Best Projects of DIY Robotic Arms

Some people are born to play music, others to design the best smartphones in the world, several others are geniuses able to invent mathematical equations, and many more are born to be engineers able to build robots. I write this article for those who want to build at home or in a school lab a robotic arm able to grasp and move small objects with different shapes, and with a limited budget for such a project.

All of the robotic arms explored in this article are simple, integrates very popular components, can be built at home or at school with simple tools, using plastic or metal sheets, and a little bit imagination.

We did not have anyone like a manager, who could guide us and make it happen.
Steve Brown

You can start play with robotic arms in two ways. If you don’t have mechanical and electronic skills it could be useful to start using a robotic arm kit ready for applications in minutes. All you have to do is to choose the right kit with the right programming language used to control the arm.

The second way to get start into robotic arms is to build the arm at home with simple tools, a 3D printer or using metal sheets, and several other servos, sensors, and a powerful controller such as the Arduino.

In this article, I focused on information regarding the components used to build these projects, as well as several words regarding the whole project and how it was built.

Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.
Michael Jordan

From DIY robot arms based on a robotic kit, and up to robotic arms built from scratch, in the following I explore several examples from where you can get inspired and start building your project based on your idea. All of these projects can be modified and engineered with your custom parts, and where it is used a sheet of metal, you can replace this with plastic, and where the plastic is in use, you can add a sheet of metal.

Make Wired Robotic Arm Edge to “Wireless” with DIY Arduino + XBee

Based on an Arduino clone, this project is not 100% built from scratch since it uses the well-known OWI Robotic Arm Edge, but this time the commercial kit was improved with additional system for control and several other components. I choose this project because it can be a good start for those who doesn’t have enough mechanical skills to build at home the components of the arm.

The project was built in four hours and in the article are available images, schemas, and programs that capture all the steps from start to the finish.

In few words, in this project is modified the ‘Robotic Arm Edge’ commercial kit to be controlled wirelessly using the XBee module or as an alternative a Bluetooth system. The arm has five motors controlled by three L293D motor drivers.

In case of using Arduino or others Arduino clone you needed to make the Motor Control Board to match those Arduino.

Here are available almost all the parts needed to build a robotic arm controlled wireless and based on the ‘Robotic Arm Edge’ kit.

Build a Robotic Arm for the Science Olympiad

Built by young students with electronics, mechanics, and programming skills, this project is a good example from where you can learn how to build a robotic arm with five degrees of freedom using simple components and a ton of imagination.

The brain of the robotic arm is a microcontroller, while the frame is based on the Lynxmotion commercial arm kit with a useful end effector able to grasp objects with different shapes and dimensions.

I choose to add this project in the list of DIY robotic arms as an alternative to the first project where another commercial robotic arm kit is used.

In the following section, I explore the components of the arm built for Robotics Olympiad.

Trainable Robotic Arm

This project is based on the Baxter idea to record the motions while his arms and grippers are moved. The trained robot arm has embedded analog feedback servos designed for efficient operations and a really good system to remember the operations.

All of the components of the arm are printed including the arm parts and the gripper. In this case, beside the tools needed for electronic components, you need also a 3D printer and a little bit of patience to have all the components ready for use.

To build this project at home, you will need the following components:

How to Build a Robotic Arm that Tracks Your Hand Movements

This guide shows you how to build a robot arm able to track your hand movements using the Leap Motion controller, Arduino, and the software platform called Node.js. The project is split in two parts. The first part shows you the hardware parts, while the second part introduces you in programming.

With basic skills for picking up and move objects, the arm is pretty accurate and it moves very fast for a DIY robotic arm.

With a minimum set of tools and several components that I will explore in the following, you can build at home the robotic arm using a sheet of aluminum and two plastic spoons for the gripper to grasp objects.

All main components used in this project are explored here:

Building a robot arm

Using aluminum sheets, a series of powerful servos, and Arduino Leonardo microcontroller you can build at home from scratch a 6 DOF robotic arm with basic tools and at an affordable price.

The final project uses 3 different L shaped brackets. One L shape bracket is used for the wrist, another shape bracket for mid-arm, and the end-effector is also based on an L shaped bracket.

For the USB robotic arm is used up to 5 servos strong enough to apply a high amount of pressure.

From this guide you can learn also few tips and tricks that can make your work easier when you building at home robotic arms using metal sheets.


How to build a robotic arm

With a cost under $100, this robotic arm is built with 6 servos able to move the arm 180 degrees, while is controlled by an Arduino controller. The arm is powered by an old computer power supply and is built from 2mm Lexan strong enough to resist for moving small objects from a place to another. The arm is mounted on an old disco ball, and at the top is located the end effector and a distance sensor.

The components used in this project:

Servo: 3 x Fubata S3003, 2x MG946R, 2x MG995;

  • Robot component: Lexan 2mm or any other material;
  • Sensor: Hc-sr04



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