Real Robot One Is… Real

Most of the robot arms we see are cool but little more than toys. Usually, they use RC servos to do motion and that’s great for making some basic motion, but if you want something more industrial and capable, check out [Pavel’s] RR1 — Real Robot One. The beefy arm has six degrees of freedom powered by stepper motors and custom planetary gearboxes. Each joint has an encoder for precise position feedback. The first prototype is already working, as you can see in the video below. Version two is forthcoming.

When you see the thing in action, you can immediately tell it isn’t a toy. There are four NEMA23 steppers and three smaller NEMA17 motors. While there are 3D printed parts, you can see a lot of metal in the build, also. You can see a video of the arm lifting up a 1 kilogram barbell and picking up a refreshing soft drink.

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Robot Repeatedly Rearranges Remnants In The Round

Sisyphus is an art installation by [Kachi Chan] featuring two scales of robots engaged in endless cyclic interaction. Smaller robots build brick arches while a giant robot pushes them down. As [Kachi Chan] says “this robotic system propels a narrative of construction and deconstruction.” The project was awarded honorary mention at the Ars Electronica’s Prix Ars 2022 in the Digital Communities category. Watch the video after the break to see the final concept.


[Kachi Chan] developed the installation in pre-visualizations and through a series of prototypes shown in a moody process film, the second video after the break. While the film is quite short on details, you’ll see iterations of the robot arm and computer vision system. According to this article on the project [Kachi Chan] used Cinema 4D to simulate the motion, ROS for control, PincherX150 robotic arms modified with Dynamixel XM 430 & XL430 servo motors, and custom 3D prints.

We’ve covered another type of Sisyphus project, sand tables like this and the Sisyphish. Continue reading “Robot Repeatedly Rearranges Remnants In The Round”

Robot Arm Has The Touch

[Maurizio] built a robot arm, which is always a great accomplishment. But his project includes a very cool touch interface for an Android device that sets it apart from many other similar projects.You can see a very fast summary of the construction in the video below.

The design uses Fusion 360 and there are good explanations of each step in the process. The gripper is adapted from an existing design. Various 3D printed parts make up the wrist, shoulder, elbow, and rotating base.

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Robot arm in Blender

Animate Your Robot In Blender

You’ve built a robot crammed full of servos and now you settle down for the fun part, programming your new dancing animatronic bear! The pain in your life is just beginning. Imagine that you decide the dancing bear should raise it’s arm. If you simply set a servo position, the motor will slew into place as fast as it can. What you need is an animation, and preferably with smooth acceleration.

You could work through all the math yourself. After half an hour of fiddling with the numbers, the bear is gracefully raising it’s arm like a one armed zombie. And then you realize that the bear has 34 more servos.

render of industrial robot type arm with pedestal, base, upperarm and lowerarm and IK ball

Fortunately for everybody who’s done the above, there’s Blender. It’s all about creating smooth motion for animations and computer graphics. Making robot motion with Blender is, if not easy, at least tolerable. We made a sample project, a 3-axis robot arm to illustrate. It has a non-moving pedestal, rotating base, upper arm, and lower arm. We’ll be animating it first in Blender and then translating the file over to something we can use to drive the servos with a little script.

Now, Blender is notorious for a difficult user interface. The good news is that, with revision 2.9, it moved to a much more normal interface. It still definitely is a large program, with 23 different editors and literally thousands of controls, but we’ll only be using a small subset to make our robot move. We won’t teach you Blender here, because there are thousands of great Blender tutorials online.  You want to focus on animation, and the Humane Rigging series is particularly recommended.

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The modified servo being calibrated on the left half of the screen, with some graphs of its operation being shown on the right half.

Servo Surgery Teaches Us DIY Encoder Implants

Today, we shall talk about how [Adam Bäckström] took a DS3225 servo and rebuilt it to improve its accuracy, then built a high-precision robot arm with those modified servos to show just how much of an improvement he’s got – up to 36 times better positional accuracy. If this brings a déjà vu feeling, that’s because we’ve covered his servo modifications before, but now, there’s more. In a year’s time since the last video came out, [Adam] has taken it to the next level, showing us how the modification is made, and how we ourselves can do it, in a newly released video embedded below.

After ordering replacement controller PCBs designed by [Adam] (assembled by your PCBA service of choice), you disassemble the servo, carefully setting the gearbox aside for now. Gutting the stock control board is the obvious next step, but from there, you don’t just drop the new PCB in – there’s more to getting a perfect servo than this, you have to add extra sensing, too. First, you have to print a spacer and a cover for the control board, as well as a new base for the motor. You also have to print (or perhaps, laser-cut) two flat encoder disks, one black and one white, the white one being eccentric. It only escalates from here!

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Robotic Tufting Gun Fires Off CNC Textiles

Often used to make rugs, tufting is a process wherein a hollow needle is used to cram thread or yarn into fabric in some kind of pattern. This can be done by hand, with a gun, or with big machines. Some machines are set up to punch the same pattern quickly over and over again, and these are difficult to retool for a new pattern. Others are made to poke arbitrary patterns and change easily, but these machines move more slowly.

This robotic tufting system by [Owen Trueblood] is of the slow and arbitrary type. It will consist of a modified tufting gun strapped to a robot arm for CNC textile art. Tufting guns are manufactured with simple controls — a power switch, a knob to set the speed, and a trigger button to do the tufting. Once it’s affixed to the robot arm, [Owen] wants to remote control the thing.

The gun’s motor driver is nothing fancy, just a 555 using PWM to control a half H-bridge based on input from the speed control potentiometer. [Owen] replaced the motor controller with an Arduino and added an I/O port. The latter is a 3.5 mm stereo audio jack wired to GND and two of the Arduino’s pins. One is a digital input to power the gun, and the other is used as an analog speed controller based on input voltage. [Owen] is just getting started, and we’re excited to keep tabs on this project as the gun goes robotic.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen robots do textiles — here’s a 6-axis robot arm that weaves carbon fiber.

Dummy The Robot Arm Is Not So Dumb

[Zhihui Jun] is a name you’re going to want to remember because this Chinese maker has created quite probably one of the most complete open-source robot arms (video in Chinese with subtitles, embedded below) we’ve ever seen. This project has to be seen to be believed. Every aspect of the design from concept, mechanical CAD, electronics design and software covering embedded, 3D GUI, and so on, is the work of one maker, in just their spare time! Sound like we’re talking it up too much? Just watch the video and try to keep up!

After an initial review of toy robots versus more industrial units, it was quickly decided that servos weren’t going to cut it – too little torque and lacking in precision. BLDC motors offer great precision and torque when paired with a good controller, but they are tricky to make small enough, so an off-the-shelf compact harmonic drive was selected and paired with a stepper motor to get the required performance. This was multiplied by six and dropped into some slick CNC machined aluminum parts to complete the mechanics. A custom closed-loop stepper controller mounts directly to the rear of each motor. That’s really nice too.

Stepper controller mounts on the motor rear – smart!

Control electronics are based around the STM32 using an ESP32 for Wi-Fi connectivity, but the pace of the video is so fast it’s hard to keep up with how much of the design operates. There is a brief mention that the controller runs the LiteOS kernel for Harmony OS, but no details we can find. The project GitHub has many of the gory details to pore over perhaps a bit light in places but the promise is made to expand that. For remote control, there’s a BLE-connected teaching device (called ‘Peak’) with a touch screen, again details pending. Oh, did we mention there’s a force-feedback (a PS5 Adaptive Trigger had to die for the cause) remote control unit that uses binocular cameras to track motion, with an AHRS setup giving orientation and that all this is powered by a Huawei Atlas edge AI processing system? This was greatly glossed over in the video like it was just some side-note not worth talking about. We hope details of that get made public soon!

Threading a needle through a grape by remote control

The dedicated GUI, written in what looks like Unity, allows robot programming and motion planning, but since those harmonic drives are back-drivable, the robot can be moved by hand and record movements for replaying later. Some work with AR has been started, but that looks like early in the process, the features just keep on coming!

Quite frankly there is so much happening that it’s hard to summarise here and do the project any sort of justice, so to that end we suggest popping over to YT and taking a look for yourselves.

We love robots ’round these parts, especially robot arms, here’s a big one by [Jeremy Fielding],  and if you think stepper motors aren’t necessary, because servo motors can be made to work just fine, you may be right.

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