Hand made manipulator arm

We’re pretty used to seeing CAD used in the design process for most things. It’s a bit of a shocker to come across a project this involve, and this well executed, that didn’t use CAD.

[Anton] spent 100 hours building this manipulator arm by hand. He made the parts by drawing them on styrene and cutting them out with scissors. He has started building version two with AutoCAD but from what we’ve seen in the video after the break, improvements on the original design will be minor. The speed and fluidity of the servos with added magnetic encoders makes for a graceful robotic dance; we’d love to be its chess partner.


  1. great modification

  2. biqut2 says:

    interested in the linux based control software, any links or suggestions on that?

  3. blog dude says:

    That is very impressive.

  4. brad says:

    linux control siftware. emc2.

  5. Anton says:

    @biqut2: the software was developed by my friend Giannis on linux-mca. as said on the video we are working towards making it stable and also towards developing a windows version. they will both be open-source. we are thinking to make a Google Code page to link to you guys

  6. jh says:

    that’s some mad soldering skills too (microscope helps a lot though – done that myself, though not with parts THAT small)

  7. Brian Aday says:

    I love the project, The repeatability is amazing. A little redesign of the gripper to hold that bolt and it would have hit every time. I wasn’t a big fan of the video however. The text didn’t stay up long enough to read it and it gave me motion sickness. The project rocks though.

  8. Anton says:

    @Brian: thanks for the feedback – sorry if the video made you dizzy – i thought it would match the soundtrack – others claimed the same – i guess i still like it ;)

    bear in mind that everything you see in that video already is or soon to be open. just follow the text :)

  9. hellbringercid says:

    any way to make a external input for the movement? like a couple of joysticks? the thing would be awsome as a mech arm and accurate to

  10. strider_mt2k says:

    Two of these on a wheeled, 3-D camera equipped ROV.


    Beautiful, dare I say, ARTFUL work. Really.

  11. charliex says:

    very nice, also very jealous! its beats the hell out of my armatron

  12. Daley says:

    As others have stated, this thing is quite impressive. It’s more graceful than some women ;)

  13. Avery says:

    What exactly can this arm do? Can it just lift and pick things up or is there more functionality to it?

  14. strider_mt2k says:

    Avery, based on what I saw in the video, I would say that it is a resounding, YES.

  15. fartface says:

    Incredibly impressive. Killer servo modification, heck. No it was not a modification it was a complete redesign.

    Talk about proof you dont need CAD to do something.

  16. svofski says:

    This is indeed brilliant. And it’s especially nice to see custom made mechanics and reworked servos instead of dumb expensive kit assemblies. Great job!

  17. mowcius says:

    The servos are the supermodified which was discussed on the arduino forums I think, about a month ago.

    Also here:


    The boards are apparently going to be avaliable soon! I can’t wait. I hope they’re cheap :p

    I love that arm though.
    I wonder what weight the bottom arm servo could support if a metal geared servo is used. I am thinking of if the arm was CNC milled aluminium. Would it be able to support the weight? What’s the maximum weight it could pick up.
    I think those things would be nice to know.


  18. mowcius says:

    Ok, looks like they are available.

    Maybe I knew that…



  19. Franklyn says:

    Is there somewhere i can read about adjustable gain PID controllers ?. I’ve only taken an intro to control systems and i have no idea how to make controllers which can be adjusted digitally.

  20. krustikov says:

    really brilliant. I love the degrees of freedom on the wrist!

  21. Anton says:

    @mowcius: the lifting capability of the arm is limited to about 0.4kg. This is a result of an arm length of aprox. 40cm and a factor of safety of 2. The shoulder pitch servo has a torque of 28kg.cm

  22. Anton says:

    @krustikov: the wrist is allowed to freely rotate because i have used an electrical rotary union on the wrist joint to transfer power and communications signals from the elbow joint to the gripper

  23. Anton says:

    @hellbringercid: I am preparing something ‘really handy’

  24. Pouncer says:

    Very nice work!

    I’m curious what’s the deal with the solar panel wall you have there?

  25. Anton says:

    @Pouncer: That’s just there to give a nice contrast ;)

  26. D_ says:

    Nice project. I don’t think my friends would have like to seen anything this replace the RS armatron on my coffee table. Unless joy stick control is added. Anyway that armatron is long gone, I wished someone would manufacture it again.

    In the begging of the video I think it said this had a .35 control resolution. Why such an odd number? wasn’t something easily calculated like .25 possible?

  27. Anton says:

    @D_: its just because 10-bit magnetic encoders are used so 360/1024=0.3515 Ooops Sorry my bad :). In the next one 12-bit encoders will be used hence 0.087 degrees motion resolution

  28. giannis says:

    The linux SW is a “robotic” framework.
    It is open source and it provides easy gui creation functionality.
    It is called mca2 and you can download it here:


  29. Dr bob bob says:

    I also noticed the solar panel. Nice use of polycrystalline silicone. Poly makes such a better background than noncrystalline (though mono gives much better efficiency).

  30. JonnyK says:


    Hope you’re doing well, it’s Jonny from Reading here. Nice work malakaaaaa!! I’ve used your servo mods, good stuff. Take it easy bro

  31. Anton says:


    Hey man its been a while :) keep in touch!

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