Hexapod Update

So the new Hexapod hardware has been in use for a few weeks now. Thought you guys deserved some pictures of it assembled.

The hardware has bump stops so that it does not damage servos when in a closed position.

Normal standing stance.

Head-on tilted forward.
Hexapod Front

Stance used when manipulating objects, standing on 4 legs, weight shifted backwards.

And some more artistic photos . . . .
Dynamixel Box 2
Hexapod Hat

My First Brushless

For a future project I need to build a completely waterproof brushless motor. Before I start at the deep-end I decided it would be best to make a smaller motor to get a better understanding of how brushless motors work. I ordered a few stators and a kit from gobrushless.com.First Phase Finished

The motor has a 9 pole stator (3 poles per phase, 3 phases) and 12 neodymium magnets in the outer ring.

Second Phase Finished

I wound each phase a different colour so that it was easier to follow what I was doing. the phases are joined together in the wye winding style.

Finished Winding and Assembled

Now to test it out:

Science with denim

So this morning I was casually browsing the Epilog (laser cutter) website when I stumbled accost a testimonial that said “We have engraved everything from denim to acrylic with fantastic results”.

I was instantly intrigued. The idea of being able to easily make professional looking custom clothing is amazing. I quickly grabbed the closest pair of good jeans plus an old ripped pair to test on.

Whilst looking for a simple pattern to etch I remembered these designs by mattcantdraw.

With a little rearranging these designs were perfect. I did some tests on an old pair of jeans to find the right power level as I could not find any settings for this online. I started using the same setting that would be used to etch leather however quickly found that this was to powerful and made the material break apart easily. I finally settled on 100% speed 15% power on a 75Watt laser.


I had some trouble fitting the jeans into the cutting bed and found that things had to sit flat so that I did not obstruct the gantry or cutting head.


I’m actually very pleased with how this turned out, the effect produced looks like natural fade, but only in specific areas. I love that these jeans have gone from boring ‘off the shelf’ to something interesting and individual. From now on I will be keeping a look out for other designs that would work like this.

New Hexapod Designs Soon

Recently iv been working on a 2nd revision of the chassis used for my hexapod. So far I have redesigned the legs and have a clear idea of how the new body will look.


The new design focuses on increasing the range of motion, functionality and reliability. I have also been trying to get rid of the ‘prototype’ look of the old design in favour of a sleeker and more stylised appearance.

Finally cut the new legs

These parts have been laser cut and are now awaiting a sunny day to get painted. I have also painted a spare leg in the planned colour scheme as a tester. This is slightly messy due to the fact that it was painted whilst assembled, the new legs will be painted before assembly so this should not be an issue.

hexapod test leg

The long-term plan is to eventually release all of the designs for this hardware as open-source. This will probably happen once I have finished the hexapod and am happy with all parts of the design. Hopefully that will not be to far away but development is slow at the moment with many coursework deadlines approaching.

Laser Cutter Training

I have just been trained to use the UWE Laser Cutter. first test peice was a Frabjous Sculpture (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:12271). Turned out ok.

So difficult to assemble

I have so many ideas for things to make and up until now I have not had the resources to make most of them happen. I’m hoping access to this equipment will change that and allow me to rapidly prototype ideas and concepts.


One Giant LEAP For Robotkind

Finaly my long awaited Leap Motion pre-order arrived so I decided to see what I could do with it.

After playing with some of the demo programs I noticed on there was a Processing library on the leap developer site (can be found here). The control program for my hexapod is already written in processing so adding the leap was relatively easy.

All I have done currently is map x, y, z, yaw, pitch & roll of the users hand onto the body of the hexapod. The smoothing and inverse kinematics are then done and sent to the hexapod over TCP/IP. Raspberry Pi on the hexapod receives this with a python script and outputs the values to the servos.  Hand tracking with the Leap is enabled or disabled by a key tap gesture with any finger.

To add this to my code it was as easy as including the library at the top of the sketch:

import de.voidplus.leapmotion.*;
LeapMotion leap;

Then initialising the leap in void setup()

leap = new LeapMotion(this).withGestures("key_tap");

and setting position from the Leap in main:

if (enableLeap == true){
 for(Hand hand : leap.getHands()){
  PVector hand_position = hand.getPosition();

  HexapodOrientationYaw = hand.getYaw();
  HexapodOrientationPitch = hand.getPitch();
  HexapodOrientationRoll = hand.getRoll();

  HexapodPositionX = hand_position.x;
  HexapodPositionY = hand_position.y;
  HexapodPositionZ = hand_position.z;

Turning the Leap control on and of is done by a seprate function which runs when a gesture is recognised.

void leapOnKeyTapGesture(KeyTapGesture g){
 enableLeap=!enableLeap; //toggle Leap on/off
 delay(200); //small debounce

When I get some time I hope to add the ability to use both hands to control the front two legs. This will allow for manipulation of objects through the Leap

Project Phoenix – Its All Over, But How Did We Do?

Now that SAUC-e is over and the team have had some time to recover i feel that a large post is in order to let you know how we got on. This will cover our journey from beginning to end, including the highs and lows, starting from when we left Bristol. (Warning – long read – picture heavy)

v v v   Click read more to see full post.   v v v

Read More…


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