an active gyroscope).[/]
[]With the addition of a “pen” holder (via my office’s new 3D printer?) some inverse-kinematic maths (wip) will allow it to work as a basic plotter and write/draw things.[/]
[]Technically it’s got enough degrees of freedom to act as a 5-axis machine, so a lightweight cutter on its underside should allow arbitrary shapes to be carved from a block of foam underneath. Although I admit, this feels like quite a stretch goal.[/]
[/ul]

I’ll have some limited budget from my company to buy stuff (I’m thinking that an AC power-supply will be totally necessary). Otherwise? Thoughts for demo ideas would be particularly appreciated (especially if they come with pre-done code!)

As I’m going to be present as an ambassador for my company, I don’t think that I will be allowed to plaster the area with Arcbotics propaganda materials, but some artworks might be helpful…

Thanks all!

Assuming relatively heavy use and that you’re using the default servos, my suggestions for #1 are:

  • Spare Batteries (of course)
  • Up to 10 Spare servos (for “quick” swap-out)
  • 20-30 spare gears to repair broken ones at a more leisurely pace.

Your ideas for #2 are good… I’ve been toying with repurposing and old iPod Touch for similar purposes by using the RedPark TTL serial cable connected to the GPIO pins used for Serial1 along with some custom code to drive the Hexy but haven’t done much beyond figure out the basic architecture.

I have two questions (primarily aimed at Arcbotics, I’d guess): 1. What spares/ repairs should I have on hand to support a Hexy at these events (currently I have one stock Hexy, one spare leg, one spare servo) and 2. What should I have Hexy doing? What have you found successful?

Currently I have the following ideas for Hexy demonstrations:
Navigation of a simple maze. I envisioned that an area be populated with some cardboard boxes (placed by the children) to form a maze that Hexy could walk through by following a wall and use of its ultrasonic distance sensor.
Self stabilisation. Using something like a smartphone as a controller (with inbuilt accelerometers) place Hexy on a platform with limited movement about two rotation axes. As the robot is a hexapod it should be able to position its feet in such a way to maintain neutral body position as the platform moves (imagine an active gyroscope).
With the addition of a “pen” holder (via my office’s new 3D printer?) some inverse-kinematic maths (wip) will allow it to work as a basic plotter and write/draw things.
Technically it’s got enough degrees of freedom to act as a 5-axis machine, so a lightweight cutter on its underside should allow arbitrary shapes to be carved from a block of foam underneath. Although I admit, this feels like quite a stretch goal.

I’ll have some limited budget from my company to buy stuff (I’m thinking that an AC power-supply will be totally necessary). Otherwise? Thoughts for demo ideas would be particularly appreciated (especially if they come with pre-done code!)

Sounds pretty ambitious!

I know Rob Cook already did a pretty fantastic job on the writing, with code:
robcook.eu/hexy/hexys-first-words/

Hello,

this is my first post here and I’m looking for some help and information for Hexy. I was wondering what the exact Dimensions and Weight Specs for Hexy are. I’m planning on using it for some undergraduate research coordinating with an autonomous quad-copter robot via blue-tooth or wireless. I have a list of features I would like to add and wondering if they are possible to add as well. It’s my first experience into using Audrino’s but I have worked on a underwater ROV for an NASA competition with my Robotics Club. I need to have my exact design specs for the robots included with my proposal so I need to know the information for Hexy in order to make it. I also realize that I may need to buy a bigger Audrino that can handle all the additional stuff I want to add to it.

The mechanical laser cut files for Hexy are available on github. Is this the information you’re after? If you really want the weight of the robot I can throw mine on a set of scales.

In terms of doing this work with a university, why can’t you just provide a purchasing specification for Hexy, rather than a “design” spec?

Based on what you’re saying you’re planning to do, I’d suggest that you use an external controller (such as a Raspberry Pi) rather than modification to the existing Arduino. This will also allow you to more easily use the support of this forum as you’ll have a stock robot.

Good luck.