Robotic Arm with USB PC Interface Review
Robotic Arm with USB PC Interface Review, a review of my new Robot Arm which is controlled through the USB by a laptop or PC.
I was given this for Christmas after some research, and what a Christmas present it was! The robotic arm was purchased from Maplins in the UK. It's a self assembly kit with built in USB connectivity to the robot can be controlled by a PC running Windows. Following some research before the purchase, Amazon have a similar model which is almost the same except it lacks USB connection and is controlled through a remote control which connects directly to the robot. The robot although unbranded, appears to match the designs of robots available from OWI Robots. The robot comes in a self assembly kit and requires batterries to be purchased separately.
The self assembly instructions are fairly straight forward, the parts snap out of their plastic frame containers. I had to use a file to smooth some of these down as they didn't snap off cleanly. a screwdriver is required to screw the parts together but that's about all you'll need.
Assembly lasted several hours over 2 evenings in front of the TV, which included watching Transformers, quite bizarre considering I was building my own robot whilst this was on! I'm not an experienced engineer though I used to take electronics to pieces as a young kid, but once I'd assembled the first motor carefully though easily, I grew with confidence and assembled the other 4 motors with increasing speed and ease. The assembly process was a great learning exercise. I began to appreciate the design of the robot, how the designers must have carefully planned the self assembly process to keep it fairly easy, and begin to appreciate the knowledge and experience required in order to build this from scratch. In fact the assemblyy process was the most interesting part for myself so far!
Once you've build the robot, screwed the motors into position, attached the arms, tidied the wires and plugged in the USB connector it's ready to be plugged into your laptop or PC. The CD only covers XP and Vista 32 bit, but on the OWI Robot website are drivers for Windows 64 bit which once installed allow you to control the robot using their software for Windows 7 64 bit.
They're software allows you to control the robot using the keyboard or mouse. You can choose from 2 modes, one allows you to control movements by pressing the keyboard or mouse, whilst the other mode allows you to program, or should I say map movement sequences into a timeline.
What I'm trying to do next is get some C# code working to control the robotic arm, though that hasn't been too easy so far. I'd give this a 5/5 rating from me, I loved this, and I don't know where it will take me, though maybe an iRobot maybe on my next Christmas wish!