About this project
As Seen On
Bluetooth is available now as an add-on option. To control your uArm wirelessly as well as having the opportunity to be the first to play with our smart phone apps, you can back us with an additional $30 and send us an email to email@example.com
See more details about the Bluetooth here.
When hearing the word “robot”, most of us may think of the giant industrial robot arms. They can precisely install the components at a very high speed, or handle many complex, even dangerous tasks.
Robots are awesome, and wouldn’t it be nice if everybody who wants a robot arm can actually afford one? After all, $50,000 is kind of a lot of money. This is when we, the UFactory come in. UFactory stands for “Your Factory”. We build various robotics products to make robots more accessible for everyone! That’s why we started the uArm project - a desktop miniature robot arm.
What is uArm?
uArm is a 4-axis parallel-mechanism robot arm, inspired by the ABB PalletPack industrial robot arm IRB460.
It is made up of laser cut acrylic or wood parts, powered by standard RC hobby servos, and controlled by an Arduino-compatible board. In parallel-mechanism robot arm, most of the masses concentrate on the base, making the robot much more stable and allows the upper Arm to react really fast.
Above are some of the prototypes we had so far.
What can you do with uArm?
Well, in two words: COOL Things!!!
Once you got your uArm, you can immediately customize it with your own components. For example:
You can add a LED to make a computer-controlled desk lamp!
Or install it on the arm on a mobile robot chassis base and move it around.
Or play music!
Or help you to send business card!
Or make a small assembly line at your desk!
Or program it to do your homework!
OK, probably not doing your homework. But the possibilities are infinite; there are many more fun applications that can be done by using your uArm kit. And as you try to make it work, you will learn a lot about robotics and coding.
The uArm can also be a great gift to get people interested in Robotics. Since it could be easily controlled with a smartphone, people with no programming background can also enjoy the fun of robotics.
After all, even if you don’t plan to do anything with it, a desktop robot arm will be a WONDERFUL decoration!
How do I use it?
Right now we have already developed a Windows application that allows the uArm to be controlled with keyboard or mouse.
A serial communication program that uses Processing to create a host computer program that displays simple OpenGL object to show the orientation of the controls and reads keyborad event then sends command to the uArm.
Using mouse to control uArm to play Cup Stacking via serial.
With some basic controlling skills, you can use basically any input device to control it, for example, we have also used other remote controller to control the arm. With our imbedded inverse-kinematics algorithm, the uArm can be precisely controlled using coordinates.
We are currently working with the Android and IOS apps as well, so you can control the uArm via Bluetooth as well.
We have also written an Arduino library specifically for controlling the uArm. So if you are familiar with Arduino, you can program it directly with Arduino IDE. By calling different functions, you can easily move uArm to your desired position without doing tons of hard math.
UPDATE: We have just sketched out a new function for the uArm which allows you to simply dragging it around as the uArm records the critical coordinates for later playback! With this function, you can now TEACH the uArm to accomplish simple tasks without writing a single line of code, or even connecting to your computer！
The basic design is Arduino-controlled with 4 degrees of freedom. Three servos on the base control the main movement of the arm and the mini servo on the top moves and rotates the object. The end-effector of the arm is always kept parallel to the ground.
We also made some other designs of the end-effector for applications and extensions.
The structure of the arm is made up of laser cut acrylic or wood parts.
In addition to some screws, nuts and brass stand-offs, we also provide some flanged bearings, one large bearing, and 4 suction cups for you to complete the assembly of the arm.
By adding the bearings the arm can work smoothly and stable.
These parts, along with the servos, allow you to build the arm and a gripper end-effector.
The micro-controller is an Arduino compatible board. And we also develop a shield for Arduino to drive the vacuum pump and the servos. In additional, the power supply board will be on the shield, too.
The electronic parts of the Basic uArm consist of 3 standard servos, 1 micro servo, 1 Arduino-compatible board, 1 uArm shield, 1 USB cable and 1 wall adapter power supply.
The electronic parts for the gripper end-effector consist of 1 micro servo.
The electronic parts for the suction cup end-effector consist of 1 small vacuum pump and 1 solenoid valve.
The electronic parts for EARLY BIRD & Gripper Kit：
The electronic parts for Suction Cup Kit：
The electronic parts for Replaceable Kit, Custom Message Engraved Kit, Complete Assembled Kit & Advanced Kit:
The uArm comes standard with 4 suction cups for the base of the arm, to allow you to mount the arm on any smooth horizontal surface, such as a smooth desktop or floor.
You can also install the arm on a mobile robot chassis base and move it around.
uArm Work Envelope (working range of the arm):
What is the payload weight capacity for uArm?
In our informal testing, we have found that the uArm can easily lift and move a regular can of soda.
More testing will be carried out later and more accurate data will be specified.
uArm will be completely open-sourced after the Kickstarter campaign completes! We will use the time in between to optimize our design and make it the best it can be. We are a company, yes, but we are also a group of robot maniacs. We want to share our joy with the rest of the world and make more people realize how fun robotics can be! All of the design files, hardware and software will be released in May, 2014. So you can build your own arm using a laser cutter, then add you own controller and servos to it.
Even if this project fails, we will still release all the files online. If this project succeeds, though, we will be able to launch more open source robotics kits and mechanical platforms! Cheers!
How to assemble uArm?
We will offer a full step-by-step tutorial describing how to assemble uArm after we finish the finial design. Now we have a simple Assembly Diagram for the current version.
Evolution of uArm
The major revisions of the mechanical parts are on the thickness of the Acrylic parts and the base of the arm.
We changed the thickness from 3mm to 5mm.
We have made an electronic module holder for the electronic parts and also made a case for the vacuum pump and solenoid valve in the latest version.
We have made 3 versions of the base of the arm so far. In the first version, the mounting is not convenient. So in the second version, we added 4 suction cups on the base and you can also use screws and nuts for mounting. In the third version, we added a bearing on the base, so the arm can move smoothly and stable.
With electronic parts, we have made 5 versions so far. In the latest version, we make a shield of Arduino for the arm to drive the vacuum pump and the servos. In additional, the power supply board will be on the shield, too. The micro-controller in the final version is still an Arduino compatible board.
The first version: A micro-controller board, a motor driver, a power supply board, a vacuum pump and a solenoid valve.
The second version: A micro-controller board (Arduino Leonardo), a motor driver, a power supply board, a vacuum pump and a solenoid valve.
The third version:A micro-controller board (Arduino UNO), a motor driver, a power supply board, a vacuum pump and a solenoid valve.
The fourth version: A micro-controller board (Arduino UNO), a motor driver, a power supply board, a vacuum pump and a solenoid valve.
The fifth version:A micro-controller board (Arduino UNO), an uArm shield, a vacuum pump and a solenoid valve.
The latest version we have made so far:
Why we need you
We are robot maniacs with the goal of making robotics kits more accessible to the public and we want to help more people to see the beauty of robotics!
uArm is our first developed platform. We now have several prototypes, but they can still be made better. Currently the uArm can’t perform super accurate motion due to our tight budget; also if we can injection mold some of the parts, the assembly process can be greatly simplified; We are also planning to design and build the next version of the arm. It will be stepper-motor driven with metal frames thus it will be more accurate. And we will add remote control function on PC, Mac and Smart Phones as well. Furthermore, if we can get gather enough public attention, we can corporate with big companies to send these robot arms to schools, and give children access to robots!
We are eager to make the uArm better, cheaper and easily accessible. so more people can enjoy the fun of robotics. And all of these cannot be done without your support!
As rewards, we will offer the parts or a complete kit to build your own uArm from acrylic or wood. Only Complete Assembled Kit and Advanced Kit are assembled. More details are listed below.
- 28/02/2014 Finish type selection of the servos and optimization of the arm.
- 01/03/2014 Start development of an application on PC for Mac or Smart Phone APP if we hit the stretch goal. Start writing some sample test for the arm.
- 10/03/2014 Finish the "Getting Started with uArm" document for users.
- 15/03/2014 Purchase the materials for manufacture.
- 25/03/2014 Start manufacturing.
- 20/04/2014 Package the reward kits.
- 01/05/2014 Start shipping the reward kits.
If you still have other questions, you can post a comment or send an email to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will answer you as soon as possible.
We also have a forum on our website for discussion: forum.ufactory.cc
UFactory is a team of makers from Shenzhen, China. We make open source hardware platforms both in mechanical and electronic areas. There are five members in our team.
Fan Zhang is our Marketing Advisor. He gives us a lot of suggestions about this project and helps us to make oversea promotion. Thanks a lot for his help.
Frank Zhang has made the mechanical prototype of the arm and contributed a lot for this project. We are so appreciate for his great work.
We are grateful to Michael Barrett for dubbing our video.
Thanks a lot to Chunqiu Wang for helping us during this project.
Thank Heather Wang, Andrew L. Ayers and Roboter Song for helping us with proof-reading and advice on wording.
Risks and challenges
We have 7 prototypes of the arm now and some tests of the arms have been done. They all work very well. Our next task mainly focuses on optimizing the design and finding the better servos to improve the arm. Lastly, we need to perform further testing.
About the risk and challenge in manufacturing: We have found a trusted factory who can help us make the laser cut parts. One of our team members will take charge of the manufacturing and sourcing. We will work hard to ensure all of these parts are prepared and in good quality, and on-time before shipping.
As for the risk from delivery, we will ask some of our friends who have rich experience in shipping and look for a trusted company to help ensure that the rewards arrive on time in perfect condition.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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