Replacing a finger or an arm in the hacker tradition

Just a few weeks ago we were wondering if we’d try to build our own prosthesis if we were ever to lose a limb. This pair of hacks answers that query with a resounding “YES!”.

To the right is a replacement pointer finger. The missing digit took the first two knuckles with it, but there’s enough left to easily interface with this creation. It’s a mechanically clever assembly that moves as you would expect the original to. See for yourself after the break. It seem the maker intended to mold silicone around the structure but never got around to posting an update video.

On the left we have a chinese man who lost his arms while fishing. It seems they were using homemade bombs instead of nets and one went off prematurely. Since then he’s constructed several different prosthetic arms, each with its own special purpose. This one has a saw connected to it but these two write ups on the man show images of him using a fork and wielding a hammer.

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Building a prosthetic leg from scratch

[Radek] from Poland sent in a neat video of a bionic prosthetic leg he made for one of his patients. Even though [Radek] says it’s a ‘prototype of a prototype,’ we’d have to agree with him that it’s a very neat build that could provide inexpensive motorized prosthetic legs to amputees in the future.

[Radek] has been working on his project for about two years now, after building the motor and electronics by hand. The leg is powered by 1.5 kilogram battery pack – no details on the chemistry of the batteries, but [Radek] says it will last 12 hours on one charge. There are also small vibration sensors in the leg for a bit of feedback, and a few switches so the knee joint can be operated by the stump.

If you’re wondering where [Radek] got the proper tools and materials to make a carbon fiber prosthesis, he works for Carbon Prosthetics where builds simple prosthetic devices. His bionic leg creation looks really cool, and he says the final product will be much less expensive than the very high-end bionic prosthetic legs.

[Radek] was kind enough to share some more videos and a few pictures of his robotic prosthetic leg; you can check those out after the break.

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Learn a new fabrication technique from DIY prosthetics builders

This is a screenshot from a video tutorial on making your own prosthetic parts from 2-liter soda bottles. The opaque white part is a mold made of plaster. It’s a representation of the wearer’s limb, and provides the hard, heat-resistant form necessary for this manufacturing technique. You can see the clear plastic soda bottle which fits over the form after the bottom was removed. A heat gun causes the plastic to shrink to the shape of the plaster model.

Once formed, the threaded neck is split down the middle with a band saw. This will receive a piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe to be held in place by the neck and a pipe clamp. It’s possible to stop there, but a second video details an additional bottle used to make the device more rigid. See both videos after the break.

This manufacturing process is aimed at parts of the world that don’t have access to advanced prosthetics. We think it’s a wonderful demonstration of what can be done to improve the lives of amputees. We also think it’s a technique that can be used in other projects… we just haven’t figured out what those are as of yet.

It’s amazing how versatile this plastic waste can be if you put your mind to it.

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[Easton’s] animatronic hand gets 3D printed upgrade

[Easton] as been working with [Jeremy Blum] to come up with the newest version of his animatronic hand. You may remember seeing [Easton’s] first animatronic hand, with which he won his regional science fair and made a trip to nations. Since then he’s been working on improvements, and with access to [Jeremy’s] Makerbot he harnessed the power of open source design to make his own printed hand, extending a different Thingiverse project.

He’s still using the original sensor glove as a controller. It sends commands to the Arduino controlling the arm via an Xbee module. From there, five servos inside a fiberglass forearm move each finger and the thumb. The video clip after the break gives [Easton] a chance to show off all of the new design features, and finishes with a demonstration of the hand grasping different objects. We had a chance to chat with him briefly. He’s got big goals for himself, aiming to design a prosthetic arm for under $1000. That’s not a career goal… he’d like to get it done this year.

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Cat hacking

After a gruesome accident involving a harvester, [Oscar] lost his legs. [Noel Fitzpatrick] a mad scientist veterinary surgeon came to the rescue. [Oscar] now has leg implants prosthetic feet. It is pretty amazing that a cat would even function in this manner. Have you ever seen one try to walk with tape on its feet? We have to wonder why that cat doesn’t have some more awesome looking legs though. We think that cat needs to team up with [Aimee Mullens], the olympic athlete with no legs, to get a better looking pair.