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Robotic arm help

I am planning on making a robotic arm for an experiment. I am currently looking at the Serial 8-servo controller for its price an apparent flexibility. However I am new to piecing together pieces for building a robot and I have a few questions.

First I am not new to robotics in general just to piecing together actual hardware and then appropriate programming applications ECT.

What I am interested in building as I said is a multi-axis arm (not to large) with a camera all controlled by a computer. Now the arm doesn’t have to be connected to the camera but the computer has to “see” with the camera as well as move the arm all at the same time.

What I am wonder is in your opinion
-would the Serial 8-servo controller be best for this sort of set up
-what would be a good camera for this set up (price is not really an issue but cheaper is better and I only need moderate to good “blob/color” tracking)
-is there a good program environment if so is there one that uses C, C++, or java that can control the robot through a serial port (as that is probably the most likely connection method)
-also any other help would be appreciated.

If you need to know something before you can help just ask.

Thank you for any help.


The serial 8-servo controller could definitely control a servo-based arm from your serial port. Your idea does seem quite ambitious for a first robot project. Perhaps you could begin by getting a servo controller and one or a few servos and get your software controlling them to see what kind of performance you get. If you are programming for Windows, Microsoft has free versions of their various programming packages (Visual C#, Visual Basic, etc.), and they have serial port access built-in now. They are quite nice, and it won’t cost you anything to see if you like them.

The vision thing is much more complicated. If you just want to have a camera to give a remote user a view of the arm, it seems like any webcam-type product should work. If you want your program to do something based on what the camera sees, that’s very complicated. You could begin by looking into products such as the CMUcam or AVRcam.

- Jan

Thank you for the response. This is not my first robotics project as far as working with the actual robots. I have work with robots before this or at least the programming aspect of the robots. I have worked with the parallax basic stamp (hated programming it the entire time) the handy board, and the XBC. All of which are relatively small robots and reliable however I will probably need more memory on board then they have and so I believe using a computer will be best. So as far as controlling the servos I should be able to do that fairly easily.

Like you said the hard part is the camera. I need a camera that interacts with the program. The camera is actually important as it will control the arm. I looked at the two cameras you mentioned and the AVRcam looks like it may be the be usable for my purpose however I am not sure if it can control the servo arm through a serial port and use the camera through a serial port and use them together. Do you have any experience with the AVRcam or have you used a camera to control a robot you yourself have built.

We (at Pololu) don’t have any real vision experience. I mentioned the AVRcam and CMUcam not necessarily as products to use but as reference designs to give you ideas about what might be involved for rudimentary vision.

- Jan

thank you

Hi jan

What is the difference between AVRcam and CMUcam ? Expansion of AVR & CMU

I don’t have any experience with either system, so I can’t say anything useful beyond what is already available online.

- Jan

Hi jan

Lot of Thanks for your suggestion…