Open Source Everything


Making a DIY Robotic Arm

I stopped in at NYC Resistor Saturday night looking to really start learning how to program electronics using the Arduino platform, and started taking apart the twitchie kit that I'd bought from Raphael to hack on.

It turns out that Bre was already in the middle of a similar project, and had fashioned a DIY robotic arm out of servos, a twitchie board (which uses the same firmware as the Arduino Lilypad) and Popsicle sticks. We joined forces and put together this amazing little thing:

Things - Eric Skiff and Bre Pettis created a Popsicle Stick Robotic Arm from Bre Pettis on Vimeo.

We hacked an old Atari joystick to control the arm, and each servo is manipulated in turn as you press the red button. It really was a ton of fun to bring this project together, and I'm amazed at what we did in a few hours. Huge thanks to Bre for having the hardware all set to go and to Raph for his awesome Twitchie kit and all his advice along the way.

If you'd like to embark on a similar project, here's the code for SuperRobotArm v0.2.

Bre is debating keeping the popsicle stick aesthetic or making a slick laser-cut body, and is taking votes via comments on his blog. Let him know what you think!

By the way - this video is part of Bre's excellent "Things" series, where he features a new awesome thing each day. You can check out the archives at, or Subscribe in itunes to get new episodes as they come out!