# Best way to scavenge parts for a robotic arm?

I'm a bit new to DIY robotics and for one of my first projects, I want to build a robotic arm. I'm still thinking out the plan for it, but I'm going to need to start gathering parts. Does anyone know of the best way to get parts if you don't have immediate access to a 3D printer? Does anyone go to old computer shops or something? I'm going to be using an Arduino if that's relevant at all.

anorlunda
Staff Emeritus
That sounds like a fun project. Before selecting parts, you must decide how big and how strong this arm must be. Must it be able to pick up a phone or a car?

It's going to be a very small project, so at the most, it will probably be able to pick up a children's book or a small phone.

Ebay. For example, small linear stepper motors starts at 1USD each.
If you are OK with such thing then start your first build around a plastic skeleton (arm): 10USD.

Thank you all for the suggestions!

davenn and berkeman
I find most of my stuff at the landfill. You would be surprised just how much good “stuff” can be found there. I have 6 motorized chair motors and controllers that retail for over $500 a piece that I picked. Fresnel lenses from old big screen TVs for a solar pool heater. My last haul was about 20 3’x2” aluminum I-beams and a new set of wheels for my riding lawn mower. Great stuff! If you're starting really small, you may find budget RC servos are the way to go. You don't have to worry about stepper drivers and gearing, and there are many libraries about for control functions. I find most of my stuff at the landfill. You would be surprised just how much good “stuff” can be found there. I have 6 motorized chair motors and controllers that retail for over$500 a piece that I picked. Fresnel lenses from old big screen TVs for a solar pool heater. My last haul was about 20 3’x2” aluminum I-beams and a new set of wheels for my riding lawn mower. Great stuff!

I've never thought of going to the landfill. There's one less than 5 miles from my house! I'd just have to convince my parents to let me dig through it, lol.

If you're starting really small, you may find budget RC servos are the way to go. You don't have to worry about stepper drivers and gearing, and there are many libraries about for control functions.
I have two servos at the moment. I think that might be enough since it'll only be able to move up and down. I also want it to have a claw mechanism, I'm not sure how that'll work yet.

berkeman
Mentor
I'm a bit new to DIY robotics and for one of my first projects, I want to build a robotic arm. I'm still thinking out the plan for it, but I'm going to need to start gathering parts. Does anyone know of the best way to get parts if you don't have immediate access to a 3D printer? Does anyone go to old computer shops or something? I'm going to be using an Arduino if that's relevant at all.
I keep seeing this video in my Facebook feed...

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anorlunda
I keep seeing this video in my Facebook feed...

Wow, that looks really cool!

Grinkle
Gold Member
I'd just have to convince my parents

For sure - landfills are sketchy places with plenty of filthy stuff that you wouldn't want breaking your skin. A safer alternative (even if it costs money) might be a local junkyard or fleamarket.

berkeman