GIM Announcement

Hey Tufts!

The robotics club is going to be holding its general interest meeting on Friday, Sept. 18th at 3pm in the new building, 574 Boston Ave in room 404! We’ve got a fun meeting planned where you’ll learn the basics of Arduino programming, electronics & soldering, 3D modeling, and robot design to really get a flavor for what we do. We’ll also talk a bit about the projects we have planned for this year at the beginning. All are welcome – no experience required!

See you there!

Custom Servo library

Last night I wrote up a wrapper for I2C communication with our 2 RMCS-2203 servos. We also set up a github repository which will host and version-control all of our code. I also put our electronics schematics in there. Here’s a link to the repository so you can peek at what I’ve written:

My library appears in the “main_sketch” folder and consists of the RMCS2203.h and .cpp files.

I’m pretty proud of the library. It allows you to set and get every parameter described in the I2C section of the datasheet (which I’ve hosted here:

You create the RMCS2203 object like so:

RMCS2203 myMotor;

And in setup() you attach the motor to a particular I2C address:


Then you should probably set the servo’s control system to default gains, since these can get set improperly when powering off the motors:


Simple as that. I have yet to write any code to move the smaller servo, but I should most likely be able to use the Servo library packaged with the Arduino IDE, so there’s not much work to do there.

Final Iteration of Shield

So I continued work on the shield and changed quite a few things from the last design. First, I decided to move the relays off board and connect them to the power supply with low gauge wire instead of routing power through the board, as I was scared of overheating the board with high current draw (the linear actuator goes up to about 5A at max draw). There are now two additional 2-input screw terminals, one to connect the coil from each relay. This also reduces the size of the board substantially.

I’ve added a D-sub 15 pin connector plug in our joystick with all necessary voltage division and pull-up resistors on board. Initially I forgot to include the joystick interface in my design, but that was quickly fixed.

I also widened the small traces because of the way we are fabricating the board. We didn’t have enough time to get the board professionally fabricated (I tend to order from OSH Park, but their turnaround time is 12 days!). Instead, we used an Othermill at the Makerspace in Tufts’ Center for Engineering Education and Outreach. The Othermill is a small milling machine which can make single-layer circuit boards from a copper sheet. We used two single-layer copper sheets to do both of the layers of our board. This involved mirroring the board so that the copper would eventually be on the underside of the board, for ease of soldering in through-hole components.

This meant we could get our board in a day as opposed to two weeks.

The final board layout and schematic are shown below:schematic BOARD

The gripper in action!

Take a look at our gripper doing its thing:

Some notes from testing:

Water is much more effective at creating negative pressure than air, since it’s non compressible. We get much better grip while also moving the syringe less distance, meaning that the linear actuator won’t have to expend very much energy to get the gripper to become rigid.

In addition, a water based system means this gripper could potentially work in space. Overall, the water is beneficial in just about every way. We just need to be mindful about how we keep our electronics safe from potential leakages.


Some notes about the design:

We use glass beads in the gripper because they are waterproof, as compared with the traditional universal gripping material, coffee, which would dissolve in water over time.

We use commonplace 11in latex balloons to hold the beads. The balloon is clamped to a tube with a filter on the end to prevent the beads from flowing back into the tubing. The tubing runs to a syringe which will eventually be actuated by a linear actuator. The whole system is filled with water.