The 2000-2001 Gateway design team engaged in a nine-month design process to develop a robotic arm that is mounted to a wheelchair with the specific goal of helping paraplegics and quadriplegics function in their immediate environment.  This year’s team consisted of students from The Ohio State University, Wright State University, and Sinclair Community College and was sponsored by the Gateway Engineering Coalition.  The educational object of this project was to teach the participants the skills to solve an engineering design problem in a cooperative environment.

            This report presents a general background of the project along with a description of the overall group dynamics.  The report is organized into two main sections: the design and manufacture of the arm, which was the major task for Wright State and Sinclair, and the controls system of the arm, for which Ohio Sate was responsible.  The design and manufacture sections describe the design of the base, lower arm, forearm, and gripper.  The controls portion is broken into sections covering motor testing, controls hardware, and controls software and strategy. 

Several conclusions that were drawn and could be used to improve the arm include: 1) the center of gravity of the arm should be lowered, 2) an attempt should be made to make the arm lighter, 3) electrical current should be drawn off of both wheelchair batteries instead of just one, 4) all of the motors should be of the same type, preferably DC, to simplify the control scheme, 5) a new controller, other than the OOPic, should be considered, and 6) the gripper should be examined and possibly modified so that it can grip small objects.






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