Published on 26 Mar 2018. Written by Vasanth Vidyakar
“MIT’s AutoSaw takes the risk and skill out of creating custom furniture, so that even you can do it without losing an unnecessary number of limbs”
-as said by Evan Ackerman, IEEE Spectrum
AutoSaw is a robot-assisted carpentry device which is basically a robotic arm that could make the creation of custom furniture and fittings safer, easier and cheaper. You can simply select a template from the software (chair, table etc.) and adjust the size & shape, the robotic arm will then autonomously select and saw the wooden materials to the correct size.
With such kind of advanced mechatronics devices being developed, long gone are the days where a lot of industries needed humans to carryout precise, dangerous and delicate activities. Now with the latest advancements in the robotics technology, a lot of developments came in the mechatronics industry too.
“In a few years from now, builders might go to their job site, punch a number into the software, and the robots will cut and bring them the pieces they need”
-as said by Lipton to The Verge
With such a great buzz going in the field of mechatronics, a lot of students are interested to build their own robotic arm and wanted to know more about the industrial robotics.
Even we have experienced this trend when the robotic arm online course that we launched was a great success and a lot of students built their own robotic arms at home using the online course and the kit we shipped to them.
On my interaction with some of the students enrolled for our robotic arm course, I found that a lot of them initially tried to build a robotic arm completely on their own but failed in doing so. Due to the involvement of complex hardware parts, servo calibration, programming logics, integration of sensors and actuating modules etc., building a robotic arm is a lot tougher than it looks.
So, in this article I am suggesting some tips and methodologies which you can use to build your own robotic arm
As the robotic arm involves a complex structure, you need some pre-requisite knowledge to build your own robotic arm successfully. Since it has both mechanical and electronics concepts, you need to learn about them to understand the working mechanism of robotic arm.
Some of the theoretical concepts that you need to learn before starting to build robotic arm are:
There is also another well-known challenge of interference between multiple servo where the servos vibrate randomly even when signal is not supplied to the servos. This challenge needs to be overcome as well.
Processor is the most integral part of the robotic arm which acts as the brain of the system and controls the actuation. Although there are a lot of processors available in the market, Arduino Uno will be the ideal embedded platform for you to get started.
As Arduino Uno is an open source hardware and uses simple C++ programming, it will serve to be a very good platform to build your first robotic arm. Before starting to build your robotic arm, you need to understand the Arduino architecture and its configuration.
Also learning Arduino programming and practicing some basic programming will greatly assist you in building your own robotic arm. You can do simple exercises on driving servo motors with Arduino to understand more about the servo and Arduino integration.
The robotic arm can be actuated semi-autonomously by giving some commands. These commands can be given to robotic arm in multiple ways by using some modules. The most commonly used ones are:
Programming the robotic arm is an integral part to complete the project successfully. There are some softwares which you need to use to make your robotic arm function properly. These include:
Getting the right components to build your robotic arm project is not easy, as there are lot of components involved. Also some of the components are not readily available and need to be custom made. You will be needing the following components to build your very own robotic arm,
From the above list, you can get the components like the Arduino Uno, sensor modules and wires easily. You can either order those components online or purchase from your local market.
But the mechanical components (manipulator & end effector) is not very easy to get, as it is not a standard component and the size & shape of it varies across projects. You can either design the components and get it manufactured or you can use a 3D printer to print all the components.
A lot of enthusiasts try to come up with their own designs to develop manipulators and end effectors but that’s were mechanical design concepts come into picture. They realise how tough it is and appreciate mechanical designing after attempting and failing in this!
Hope you got some good suggestions that will help you to build a robotic arm.
Remember, you should not only build a robotic arm but also learn while building it. Since there are a lot of complex concepts involved in it, learning while building your own robotic arm project will help you to get acquainted with industrial robotics.
If you want to build your own robotic arm but don’t know where to start, we at Skyfi Labs have developed an innovative learning methodology through which you can learn to build a robotic arm right from your home. With the complete hardware kits shipped to you and 1-1 technical assistance provided, learning to build your very own robotic arm will never be tough.
Do let us know, what you think is the best DIY Robotic Arm project to build by commenting below.