Low cost desktop robot arm for STEM and hobby projects.
The LittleArm was a weekend project that has grown into a full-time project and business. This campaign is to get the ball rolling.
I wanted a robot arm. But even the kits are expensive, for what they deliver. So one weekend I grabbed a few high strength microservos and went to work designing the parts to have printed.
At the end of the weekend I had a couple of different versions of the robot. I took it to work and everyone loved to play with it and I soon had a couple of people ask me to print them one.
Later, I was doing some demonstrations for STEM teachers. They also loved the idea, and they asked me to make them some for their classes.
So I decided to turn my little maker project into an actual product at Slant Robotics.
This campaign is to raise funds for building software and tutorials on using the arm and to purchase several 3-D printers and other supplies in order to produce the arms in greater quantities.
The LittleArm is a completely open source project. I made it 3-D printed so that anyone can download the parts and start using it. It also ensures that the arm can be rapidly changed and developed for different applications, without being constrained by molds.
The arm is controlled entirely by an Arduino Uno. The Uno provides a decent amount of support and is very versatile. These qualities allow almost anyone to start programming the arm and add other features like sensors.
Arduino is also supported on platforms such as Blockly, so beginners can write programs graphically.
The arm is designed to have a modular gripper. While there is a servo to actuate a gripper I have also designed several rigid end-effectors for different tasks.
If you want to use the GUI or create some other complex program, you need more than the Arduino. All other software, is entirely based in Python. Python is a simple language to learn and has a large amount of support.
Most of the foundational programs have been created. Kinematics are done. We have a basic GUI. And best of all we have a “record” function so you can train the robot to perform a task and then watch it go.That is the start, but honestly the number of programs that can be created for an arm like this is big.
We could set-up a webcam and add vision. We could have some basic sensors so that it follows a laser pointer. We could make it play with a ball. (Oh wait, we did that)
But in order to create all of those programs we need a little money and a bit of help. We would love it if anyone who is interested in the project shares their code with us on our website.