Dan Royer makes many things, right now he’s most excited about robot arms. When he told me this at MakerCon, I had a moment of skepticism. What is so exciting about robot arms? Haven’t they been around forever? I think I had one made by Nintendo at some point.
“Yes” he replied, “but so have the X Y gantries that you see in all these 3D printers.”
He went on to explain that the robotic arms he is creating are relatively cheap and incredibly versatile. You can put a pen on it and make a plotter, add a blade and make a vinyl cutter, put an extruder on it and make a printer, toss a camera on it and it becomes a motion platform. The possibilities are pretty endless once you have a solidly constructed arm with fairly robust software to drive it.
That is a pretty good point. Once I began to think of the arm as a platform for other things, I could see why he was excited. For the rest of the day I kept finding myself coming up with uses for a robot arm.
His current kit, which is $294.30 CAD has the following capabilities:
- 3 degrees of freedom: forward/back, up/down, turn left/right.
- Arm tip is always parallel to the base
- 125g static lift at 50cm full extension
- 150g static lift at 13cm full retraction
- +/-180 degree left/right rotation
- Movement ceiling 30cm from base
- Movement floor -17cm from base
- Repeatability ~2mm
When talking about the kit with him, we ended up fantasizing a bit about the future and possible uses. He mentioned that there were several improvements in the near future that would bring repeatability and precision to better levels. We even talked about adding more degrees of freedom to the head, though I’m unsure on whether he intends to implement that any time soon. As he mentions in his latest blog post, he’s been turning down feature requests for the machine so as not to have it forced into one single category or job.
The robotic arm is a platform, do with it what you will.
This week marks the official launch of Make: Volume 39 — Robotics, which drops on newsstands the 27th. Be sure to grab a copy at a retailer near you, or subscribe online right now and never miss another issue.
We are celebrating with five days of robot-related articles, pictures, videos, reviews and projects. Tune into this space for Robot Week!