From a Boulder to a Robotic Arm
Imagine that a large boulder is placed in front of you. Now imagine you are told that you must shave down the entire boulder and the only tool you have is a small nail file. This is how I felt on the first day of my project at BlueStamp. I had a small nail file and somehow I had to file down the entire boulder all by myself. On day one of my robotic arm project, I began to imagine the worst. I did not know how to solder, I did not know what a breadboard was and I did not know how to create a mechanical drawing. But I told myself I could do it, and with the help of my peers and teachers my small nail file was upgraded to a large hammer and that huge boulder is now looking like a small pebble.
Throughout the past six weeks at BlueStamp I faced numerous problems: my computer was a Macintosh and not a Dell (which poses a great deal of issues for engineers), the good old “ground” I used to understand now gained two meanings: zero volts and earth ground; I did not know how to code, and I tried to create a computerized schematic without a computer mouse. But now in hindsight, those problems appear to be minor hurdles in my project. I learned to work with the computer I have, I have begun to comprehend the multiple, and may I say confusing, terminologies of ground; I wrote my own code and I borrowed a computer mouse while creating my schematic.
At BlueStamp, the instructors never actually give you the answers to your questions; they just point you in the right direction. Although at first I schemed of hiring an engineer to actually answer my questions (and build my arm), I am very glad that I did not. This style of learning allowed me to completely understand the challenges I faced and enabled me to solve my own problems, as opposed to a teacher plainly answering my questions. My earlier problems have grown into a working prototype. A robotic arm has formed in front of my eyes, and to my dismay, I am the one who created it. Maybe one day I will create an army of robotic arms to do all my drudgery. But, for right now one arm is enough. I have never felt more frustrated or more gratified as I have in these past weeks and I love it.
This was based on the design by Justin Dailey at http://justindailey.blogspot.com/2011/03/real-time-controlled-robotic-arm.html.
Check out my documentation and videos!
DESIGN FILES: Mechanical Drawings
DESIGN FILE: ArielBOM
DESIGN FILE: ArielCode