Faze4 robotic arm
As some of you may know, I have designed two other 3D-printed DIY robot arms, apart from PAROL6: Faze4 and CM6. I would say Faze4 did well in the open-source community and has an active user base. It is mostly used by students as thesis work and like a DIY robot project. The big downside of Faze4 was that its software and electronics were underdeveloped. It was mostly used as mechanical construction that people used with their own software and electronics. That drove a lot of people away from the project since they wanted a complete solution.
CM6 robotic arm
CM6 is a compliant robot arm that is much more complex in terms of control and electronics. It uses BLDC gimbal motors paired with custom-made BLDC drivers called S-drives. CM6 compared to Faze4 is technologically much more complex and I contribute that to its moderate success. The drives I designed were hard to make and were hit hard by Covid and chip shortage. People that wanted to build it could not and to be honest there was a lot of work that needed to be done on the software and control side that I just did not know how to do at that time. Since the creation of CM6 I worked in startups designing inverters and electronics for electric vehicles like cars, bikes, and delivery vehicles. With that knowledge big update will come to CM6 in terms of motor control.
PAROL6 robotic arm
Now we come to PAROL6. Best of both worlds. Mechanical elegance of Faze4 and control and electronics inspired by CM6. PAROL6 was created to be a new standard for open-source robotic arms. But it was also designed with the goal to revive Faze4 and CM6. It was also designed to assist any robot arm builder by providing a electronics and control software/GUI/API stack they can build their mechanical structure on top of.
PAROL6 and FAZE4 integration
PAROL6 electronics and software will be really easy to integrate into Faze4 since both are open-loop stepper-controlled robot arms with limit switches. What this means is that ANY open loop 6 axes stepper robot will be able to use PAROL6 electronics and software platform to develop.
PAROL6 and CM6 integration
PAROL6 utilizes open-loop steppers. The Trinamic stepper drivers are located in the base of the robot and are responsible for the movement of the joints. This setup works really well; however, for much better performance and safety, robots need to be closed-loop. PAROL6 was designed with this in mind and can be easily upgraded with closed-loop stepper drivers currently under development.
By implementing this upgrade, the robot becomes more akin to CM6, and interestingly, new drivers for CM6 are also in the development phase. These drivers will have the capability to daisy chain, reducing wiring complexity. Additionally, they will feature current sensing for torque control, 14-bit magnetic encoders, safety features, and much more.
Find out more about PAROL6, CM6 and FAZE4: