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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Is the Annin AR4 the Workhorse Robotic Arm for You?



It’s no secret that makers love robots, however many people are likely to deal with superficial qualities or price over the potential for actual work. My first robotic, a line-follower that I constructed once I was 12, was nice for studying soldering and dipping my toes into robotics, however it wasn’t helpful. I’m keen to guess that was true to your first robotic, too. In case you’re able to step as much as an actual robotic that may do actual work, the Annin Robotics AR4 could also be perfect and Thomas Sanladerer constructed one to guage.

The AR4 is a 6DOF robotic arm meant to suit someplace within the center on a scale between low-cost “toy” robots and wildly costly industrial robots. It’s an open supply design created by Chris Annin for hobbyists, faculties, and small companies. Sanladerer estimated that it prices about $2,000 to construct, however that price will fluctuate dramatically based mostly on half sourcing.

Whereas that’s much more reasonably priced than the “actual” business robots available on the market, it definitely isn’t a trivial sum of money and Sanladerer wished to search out out if the AR4 is value the price. He bought a whole AR4 MK3 combo package and a servo gripper components package from Annin Robotics, in addition to the stepper motor package from Stepperonline.

Sanladerer’s emotions in regards to the construct course of had been blended. The components — together with the CNC-machined components included within the package from Annin Robotics — had been made effectively, however there have been usually engineering decisions made that might make professionals increase their eyebrows. One instance that Sanladerer discovered was cases of grub screws pushing into bearing race surfaces. One other was the usage of straight soldered connections as an alternative of connectors. These could also be minor points or they could be dealbreakers, relying in your perspective and wishes.

The testing after meeting appeared to mirror what Sanladerer discovered throughout the construct. The AR4 does work and has some spectacular capabilities for the value, however it additionally has flaws. Regardless of design decisions supposed to cut back it, the robotic experiences vital backlash. And although there are encoders in every joint, closed-loop suggestions isn’t carried out within the firmware. The result’s disappointing accuracy and repeatability.

That stated, Sanladerer was impressed with the software program, which works with the robotic’s Teensy 4.1 and Arduino Nano controllers. He says it was intuitive and highly effective, with loads of potential for quite a lot of duties. However jittery motion made it troublesome to make use of in some conditions, reminiscent of transferring a digital camera to seize dynamic photographs.

If this robotic pursuits you, then you definitely’ll wish to watch Sanladerer’s full video to get all the small print. That is the type of analysis that requires extra nuance than a typical client product, however the Annin AR4 is definitely intriguing.

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