Delta Robot

Delta Robot built with fischertechnik and controlled by an Arduino Mega

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Building industrial robots does not necessarily mean spending lots of money on expensive hardware. Built with fischertechnik (a construction toy originating from Germany) and controlled by an Arduino Mega, this delta robot is a fairly simple machine. Nonetheless, it does not lack speed or precision to fulfill its job: The robot picks items from a conveyor and sorts them by color similarly to industrial pick and place robots.

What are the main challenges of this project?

  • Delta robot kinematics
  • Motion tracking of items on conveyor
  • Vacuum gripping

The following video gives you an overview over these three aspects:

Motion tracking

The position of every item is captured by a laser light barrier. This lets the robot know when the item has passed a certain position on the conveyor. Furthermore, the conveyor speed is measured by reading a encoder signal. This lets the robot know how fast the item is moving. Given that imformation, the robot's movement can be calculated so that it picks the item at the right time.

Vacuum gripper

The items are manipulated by an vacuum gripper. Since I do not have a vacuum pump, I've looked for another solution to this task:

There are two pneumatic cylinders mounted next to each other. The first cylinder is connected to a valve the either lets pressure in or pressure out. The second cylinder is connected to a vacuum cup. When pressure is applied to the first cylinder it extends. As both pistons are mechanically connected to each other, the movement of the first cylinder also force the second cylinder to extend. However, this movement generates a vacuum inside the second cylinder. This vacuum is used for picking the items.

Delta Robot kinematics

Unlike simple kinematics such as linear kinematics that are often used in 3D printers
To control a delta robot with cartesian coordinates, so-called inverse kinematics is required. I've implemented inverse kinematics for delta robots according to a paper published by Robert L. Williams II: "The Delta Parallel Robot: Kinematics Solutions"

Although this seems to be computational expensive, delta kinematics have some good advanteges over other robot kinematics. Firstly, they are astoundingly fast and precise, secondly the have quite a good range of operation. However, vibrations are a serious issue and moving load should be as low as possible.

The following video gives you an intuition of what is possible with delta robots:

  • 1 × Arduino Mega
  • 3 × Nema 14 / 17 Stepper motor
  • 2 × Laser light barrier
  • 1 × color sensor
  • 1 × DC Motor + Encoder

View all 3 project logs

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G. Rosa wrote 09/10/2021 at 16:31 point

Really liked what you put together here.  Quite inspirational.  Hope to learn more about delta robots and inverse kinematics.  Thanks!

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Alexander wrote 09/13/2019 at 21:48 point

Hi there! I would love to see more documentation of this project... do you have the code published somewhere? More details about actually building it would be neat as well! Otherwise, very cool design -- delta robots are very interesting!

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