We were approached by Philip, a year 11 student, for guidance with his personal project for the IB Middle Years Program. With the encouragement of his school, he was motivated to combine coding with woodworking to create something very different from his peers.
He came up with the idea of a robot hand with specific features:
- Controlled via Bluetooth through a phone app
- Be able to pick up and carry a bottle of water
- Move around with the bottle of water
To achieve this, Philip first learned the coding basics he needed for the app and the remote-control functionality. He then came to StuDIYo Lab to design and build the final project.
The first step was for Philip to learn a few woodworking basics to explore the limitations and possibilities. Next came the design phase where the features, structure and scope of the robot hand was planned out to achieve the desired project goals. The factors that were taken into consideration were:
- Weight distribution
- Materials needed
- Overall size
During the research and design phase, there were two main challenges identified.
The first was determining the mechanism to use for the lifting action of the robot hand. There were three possibilities tested:
- The pneumatic system, which uses compressed air to transmit power. Here, disposable medical syringes filled with air was used to get the robot arm to move at the hinge points. We noticed though that the force was not powerful enough to lift the arm.
- The hydraulic system, which uses pressurized fluid to perform tasks. Disposable medical syringes were used again, but this time filled with water to give movement to the robot hand. The arm was able to move this time, but not significantly enough to be able to lift an object.
- Screw mechanism system, which uses a hex bolt connected to an electric motor, and the corresponding nut is glued to a plastic casing. This gave the robot hand enough torque to grab and lift an object.
The second challenge was calculating the maximum weight that the machine could successfully carry. Taking into consideration the RPM, speed, and power of the motor; this was easily calculated after a few test runs. All that was left was to attach the wheels using bearings and dowels, and connecting them to a geared motor, that could be controlled from the phone app.Together, with the help of our StuDIYo Lab instructors Philip was able to complete and succeed with his project as planned. We are honored to be a part of his journey.