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Gadget Freak Case #208: Robotics Unleashed With Glove-Operated Hand

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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Robotics in the palm of your hand
Beth Stackpole   3/16/2012 7:07:25 AM
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This is very cool and a good candidate for lots of different applications. And I'm curious about the rapid prototyping angle. Any intel on what systems/materials they used to produce the glove and why they choose the 3D printing route?

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
What are the materials?
Ann R. Thryft   3/16/2012 12:50:13 PM
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This is a great invention, and one that is a good example of what robotics are so good at: whatever we humans can't do, either because we'd not survive the environment, or sending us there is too costly (e.g., outer space), for example. Like Beth, I'd love to know more about the materials.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: What are the materials?
Rob Spiegel   3/16/2012 2:15:26 PM
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Ann, you and Beth both have good questions about this gadget. Adam should respond to your questions when he gets a break in his school schedule today.

 

You can get a taste for some of the materials in the bill of materials and the build instructions:

http://downloads.deusm.com/designnews/03062012_buildinstructions.pdf

It is impressive that they used 3D printing.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: What are the materials?
Ann R. Thryft   3/16/2012 2:24:26 PM
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Thanks, Rob, for that info. How cool that Beth was right and it does use 3D printing. I'm also intrigued by the mix of materials among metals, rubber and whatever films are used for flex sensors these days. From the photo, it looked like a mix of metals and plastics of some kind. It will be interesting to see what else Adam has to say. 


AdamAllevato
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Iron
Materials
AdamAllevato   3/16/2012 4:54:55 PM
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Hello everyone,

Thanks for showing interest in our project. Although it appears that the palm of the hand is made of metal, it is in fact the 3D-printed ABS that has been painted silver. We wanted to show that if this was a production device, the hand would most likely be made of metal and molded plastic, instead of rapid-prototyped material. Even the pins holding the finger joints together were made from plastic, but again, in the final product metal would probably be utilized.

Our team leader modeled the parts of the hand using Creo (Pro/ENGINEER) and exported to STL files for the printing. The printer filled the inside of the parts with a honeycomb-like structure. I was not the manufacturing lead on the project so I can't speak any more on the printing process, but I've asked our leader (who did the manufacturing) to come and comment regarding the printing.

The main reason that we chose to use rapid prototyping was because of the flexibility and speed it offered. We were able to make complex internal shapes (particularly the paths that the tension wires took through the palm) and were able to go through 4 design revisions within the course of 12 weeks or so. The speed was crucial because there was not much documentation available on how to design a robot like the one we were trying to build.

Adam

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Materials
Charles Murray   3/16/2012 6:25:06 PM
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Talk about a shoestring budget! Using rubber bands from someone's braces is a cost-cutting technique that I hadn't heard of before. Kudos to you and your team, Adam. There must be a lot of engineering departments that need people who know how to get a job done with such thriftiness.

AdamAllevato
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Iron
Re: Materials
AdamAllevato   3/16/2012 11:20:56 PM
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Charles,

Interestingly enough, using rubber bands from braces worked extremely well for what we needed in this project. I'm sure that a more commercially viable solution could be found, but the only problem that we have had with them was that they wear out after being in place for too long. They are stretched a bit beyond their optimal operating length.

Jeff_RH
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Iron
Xbee vs WiFi
Jeff_RH   3/17/2012 2:36:22 AM
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Great project Adam and team! I would think at least one of you has to be from the electrical engineering department with all the microcontrollers and software involved. Am I right? Being an electrical engineer myself but having no experience with Xbee, I am wondering if you weighed the pros and cons of using WiFi instead of Xbee for your wireless interface protocol.

AdamAllevato
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Iron
Re: Xbee vs WiFi
AdamAllevato   3/17/2012 10:38:00 PM
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Jeff,

All of our group members are mechanical engineering majors. Two of us are double majors, but in engineering science with space and education concentrations. No one in the group has taken beyond Physics II (electromagnetism) and Circuit Design I (a requirement for MEs at CSU). None of us have taken programming classes in college. The fact that our group and many other groups in the class used complicated circuitry and programming speaks to the excellent student body and the ability of our teachers and TAs.

In doing preliminary research, I found that there was a lot of readily available documentation for Xbees but had more trouble finding anything regarding Wi-Fi. Additionally, because the XBees could essentially be used as an "invisible wire" this was the route that we chose to take for our project.

gsmith120
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Platinum
Electrical Decisions
gsmith120   3/19/2012 5:04:52 AM
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Adam & Team,

Great job!!  I'm very impressed with the work of a team of MEs with no or little programming and little electrical experience was able to successfully accomplish in those areas.  How did the team make decisions on selecting the electrical components?  For example, how did you select the PIC processor and the Ardunio board?  Did you use the microcontroller on the Arudnio board or only the PIC processor?

 

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