Hexbug Brain Transplant

The Hex Bug, at $10, proves to be a perfect platform for building your own droid. Out of the box, it has pretty limited functionality. It walks forward until its antennae bump something, then it backs up and turns left. Applied inspirations shows us how you can replace the bug’s brains with a microcontroller to give it much more life. Instead of hacking into the existing electronics, they chose to completely replace the board. The final result, though still only able to turn one direction, is much more robust.  They discuss the ability to add numerous sensors as well as pre program different behaviours and personalities.

9 thoughts on “Hexbug Brain Transplant

  1. I love it!

    However, wouldn’t it be easier to hack the existing antennae system to give the reverse/turn process more time to avoid left-hand obstacles?

    Seems like a strategically-inserted timer circuit might be all you would need for something more basic.
    (a programmable system is way more bang for the buck, i understand.)

    They have a couple new hexbug models out now that might be hackable as well.
    I like the ir controlled worm for instance.

    I own a Hexbug that I did a _very_ basic (too basic to post) antennae hack to:

    Simply bend them so they curve down and just barely clear the ground.
    _now_ they’ll hit low objects that would normally trip up your hexbug but would otherwise pass beaneath them.

    great stuff!

    Now I’m going to have to pick up one (or more) to hack for myself!

  2. Neat!!!

    Wish they would sell these in the Netherlands, I would love to get my hands on one of these.

    First some remarks, why a discrete FET motor driver? Why not a Dual mosfet, N and P mosfet in one package. I am looking for low power dual mosfet drivers in a SOIC package. That would be even more compact.

    My powersource would be a 3V solar panel, charging a 2.7V super capacitor of 10F. The microcontroller brain would seek out new light sources and move towards them.

    The driver stage would be double dual mosfets, with maybe a ICL7660 voltage doubler for higher voltage generation for the controller and better mosfet driving.

    The microcontroller would be a ATtiny44, lots of analog interfaces and 14 I/O’s.

  3. In answer to the “Why a discrete FET motor driver?”:
    I searched for an integrated H-bridge, but could not find any that had a gate voltage below 1.8v. The NDS331N,2P were the simplest, cheapest and most available parts to do the job. Yes, the voltage could be boosted, but then the batteries die sooner. The point of the design was to minimize the hardware and use the software to make the most of it.
    There is a ‘B’-Bug version in the works that will use solar cells to recharge it’s batteries.

  4. This is a really awesome and detailed project!

    I have one of these because as soon as I saw it I thought it was amazing to get such a cool robot for $10.

    I was just at radio shack the other day and they now have two more types of hexbugs.A crab that is very similar but seeks out the dark and an inchworm that has a remote control. They were only a few bucks more and especially the inchworm may be a much better platform for more advanced programming.

  5. i got one of these a while ago hoping that i’d be able to hack it up into something interesting. unfortunately, i soon discovered that it only went forward and turned in one direction, and that the alignment on the feet was horrible (mine would drift to one direction like crazy). basically, the platform is really too limited for anything interesting imho.

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