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ReFlex SF Quickstart

Setting up the software


These instructions assume you are using a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04

1) Install ROS according to the official ROS instructions for Ubuntu
2) Follow the ROS tutorials to set up your catkin workspace and configure your ROS install


run the following lines to set up a basic workspace quickly.

echo 'source /opt/ros/jade/setup.bash' >> ~/.bashrc

source ~/.bashrc

mkdir -p ~/catkin_ws/src

cd ~/catkin_ws/src


cd ~/catkin_ws


echo 'source ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash' >> ~/.bashrc

source ~/.bashrc

If you create your catkin workspace with our code, it's recommended that you check out the ROS tutorials later. They go step by step through the basic abilities of ROS, while at the same time give you ways to check that everything works.

Whether you've created your catkin workspace through the ROS tutorials or through our code pasted from above, it is recommended that you run the following lines. It's important to make sure that your catkin workspace setup document is in your bashrc before any ROS code will run.

echo 'source ~/catkin_ws/devel/setup.bash' >> ~/.bashrc

source ~/.bashrc


Download the ROS package

If you do not have git installed then install it:


sudo apt-get install git git-core

Add your user to the dialout group. If you don't do this, you will get messages saying you don't have permission to open the USB port. Make sure to insert your username in the appropriate spot, replacing 'your_username'. If you're unsure on your username, visit this site:

sudo adduser your_username dialout


Clone the RightHand Robotics code

cd ~/catkin_ws/src/

git clone

git clone

It's important to clone the folder into the src/ folder of your catkin workspace, or somewhere downstream of that, so that the code can be compiled with catkin_make.

Run the basic driver code


1) Make the host-side driver code
If you have problems getting catkin_make to work it's recommended to go through the ROS tutorials from the beginning. You might have missed a small step somewhere, and they lay it all out clearly. You can also visit our installing and building a package page for tips.

cd ~/catkin_ws/


Ignore any errors you see about tf and deprecated Quaternion usage. The tf code is from an older tutorial (hence the warning) but still works.

Check that all the necessary packages are available by trying to find the ReFlex ROS packages:


rospack find reflex_driver

rospack find reflex_msgs

rospack find reflex


If catkin_make worked, each rospack call should return the folder location of the package.


2) Power the hand!
We recommend using the 12V power supply that came with the hand. 

3) Now plug the USB cable from the hand into your computer.


4) Run the driver code:


roslaunch reflex reflex_sf.launch

It should look like so:

The code should be running at this point! The point of these drivers is to catch the USB traffic from the hand and bundle it into a formatted reflex_msgs/Hand message. You can check that the message is publishing by echoing the topic:

rostopic echo /reflex_sf/hand_state

If the topic is not published, then check the basic things - that the hand is plugged in, that the USB cable is well seated, etc. You can also check that the two board indicator LEDs are flickering quickly. Please check the troubleshooting page if the problem is not resolved.

Explore with our tutorials!

Visit our documentation page for a full list of available code, tutorials, and other information. We recommend you run through some of the basic tutorials to check all the parts of your system and get up to speed on the ReFlex hand.

The first tutorial is how to calibrate the SF fingers. Enjoy!

Mounting the hand on a robot

Instructions on how to mount the ReFlex on a robot are provided here.


For common problems and the related fixes, visit out troubleshooting page.

If any item of the tutorial took additional debugging beyond what's written, please send us a quick line at so we can update the tutorial for the next users!

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