PyBot Is A 3D Printed SCARA Arm For The Masses

We’ve all seen videos of blisteringly fast SCARA arms working on assembly lines, and more than a few of us have fantasied about having that same kind of technology for the home shop. Unfortunately, while the prices for things like 3D printers and oscilloscopes have dropped lower than what many would have believed possible a decade ago, high-performance robotics are still too pricey for the home player.

Unless of course, you’re willing to build it yourself. The PyBot designed by [jjRobots] is an open source robotic arm that should be well within the means of the average hardware hacker. One could argue that this is a project made entirely possible by desktop 3D printing; as not only are most of the structural components printed, but most of the mechanical elements are common 3D printer parts. Smooth rods, linear bearings, lead screws, and NEMA 17 motors are all exceptionally cheap these days thanks to the innumerable 3D printer kits that make use of them.

A custom control board keeps the wiring tight.

Those who’ve researched similar projects might notice that the design of this arm has clearly been influenced by the Mostly Printed SCARA (MPSCARA). But while that robot was designed to carry an extruder and act as a 3D printer, [jjRobots] intends for the PyBot to be more of a general purpose platform. By default it features a simple gripper, but that can easily be changed out for whatever tool or gadget you have in mind.

In the base of the arm is a custom control board that combines an Arduino M0, an ESP8266, and a trio of stepper motor drivers. But if you wanted to build your own version from the parts bin, you could certainly wire up all the principle components manually. As the name implies, the PyBot is controlled by Python tools running on the computer, so it should be relatively easy to get this capable arm to do your bidding.

We’ve seen some impressive 3D printed robotic arms over the years, but the simplicity of the PyBot is particularly compelling. This looks like something that you could reasonably assemble and program over a weekend or two, and then put to work in your ad-hoc PPE factory.

3D Printed SCARA Arm With 3D Printer Components

One of the side effects of the rise of 3D printers has been the increased availability and low cost of 3D printer components, which are use fill for range of applications. [How To Mechatronics] capitalized on this and built a SCARA robot arm using 3D-printed parts and common 3D-printer components.

The basic SCARA mechanism is a two-link arm, similar to a human arm. The end of the second joint can move through the XY-plane by rotating at the base and elbow of the mechanism. [How To Mechatronics] added Z-motion by moving the base of the first arm on four vertical linear rods with a lead screw. A combination of thrust bearings and ball bearings allow for smooth rotation of each of the joints, which are belt-driven with NEMA17 stepper motors. Each joint has a microswitch at a certain position in its rotation to give it a home position. The jaws of the gripper slide on two parallel linear rods, and are actuated with a servo. For controlling the motors, an Arduino Uno and CNC stepper shield was used.

The arm is operated from a computer with a GUI written in Processing, which sends instructions to the Arduino over serial. The GUI allows for both direct forward kinematic control of the joints, and inverse kinematic control,  which will automatically move the gripper to a specified coordinate. The GUI can also save positions, and then string them together to do complete tasks autonomously.

The base joint is a bit wobbly due to the weight of the rest of the arm, but this could be fixed by using a frame to support it at the top as well. We really like the fact that commonly available components were used, and the link in the first paragraph has detailed instructions and source files for building your own. If the remaining backlash can be solved, it could be a decent light duty CNC platform, especially with the small footprint and large travel area. Continue reading “3D Printed SCARA Arm With 3D Printer Components”

A Tentacle That’s A Work Of Art

We all bring our own areas of expertise to our work when we build the projects that find their way in front of Hackaday writers, for instance a software developer brings clever brains to their microcontroller, or an electronic engineer might bring a well-designed piece of circuitry. [Yvo de Haas] is a mechanical engineer, and it’s pretty clear from his animatronic tentacle that he has used his expertise in that field to great effect.

If you think it looks familiar then some readers may recall that we saw a prototype model back in February at Hacker Hotel 2020. In those last weeks before the pandemic hit us with lockdowns and cancellations he’d assembled a very worthy proof of concept, and from what we can see from his write-up and the video below he’s used all the COVID time to great effect in the finished product. Back in February the control came via a pair of joysticks, we’re particularly interested to see his current use of a mini tentacle as a controller.

At its heart is a linkage of 3D-printed anti-parallelograms linked by gears, with cables holding the tension and controlling the movement of the tentacle from a set of winches. The design process is detailed from the start and makes a fascinating read, and with its gripper on the end we can’t wait for an event that goes ahead without cancellation at which we can see the tentacle for real.

If you’d like to see more of [Yvo]’s work, maybe you remember his wearable and functioning Pip-Boy, and his working¬†Portal turret.

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Robots With A Delicate Touch Assemble PlayStation 4

Sony’s video game division is gearing up for their upcoming PlayStation 5, pushing its predecessor PlayStation 4 off the spotlit pedestal. One effect of this change is Sony ever so slightly relaxing secrecy surrounding the PS4, allowing [Nikkei Asian Review] inside a PlayStation 4 final assembly line.

This article was written to support Sony and PlayStation branding for a general audience, thus technical details are few and far in between. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise given how details of mass production can be a competitive advantage and usually kept as trade secrets by people who knew to keep their mouths shut. Even so, we get a few interesting details accompanied by many quality pictures. Giving us a glimpse into an area that was formerly off-limits to many Sony employees never mind external cameras.

The quoted engineers are proud of their success coaxing robots to assemble soft and flexible objects, and rightly so. Generally speaking robots have a hard time handling non-rigid objects, but this team has found ways to let their robots handle the trickier parts of PS4 assembly. Pick up wiring bundles and flat ribbon cables, then plug them into circuit board connectors with appropriate force. Today’s automated process is the result of a lot of engineers continually evolving and refining the system. The assembly machines are covered with signs of those minds at work. From sharpie markers designating positive and negative travel directions for an axis, to reminders written on Post-It notes, to assembly jig parts showing the distinct layer lines of 3D printing.

We love seeing the result of all that hard work, but lament the many interesting stories still untold. We would have loved a video showing the robots in action. For that, the record holder is still Valve who provided an awesome look at the assembly of the Steam Controller that included a timelapse of the assembly line itself being assembled. If you missed that the first time, around, go watch it right now!

At least we know how to start with the foundations: everything we see on this PS4 assembly line is bolted to an aluminum extrusion big or small. These building blocks are useful whether we are building a personal project or a video console final assembly line, so we’ve looked into how they are made and how to combine them with 3D printing for ultimate versatility.

[via Adafruit]

Automate Your Xbox

First the robots took our jobs, then they came for our video games. This dystopian future is brought to you by [Little French Kev] who designed this adorable 3D-printed robot arm to interface with an Xbox One controller joystick. He shows it off in the video after the break, controlling a ball-balancing physics demonstration written in Unity.

Hats off to him on the quality of the design. There are two parts that nestle the knob of the thumbstick from either side. He mates those pieces with each other using screws, firmly hugging the stick. Bearings are used at the joints for smooth action of the two servo motors that control the arm. The base of the robotic appendage is zip-tied to the controller itself.

The build targets experimentation with machine learning. Since the computer can control the arm via an Arduino, and the computer has access to metrics of what’s happening in the virtual environment, it’s a perfect for training a neural network. Are you thinking what we’re thinking? This is the beginning of hardware speed-running your favorite video games like [SethBling] did for Super Mario World half a decade ago. It will be more impressive since this would be done by automating the mechanical bit of the controller rather than operating purely in the software realm. You’ll just need to do your own hack to implement button control.

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Robot Arm Sucks In A Good Way

Building a robot arm is fun, but no longer the challenge it once was. You can find lots of plans and kits, and driving the motors is a solved problem. However, there is always one decision you have to make that can be a challenge: what effector to put on the end of it. If you are [MertArduino] the answer is to put suction at the end. If you need to grab the right things, this could be just the ticket for reliably lifting and letting go. You can see a video of the arm in action, below.

The arm itself is steel with four servo motors and comes in a kit. The video shows the arm making a sandwich under manual control. We suspect he might have put it under Arduino control but there’s no sudo for making sandwiches.

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Inverse Kinematics Robot Arm Magna-Doodles The Time For You

Following a surge of creativity fueled by the current lockdown, [Diglo] writes in with his tabletop clock driven by a robotic arm drawing on a Magna Doodle tablet. And if you have one of those still lying around with some old toys and don’t mind cannibalizing it for the project, you too can follow along the source files to build your own.

The clock works by exploiting the principle that Magna Doodle tablets work by being drawn on with a magnetic stylus. That way, to draw on one of them you don’t need to add a point of articulation to bring the pen up and down, [Diglo] simply attached a controllable electromagnet to the end of a two-dimensional SCARA arm. In total, the whole build uses three stepper motors, two to control the movement of the arm, and one on the back of the tablet to sweep a magnetic bar which “erases” it.

This clock is similar to another we’ve featured a few years ago, which also used a Magna Doodle, but greatly improves on the idea. If a Magna Doodle seems too childish to build a magnetic clock however, there’s always ferrofluidic displays to try to dip your fingers into, but we really think you should watch this one in action after the break first.

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