First, as an AL5D owner, I am really impressed with what you have got your arm doing. The video raised one question on workflow: After the arm placed the slide holder against the vertical dowel, it released the holder then reacquired it and made a position correction before releasing again and returning to its standby position. Was this done automatically under program control with position input from sensors, or under manual control from the operator? Either way is quite impressive.
Thanks! I had some help from a departmental workshop in building the platform where the film holders eject, and they suggested the robot, which has turned out to be better than originally expected. But the movement you refer to is:
1. The arm drops the film holder into a recess, with some degree of accuracy
2. It then pushes sideways (without re-grabbing the holder) to make sure it has dropped fully into the recess.
Currently this pushing is unnecessary as I have found why it was a little too imprecise before, although I still do the push motion just to make sure. The whole thing is a lesson in making something work with 100% reproducibility despite a bit of shaking and stuff.
Second, and I don't mean this as a criticism (not knowing the design requirements of your project) but merely as a question because you have interested me. Would it not be possible to eliminate the arm altogether? From the little I can see of the entire structure, it would appear that the incoming stack loader could be rotated 90 degrees, and realigned to feed a slide holder directly against the dowel. When the scan is complete, the dowel could be dropped below the table until the loader has nearly finished pushing the old slide holder away with the next one. Then the dowel could be raised again to position the new slide.
The inverted Nikon microscope has limited access underneath - there are the objective lenses there - and the film box (taken from the electron microscope) would have to feed on top but under the microscope light collimator - again, not enough space. We did consider a caterpillar track-like mechanism to feed the films onto the stage, and some kind of lifter to pop it up for feeding out, but the robot has immense flexibility in that its limitations are primarily in what I program (easy to change) provided it can reproduce a sequence with sufficient accuracy. And it does. And its cost-effective!
In any event, you created a practical application for your robot while my audiences think I am just playing with toys.
It certainly gets attention when we have students come through, and other visitors. But its a tremendous satisfaction because the manual scanners (Nikon Super Coolscan 9000) run at about 10 minutes per film, and they have to be rotated for a second scan to capture the full area, and 100 films like this is extremely tedious. The robot is currently working with considerable reliability and I am ironing out the occasional hiccups, mostly in the discard. The duty cycle is about 2 mins/hour, so its not over-worked.