SES V2: Hexapod Design

Hello all,

We are aware that since RobotShop acquired Lynxmotion, we have not been involving the general community much in the new product design process. We would like to get your insights / feedback as we do feel that the best products and designs should involve community / end user input.

We are working towards an SES V2 design (an evolution of the SES V1). The approach will still be to use modular frame components and actuators, but reduce the overall number of different designs. For example, rather than offering a dozen or so hexapods, we envision offering one or two which will be the BEST design. As such, we would like to get your input as to this design.

So, some questions / thoughts include:

  1. Body shape: For example round (like the H3-R series); oval (like the Phoenix / A-Pod / T-Hex), rectangular (like the BH3, MH2) or other?
  2. Leg design: 12 Dof / 18 DoF / 24 Dof; foot sensors by default? etc.
  3. Highly functional or very aesthetic (or a compromise between the two); lots of openings or as simple as possible; adaptable for use in other robot types?
  4. Materials: Aluminum / Lexan / Composite / Plastic…
  5. Any other factors of interest…

Although we may not be able to incorporate all suggestions and input, we’ll do out best to provide our reasons / rationale.

Looking forward to your feedback!

A variety of hex 'bots is still good. Legs can be orientated differently (inline, or sprawled). Maybe more then one chassis.

  • Body shape. I’ve built both oval and linear hexapods. Need to order a round chassis. An oval chassis or round chassis probably translates best. I’d prefer an oval chassis. Openings.

  • 24 DOF would be nice, but excessively expensive in servos. 12 DOF is too limiting. Nice for an intro 'bot, but 18 give it good translation and forward motion abilities. A head/tail could be optional. Even a segmented thorax.

  • Aesthetics will follow good functionality. (form follows function.)

  • I prefer Aluminum. Very small 'bots can do well with Lexan. Brushed aluminum and black. Also Red!

  • Need to make a BotBoarduino with a mega chip.

  • Offer some jumper kits. I routinely use various lengths and colors from Schmartboard.

Alan KM6VV

Question is, do you see advantages / disadvantages to certain designs… don’t like the way one or others look etc. Currently we have the AH3-R, Bh3-R and CH3-R which are all very similar (circular). The Phoenix, A-Pod and T-Hex bodies are also very similar (“oval”), as are the BH3, AH2 and MH2 (rectangular). Would an oval design be a nice (and aesthetic) intermediate between circular and rectangular?

We’ll see about starting a separate thread for the electronics :slight_smile:

Jumper wire kits like this? … wires.html … wires.html

Yes the round 'bots are all very much alike. I prefer the scalloped designs of the Phoenix and my Shelob. Also better leg clearance. The inline 'bots have an old nostalgic design, like the original Genghis from Rodney Brooks MID lab. Make something that looks more like Genghis. But maybe that’s a little simple now… I guess some have wanted to use the huge servos. I don’t remember if you’ve ever offered a “miniature” servo robot.

Why yes, those would would work. I do prefer the Schmartboard jumpers, 'tho.

I’d like to find a very short (4"-6") Miniature USB extension, so that I could plug it into the BotBoarduino or future SSC-32 board, and have it available outside the 'bot. Also a new 6v power harness to allow charging the battery while inside the 'bot.

Alan KM6VV

This is sort-of a hard one for me, as there are things I like about many of the different designs.

To me, it is hard to say any is the BEST design, it depends on what you like and your goals. Are you after something that is highly modifiable or looks really cool. Do you want the ability to carry lots of weight or not… How important is it to go fast? …

First round body: These are nice setups to do lots of experimenting with. My first hexapod was one of these. Mine started off life, with probably the type A legs (before the new sets…), when Jim came out with the C legs, I thought they were pretty cool looking and ordered the parts to convert mine to C. There were kits back then to allow you to add leds to the legs which also added a coolness factor. (Again mine was the Pre-current C legs). Later I converted them over to 4dof T-Hex legs as to be able to test the 4dof functionality. I again later reused the C leg parts to build a second round one, which later was cannibalized for the older quad, which then was updated to use SQ3 body with the SQ3 type legs… So you can say I went around to just about every configuration :slight_smile:
Which of the leg designs is best for the round ones? Hard to say. Looks wise I think the C is the most fun, But type A can be the most functional. But variations of it are also useful. Example depending on where it mounts, you may want to use an offset bracket instead of a straight one…

So for many years this was my go to platform to test things out.

Now for the Ovals, which to me each of them is very different.

Phoenix: To me this has been the coolest looking and most fun of the hexapods to show people. It can be so fluid and people react to this. However it is not a setup that can hold much weight nor would I use it to try out different mods. This was the 2nd hexapod I had. Mine started out with an Arc32 in it and only very recently did I swap this out, as I wanted to only have one board control it and kept it running as the reference robot to make sure things were working correctly.

T-Hex: Of the Oval robots, I think this one is the most versatile and is fun as it work with. It is great to experiment on with electronics as you can setup multiple boards and have access on the two sides. (Currently has RPI and SSC-32u) Also there was ideas that you could build this as a Quad or Hex (although never saw as quad). The initial leg design for the 3dof was setup to make it easier to construct to have contact sensors in it, which some of us were going to try to use for Terrain Adaptation. The 4DOF leg version is fun as it looks like some storm trooper… But cost, power requirements… Not sure how many people went for that option.

A-Pod: Don’t have - Kåre’s original version is really cool looking, especially with the body parts. Note: I have an Orion robot that is similar to the A-Pod. Again a really cool type of robot, but to really make use of it, I personally think you need a more advanced Input device than a PS2 and a lot of dexterity, like Kåre with the DIY remote.

What should the new ones have? A lot of this probably depends on other stuff, like what type and shape of servos, What type of electronics. Are you going to have some Arduino or Linux versions, or are you going to only concentrate on tethering it to your computer. …

Body Shape: Round is nice for some things as it can move more or less equally well in most directions, however the Oval ones do usually move better going foreword and backward. Personally for new stuff I would probably go more with Oval shapes.

Leg design: Mostly 18dof unless good reason to go to 24. Foot sensors? Maybe depends. What capabilities do I have with the servos. With Dynamixel servos (likewise with Orion), I have some control over the servos and some feedback. So depending on how the legs are done may be able to sense things. With Orion servos (with their Orion Shield) you can tell the system to stop a servo/leg when the force exceeds some value. With AX Servos, I know Kåre had some luck experimenting with when the leg is coming down, configure the servo to only output so much force, so it will stop when it hits something, when you go to the next step you can ask it where it is and/or tell it to now hold… So again don’t know the answer.

  1. Again this is the hard one. Would be nice to have a few different ones…

  2. Material - Not a big one for me. Metal is strong and the like, but can also short electronics…

  3. other factors:
    a) I hope you still have the ability to customize, example change between a few different angle brackets, or maybe different C brackets or the like to make custom legs.
    b) Good to have expansion capabilities, like add on decks
    c) One thing that is nice about Trossen Hex/Quad, is that their Coxa servos don’t rotate inside the body. I especially like this with Lipo batteries as for example the Orion robots legs are like rotating daggers, that could easily slice a battery or cables, which really scare me with Lipos. So far I have not put lipos on Lynxmotion robots (except for an LifePO4)
    d) If servos can run well on Lipos, design to make it easy to remove Lipo for charging and storage.

Probably can go on and on, but probably enough for one post.

Sorry for not responding entirely to this post (I’ll try to find some time to read the thread carefully), but as a very quick answer to a few questions:

    1. Body shape: Can we have a spheric body shape? like MorphEx xD
    1. Leg design: I was thinking about a concept to standardise the parts (so we can use brackets on any robots), with one end of the part that is the standard bracket and the other end to be a way of ‘clipping’ something else. For example, on an hexapod, you could just ‘clip’ any leg you want (to change the looking of the robot over the time). Same concept used to assemble parts together: you want a biped? give it the femur you want.
    1. Highly functional or very aesthetic: To me, that’s related to question 4 as follow.
    1. Materials: I only made plastic parts (from a 3D printer) so I can’t really compare but I always thought aluminium was the best. However, an important thing to do when you design a part is to include a ‘fuse’ part. What you want to do is to determine which part is gona break when the system is under stress or mechanical limits. Even if you think that the system will not break, you need to imagine what would happen if you multiply the force by 1000.

The choice of the Material is a tough question. I think the best is to let the user choose what he wants and let him learn from his mistakes, but that’s just my opinion and not really helpful here.


A spherical hexapod? The MorphEx is more of a “Duodenipod”?

Essentially that’s the philosophy of the SES modular system. You can see the only difference between the AH3-R, BH3-R and CH3-R are the legs:

Usually it will be the servos holding up the body, then the brackets would bend and flex.

One of the most aesthetic designs, but having the metal brackets being directly supported by the servo’s horn makes it more delicate that a two-sided support system. For a beginner, this approach is likely not the best, nor does it really take advantage of many modular brackets.

The T-Hex is one of the only robots to SES include brackets to make up the body of the robot (although the main body is still custom). It’s easy to change this from a rectangular to an oval (and possibly even to an almost circular design. Any strong objections to making a default hexapod 18 degrees of freedom (three per leg) as opposed to 12 or 24?

The original design is gorgeous, though the addition of the head / mandibles and tail are likely not going to be in a default SES V2 design, unless there is significant demand. Perhaps a few well-placed cutouts can allow for these as options.

No love for rectangular?

We’re not planning to change the SES modular concept. It’s important to note that although we may release a specific “flagship” SES V2 hexapod, customers will still have the ability to make their own or swap brackets to customize it.

Make the default mounting as universal as possible, and the ability to add either additional Lynxmotion decks or ones which the customer makes on their own. Will certainly look into.

Nothing rotating or interfering with the center of the chassis. Will do.

LiPos are planned. Easy removal. Will do. Are velcro straps like you see in the VTails appealing?

I totally agree, but as I said if I am going to use one of my hexapods to demonstrate to people this has been my goto Hex…

Yes by default if it were me I would go with 18 servos. Personally except for my one CHR-3 -> THR-4. All of mine are 18 servos, which work well. I have never tried any of the 12’s. But does it make sense for you to have at least one standard 12 servo hex? Not sure: It does give you a lower cost option…

I guess it depends on the rectangular :wink: That is if you are saying all legs inline with each other like BH3, for some reason never interested me. I think Alan has had better luck making it walk by then offsetting the leg initial positions. However if you are talking about something like T-Hex where the brackets that is different… Also hard to say one way or another. Example: What is the shape of the Trossen PhantomX? Not really Oval, not really rectangular… Also not necessarily saying they are the most esthetically perfect look either…

Anything like that, which holds the battery in securely, but allows you to easily access it works for me. I know that Trossen recently updated their Hex body parts (as they sent me a set to keep mine up to date), they now have a new deck that you can optionally put on, plus the instructions were updated, on places to install battery. Note: their kits also use Velcro to secure batteries. There is a picture of my updated one in the thread: … -%29/page5

Again with the use of Lipos, there are other features, that are important, but most of this probably needs to be covered in the electronics wish list. (If you look at the thread I mentioned above, you will see I just killed another lipo)
a) Way for the electronics to measure the battery or batteries voltages (Botboarduino has Voltage Dividers, BB2 has voltage dividers, SSC-32 has analog but no VD built in.
b) Minimal code setup to first warn when the battery gets to some voltage, then try to shutoff everything it can if it get below another threshold.
c) Would be great if there was some hardware support that shut everything off. Code currently tries to turn off servos, but they still eat a little…
d) Lipo gauges - I know you have, I have a couple which plug in to balance plug, which will make noise. But you don’t want to leave it in all of the time as it will also slowly drain battery. Would be nice if a version optionally only operated if power is coming in on some IO pin or the like. Could use one that only plugs in like a servo, which only measures voltage as alternative.
e) Probably should ship something like d) with any kit that includes Lipo, or at least strongly suggest it.

Again please pardon my paranoia with Lipo Batteries. Personally I wish that instead were moving toward LifePO4 batteries, which are safer, more recharge cycles…

No worries, they are warranted. This will come down to the electronic design, but should not really affect the Hexapod’s design / structure.

The only impact, in the design, is to make sure you have room for whichever size batteries you wish to fit. Likewise the choice of battery and chemistry may have influence on servos. i.e. are they tuned for 2S or 3S lipo batteries. If for 3S (3.7*3)=11.1, they probably can run on 3s LifePO4(3.2 * 3=9.6), but can you use a 4s=12.8v? It would be great if you could.

Also hopefully not needed, but if the servos still only support 6v and you wish to use lipos, you may wish to consider in the frame where one or more BEC’s go…

How about using 3s or 4s batteries, and a BEC? This might be a better fit. they have 5v/6v BECs, maybe they have them for 7.4v also for other servos?

And if you are considering LiPo batteries, I’d like to see the appropriate cabling made available, WITH charge leads and extended balancing leads.

Alan KM6VV
Also reluctant to use LiPo batteries…

Currently I am assuming (hoping), they are going to be using some smart(er) servos that are tuned for Lipos. Most newer one are (I think), like (Info mostly from
AX series 9-12v input (3S),
MX (RX?) 11.1-14v 3S-4S - although I have seen people have issues at 4S, some now use 4S LifePo4.

DRS-0101 7.4v (2S), DRS-0201 7-12v (2S or 3S)

Orion Servos: HV220 7.4v (2S)

Also depending on standard power for these, may influence electrical design. Example Botboarduino was designed with specific low drop out voltage regulators that I think only need something like .4 or .5v over 5V to work, whereas as lot of standard Arduino boards, use voltage regulators that drop at least 1v I think some as much as 1.4v, which may not work well on 6v battery… New Arbotix-m board now uses a smart switching regulator, which is great, but it wants at least 7v. But as their normal servos run with 3s battery not a problem… But I am getting off topic… Sorry

BECs, batteries, power and other electronics would be more for an SES V2 electronics thread (can’t quite create that at this time) rather than a Hexapod design :slight_smile:

I just got home from my long trip and I see this news!
For sure will be a big challenge to create the new V2 mechanics,
But I’m sure that the result will be very interesting Coleman.


Very many good points has already been mentioned here.

What is the BEST design?, that’s a very hard question answer…
It all depends on what you need or want to do with it.

Personally, my answer is the “NEXT” design. :wink:

If you must go for only one or two body/hex solutions, all the CH,AH,BH bodies could be reduced to one (IMHO). T-Hex is the only hexapod with vertical body sections and allow good access to the electronics. T-Hex was designed for the SES system, not the original Phoenix and A-Pod.

The power of the SES system is that you can design many different leg design. Some of the leg design used on your kits are good and some are not so good. When I’m saying good, I’m thinking of freedom, both # of DOF and the actual range and agility.

My suggestion would be to decrease the number of kits, but having the body parts available.

Personally, my answer is the “NEXT” design. :wink:

That’s the plan, though it seems the number of designs can be even further reduced from three to two or even one and most people would be happy.
The more of one unit you make, the lower the price, and the easier it is to support.

True, as beautiful as both the A-Pod and Phoenix are, they are not really based on the SES concept. We can try the approach of incorporating aesthetics into a functional modular design.

We’re certainly going to keep that “modular” functionality.

Which body designs do you like best and why?

The topic of the next generation of Lynxmotion Hexapods is continued here: