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DIY Exoskeletons Roundup

DIY Exoskeleton, left to right: Exo-Arm, 'Homemade Exoskeleton', powered by Nitinol and Peltier Thermoelectric chips at completion, Elysium Exoskeleton, Pneumatic Exoskeleton 3.3, Ajax Exosuit DIY Exoskeleton, left to right: Exo-Arm, 'Homemade Exoskeleton', powered by Nitinol and Peltier Thermoelectric chips at completion, Elysium Exoskeleton, Pneumatic Exoskeleton 3.3, Ajax Exosuit

Some of the greatest companies have started out as small do-it-yourself (DIY) projects in someone’s garage. Apple, Harley Davidson, HP, Mattel and many others all began as tiny enterprises in a residential zone.  Therefore, it makes sense to not only follow the exoskeletons developed by academics in research labs and engineers in companies and startups, but also the projects made by ordinary people in their spare time.  Below is a roundup of some great homemade exoskeletons:

EMG Controlled Hand Exoskeleton (Jul, 2015):

Creator James Ho demonstrates a compressed air powered elbow exoskeleton.  In his second iteration (above video) an Arduino board facilitates EMG control of the air compressor used to power the device.

Exoskeleton Made From a Wheelchair (Aug, 2015)

The YouTube personality MrTeslonian runs “A Show of Invention, Investigation, Contemplation and Exploration!” and has constructed a full body exoskeleton entirely out of wheelchair parts.  The exoskeleton is currently unpowered, but a cabling system is being added to the suit to facilitate actuation.  While an exercise in mechanical engineering, there is something poetic in seeing a wearable robot made entirely out of wheel chair parts and it makes it that much more believable that wearable robotics will become the walking assist aid of choice of the not-too-distant future.

Elbow (Elysium) Exoskeleton (Aug, 2014)

YouTube contributor the Hacksmith has constructed a powered elbow exoskeleton connected by a backpack.  More importantly, his 16 episode series documents the entire development and construction of his wearable robot.  From the initial inspiration by the movie Elysium, first sketches, SolidWorks drawings, the unboxing of the major parts, to their final assembly.  This mini-series feels organic and at times the viewer is pulled into the maker’s garage.  There is one point where the Hacksmith discovered that the load on the shoulders is going to be much greater than previously anticipated but he quickly goes through several design upgrades until he is comfortable that the device will hold the weight.  No wonder this is currently (2015) the most viewed DIY exoskeleton on YouTube!

Pneumatic Lower Extremities Exoskeleton (Apr, 2014)


Our final YouTube user, Arduino67069 has made a fully functioning pneumatic lower extremities exoskeleton for rehabilitation.  The exoskeleton uses an Arduino controller which cycles through pre-programmed walking patterns.  If the user lets go of the control switch, the wearable robot immediately executes an emergency stop.

AJAX, Update From Maker Faire (Jun, 2015)

In March we reported on a SF Bay Area team of teenagers building a powered exoskeleton in a garage AJAX – Exoskeleton By High School Students.  Since then, the team finished their crowdfunding campaign and raised over $7000 with 120 backers.  Popular Science’s Myles Weber caught up with the AJAX team at the 2015 Bay Area Maker Faire (video above).  While the wearable device isn’t able to fully balance itself safely, it is capable of effortlessly lifting some hefty weights. Go team!

Do you know of any impressive home build exoskeletons?  If so, please share by leaving a comment below.

6 Comments on DIY Exoskeletons Roundup

  1. Bot Legs Project (Exoskeleton)
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1532027

  2. Montane Punk // August 10, 2016 at 8:02 am // Reply

    I have built a protective exo-suit torso unit that is highly agile, allows me protection, and mounting hard points for gear. Below is the link for seeing a motion test.

    • Hello Montane,

      I saw your exoskeleton on YouTube last weekend, but I assumed it was a prop. Visually it looks quite appealing. Have you posted a description and goals of your project somewhere on the internet?

  3. Montane Punk // August 10, 2016 at 12:11 pm // Reply

    I didn’t think anyone actually looked at anything I did. Cool. While it will eventually be used as a prop in a web series, it is a full test articulation torso frame made from light weight and durable metals. The under padding is to provide protection from any pinch points and stabilize the frame on the body. The only goal I have is to build a “weight neutral” modular suit that provides environmental and kinetic protection as well as multiple hard point mounting systems for items like my F.L.I.R. , EMFD system, cameras, range finder, and other sensors to extend situational awareness while protecting the sensors. I have only spent about $65 on the whole thing. Mostly surplus from junkyards, thrift stores, and donations from various aerospace/research groups in Boulder, Co. Will do a defense only demonstration of it in September against an assailant with a baseball bat to demonstrate the modular impact armor, durability, and motion response . All due safety and supervision will be used. Thanks for allowing my comment. Have a great day.

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