Kathy Ceceri’s Robotics book was an influence on this project. I met her at NY Maker Faire in September 2012. She’s got some great projects that are really easy to get started in robotics with. There is a variation of this project on HowToons.
One office file folder (enough for four hands)
Two sheets of 8 ½” x 11” printer paper (enough for four hands)
Drinking straws (you can try different diameters, from coffee stirrers to bubble tea tubes)
Needle and thread (thick thread is best)
Pen or pencil
Kathy Ceceri was demonstrating a robot hand similar to this one at World Maker Faire 2012. She had several robotic projects that were similarly fascinating, and used regular materials. I talked with her about some of the neat designs and later, picked up a copy of her book Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future with 20 Projects.
After looking through her instructions, I modified them a bit to make my robot hand a bit more durable and consistent. My main changes were to trace my actual hand for the shape, and to add the paper backing, which makes the fingers fall back into place easily. The first hands I made had just one operating finger, as I was testing some design ideas. Initially, I just cut the outline, and added the straws and finger string. That initial design didn’t allow the finger to fall flat after releasing the string. On my second finger test, I added the paper backing and removed a segment from the file folder where the joints were to give it some flexibility.
There are photos of this project.
This project’s step by step instructions are on Make: Projects.