Programmable-Air is a hardware toolkit that allows you to inflate and deflate objects. Powered by an Arduino Nano board, the kit comes with high pressure and vacuum pumps, valves, and a pressure sensor that enables users to experiement and learn about pneumatics and inflatables.
Some of the potential applications include vacuum pick and place machines, soft robots able to walk, soft robotics hands, using a syringe as a linear actuator, inflatable bras, arts projects and more.
- MCU Board – Arduino Nano board based on Microchip ATMega328P microcontroller
- Pneumatics – Full channel control, i.e. high pressure through atmospheric pressure to vacuum output in the same tube.
- Max pressure – 0.5 atmosphere (7.5 PSI / 50 kPa)
- Min Pressure – -0.5 atmosphere (-7.5 PSI / -50 kPa)
- Flow rate: 2 liters per minute per motor
- Grove I²C connector to easily add sensors (Not shown in prototype photo above)
- Expandable for adding valves/sensors
- Power Supply – 12 V/1.2 A from a barrel jack
- Open-source hardware certification – #US000153
Since the project is open-source hardware, you’ll find the EAGLE schematics and PCB layout, components datasheets, CAD files, and Arduino source code on Github. The kit is ready to go right out of the box, so you don’t need to purchase additional power supplies, cables, pumps, tubes, or valves. You’ll find a getting started guide explaining more about pneumatic connections and showing how to make a jamming gripper. What’s a jamming gripper you may ask? Answer:
A jamming gripper is basically a balloon filled with coffee grounds. If you place the balloon over an object and apply some force, the loose coffee grounds will flow and distribute themselves around the object. When you pull a vacuum inside the balloon, the coffee grounds jam together and become solid, gripping the object.
The video below shows some of the cool projects made possible by the pneumatics kit.
Programmable-Air has just launched on Crowd Supply with a $16,000 goal. A $150 pledge should get you a Programmable-Air start kit with extra silicone tubing and pneumatic connectors. You’ll just need to add your own Arduino Nano, power supply, and USB cable to get started. However, you may want to pledge $175 for the Deluxe Kit instead, as it includes all three items missing from the starter kit, and materials to make handheld vacuum pickup and to make jamming grippers with everything packed in a case.
Shipping is free to the US, and add $30 to the rest of the world. Backers can expect the kit to ship in October 2019.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.