Roboarm

A 5 axis robot arm with a user interface

Abstract

The SPH Roboarm is a project open to everyone interested. As the name suggests the goal of the project is to build a robot arm, which can be controlled by an user interface. The arm has 5 axes of freedom and is able to pick things up, move them to another point and drop them off. After completion the whole system should give the user an arcade like feeling and shall act as a fun game.

Update

What’s going on right now?
Right now we are still designing, prototyping and testing new parts for the Roboarm and hope to soon terminate this phase. Additionally, a group of students, led by an experienced student, will soon start writing the code to control the arm. Another group will be tackling the challenge of creating a table for the arm to sit on and an enclosure to make it more secure.

Can I still participate?
Yes, you can! We are always looking for interested and motivated people who want to help us out. In return we promise to teach you how to use the tools available at the Makerspace and give you the chance to apply the knowledge on the spot by helping us build the Roboarm. If you are interested shoot us an email to makerspace@sph.ethz.ch.

Goal

The main goal of this project is to promote the Student Project House and its Makerspace in a fun and engaging way. The finished system will be used on different occasions on different locations on campus and will be available for everyone to try. The user can try to navigate the arm and grab items (candy, goodies etc.) and navigate through a course of obstacles. If the user is successful in finishing the course in a defined timeframe he/she gets the goodie as a gift.
In addition to using the arm to promote the Student Project House in an interactive way, we want to demonstrate the many technologies and tools available in the Makerspace. Looking back on the process of building the Roboarm we realized that we were able to use almost all the tools we have present in the Makerspace.

Technology

Our laser cutter was crucial for the creation of the system since all the structural components are made from lasercut MDF. Apart from this FDM 3D printing was used to fabricate some important parts such as the belt tensioning system. During assembly traditional tools like sanding, drilling, joining etc. were used. For the final steps we used the conventional milling machine to create some custom axis and properly secure flanges on the axis.

Process

For the first organizational meeting a group of more than 10 students (bachelor, master and PhD) came together. The scope of the project and an outline of the general concepts to be used were discussed. Right after this session some interested students stayed for an informal evening to go look into more details and do some rough calculations to determine the technical requirements of the electronic components.

In a second meeting things got technical and the group decided on all the specific components, which will be used to build the Roboarm. Subsequently the components were ordered and a subgroup did the 3D modelling of the components. For people without prior experience or as a refresher we hosted a click-through CAD introduction using Autodesk Fusion 360.

The modelling phase of the project was relatively short with a total of just 2 days. Within this timeframe, we got the basic structure and are still working on improvements.