A Handy Device




By: Betty Elias, Naeem Wilson, Gabriel Grajeda

Project details:    
A robotic hand that will be able to grasp and carry objects.



(Sketches of our initial ideas)



What are the problems you are solving or what issues are you addressing?
Getting hard to reach things, helping people grasp hot/dangerous items.

What will you build?
A robotic arm that will pick things up or reach things far away.

Who will use it?
The people who can use it ranges from those with disablilities to people who just want it.

How will it help?
Reaching things, by having saved hand positions.

What are the 4 most important things it will do?
Pick things up, be controlled by a remote, grasp things, and save hand motions.

What are its most important parts of features?
The fingers, palm, arm

What are the 3 technologies you imagine needing & how will you use each?
Physical programming: arduino, sensors, motors

Electronics: sensors, motors- controller circuit
Digital design and fabrication    

EXPLORE: Websites and notes we came across:

What others have done that is similar to what we’re doing:

Tutorials that we plan to base some of our designs on:

First Prototype:

Goals for the day (in terms of what we hope to accomplish in our first prototype):

  • Hand
  • Finger movement
  • Programmable hand (adding motors)
  • Code works so we can add controls to trigger movement
  • Calibration of different angles
  • Learning interface

After making our first prototype on July 8th, we presented our project at the end of the day and here is the video.

What did the judges say?
We “need a better target audience.”
We “need to target a better audience.”
Give an “exact use” of the hand to said audience.

Main takeaway:
We need more research on a target audience and with that, an actual use for that audience. We are certain that we want the hand to pick something up (main function).

Next steps:
better target audience
research better use of a “robotic hand”
build a better prototype


Today, we are going to be building our Rapid Prototypes (Part B – including electronics).

How is today’s prototype going to be different?
It’s going to be controlled mechanically.
The actual structure of it will be different. We’re using wood and laser cut.
One to two fingers will be tested with the servo motor.

**For those two fingers, we won’t make the whole hand/ palm.


Problems we encountered yesterday with the first rapid prototyping:

  • Finger position, we need better finger position
  • It looked broken (not sturdy) 

Materials for today’s prototype: 

Small jumper rings
Rubber bands
Fishing line
Servo motors

How is this a step closer to making our final project:

  • Prototype – We will better understand how we want our final product
  • Research the target audience – Better understand the use and issue we need to solve 

What do we want to finish before lunch?

Print out all parts (laser cut)
Start with code
Continue research

What do we want to finish after lunch?

Testing product
Continue research

Jobs for the Day:

Gabriel- code
Nemo – cutting of wood
Betty – help with assembly of hand
All – research

What we did by the end of Rapid Prototyping Part B: 

  • Betty and Naeem made 2 prototype fingers (1 of which was motorized
  • Gabriel worked on the code, and it did “work”

**Worked smile
Both fingers bend.
Code was swell.

Didn’t worknonsmiley
Breaking servos due to weak servo.

 What we want to get done next week

*Find a better target audience
*Research better use of a “robotic hand”
*Research how to build a hand structure

>Next week

*Finished hand, able to open close and grasp things
*Finalize research by Monday, July 20th


Rapid Prototyping Part B continued onto the following Monday, 7/13/2015. We finished up some tweeks to the prototype + code for prototype. We also got to developing this WIKI website. 


Goals for prototyping:

  • Finish research
  • Code = Save more than one position down (Gabriel)
  • Get one finger working first with rubber bands, then try using springs instead of rubber bands

We went on a mad search to the local hardware store to find the springs we needed for this prototype. Through a vast effort, we finally obtained different springs. However, they proved to not work as well because they stretch over time, and would bend in the opposite direction than what we had wanted them to. For now, we will stick to rubber bands. 

We managed to get our second prototype to work.

What we got done today: 

Gabriel basically finished the code for the fingers, Naeem helped complete the building for the finger (showing above), and Betty worked on this wiki page. 

Materials List page:



Today we worked on figuring out the structure of the hand and what we will want it to do.

In the morning, we had a meeting with Myles Cooper, a rising senior at Olin College to discuss possibilities in the use of our Handy Device. We are struggling to find an actual use for it and how it can serve the community.

The main takeaways from the meeting was to possibly develop multiple hands that can be attached and detached from a forearm. These hands don’t have to be modeled after the 5 finger human hand. Another takeaway was to have the hand be used for simple use – it doesn’t necessarily have to be mobile. It can simple hold a very hot bowl of soup. We also discussed possibly using ONLY string to have the finger curl and uncurl instead of integrating rubber bands. 


Today, we worked on the code and made two more fingers out of acrylic instead of wood. Naeem fabricated the pieces that would make up the fingers and Betty assembled the fingers using hot glue to secure them together. Gabriel worked more on the code to make the hand move and the motors. Naeem also assembled a dock to hold the motors out of acrylic.


Gabriel working on the motors

We made a palm design today and codes for different hand movements and the motor.


At the end of the day we decided to test out a couple of fingers on how well it can grasp something.


We made more fingers today








After teaching today we tried to come up with more hand design ideas. Also we did some research on how to add the thumb into our first hand.



Naeem working on a new hand design



After teaching today we tried to work more on the finger.


We worked a little more on the hand today 












Today we were able to continue work on the hand since we are not teaching today.





While Gabe was teaching, Naeem and Betty put together the hand after Naeem made a new palm. Later Gabriel and Naeem continued to work on the hand and the code for it while Betty finished updating the wikipage. 


Today while Gabriel was teaching in the morning Betty and Naeem worked in the project.

Morning to do list:

  • Print out pieces that are missing
  • Work on thumb or motor box (most likely motor box)

~Video of an example of the hand moving



Today our plan is to complete the motors and thumb for the hand by tomorrow and do most of it today. Gabriel worked on allocating memory in the code. We encountered many problems with the program due to instability caused by little to no memory left in the Arduino.


We FINALLY figured out our “issue” today, which is that young people aren’t always able to express themselves and create what they want. The hand represents the type of creativity younger people have. Additionally, the hand gives the youth the opportunity to think about technology and building in a new light. The serial monitor allows the user to have full control of the hand, without difficult coding, and the transparent acrylic shows the inner workings of the design. Its not common for young people to have the opportunity to create things with technology so thats what our hand shows. 


Today, Gabriel is working on making the serial monitor interface more friendly to the user. Betty and Naeem will finish the building. Later we’ll make our poster.

The thumb attached

Where we plan to make the hand stand and keep the motors:


 08/15/2015 (Project Expo!)

We are putting the finishing touches on our hand for Project Expo!!

Commands For Hand:

The program works by giving the computer commands it can execute, to change the position of the hand. There are four commands:

  1. /a: Changes the angle of a given finger.
  2. /r: Puts every finger back to its previous position
  3. /h: Prints out a list of commands through the serial monitor
  4. /l: Prints out library for the commands