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Used robot or build from pieces

  • I am looking for a semi-portable 5DOF arm system to manipulate an 80 pound TV monitor. This unit would be trucked in and set up by our install team in theater or convention venues. On the wish list is that it break down as much as possible with counter weights to add mass to the base. I could easily have 5 to 7 guys set up this item. Refurbished equipment is fine as long as spare parts are available. A second arm for parts may be an option.

    I have incredible paint and fiberglass teams so cosmetic issues are no problem, I I am looking for a semi-portable 5DOF arm system to manipulate an 80 pound TV monitor. This unit would be trucked in and set up by our install team in theater or convention venues. On the wish list is that it break down as much as possible with counter weights to add mass to the base. I could easily have 5 to 7 guys set up this item. Refurbished equipment is fine as long as spare parts are available. A second arm for parts may be an option.

    I have incredible paint and fiberglass teams so cosmetic issues are no problem, I need a reliable arm that I can fix onsite if necessary. 220VAC will probably be the most common power available.

    If this is not viable path I would like to discuss mechanical assemblies that could be reworked with modern motor controls. Units without exotic motors and maybe standard industrial motor drives. My panel shop can build new controls around those if we must.

    Ideally we would run this from a laptop to a control cabinet to the robot. This would not be a one off. This is an R&D probe for proof of concept. If successful we would be in the market for at least one stage full of robotic monitors. Obviously I would like to invent as little as possible. I have access to programmers for the final bit. My directive is to have one unit by next January.

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  • Not to crap on your idea, but this has been done before. You may have a market with the portable aspect though.

    If you want reliability, an industrial arm is the way to go. For that payload, you will likely need 3 phase power, but with a phase convertor and a transformer, I don't think it would be a problem running off of single phase 220V. Worse case you can rent generators that can supply 3 phase power.


    Portability wise, I think you would be good, provided you either anchored the robot, or provided enough ballast to counteract an emergency stop at whatever speed you plan on running at. Setup would require a forklift or pallet jack.





    Check out the Fanuc position converter I wrote here!

  • 5-axis robots are pretty rare -- you're probably better off just buying a regular 6-axis unit. Making your own is probably much more trouble than it's worth.


    Safety will also be an issue -- you'll probably want a Collaborative robot, to ensure you're not courting a safety risk. There aren't a lot of Cobots with 40kg payload capacities -- Fanuc's line are the only ones I can think of offhand.

  • Keep in mind that a normal industrial arm can be made collaborative as long as it stops before a human reaches it.


    I personally would just place a couple of safety scanners on the floor and setup slow down and stop zones on a per venue basis.

    Check out the Fanuc position converter I wrote here!

  • that is precisely what we intend to do. We had a show that wanted this. We had Kuka bid this and it exceded the entire show budget. So my boss wants to look for a surplus item that can fill the bill.

  • Just keep in mind that the robot is the small cost of everything, software is the bigger part of it.

    Also keep in mind that there are patents in place that might get you into trouble if it's a show that'll be of any significance.



    Rather than going to Kuka, you may want to ask Andy Robot direct (the guy behind "RoboScreen" http://andyrobot.com/)


    He did it first with ABB (Bon Jovi, Circle Tour) but I don't know why that partnership eroded and Kuka kind of stole the show in recent years.


    BTW - How's that for Safety... Bon Jovi dancing on-top of the screens held by five IRB7600-500kg ;)

  • BTW - How's that for Safety... Bon Jovi dancing on-top of the screens held by five IRB7600-500kg ;)

    The insurance waivers must have been 500 pages long....


    Decent used robots can be obtained from various professional refurbishers. And while I would be fairly comfortable buying off EBay or from "as-is" sales, it's only b/c I know what to look for, and what to avoid -- I would not suggest that course for you. You'll want to pick a robot that still has support and spare parts available, or has lots of siblings on the second-hand market that parts can be cannibalized from. Avoid "special" models, like the VW-specific KUKAs. And be very careful about buying second-hand Fanucs, unless they've stopped demanding $10k to re-license the OS.

    The good news is that, even a somewhat worn second-hand robot might work okay for your application, since you don't seem to need high accuracy. So a loose joint or bearing might not be as bad as in a production operation.


    Finding a robot that will run on 220VAC single-phase will be difficult, especially at that payload. I suspect you'll probably need to invest in an inverter that can convert 220-1phase into 480-3phase. The good news is, you probably won't need high current, since I doubt you'll be pushing this robot to high speed or inertia.


    "Just connecting some area scanners" sounds easy, but those things aren't cheap, either (nothing safety-rated is). And can drive a need for robot add-ons that are also expensive, depending on what you want to do.

    For example, if you're okay with the robot getting killed every time someone steps too close, and requiring a manual resume/restart, you can just wire safety scanners/mats/whatever into the regular safety perimeter inputs on most robots. But if you want the robot to reduce speed in a safety-rated fashion as someone approaches, before hitting the "kill" zone, or having an automatic restart as people walk away, that usually requires a higher-level safety add-on package than most robots have "stock" from the factory. Likewise, limiting the robot's speed in a safety-rated fashion usually requires said add-ons as well (DCS for Fanuc, SafeOperation for KUKA, SafeMove for ABB, etc).

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