Monday, December 14, 2009

Robotic Arm Redux

I made another modification to the robotic arm. First, to make sure a jack will trigger the lever switch, I covered the end of the arm with neoprene foam. That makes it more likely the robot will detect jacks when they are picked up off-center.

I saw a problem were the arm successfully picked up a jack, but then dropped it after rasing the arm. I'm going to need to add a line of code to the robot to check the switch at the end of the arm one more time after the arm is brought up. I only have three bytes of memory left, I hope I can shoehorn that in.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CheapBot Robotic Arm

I've started testing a robotic arm for my line of CheapBot robots. It's easy to make an arm raise and lower, but I've had difficulty designing an end effector for it. It has to be light weight and reliable. After reading about the wire snare used on the Space Shuttle robotic arm, I decided to give it a try for the CheapBot robotic arm. The arm prototype is attached to my CheapBot test bed in the image below.

You can see a lever switch attached to the nose of the arm. That's so the robot can detect that it has picked up an object

In the snare test video above, you can see the piano wire snare extend, the arm drop, the snare retract, and the arm raise with the toy jack.

Look for one or more arm kits (I'm working on a second design), a radio, and smart beacon kit early next year.

May all your holidays be robotic.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Squeak eToys

Squeak will be one of the installed applications for the One Laptop per Child program ( It's a neat application and a good way for kids to show what they have learned (it would go great in combination with a Power Point).

I just completed my CheapBot Squeak program for my Constructivist Philosophy class and will post the final program on my webpage ( under the catalog link this weekend. It's a work in progress and over the months, I hope to include programs that simulate more features of the CheapBot and even create simulations of a near space mission.