Ok, no stories about house decorating this time, I promise.
I've actually just aquired a working robot arm - a Teachmover, like so: http://www.questechzone.com/microbot/teachmover.htm
It's one of those classic stepper/cable driven arms, popular with universities etc. No manual, but the teach pendant is easy to use, and after a little googling, I had it repeating sequences quite quickly - I have some partial information on the RS232 interface commands, but if anyone else reading has experience with one of these, or any any information, I'd be interested to hear from you!
It joins the other arm I have - a slightly larger TQ MA2000 aka 'The Open University Robot' - which is in need of a new controller and some mechanical attention (needs new wrist servos and a replacement gripper, as the old one was pneumatic only), as I bought it non-functional - that's currently packed away, as a future project.
Anyway, it's a neatly put together little arm that has the features of more serious 'proper' arms that cost 10 times as much, and a big step up from those battery powered toys and kits you can get that strain under their own weight and wobble around when you sneeze in the next room. Surpisingly rigid, and can pick up a few ounces without a problem. Quite apart from the fact I enjoy mucking around with this kind of stuff anyway, I got it (and the other TQ arm), to study and help give me some ideas (and hopefully avoid any pitfalls) for designing the arm for 48k - which will be a far larger and more serious piece of kit, and which I want to get right, first time - considering the time and money involved.