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“Hex” Humanoid Made From Household Goods

July 5, 2013

Retired police officer Mark Haygood has spent the last several years building a four-foot, three-inch humanoid robot out of common household items.  The robot, called “Hex,” is designed to inspire kids, and by all indications it succeeds at this fabulously.

Hex has 23 degrees of freedom, powered by Hitec servos (some of them modified for higher torque).  It uses an Axon II microcontroller, and is remote controlled from a laptop over Zigbee.  Hands were 3D printed on a Makerbot, but most of the other parts were hacked from common household items — a clock radio for the head, a kid’s ride-on toy for the body, outdoor speakers for the legs, and so on.  Haygood comments, “building this way was far more difficult than going the more traditional route but what currently exists is a bot that no kid can take his or her eyes off of.”

Haygood says the greatest challenge in this build has come from unwanted joint compliance; connecting all those separate parts with no internal frame adds enough flex to make the gait uncertain.  Yet Hex is able to walk, even if slowly.

Now Haygood has launched a Kickstarter campaign to build Hex’s successor, incorporating all he’s learned from the first build.  With help from friends at a Baltimore hackerspace, and at least one high school robotics team, the Hex 2 robot will be improved in every way.  Moreover, the entire development and build process will be documented and filmed, providing a resource to inspire other builders everywhere.

As Haygood told me, “I want kids to not be afraid to go for it, to not fear failure to express themselves in any artistic way, and to realize that anything that goes from conception to completion is a beautiful thing.

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