Learn how to make a basic wooden robotic grabber arm with this guide

Follow this guide to make your own DIY robotic grabber arm.
Christopher McFadden

If the video player is not working, you can watch the video from this alternative link.

Fancy making a little robotic grabber arm? Then follow this guide to find out how. 

diy robot arm complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

As you can imagine, you'll need some tools and materials before you get started.

Materials and gear needed

With all your gear in hand, it is time to get on with this great little build.

Step 1: Make the main wooden parts

The first step is to take your wood, or balsa wood and cut it into several equal rectangular pieces. Take one of them, and your metal ruler, and mark out the very center of the piece as needed. 

With another piece, bisect the piece with another pencil mark, and cut the piece in two equal pieces lengthways using a jigsaw or hacksaw. Next, mark and cut out another series of wooden pieces as shown in the video.

diy robot arm chop
Source: Interesting Engineering

You'll need one number 1 and 31/32 inches (5cm) by 1 and 31/32 inches (5cm), two 1 and 3/8ths inches (3.5cm) by 7 and 3/32 inches (18cm), two 1 and 3/8ths inches (3.5cm) by 3 and 15/16 inches (10cm), and two 1 and 3/8ths inches (3.5cm) cm by 3 and 5/32 inches (8cm) pieces. 

Next, take the squared piece and core a hole through its center. 

Step 2: Assemble the base

Next, take the base and glue one of your gear motors to the base piece of wood in the middle using hot glue. Next, place the   1 and 31/32 inches (5cm) squared piece around the motor. 

Now test the motor by applying a current. It should rotate around its rotor and move the 1 and 31/32 inches (5cm) piece of wood with it. 

With that done, take one of the shorter pieces of wood and your plastic cogs. Mark out the position of the centers of the cogs on the wood and drill holes ready to mount them. 

diy robot arm cogs
Source: Interesting Engineering

Glue the part to the rotatable base as shown and insert another gear motor into the wooden upstand. Attach a plastic cog to the rotor of the gear motor as needed. This part will be used to drive the main length of the arm upwards and downwards. 

With that done, take two of the longer lengths of wood, and place another larger cog between them. These will form the main section of the robotic arm. 

Attach this into place on the main robot body, as shown. 

diy robot arm main arm
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, glue another length of wood to the base to enclose the main body of the base and support the larger cog axle for the main arm section.

Step 3: Make the grabber

Take some more pieces of balsa wood or plywood, and cut out the main components needed for the grabber. Glue another gear motor and cog and assemble the main grabber claw as needed. 

The gear motor will be used to obviously open and close the claw on demand. 

diy robot arm claw
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, take some more pieces of wood and build an open-ended box. Glue this to the end of the arm opposite where the claw will be attached. 

This will act as a counterweight for the device. With that done, take your main claw attachment length of wood ready for mounting to the main arm body of the robot. 

Step 3: Complete the robot arm

Before we mount the claw to the main arm, take another series of plastic cogs, and mark out where they need to be mounted at the "business end" of the robotic arm. Drill holes, glue the final gear motor into place, and attach the gears and claw as needed. 

diy robot arm mount claw
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that done, the main mechanical parts of the robot arm are now complete. Time to move on to the electrical parts of the build. 

Step 4: Complete the electronics

Next, take your soldering iron, and wire up all the gear motors as needed. With each motor wired up, twist the pairs of wires together and glue them into place along the robot to hold them in place. 

Then take your PCB, and assemble all the electronic components as required. Solder the motor wires into place, and create a faceplate for the board using more wood. 

diy robot arm board
Source: Interesting Engineering

Connect the power supply or battery, and your DIY robot grabber arm is now complete. Now just find some stuff to grab, and play away!

If you enjoyed this little build, why not consider making another remote-controlled device

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