Let's Make Robots!

First look at a Hexbug Spider

Opening it up to see what's inside.

I recently bought a Hexbug Spider after seeing one in an Instructable.  The thing which impressed me was the unique directional control. The spider changes direction without turning by changing the leg sequencing and uses just 2 motors.  It's based on work done by Jamie Mantzel, (although he is not credited by Hexbug) and comes with IR control - rotate left / right, move forward / backwards.  Build quality is really good and it comes apart with a single screw for the 'carapace' and three more to get to the circuit board.  The next set of screws gets to the heart of the mechanics, but I didn't want to risk disconnecting something so haven't gone further.

Inside there's a double sided PCB with a 14 pin MCU on one side and a dual H-bridge driver on the other.  The other device is a combined red LED and IR receiver.  It's a simple enough job to remove the MCU to get to the H-bridge inputs directly, then add sensors and patch on an MCU of your choice.  When time allows I'll be grafting in a rangefinder, light sensor and Picaxe 14m2 to make the spider autonomous. 

All I've done so far is to replace the 3 x button cells (max 4.5V) with a lithium ion battery (3.7V to 4.2V).  This works fine and the robot stomps around with no reduction in speed.  Probably because there's less voltage drop on load with the beefier LiIon cell.

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The idea isn't that new: http://www.theoldrobots.com/odex.html

If you mean it wasn't that new by building a giant robot, or even a giant hex, I would agree.

However It's the walking mechanism that Jamie invented that is completely unique.

Most Hex's (including Odex) tend to use 2 or 3 motor/servos for each leg, Jamie's use's 2 in total to control all 6.


The problem simply is, that Jamie didn't know the patent situation. Posting his innovation before applying for any patent or design patent, makes it impossible to get a patent afterwards or a property righ; and everybody can copy it. I am working for a company which deals daily with such situations, holding myself around 10 worldwide patents, just as an innovator; the company earns the money, I am just a name on the paper...

Make it better next time, inform yourself and consider if it is worthy to apply for a patent, because it's very expensive and most companies will try to circumvent an existing patent anyhow.  But please don't stop to invent :)

If the idea was simply taken from his video on the net or blog then that would be his own mistake. However from the video where he explains how the idea was stolen, he says that these people approached him about producing his spiderbot and he met with them and discussed the toy including pawing over a working example.
They then said no thankyou we are not interested and then went and made it anyway. That to me seems very dishonest and a big difference than just copying an open design from the net.
As they say there is nothing new under the sun and the fact that odex is similar does not excuse them wasting Jamies time and using him to assist their own creation without financial compensation.

You're right, it's dishonest and insolent, but changing nothing on the legal situation. They just wanted further information about the construction, I guess.


Jamie got nothing for Hexbug developing the idea and he's pretty annoyed about it  I'm not defending Hexbug, but if Jamie's leg movement mechanism was novel he should have got some legal protection on the idea before posting videos of it.  Many companies take useful unprotected designs if they are in the public domain.  Look at vibrobots - Oooh, it's Hexbug again!

You must be talking about Jamies Attacknids. Yep, they finally got a name, and it looks like it will really be available before christmas this time. I want 2 for me and 2 for the kids! And if you decide to hack this awesome creation, there is a message Jamie hid inside!

(Almost forgot the link to the vid.......)


I'm really glad to see Jamie's got his designs together and into production and should get the recognition he deserves from this.  They make the Hexbug look pretty pathetic beside them.  (Weaponisation is never a bad thing #;¬)

My Hexbug spider rebuild is on hold at the mo while I do other stuff, half way through building a new Picaxe 14M2 controller unit for it.  I'll be picking it up again at some point.  (I wonder how hackable the Attacknids electronics are.  It would be great if it was designed with modification in mind.)