Giving An Old Arm New Life

[Jarek] found a non-functional robotic arm sitting around and wanted to get it working again. By adding a few custom boards to an Arduino he managed to do just that.

The arm is driven by six stepper motors, each having four control wires. To handle all of these [Jarek] used TIP120 transistors to protect the controller. This still leaves the problem of 24 control wires to connect. By using a couple of 74HC4514 demultiplex chips he cut that number down to just 8 Arduino control pins. He completed the project by interfacing an original Playstation controller as the input device.

Source code for the project is available for download but we didn’t see a schematic for his setup. This shouldn’t be a problem as the low parts count should mean the datasheets for the transistors and demultiplexers are all you really need.

16 thoughts on “Giving An Old Arm New Life

  1. *rage about arduino and how everyones is stapuder than me*

    If i was a typical hack a day commenter that is. Very fun looking project, wish I could find a robotic arm lying around.

  2. It seems we’ve achieved the second level of trolling, we’re not trolling about Arduinos, but trolling about potential trolls. There’s not even an Arduino hating post yet. Hilarious.

    Seriously HaD editors, I feel sorry for you. It would be an awesome site if it was not allowed to post comments.

    Since nobody cares about the actual post anyway : IneptSideKick3, I switched to AVRs from PICs exactly because of this, support of a good, free C compiler. Microchip should realize that anything that eases adoption is good for them and make theyr own free C compiler. Or support GCC.

  3. @janin microchip recently bought Hi-tech, who makes a fantastic C compiler for PIC. the free one wont compress your code like the pro version does (about 50%) but it still works pretty well. been using it at work (pro) and at home (lite/free) and havent run into any compiler-related issues. –>

  4. @janin

    Suweet, two censored posts in one day! Love it! I read through some HaD comments last night that had turned into an Arduino war where the “elite” had posted all sorts of discontent about the Arduinos of the world and blinky LEDs. One person even said there was was not a single good project ever that started on an Arduino.

    I guess I’m letting my angst carry over and I was starting with a preemptive strike. Anyway I use the CCS compiler for the PIC and while it is a decent compiler it is a bit weird (non ansi).

    20 minutes and counting until this post is removed by the “New Gentler” (TM) HaD. What is today the beginning of censorship? Because you don’t have to go back very far to see trolling galore.

    And HaD editors, if you get this far before banninating this post consider that you share in the blame. Posting all kinds of interesting and semi-interesting stuff and then following up with an Arduino email checker that lights an LED – well that is just asking for trouble.

  5. Good Work!

    Now, we can pull parts out of an RP maker with this. A ‘bot arm gets closer to being integrated with MakerBot etc. As having the arm software controllable would get us is a step closer to Von Neumann’s Constructor

  6. I really enjoy these Arduino projects, it gives a great piece of gear (with some fantastic abilities) for next to nothing in cost. Sounds like prime gear for a Hackers’ toolbox. I’ve a degree and a decade in electronics, and I’m thinking of getting some Arduino gear to jump start some projects that I’ve put off for way too long.

    What’s up with all the Arduino haters, any ways? Not “elite” enough for them, or they want something a little more “from scratch”? Then why don’t they start their own little group, and stop trying to poison this one.

  7. I think its the fact that a lot of beginners start with Arduinos and their starter projects sometimes get posted here and some feel they are above these simple projects. I say bring the new folks and their simple projects on! I’m glad to see them joining the fold and growing and learning. Arduinos are quick and easy, the tools are on a myriad of OSs and there are a ton of add-ons (shields) and sample code out there. Big advantages when your goal is a complete project consisting of many smallers bits.

  8. For me It’s nothing against the hardware , its the viral nature of Aurdrino I don’t like , it is after all just an ATmega with a simplified C compiler, nothing wrong with that. Take a Pic slap on compiler and call it a picdrino and its basically the same thing.

    I have nothing against newbies either , everyone is a newbie at some point, but there are other alternatives that are simply drowned out by the viral nature of the Aurdrino.

    Basic is arguably even easier than C and there are some really top notch basic compilers out there such as Swordfish for 18 series PIC Mcu’s.
    @rallen there are other reasons people may not like them that have nothing to do with an inferred elitism and if criticism on any grounds is “poison to this group” that would infer that that this ‘group’ is all about Aurdrino and not hacking. Such a comment makes you no better that those of us who disagree with your point of view.

    You kinda infer that anyone with an opinion other than Aurdrino should butt out , does that not also raise the possibility that your being elitist in a way in your personal bias toward Aurdrinos.

    In the end some will love em , some will hate em neither opinion is wrong , just different.

  9. I don’t exactly know what it is about robot arms but they fascinate me immensely, last year I managed to get a Quickshot RobotARM because it’s retro 80s and it looks to me what a robot arm should look like (as in industrial), but haven’t had the time to tinker with it properly other than discover it looks waaay better than it operates.

    The main gripe I’ve witnessed here against arduinos is too often a project is ‘showcased’ here where it’s used for something horrendusly mundane like blinking a single LED – – when it has the potential for a whole lot more, like controlling a fricken robot arm!

  10. erm, forgot to mention. Like my last project, I only PROTOTYPED on an Arduino, as it’s a great prototyping platform for me (I have a ProtoShield). After it was actually put together, I programmed an AtMega168 with Ladyada’s USBTiny to save costs (4$ for the chip vs. 40$ for the duino)

  11. Now everyone is going to be buying up the old broke robot arms from ebay. guess ill wait a month and then look for one :)

    Not that i have been reading the posts on here. But, there is a lot of arduino projects on here. Almost enough to make me go buy one. does seem advertising like.

    I have Keil C and i ordered a ton of PICs last year. So until i use them up i wont be getting arduino. ;)

  12. Those boards look like ones I used to make using circad, a plotter, and machinists blue. It was not something I came up with myself, I found it on an old robotics club website but pretty much had everything to do it.

  13. So, kinda late on this one, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents…

    Making or repairing a robot arm is not terribly difficult. What is hard is controlling the arm to do useful things for you. Using an arm in a a machine tool (like a makerbot or whatever) requires some pretty sophisticated reverse kinematics to translate a movement vector in cartesian space to a sequence of joint motor angles… not the sort of maths that just anyone can throw together.

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