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A Robotic Arm

That Enables

Pushing Assistive Devices Forward


A project hosted by Drane Engineering

Our Mission

To create a more affordable assistive device that will allow those with mobility challenges such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to better retain some agency and more independence. We are currently incorporating a precision robotic arm with a hand and multiple control approaches including foot controlled joysticks, computer vision and eye tracking.


We are a collaborative effort. 

Contact us if you have thoughts, needs, suggestions.

One place is our Google Group

Our Progress

Xbox Controller and Joy Sticks.jpg

Robotic arm & controls

  • Using a Lite6 UFactory arm, Note this arm is undersized for real use

    • ​Researched and implemented xbox controller and associated Microsoft adaptive controller & several foot compatible joysticks and switches to control the arm from the Adaptive Controller Kit

    • Used 3rd party joystick and a home made version from adafruit (see recipe link below).

    • designed to be used with feet for those with hand and arm control challenges using open source software

      • current functions include but are not limited to: picking up utensils, using said utensils to pick up food, and brushing teeth

    • See Video

    • See Github

    • See Thingiverse (Coming...)

    • See Recipe(Coming...)

Evaluating the Brunel Hand 2.0 by Open Bionics

  • Researched & printed the Brunel Hand 2.0 by Open Bionics

  • Researched, and created a Chestnut PCB as
    designed by Open Bionics

  • Working on software integration to the arm

  • Features:

    • Nice control electronics and software

    • Strong thumb can be grasped against and not back driven

    • Great dexterity and feedback

    • Clever compact design

  • Issues:

    • Does not open wide enough to grasp many glasses

    • Spring returns make it hard to push things with finger

    • Spring returns consume driving power

  • See Open Bionics Thingiverse

  • See Open Bionics Github

  • See Chestnut Board page

  • See Beetroot Firmware notes 

Brunell Hand 2 on Robot Arm.jpg

Evaluating the Yale Open Hand Model Q

  • Researched, printed and built Yale Open Hand Model Q

  • Features:

    • Very strong

    • Excellent dexterity with capability for in hand manipulation

    • Very cool Dynamixel servos easy to control and network

    • No custom electronics board

    • Very wide open grasp

    • Clever manufacturing with printed silicone casting walls

  • Issues:

    • Actuators expensive

    • Hand heavy

    • Opposed fingers get in the way when trying to pick a glass off a table

  • See Yale Open Hand website


  • Borrowed ideas from 3 fingered grippers like Robotiq

  • Used Actuonix actuators and Chestnut PCB from Brunel Hand

  • Features:

    • Linkage allows pushing with fingers

    • Side articulation of fingers allows fine picking and variation of grip width

  • Issues:

    • Still pretty weak

    • Linkage bulky

    • Under actuated fingers unstable in some situations

  • See Video

  • See Models in Thingiverse(coming...)

  • See Chestnut Board in Open Bionics Thingiverse

  • See code in Github(coming...)



Special thanks to the many people who have helped and are helping with this project.  Especially also to The Artisans Asylum who's community of doers gives us the audacity to keep trying to do what "can't be done".  Some of the people are Jonathan Hearn, Garrett Russell, Richard Rubenstein, Alan Killian, Mike Beech, Franklin Reynolds, Will Bicks, Ben Bokser, Paul Raccuglia, Darcy Trinco, Mark Solomon, Scott Mauceri

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