Ihave always loved playing with electronics and pulling things apart to see how they work. I have been assembling and playing with radio controlled vehicles and servos since I was about eight. So, I was quite excited when I noticed an “Arduino
Experimenter’s Kit” at my local electronics store. After some
online research, I was surprised and motivated by the
possibilities I could pursue.
Initially, I thought about making a bipedal robot using
micro servos as I’d been watching those classic cool
Taiwanese robot fighting videos on You Tube. This changed
quickly, after I began to imagine the prospect of mimicking
hand movements, and achieving this cheaply using common
materials and fast reliable servos. Thus, a da Vinci inspired
robotic hand project was conceived!
It was my first play with the Arduino and writing code
to control servos. To an experienced person, the wooden
hand might look simple, but it demonstrates some
fundamentals of servo control, Arduino programming, and
mechatronics. Plus, it’s a fun adventure sourcing your own
materials, thinking about solutions, putting it altogether,
and seeing the final working product — as well as thinking
of improvements and changes along the way.
All the parts used can be easily found in hardware and
haberdashery stores, as well as local supermarkets. Once
you’re comfortable with programming the Arduino,
assembling and configuring it all is a satisfying experience.
How I Began
I didn’t spend a lot of time planning the project, and
my first sketches and designs were quite basic; sketches of
the finger joints and the size of the hand, along with
placement of servos and the string I would use as tendons.
As the idea developed, I found it much easier just to
source and make my own parts, and adjust them to work
In late 2012 while on holiday, I made an inexpensive little robotic hand
(Figure 1) using bits and pieces I found at various shops, along with the
newly available and very cool Arduino microcontroller.
By Peter Ohlmus
Figure 1. The little Arduino robot hand.
(for under $300)
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