Robotender Mk3

Finished Robotender Mk3 just in time for my halloween party (with literally minutes to spare). This one is a pretty radical departure from the previous designs, using a robotic arm instead of pressurized dispensing. I managed to pick up a Scorbot ER-III arm and controller off of eBay. They were originally used for teaching robotics and motion planning at universities, and are generally pretty used-and-abused (two motors were almost falling out of their mounts on this one), but it runs quite nicely after everything was cleaned and tightened up.

Robotender Mk3, wide view

It’s a little slow compared to the Mk1, but it’s a lot of fun to watch, can hold more bottles, and is easier to maintain. It uses custom bottle carriers that hold 710 mL soda bottles, and can hold up to 24 such bottles. There is a digital scale hooked up to the computer as well, which gets zeroed once a bottle reaches the pour site, letting it determine how much liquid has been poured much more accurately than the simple time-based approach used in Mk1.

Pouring an ingredient

I took a number of pictures during construction on this one, so I may do a build log post later.

Next steps:

  • I’m going to look into building a new motor controller for it, so I can get better feedback and drive it faster while still keeping a solid grip on bottles (can’t currently ignore the gripper stall state for fear of missing any other motor stalls, meaning I have to do a slow 1/10th speed backout on the gripper to get the max grab force I can).
  • The bottle holders are on their 6th iteration already, but positive grip is still a bit of a problem, so I’m probably going to redesign the bottle holders with a triangular slot and make some triangular nylon plates for the gripper. This might also allow me to be a little less precise in the back-off, and speed it up without a new motor controller.