November 15, 2015
With a web full of intimidating robotic designs, it is sometimes quite difficult to find a project that relatively unexperienced makers can and want to tackle. Even some relatively boring and ugly robots tend to be very expensive to build and feature far too many electronics to be educational. Fortunately, a very good option has recently come out of Italy. Built by Carlo Franciscone (known online as daGHIZmo), the EEZYbotARM is not just cheap and relatively simple to build, but also looks great and is good enough to pick up and manipulate objects.
As Carlo explains, he developed the EEZYbotARM with the intention of building an easy, educational project that has all the visual factors beginning makers look for. And as you can see in the clip below, it certainly seems to tick all those boxes. Featuring a sleek and cool design, it even features an accurate grip mechanism that can move marbles from point A to B, and can easily be programmed to do a whole lot more. And as Carlo has even written up quite a detailed assembly tutorial, this is a perfect option for those of you who’d like to get to grips with the basics of 3D printed robotics without breaking the bank.
As Carlo explains, he didn’t build the EEZYbotARM completely from scratch, as much of the inspiration can from similar robotic arm projects. ‘I spent time to look around the web at some examples available that could be a good starting from, and between all I found interesting the phenoptix MeArm V4 project[that I liked] especially for the simplicity and low cost of parts involved,’ he explains. ‘So I kept only the kinematics geometry and redesign all parts including the gripper.’ That, in turn, grew into this very impressive EEZYbotARM.
One of the best things about the EEZYbotARM is that you can use quite a variety of parts to make it. Aside from lots of nuts, bolts and 17 3D printed components, Carlo used 3 Tower Pro MG90S servos and a 1 SG90 servo (gripper), adding that you can go in just about any direction with the electronics. ‘The Arm can be driven in several different ways : sketches, potentiometers, joystick, WII nun chuck [and so on]. After several trials I found very “easy” to use a controller from Pololu: the Mini Maestro USB Servo Controller. You can attach up to 6 – 12 – 24 servos depend of the controller type,’ he says.
This is a particularly good option as it isn’t so expensive and comes with a free configuration and control program for Windows and Linux for driving the servo. ‘You are able to set the values of speed and acceleration for any singular item. You can also build sequences of servo movements and run scripts stored in the internal script memory that can be automatically played back without any computer or external microcontroller connected,’ Carlo adds, but you can use just about any controller source you have laying around.
If you’re interested in building one of these cool EEZYbotARM robots, head over to Instructables for more information on assembly. The bulk of the project will consist of assembling 3D printed components, which Carlo 3D printed in ABS (but can also be done in PLA). All files can be downloaded on Thingiverse here. Most parts are relatively easily assembled with nuts: ‘The nuts are to be tightened till the locking of the joint, then consequently you must loose them until you obtain a smooth movement with the lower clearance between components. This rule is valid and is to be applied also for the following joint that involve use of self locking nuts,’ Carlo explains.
After assembly, it’s just a matter of driving the servos and getting the Polulu to work, something that should be fairly easy with Carlo’s tips. ‘You have to install drivers, a software and when connected to usb you’re are immediately able to drive the servos choosing their speed and acceleration also. You can store the servo position to a sequence and when ready it can be played once or in a loop. Can also be stored in the internal script memory and it can be automatically played without computer connected,’ he says. It’s a fairly easy project that is perfect for those makers who want to tinker with different assembly and programming options without going completely overboard.