With a growing community for both educational and hobbyist purposes, robotic kits are invaluable resources to learn about mechanics, electronics, and programming. Programmable or not, all of the robotic arm kits reviewed in this article are designed to be used by beginners and up to advanced users, used by anyone from students to hobbyists able to improve the skills and start building robotic projects including a powerful tool such as a robotic arm.
In general terms, a wide range of robotic arms are used in different areas including here service or industrial applications. If an industrial robotic arm is used for tasks such as measuring, pick and place, assembly lines, and many more industrial applications, a robot arm kit is a powerful resource for research, as a trainer kit in education and for DIY robotic projects.
starting with two and going forward to seven degrees of freedom, all of the robotic arms explored in this article are designed to replicate a human arm, but with changes to fit the requirements of the application area.
The kits reviewed in this article are mini robotic arms compared with the heavy duty industrial robots, but with a few additional tools these can replicate the abilities and functionalities of an industrial robotic arm.
Robotic arm kits are engineered for low payloads due to a fragile structure, but the same structure allows you to add additional components such as sensors and actuators. Working on an opened architecture, the robotic arms are programmable and compatible with several other DIY components often used in robotics projects such as the Arduino.
Robotic Arms With 2 DOF
A robotic arm with two degrees of freedom allows simple tasks like grasping objects or sorting and move objects. Used by beginners or hobbyists in different projects, these simple kits can become a good start to start building skills in electronics and programming.
[green_box]A robotic arm with two degrees of freedom is more than a toy for a child who’s trying to enter into the world of industrial and service robotic arms.[/green_box]
More or less programmable, the kits could be used for simple tasks like grasp small objects and lift, or even more, a robotic platform like Mr. Tidy with two degrees of freedom of the arm is able to sort and move objects.
The Stacker kit is a simple robotic arm with two wheels and two degrees of freedom. On the arm could be added two additional degrees of freedom by integrating a differential drive for the rolling base. This robot kit was designed for educational and hobby purposes, while the package includes electronics and remote control. The wheels are driven by two rotation servos, while one servo is used to lift the arm and another servo for open and close the gripper.
- dimensions:24,7-cm H x 19,6-cm W x 26-cm D;
- customizable framework;
- large electronics compartment;
- omni-directional movement;
- stainless steel castor;
- 3-inch drive wheels;
- gripper spread: 10,7-centimeters;
[link removed]Khepera III
This small robotic arm kit is engineered with two degrees of freedom and a wide range of applications. It could be used for a maximum payload of 50 grams, while the entire weight of the kit is around 500 grams. Attached to a mobile robot platform, the arm can grasp and transport small objects.
Even is not included in the Khepera III package, the gripper robotic arm can be interfaced using the KoreBot II embedded PC extension. The robot kit can be programmed uses a list of API’s and is good to know that is compatible with VREP simulation environment.
- 2 degrees of freedom;
- can lift a maximum weight of 50 grams;
- has a total weight of 0.5 kilograms;
- compatible with VREP simulation environment;
Robotic Arms with 4 DOF
With four degrees of freedom we have entered into the advanced robotic arm area designed not just to lift up or down objects, it could also be used for rotating and let the object in different areas than the initial place.
[green_box]Four is double of two, double of two degrees of freedom and ready to enter into the area of advanced robotic arms.[/green_box]
In the following, I explore several robotic arm kits with four degrees of freedom special designed for educational or hobbyist robotic projects.
AL5D is the most advanced robotic arm from a series of many more robotic arms from Lynxmotion. With four degrees of freedom, the Lynxmotion kit is based on Hitec servos while the arm is designed to reach high distances for its size with a horizontal length of 25 centimeters and a maximum payload of 370 grams. The values are available for AL5D, which is the most advanced robotic arm from its series.
The AL5D has four degrees of freedom, which could be increased with another one degree of freedom by adding a rotating wrist joint. Built from aluminum, the arm has a high resistance to a significant load applied to its size.
Based on ATMEGA168-20PU microcontroller capable to control at the same time up to 32 servomotors, the robotic arm could be enhanced with many more controls based on Lynx software and RS232 interface.
Another software called RIOS is used to write programming code and to upload the program into the microcontroller.
- ATMEGA168-20PU microcontroller;
- payload of 370 grams;
- horizontal reached distance of 25 centimeters;
- arm construction is based on aluminium;
- RIOS software is used to write and upload scripts into microcontrollers;
Designed and build by Arexx, the Mini robotic arm kit is perfect for hobbyists who tries to enter into the world of mechanics, electronics, and programming. The kit is based on ATMEGA64 microcontroller and support C programming lines written in Open Source Tools. Using USB interface, the program written in C to control the arm can be uploaded in the microcontroller with the Uploader software.
With a flexible structure, the Mini Robot Arm could be enhanced with sensors for environmental reactions.
- ATMEGA64 microcontroller;
- I/O inputs and outputs;
- I2C bus;
- 4 mini-servos;
- 2 maxi-servos;
- metal chassis and plastic based arm;
- arm length 260 mm;
- height 320 mm;
- base diameter 150 mm;
- power supply 6 to 12V;
- USB interface;
uArm is a 4-axis robot arm with parallel-mechanism and modeled after the industrial robot from ABB – PalletPack. The arm is powered by Arduino board, and can be controlled wireless using Bluetooth connection.
- 3 servos;
- 1 micro servo;
- 1 Arduino board;
- 1 Gripper;
- robotic arm kit with USB PC interface;
Robotic Arms 5 DOF
One degree of freedom in plus is more than enough to develop complex applications where with a flexible gripper for example is could spend less time and movements for the same task.
[green_box]With five degrees of freedom you can use the robotic arm for advanced applications such as grasping objects and moving around the arm with a minimum number of moves.[/green_box]
With four degrees of freedom of the arm and one degree of freedom for gripper, this is a fully programmable robot arm kit compatible with Arduino and Rhino. The arm could be controlled via PC or optional through wireless by adding a Bluetooth module for servo controller. With a flexible structure, the arm could host many more servos, while the number of applications where the robot arm can be used could be increased by adding more additional tools. The arm has a maximum reach of 320 millimeters with a maximum payload of 300 grams.
If you have C programming language skills, this robotic arm kit is a powerful platform to apply your knowledge and build several other robotic projects.
- four degrees of freedom for arm and one for gripper;
- arm maximum reach from base: 320 mm;
- maximum payload: 300 grams;
- power requirement: 5 to 6 VDC;
- two high torque metal gear servos;
- three double bearing servo motors;
At an affordable price and built especially for beginners, the OWI is a simple robotic arm kit part of a robotic manipulator with five degrees of freedom. In original form, the kit is not programmable and can be controlled only with a remote control, but with additional electronics, the arm can be controlled by running a program.
The structure is based on plastic, and is engineered with four degrees of freedom for arm and another one DOF for the gripper.
If the load exceeds the maximum capacity of 100 grams, there are audio and light warnings to notify the user that the arm could be damaged.
- 120 degrees for wrist motion range;
- 300 degrees for elbow range;
- base rotated 270 degrees vertically and 180 horizontally;
- arm vertical reach 38 centimeters;
- arm horizontal reach of 32 centimeters;
- total weight of 658 grams;
- maximum loading of 100 grams;
The AX-12 robotic arm is a platform designed to be used on additional mobile platforms such as TurtleBot ROS. Located on a mobile platform, the robotic arm could be used to build a wide range of applications like picking up small objects and moving in other places.
- AX-12A Dynamixel actuators;
- ABS construction;
- servos come labled and pre-ID’d;
- Arbotix Robocontroller for onboard processing;
- custom parallel gripper;
- camera and sensors mounting brackets;
The second robotic kit from Phantom is an advanced robotic arm with five degrees of freedom and 7 AX-12A Dynamixel actuators. With a maximum range of 43 centimeters and wrist rotation option, can lift a weight of up to 500 grams, while the entire weight of the arm is 1.4 kilograms.
Based on ArbotiX controller, the arm could operate in autonomous mode or controlled via PC or radio remote control.
Fully programmable, the kit could be used by beginners as well as advanced users in DIY applications including picking up and moving objects.
- AX-12A servos;
- 14cm ball bearing base;
- dual servo shoulder;
- ABS construction;
- Arbotix Robocontroller for onboard processing;
- custom parallel gripper;
- mounting brackets for cameras and sensors;
Robotic Arms with 6 DOF
With only one degree of freedom less than the human arm, a robotic arm with six degrees of freedom can be used in complex applications where an object can be moved up and down, left and right, or forward and backward.
[green_box]With these robotic arm kits we’re closer to reach all the degrees of freedom of a human arm.[/green_box]
The Katana is a robotic arm kit for adults equipped with eight infrared and four force sensors. It is designed for high precision and can lift a maximum weight of 0.5Kg with a horizontal length of about 60 cm.
- total weight: 5 kg;
- maximum payload: 0.5 kg;
- motors: DC Motors;
- integrated encoders;
- speed: 90° per second (per axis);
- reach: 60 cm;
- precision: +/-0.1mm repeatability;
- infrared sensors: 8;
- force sensors: 4;
Designed especially for research applications, JACO RE is a robotic arm with six degrees of freedom and unlimited rotation on its axes. With a resistant structure based on carbon fiber and aluminum, the arm could be integrated in static to mobile platforms.
The design includes compact actuator discs linked together with zero insertion force (ZIF) cable.
The arm has attached a three-finger gripper with individual control for each finger. With support for Ubuntu Linux and Windows operating systems, JACO has available API’s to control the arm movements, while for the basic control is used Kinova JACOsoft software.
Using lightweight materials for structure, the total weight of the arm is only 5,7 kilograms and support a maximum payload of 1,5 kilograms.
- 3 plastic fingers with 3 joints each;
- controlled by Kinova JACOsoft software;
- robotic arm kit with USB PC interface;
- support for Ubuntu Linux and Windows (XP, Vista, 7) operating systems;
- weight: 5,7 kilograms;
- arm extension: 90 centimeters;
Built from aluminum and equipped with six degrees of freedom, the Dagu is one of the most advanced robotic arms with a length of 39 centimeters and with a brain based on ATMega168 microcontroller. With up to 32 servos controlled by the same board – Atrexx, the robot kit can be controlled and programmed using the RS232 serial port or WiFi module.
- maximum length: 39 centimeters;
- base and arm servos: 4 12 kg*cm (1,17 Nm);
- gripper and wrist micro servos: 2 1,8 kg*cm (0,17 Nm);
The six degrees of freedom robotic arm called TROBOT is designed especially for industrial applications and can be controlled using the ABB RobotStudio software. Additionally, the kit is not equipped with servo and accessories, which must be purchased separately.
- control: ABB RobotStudio software;
- ethernet interface: control the robot from a PC;
The clamp arm is a small robotic arm kit with an affordable price and based on the SSC32 servo controller interfaced with the Arduino single board computer. Fully programmable, the arm is a powerful tool able to build a service or industrial applications.
- arm height: 320mm;
- weight: 600g;
- gripper: LG-NS;
- multifunction brackets:4;
- advance rotation base:180 degrees;
- Hitec 311 servo:2;
- DF05BB high torque Servo:1;
- DF15MG high torque Servo:1;
- USB SSC32 Servo controller;
Robotic Arms 7 DOF
Seven degrees of freedom mean that the robotic arm could compete with a human arm. Starting from these kits you can build robotic applications, which can full replacement the human workers on assembly lines, for example.
[green_box]All of these seven DOF mimic a human arm.[/green_box]
WAM arm uses Transparent Dynamics technology for a direct-drive capability for motors and joints with a high impact of arm torque. Mimicking the human arm capabilities, the WAM arm is characterized by flexibility and dexterity.
- 7 degrees of freedom;
- direct-drive capability;
This article was last modified on 27 March 2014.