Vorpal The Hexapod was released in October, 2017 as a successful Kickstarter project. Over the past two years we've made numerous improvements to the software, hardware, and 3D models.
We've learned a lot from talking with our customers, running workshops and directly observing students and instructors use the kit, and continuing our own research.
Now we're getting ready to release Vorpal The Hexapod version 2, which not only makes improvements in just about every area of the project, and also changes the contents of our different kit options to better serve our different customer segments.
Summary of Improvements
- Easier than ever to build: Build time for our Deluxe and Complete kits is cut in half as compared to V1.
- Reverse Battery Protection to reduce the chances of user error frying the electronics.
- Software improvements that increase servo life and add new, interesting movements.
Here are all the new features:
- All kits now come with reverse battery protection. We found that younger children (and occasionally even adults) sometimes inserted the battery backwards, which would instantly fry the electronics, so we now include a protection diode standard in every robot electrical system. We had been holding off doing that because we thought it would decrease battery life, but it turned out that battery life is still nearly two hours even with the protection diode.
- The Deluxe Maker Kit and Deluxe Complete Kit now come standard with a prebuilt electrical system. This cuts nearly an hour off the typical build time and reduces the chances for build errors dramatically. Both the Gamepad and the Hexapod electrical systems are now prewired. The only thing you need to plug in are the servo motors. A wire harness with just a few large connectors replaces the wire-by-wire connection process. NOTE: The Bare Bones kit still requires a wire-by-wire construction technique for those of you who want to build the electrical system from the ground up.
- The Bare Bones kit now comes standard with both an SD Card Reader and an SD Card. Previously, the Bare Bones kit did not include the SD Card function, but we found a lot of our Bare Bones buyers were adding a reader.
- The robot's switch adapter is now eliminated. This saves the need to insert two screws that many younger students had trouble getting threaded in place. The switch for the robot is now threaded up through a slot then press-fit. This reduces build time by several minutes.
- Decorations now use small circular hook-and-loop dots (similar to Velcro) instead of magnets. These are much easier for children to assemble since they just peel and stick, and they hold better than magnets for things like decorative eyes and nameplates. The games "Capture the Flag" and "Joust" still use magnets, however.
- Robot software now prevents situations where the user's commands might cause the robot to attempt to lift off the ground with fewer than four legs. This could happen if certain combinations of gamepad commands occurred rapidly. This situation would often overstress servo motors and could lead to premature servo failure. The software now monitors the state of the legs to ensure switches between modes will first bring all six legs to the floor briefly (150 milliseconds) when necessary to prevent this issue.
On July 15, 2020 we updated our software to V3. The new software adds a new double-click feature which doubles the number of built in leg motions. For example, clicking W1 twice (W2W2) will cause the robot to go into "belly crawl" walking mode where the robot crawls around at ground level, barely lifting off the table, by using the legs similar to boat oars.
All kits shipped on or after July 15 have the new software standard, and you can update your software by flashing both gamepad and robot with the latest software at The Vorpal Shared Dropbox File Repository