Developed by Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard, MeArm aims to bring a simple robotic arm well within the reach (and budget) of everyday educators, students, young Makers and parents alike.
The project — which recently made its Kickstarter debut — was conceived in order to make robotics, electronics and programing easier and more accessible to everyone. The ultimate goal? “To make something low-cost that you can build with nothing but a screwdriver and enthusiasm,” says Gray.
Powered by an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) or Uno (ATmega328), the MeArm is essentially a shrunken-down version of an ordinary industrial robot arm. The extremely portable, pocket-sized gizmo is also open-source, meaning that its entire design and code files are readily available for download so that Makers can view, update and learn from all of the work that has been put into the project thus far. As its Hackaday project log notes, there are already “well over 250 MeArms in the wild.”
According to its creators, it can be cut entirely from an A4 (or more accurately 300x200mm) sheet of acrylic and built with standard low-cost servo motors. In an effort to achieve its aforementioned “screwdriver and enthusiasm” goal, the team has unveiled a new platform they call MeBrain.
Based on an ATmega32U4 MCU — which is the same chip used in the Arduino Leonardo — the MeBrain’s two joysticks are responsible for commanding the MeArm. By simply plugging the robot arm into the board and the board into a power supply, Makers can control the robotic contraption as well as a few movements to play back.
“There are already some excellent code examples available for the MeBrain – provided by the amazing Bob Stone and there are even 30 tutorials to help you learn to code on the MeArm from one of our open source collaborators from Taiwan,” Gray notes.
Those interested in the easy-to-afford, even easier-to-use robotic arm should head on over to its official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking £5,000.