There are a lot of reasons why you may want your own robotic arm, like for doing pick-and-place operations at home, automatic drawing, or simply for the fun of it. But, most “real” robotic arms are expensive and can be difficult to work with. The new PiArm is an open source, 6DOF robotic arm built for the Raspberry Pi, and it’s both affordable and easy to use.
PiArm was created by SB Components Ltd, who also successfully crowdfunded the LapPi Raspberry Pi laptop that we covered last year, as well as a number of other maker-oriented products. The PiArm Kickstarter campaign just recently launched, and it is already about to reach its funding goal. That’s partly because the £199 (about $265 USD) price tag for super early birds is very approachable, but also because it’s quite capable and easy to use.
The arm itself is constructed from metal, is actuated by six digital servos with potentiometer feedback, and has a maximum reach of 375 mm (almost 15 inches). The maximum payload, however, isn’t specified. It can be controlled by any Raspberry Pi model through a servo shield that was developed specifically for the PiArm, which can be connected either through USB or GPIO. Once connected, the PiArm can be programmed in Python or controlled via an app or a video game controller connected to your PC.
At launch, PiArm will have three available end effectors: a standard gripper, a pen holder, and a more complex robotic hand. It’s also compatible with a variety of sensors, including the Raspberry Pi Camera Module for performing computer vision-based jobs. Multiple variants of the arm are available, with options for different LCD screen sizes and other components that not everyone will need.
If you want a PiArm, the Kickstarter campaign will be running until April 25th. Rewards are expected to be delivered in June.