Giving the Hexbug Spider a set of eyes


The Hexbug Spider is a neat little robot toy available at just about any Target or Walmart for about $20. With a few extra parts, though, it can become a vastly more powerful robotics platform, as [eric] shows us with his experiments with a Hexbug and OpenCV.

Previously, we’ve seen [eric] turn a Hexbug spider into a line following robot¬†with a pair of IR LEDs and a drop-in replacement motor driver. This time, instead of a few LEDs, [eric] turned to an Android smartphone running an OpenCV-based app.

The smartphone app detects a user-selectable hue – in this case a little Android toy robot – and sends commands to the MSP430-powered motor control board over the headphone jack to move the legs. It’s a neat build, and surprisingly nimble for a $20 plastic hexapod robot.

You can see the OpenCV-controlled Hexbug in action after the break, along with a video build log with [eric] showing everyone how to tear apart one of these robot toys.

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Turning the Hexbug spider into a line-following robot

You may be familiar with the Hexbug Spider, a small electronic robot toy sold at Target and Walmart for $20. While they’re able to be commanded to move forward, backward, and spin around on a dime, there aren’t any external sensors to make it really exciting. [Eric] sought to remedy this and came up with a line-following board replacement for the Hexbug Spider.

The stock Spider has a small circuit board that allows for the control of two motors with a remote. [Eric] removed this control board and replaced it with his own, powered by a TI MSP430 microcontroller. On this board, [Eric] included a pair of IR LEDs, able to detect the path of a white line drawn on the ground. With just a little bit of code, [Eric] made his $20 Hexbug Spider into a very cool looking robot.

[Eric] figured out how to improve his robot toy, but the power of the MSP430 microcontroller he used doesn’t limit him to only following lines. By using an MSP430 Launchpad, anyone can upload new code to the improved Spider, and even add new sensors to this creepy walking robotic toy.


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