Hexabitz’s nature-inspired form-factor emphasizes horizontal integration, which is the default construction for PCBAs and electronics. This design feature ensures Hexabitz prototypes fit wherever a custom PCBA is used. We have plans to offer the capability to construct complex geometries with mixed horizontal and vertical modes in the near future.
We wanted to escape from the wire jungle! Hexabitz modules use a novel edge-soldering technique that eliminates the overhead of connectors and wires while providing more rigid, clean, and reliable prototypes. Save time and free yourself from the hassle of debugging wire connections. Instead, build a rigid prototype that can leave your bench and return unharmed!
Worried about being in a harsh environment or not in love with the soldering iron? Hexabitz’s abstract design can be customized for specific applications. Customize the abstract design with add-ons or attachment mechanisms you need for your project. Module add-ons are not within the scope of this campaign, but we will work together with the community to develop user-driven solutions in the future.
Embedded systems have been traditionally architectured around a single controller connected to dumb peripheral/daughter boards. This concept is decades old and based on an era when computing was expensive and bulky. Today’s inexpensive, micro-sized computing can be embedded in each PCB. Other than simple power sources, all Hexabitz modules feature a small, low-power ARM Cortex-M0 MCUs for customization and connectivity. These smart PCBs can be configured to fit your needs.
Hexabitz features a novel, wired-mesh, decentralized network concept based on wireless networking. This makes Hexabitz-based systems ultra-modular and super configurable, as well as much more scalable than other platforms (while still maintaining a small footprint).
Simply add or remove any module to or from your board, regardless of type or location. Our unique array exploration algorithm lets connected modules automatically discover their neighbors and configure the topology and routing table of their network, saving you time and preventing configuration errors.
Our platform is a truly parallel and distributed system, enabling you to run multiple algorithms in parallel and distribute tasks on separate modules. Instead of cramming all your code into a single MCU and then struggling over resource allocation, you can let each module process locally and then share the results with other modules as needed. Our Remote Read/Write API gives you remote access to any Flash or SRAM memory location in any module in the array using the Hexabitz messaging protocol.
Unlike many other prototyping platforms, Hexabitz has a real-time operating system at its core, based on FreeRTOS. This means you can run multi-threading and time-critical applications and enjoy the performance of high-end control systems without being an RTOS expert or sacrificing the prototyping nature of the platform. Learn more about Hexabits software architecture on our Hackaday project page.
Hexabitz modules have their own MCUs and thus can be used without an external controller. You can control them using external signals and buttons/switches or you can program them with C-based APIs. Modules can be controlled remotely using an intuitive Command Line Interface (CLI) or a more sophisticated messaging and communication protocol.
Hexabitz modules can natively interface to any external hardware via array ports running UART communication. (They can also be configured as I2C). External hardware can mimic a CLI textual input or utilize a more efficient machine format (a serial, packet-based messaging protocol).
We are committed to openly share the details and costs of everything that goes into our modules. The concept is called Radical Transparency and is pioneered by beloved brands such as Everlane. There has been an ongoing push toward openness and transparency in many industries, including food, fashion and cosmetics. Unfortunately, the electronics industry is lagging behind with almost zero transparency and accountability.
Each module page features a full Bill of Materials (BOM) with actual component part numbers, cost, and quantity. All costs associated with making a module are published, along with our own markup (33% if you ask!). If you hover on an individual item cost, a tooltip text tells you the quantity of components purchased at this price as shown in the screenshot above. We are committed to keeping this information up-to-date and as accurate as possible. The numbers automatically update from our internal database. If module cost goes up or down, we will pass along the cost increase or decrease to our users transparently.
To get you started with Hexabitz, we’ve provided a few project ideas below. Because our team’s primary focus currently is developing and testing firmware, we’re able to post fewer than we’d like. We promise the collection will grow as we move toward production. Continue to check our Hackaday account for new project releases.
Hexabitz’s geometric modules can be the genesis of many innovative ideas and interesting builds. For your next art project, you can now outdo traditional flat and rectangular PCB without having to spin off your own PCBAs. This will save you time and money. Hexabitz works particularly well for LEDs, although other modules can be a basis for interesting projects as well. Best of all, when you’re done with this project, you can disassemble and reuse the modules in a different—and perhaps a bit more serious—endeavor!
Although three-dimensional arrays, like the one shown below, require a bit of ninja soldering skills, it gets easier with practice and some help from a 3d-printed fixture. Full project details are available at our Hackaday account. You might not go for such complex shapes. Just know that whatever shape you design, you don’t need software wizardry to configure it. Our backend firmware only requires that you run the explore command and allow modules to self-identify to the array. Then it is only a matter of sending direct, multicast (i.e., targeting a group) or broadcast commands to control various module functionality.
Hexabitz comes in handy when you need MANY copies of the same module. The compact, scalable, and modular wired-mesh architecture makes for effortless expansion, especially for automation applications when you might want to control a dozen or more home appliances using relays. The same is true at work when you want to drive several motors for controlling complex factory machinery. The ability to target a specific module and to virtually group modules so they can respond to a particular command helps you decouple the array shape from its functionality and quickly reconfigure it as your application needs change. Check out this project building and controlling an array of 12 solid-state relay modules (H0FR60).
The Hexabitz BLE module (H23R10) allows you to wirelessly access arrays (and even other hardware) from a smartphone app or from a PC/MAC with Bluetooth connectivity. This demo shows an Android app controlling an RGB LED and solid-state relay modules. Since Hexabitz is built on a standardized backend, you can easily port this functionality to other modules. We will provide open-source, demo iOS and Android apps to help users develop their own and get their IoT home automation projects up and running quickly.
Logging events and sensor’ data to a microSD card is common for many prototypes and real-life projects. The Hexabitz microSD card module (H1BR60) features an embedded file system (fatfs) and a comprehensive logging API, making it easy to start simultaneous logs of various characteristics and multiple signals in each log. You can log nearly everything in the module from internal memory locations and external digital signals to external switch/button events and incoming serial data.
Our Bitz Operating System (BOS) features a port switch/button API, allowing you to connect mechanical buttons or switches to any array port in any module. The button or switch can be easily configured with callbacks that get executed on various events. This project demonstrates how to log events from four mechanical switches: two mechanical limit, one magnetic, and one optical end-stop.