5 Feb 2002 kerwin   » (Observer)

2/4/2002: email: kerwin@ranchbots.com - This entry: my homemade robot arm and still searching for those interested in a Denver Robotics Club.

I have looked high and low for a robot arm to hack into. ebay has several listings but the price always hits 60 - 150 bucks depending on what the thing is. I haven't seen anything surplus, so finally I decided to just build one. So I did. Took me about 3 weekends. I have finished the mechanical construction phase. Now I'm working on the electrical control system.

I put up some photos of it on my site. www.ranchbots.com. I also put up some technical details on the control system as I have designed it thus far. It will use one microcontroller (68HC908) to control the arm alone as it will have multiple feedback inputs for position sensing as well as inputs from a master control micro or switch system to drive it.

The construction was challenging. I resolved to use what I had on hand to get it going since I didn't want to spend a bunch on a hackers special in the first place. I met that goal pretty well, using parts that i have removed from copiers and printers and other items in my junk box. I did cheat and buy a micro servo for the gripper motor as this was at the end of the moment arm and thus would create the most torque. It came out pretty well. I have tested each joint piecemeal and all of them work okay.

I still have to add pots to the joints at their rotation points, limit switches, connectors, a wiring harness that will keep the wires from turning into a bird's nest, etc. Much work to do still but I'm happy with it. I'll put up video when it's running.

If you have comments or design ideas, shoot them at me.

As far as the Denver Robotics Club goes, I'm still looking for interested folks. I have a little club going down in Highlands Ranch (5 people and growing slowly), but I would like to really get a big organization going. If you live in Denver area and like robotics, drop me an email at kerwin@ranchbots.com.

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