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This thread is for things you are making or want to make. I'm copying it from the Christmas forum because I posted it right as it was on its way out :V
Earlier I was messing around with a small motor I found in my basement, just a small hobby one, I think it used to be in some tiny car thing. Anyway I was getting frustrated because I was trying to get it to move at different speeds depending on how much current I gave it, but it was pretty much an either on or off dealie, with not enough current it wouldn't move, with enough it moved at max speed. I did some more research and it looks like for doing torque control (which is what I want to do) stepper motors work better, especially at low speeds, and the application I'm interested in is either zero or low speeds, so that's neat.
I bought an arduino online last night, which is basically a fancy microcontroller that has a pretty large homebrew/open source community so it's easy to use, so now I'm looking up how to interface it with a stepper motor so I can control it directly. Apparently there are "shields" you can buy, which is a fancy way of saying something you can plug the arduino into and you can do everything you want to just from the software, but I'd like to make my own.
I'm also taking a mechatronics course next semester, and the point is to make a sumo wrestling robot that pushes other robots out of a ring. I don't really care about the autonomous part but the rest of making robots is cool and I hope to learn a lot from it.
The point of all this is something I've been thinking about doing for a while, which is making a robotic hand (or finger to start out with) that connects to a force-feedback glove you could wear, so you can control it directly. I'm a junior mechanical engineer right now, so I think that's going to be my senior project, and I'd like to get working on it sooner to see how feasible it would be to actually do. The cool thing I'm thinking about doing is that the robot hand wouldn't need any sensors; if you did the control right on the stepper motors, and had potentiometers that were on the joints, you could determine all the forces on the hand, and relate that back to the gloved hand, and since you have all the torques, the system is totally defined, so you don't need any messy force sensors or anything.