Building a hexapod robot -- without an engineering degree

Hexapod robots have long fascinated roboticists, and now you can find the six-legged creatures swimming in the Caribbean or harvesting timber in Finland. There's also a legion of do-it-yourselfers creating their own hexapods just because it's fun.

One of them is J. de Vries, a 42-year-old webdesigner from Neustrelitz, Germany. When he's not taking care of his daughters (15-month twins), de Vries works on Marvin, the hexapod in the image below.

Marvin the hexapod, version 1

Marvin uses nine Atmel microcontrollers (ATmega16, 32, and 64) and 20 servomotors. It's only 30 to 40 percent finished, de Vries says, adding that he plans to include some onboard sensors after perfecting Marvin's locomotion.

"I don't have any degree in engineering and I never saw an university from inside," de Vries says. "But since I was 12 years old, my dream was to build a robot. ... Last year I learned a lot about microcontrollers, servomotors and the required electronics while building a quadcopter with brushless motors. And that was the beginning of realizing my old robot dream."

De Vries has a web page with videos, images, and technical details on Marvin (in German).

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