As promised, the robot arm has not languished in the living room. Thursday afternoon, in fact, was spent getting a new motion control board talking to the arm, with great success. Sad as I am to take my custom-made PCB out of the equation, it seems the surest way to actually bring this project to completion in a reasonable time-frame.
There’s a bit more work to do before I’m ready to order 5 more of these boards (one per motor in the arm) — for example, solidifying how the boards will communicate with a computer (RS232? RS485? something else?) and figuring out how to engage and disengage the electromagnetic brakes on three of the motors (the boards don’t seem to have any general purpose I/Os) — but with $85 and a few wires, I’m now significantly further along than I was designing my own circuit board.
2011 – year of the robot bartender?