The robot arm is probably the most mathematically complex robot you could ever build. As such, this tutorial can't tell you
you need to know. Instead, Iwill cut to the chase and talk about the bare minimum you need to know to buildan effective robot arm. Enjoy!To get you started, here is a video of a robot arm assignment I had when I took Robotic Manipulation back in college. My group programmed it to type thecurrent time into the keyboard . . . (lesson learned, don't crash robot arms intoyour keyboard at full speed while testing in front of your professor)You might be also interested in arobot arm I built that can shuffle, cut, and deal playing cards.
Degrees of Freedom (DOF)
degrees of freedom
, or DOF, is a very important term to understand. Eachdegree of freedom is a joint on the arm, a place where it can bend or rotate or translate. You can typically identify the number of degrees of freedom by thenumber of actuators on the robot arm. Now this is very important - when buildinga robot arm you want as few degrees of freedom allowed for your application!!!Why? Because each degree requires amotor,often anencoder ,and exponentiallycomplicated algorithms and cost.
Denavit-Hartenberg (DH) ConventionThe Robot Arm Free Body Diagram (FBD)
The Denavit-Hartenberg (DH) Convention is the accepted method of drawingrobot arms in FBD's. There are only two motions a joint could make: translate androtate. There are only three axes this could happen on: x, y, and z (out of plane).Below I will show a few robot arms, and then draw a FBD next to it, todemonstrate the DOF relationships and symbols. Note that I did not count the
DOF on the gripper (otherwise known as the
). The gripper is oftencomplex with multiple DOF, so for simplicity it is treated as separate in basicrobot arm design.4 DOF Robot Arm, three are out of plane:3 DOF Robot Arm, with a translation joint:5 DOF Robot Arm:
Notice between each DOF there is a linkage of some particular length. Sometimesa joint can have multiple DOF in the same location. An example would be thehuman shoulder. The shoulder actually has three coincident DOF. If you were tomathematically represent this, you would just say link length = 0.Also note that a DOF has its limitations, known as the
. Notall joints can swivel 360 degrees! A joint has some max angle restriction. For example, no human joint can rotate more than about 200 degrees. Limitationscould be from wire wrapping, actuator capabilities,servomax angle, etc. It is agood idea to label each link length and joint max angle on the FBD.