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The Phenoptix MeArm

Gareth Halfacree

Our friends at Phenoptix have been working on an impressive low cost robotics platform, dubbed the MeArm. Designed by Benjamin Gray and Jack Howard and released under a permissive licence, the arm can be quickly manufactured in acrylic using an A4-size laser cutter and controlled from an Arduino, Raspberry Pi or similar platform using readily-available fixings and servos.

The MeArm is a low cost robot arm, built for my frustration with the uArm Kickstarter for an Open Source robot arm. Why the frustration? Well, it was $185 for a product already available for $115. Touted everywhere as Open Source and yet a month on from successful funding to the tune of $251,887 and there's still no files. Not to say they won't come, but for me until it's open it's closed. Never one to allow the energy of frustration to go to waste I set about building the MeArm v0.1. Not really a finished article and lacking in gripper - the best bit about a robot arm right? It did at least inspire Jack Howard to get involved in the project. Jack is a mechanical engineer with a lot of experience in CAD. He come to Phenoptix fairly often on our mostly unpublicised Open Office Fridays. Very quickly Jack built what was to be considered the v0.2. It was heavy weight and had a gripper, unfortunately too heavy for our choice of servos, but it was so solid compared to my v0.1. The v0.3 is the first kitable version and ticks all of the boxes I set out to tick. It can sell for a retail of around the £25 mark and could be made by a savvy school or maker for around £8. You can cut it from a sheet of A4 sized acrylic and build from common fixings (everywhere but the USA with their stupid Imperial measurements!).
Ben has posted videos of the original MeArm prototype, MeArm v0.2, and MeArm v0.3, and has seen his creation in use everywhere from York Hackspace to Peru. The latest design can be purchased as a kit for £24.99, or the fixings (£4.99) and servos (£11.96) specified separately on the product page for users who want to cut the acrylic parts themselves.

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