Thursday, 10 January 2013

As well as swanning around the Internet looking for interesting stuff  :),  I made the OWI-535 robot arm and really enjoyed it. It's for big kids too so I'm going to hack it (see previous post for ideas).

It took me about 2-3 hours to put it all together. No problems encountered during construction. The instructions were clear and concise. The parts are surprisingly good quality for the price, and build quality once assembled is remarkably sturdy. It all worked fine with the PC software, once installed on Windows Vista.

Not being a student of mechanics, I learned quite a bit about how these things work by building a kit. The gearboxes are fascinating the way they work with the worm screw on the motors - I have always used ready made gearboxes before. I think young people will learn lots from constructing these types of kits especially with a parent or mentor. 

I am writing some Java software for the arm, because I plan to eventually make it mobile [Davison code].  

I want to write my own Java interface for the OWI-535. I started that today so should have some updates next week.

It should be easy to hack for Arduino / Raspberry PI (RPI) too, due to the nice–n-easy pinouts. I'm still not sure whether to got Arduino, RPI, or both. One advantage of RPI is that Java can be installed on-board, this means it would be easier to port my Java code.

The kit (as supplied) has no way of sensing or communicating the position of any of it's parts. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect the vendors to provide solutions to the limitations at this price! But maybe I can improve it and have fun at the same time! That's Gampa's mantra.

OWI-535 Robot Arm with USB: taking into account quality, fun, specification and price I give it 4/5.

Video of Arm Controlled by Java GUI
Note the wires hanging out the back. I didn't pack them all away and make neat because I plan to go on hacking and modifying. I replaced the big batteries with a 2C lipo too, which makes the power a bit juicier @ 7.4 and 3.7v (was 6 and 3v) and is much lighter.

Available in the UK at Rapid Electronics 

Also check out the OWI website - some great educational and fun robotics projects. 

Watch this blog for updates. I'll be posting code, hacks and mods for this kit.
Code and instructions start here: OWI-535 Robot Arm Coding Project Part I Java GUI


No comments:

Post a Comment