Learn Engineering and Draw Narwhals

narwhals

Using LEGO robots and other ‘intro to robotics’ platforms is a great introduction to kinematics and programming, but if you’re teaching a classroom of people who don’t know what a 1/4-20 screw is, perhaps it’s not the right introduction to engineering. That’s the thinking behind NarwhalEdu’s upcoming, Kickstarted online course: give kids a bunch of servos, bolts, and a microcontroller, and they’ll be able to build anything, and not just what the instructions for a Mindstorm’s robot says.

Robots, Drawing, and Engineering is an online course built around a simple SCARA arm robot. It’s made out of laser cut hardboard and powered by three servos and an Arduino Nano with an extension shield. After building this robot in the first hour of the online class, students then learn a little programming and get their robot drawing everything from narwhals to nyan cats and faces.

In the second part of the course, students then tear apart their robot kit and start making other, cooler interesting devices. There’s a contest for the coolest project that will hopefully go a long way to show how creative engineering can be.

Two videos below of the NarwhalEdu SCARA arm in action.

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RepRap Wally Can Print Larger Versions of Itself

Reprap Wally

SCARA based 3D printers seem to be all the rage these days, and with good reason. This RepRap Wally doesn’t use any linear rods or timing belts — in fact, it can even print larger versions of itself with each iteration! Well, minus the electronics of course.

It was first spotted out in the wild at the NYC Makerfaire, and looks to be a pretty slick design. Using fully 3D printed limbs, the steppers move the arms using a fishing line. To reduce the load on the joints, a bowden extruder is also used. The really cool part of this is the z-axis, it uses a 4-bar linkage to stay level, but because of this, it also moves along an arc in the y-axis as it raises or lowers. This is accounted for in the firmware — otherwise you’d have some rather interesting curved prints!

Stick around after the break to see it in action, it’s a nice change to watch from the standard gantry style printers.

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SCARA Arm Becomes Enormous 3D Printer

SCARA

When you find an old, disused 80s-era SCARA arm in a lab, there’s really not much more you can do than make a giant 3D printer with it.

The last time we saw [Dane]‘s salvaged SCARA arm, he had reconstructed the electronics by building his own servo motor controllers and feedback sensors. There were a few initial test prints, but the new upgrades to this printer make it much more useful, make it look even more kludged together, and made the prints even more accurate.

The largest upgrade to the new machine is an updated heated build plate. The previous plate used six 30W resistors. Good enough, but with two additional 245W membrane heaters, [Dane] can now keep his build plate at a constant 65 degrees C. Keeping such a large area warm requires a heated build chamber, so [Dane] came up with a giant semi-hexagonal box of warm made from aluminum extrusion, laser-cut parts, and acrylic frames.

Compared to earlier prints, the SCARA arm is printing some very nice parts including a battery holder for 40 LiFePO4 cells, and a beautiful propeller for a 3D printed boat. It’s an impressive build, made even more so by the fact this robotic arm was found during a lab cleanup.

Handwriting robot arm is a little stiff-wristed

handwriting-robot

Check out this robot arm capable of handwriting which is orders of magnitude clearer than our own. It was built by [Patrick Barnes] as contract work for a campaign to raise funding for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Don’t miss the video after the break which starts off with the satisfying whine of some serious stepper motors. Judging scale from this image is a bit tough, but [Patrick] tells us that the entire assembly stands almost fourteen inches tall and the arm has a reach of around twenty inches. The demonstration shows off it’s abilities by drawing a Hilbert Curve. From watching the action you’ll realize that, though this arm and hand look fantastic, this is really a SCARA plotter. The wrist and fingers are for looks only, providing a place where the felt-tipped pen can be mounted (held flush to the paper with a rubber band). Whether that’s a disappointment or not, the precision and look of the machine bring it very high marks. It could take a bit of a lesson in penmanship from another we’ve seen though.

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SCARA arm finally prints plastic parts

SCARA

Here’s a neat alternative to the usual gantry setup you see on 3D printers. [Quentin] designed and build a SCARA arm 3D printer that just saw its first print.

We caught wind of [Quentin]‘s SCARA arm a few weeks ago when it was still just a few plastic parts and a glimmer of ambition in its creator’s eye. Most of the parts are 3D printed, including the blue arms for the x and y axes that are driven by stepper motors. The z axis is controlled by two lead screws, and judging by the height of [Quentin]‘s machine, he has a pretty big printable volume – at least as large as some of the delta bot 3D printers we’ve seen.

So far [Quentin] has printed a handful of calibration cubes and a wheel with a fairly impressive print resolution. You can check out a video of the SCARA arm printer after the break.

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SCARA arm 3D printer

scara-3d-printer

[Quentin Harley] must really have wanted to test his snuff when it comes to mechanical engineering. He’s been hard at work for a couple of years now designing his own SCARA arm 3D printer. That link leads to a recent summary article in which he shows off the build as seen above. It’s not fully functional yet, but he’s at the point where it’s time to develop the driver circuitry and firmware so he’s close. His blog is dedicated to this single project so click around and see what he went through along the journey.

The SCARA arm is seen in blue, using a couple of stepper motors to move the extruder mount along the x and y axes. The bed itself moves along the Z axis via two precision rods with a threaded rod in the center. As you can see, some of the parts are made of wood, and he used PVC for the cross supports between the upper and lower base platforms. But the majority of the build uses 3D printed parts, including the arms, drive gears, and mounting brackets.

[Thanks Peter]

Building a pick and place with 3D printed parts

For the last few months, [HeliumFrog] has been building a SCARA bot to serve as the basis for a pick and place machine. Somewhat amazingly, this is the first robot of its kind to be printed on a 3D printer.

A SCARA-type robot is an articulated arm perfectly suited for transferring components from tubes and reels to a PCB. [HeliumFrog] began his build with an arm with large gears in joints driven by stepper motors and toothed belts. The Z axis was originally driven with a lead screw, but after a thoughtful redesign that was changed over to another toothed belt.

We’ve seen our share of DIY pick and place machines, but most of those have been based on a traditional X/Y Cartesian frame. [HeliumFrog]‘s SCARA bot should be – theoretically, at least – faster and more accurate while taking up a smaller footprint in the workshop.

[HeliumFrog] is more or less done with the basics of his build, and is now moving on to building a plastic extrusion tool head for his SCARA bot. Very cool, and should make this robot capable of self-reproduction for under £400 (~$600).

You can check out a video of this articulated arm bot after the break.

Thanks, [Kyle] for sending this one in.

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