Let’s face it – we’re all lazy at some level or another. So, it would be great to have a device or tool that could simplify our lives every now and then. Now, you could say that’s why we’re working on robotics. However, we’re still a long way away from having fully functional, intelligent robots that can serve as our own private butlers. Until then, you’ll have to rely on your own skills to find a solution. Fortunately, we’ve got something here that can help you out! It’s a DIY Robotic Arm made from recycled materials.

A simple build that’s going to be super fun and the best part is, you’re going to be using recyclable items such as string, heat shrink wrap, and plastic bottles. So, it’s an affordable build as well.

What are we waiting for? Let’s begin!

Assembling the circuit

The first step is to create the basic circuit, which at its core will have the Arduino Uno board. The board will be paired to a PS2 Joystick Controller with 2 Axis Module on the input end. On the output end of things, we will have 3 lightweight generic servo units with 180-degree rotational capabilities. The entire circuit will have power fed via a 12V DC wall unit.

For a clear picture of what the circuit should look like, go here.

start your own circuito

Now that you have the circuit ready, the next step involves working on the actual arm itself. As we mentioned earlier, we will be using recyclable materials for this. So, you’ll need pieces of wood, glue, plastic wrap, plastic bottles, a spring, and some strings.

Once the basic materials are ready, you can start figuring out the structure. What we did was that we went from the bottom to the top. This involved setting up a strong base to prevent the arm from tipping over. Next, we put the pieces of wood together and tied them up, ensuring the base remained immovable.

robotic arm - parts

You can get an idea of what we did here. While positioning the servos, make sure you factor in the balancing aspect of the build. We used a counterweight on the opposite end of the arm, which reduces the strain on the servos and prevents excess consumption of power.

For the gripper, we made one side static, to improve grip.

robotic arm - front

Another thing you’ll notice in the image is that a joint was used for the moving part. Now, the joint itself is controlled with a servo. A spring was added to control the opening and closing operations.

To tie up the servo motor with the gripper, we used string, which was passed through a plastic tube. It’s quite similar to how bicycle brakes are connected.

That’s pretty much it. You officially have a robotic arm now. It can be controlled with the joystick.

Watch the video here to see the build from scratch.

Make it Yours

There are plenty of things you can do to customize this arm. For instance, you can decide to get rid of the recyclable parts and instead, print your own 3D parts to create a more authentic robotic arm. Of course, it will require plenty of modification as far as the coding part is concerned.

If you don’t need the arm to make complex movements, you can simplify the construction by replacing the joystick with a push-button switch. This will limit the movement to something more basic.

You can also control the unit wirelessly by adding a Bluetooth module and removing the joystick. This would be super convenient. But, of course, you might have to develop an application to help with this. That’s a lot of work, but it might be worth the effort.

Robotic arm - side view

Other applications

We built our arm to carry out simple functions. The primary purpose was to have something that could help us dip those tea bags and maybe pick and move small items. But, with a little creativity, you can probably do much more.

For example, you could probably add an Infra-Red Motion Sensor on the input end and place the arm near your doorbell butt. So, when someone comes home, the arm will detect movement and ring the doorbell.

It’s your turn!

Scratch that creative mind of yours and show us how you can improve our creation. We’d love to see your work, especially the ones that went further than what we did here. So, do send those pics/videos.


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