A 2-Joint Robot Arm

1. Get started with the 28BYJ-48 stepper motor
A stepper motor, also known as step motor or stepping motor, is a brushless DC electric motor that divides a full rotation into a number of equal steps. The motor's position can then be commanded to move and hold at one of these steps without any position sensor for feedback (an open-loop controller), as long as the motor is carefully sized to the application in respect to torque and speed.

An introduction to the 28BYJ-48 Stepper Motor can be found in this webpage. (if the webpage is not active anymore, find the printed PDF version here).

Make the hardware connection as follows. Use the Elegoo DC-DC module to power up your system.

Load the this script to your Arduino board to repeat the work in the demonstration video below.

2. Encoders

The Encoders were ordered from here:


Key parameters of this encoder:

One round number of pulse: 20 Working voltage: 5V The rotary encoder can count the number of pulse output during rotation in the positive direction and reverse direction through the rotation and this rotation counts are not limited. With the key on the rotary encoder, you can reset to the initial state, that is, counting from 0. The Material of Knob Cap: aluminium alloy The Specification of Knob Cap: diameter: 15mm/ 0.59in; height: 16.5mm/ 0.65in.

Before start working with the encoder and the Arduino board, read this tutorial first.


When the detectors A or B are on the top of the block, it outputs logic HIGH pulses, otherwise it outputs LOW. If the rotor moves clock-wise, then before A changes its state (from low to high or from high to low), A and B are in the same state. If it rotates counter clock-wise, right before A changes its state, A and B are in different states. We can use this simple algorithm to code up a scirpt in Arduino to tell the direction the rotor rotates.

Rotary Encoder Arduino Example:

Make the following hardware connections:

Output A - Pin 6 (Arduino)
Output B - Pin 7 (Arduino)
Button Pin - Null (Keep it float for the first example)
VCC - 5V (Arduino)
GND - GND (Arduino)

Load the code to your Arduino board. Open the Serial Monitor to check the positions of the encoder.

Now, let's add the stepper motor back to the breadboard and use the encoder to control the movement of the stepper motor precisely.

The code is not provided here but you should be able to make your own based on the code provided in the first two examples.

3. One Arduino UNO controls three 28BYJ-48 stepper motors

Make the following hardware connections and modify the code to use one Arduino UNO board to control three stepper motors. (the code I made is not provided). You don't have to make it move in the same manner in the demo video below but you must show the three stepper motores are being controlled by one UNO board.
Keep in mind that, each step motor has a 1A current rating, the adapter comes with the DCDC module you have has only 600 mA as a maximum. You may use one of it to temporarily control ONE stepper motor but definitely not THREE !!    It will heat up quickly and melt your breadboard.

I explained the connections in between all of the parts in the figure above in the following video:

Now, modify the code to make three stepper motors rotate at the same time with the same speed and direction.

Modify the code again to make them rotate in different directions and speed.

4. Use one encoder to control one stepper motor.

Given that one Arduino baord cannot do both motor control (three of them) and encoder control (three of them). We will use one Arduino board dedicated for encoder data collectiona and another Arduino board for motor control.

First, we need to select a proper communication methanism betwee the two Arduino boards. I2C can be a good option.

Make the following hardware connections:

Refer to the pinout of the Arduino board:

Follow the connection diagram as follows:

Use the this code for the master and the slave respectively.
Pay attention to the data type being used in the slave. Since I2C sends bytes one by one,

You should see the encoder's data is being sent to the slave Arduino through the master.

5. One stepper motor replicates the encoder's movements

Before we can make a robot arm that replicates the movements of three encoders, we need to make one set work.

The idea here is to use two Arduino UNO boards, one records the encoder's command (the master) and sends it to the other UNO board. The other UNO board (slave) receives the commands and uses it to actuate the stepper.

The communication between the two UNO boards we used here is I2C. You can definitely use SPI or a software UART but not the hardware UART. The reason is we rely on the hardware UART to provide debugging signals to the serial monitor so we can visualize what just happened in the system. If you use the hardware UART for the two UNO boards, the traffic on the UART bus will be too much to make it correct.

Before moving forward, watch the video below and be clear with the goal of this experiment.
(The negative movements of the encoders can be prevented by adding delays in the code. The previous examples worked well because the Serial.println() function takes the time delay in the code. If you don't have a print function, adding 10ms delays will solve the problem. Add the 10 ms delay after every state checking and try it again).

Now, let's start building it. Well, the connections look messy:

Here is the connection's diagram:

This following piece of code can be used for the pushbutton detection at Pin 2:

void buttonPushAction(){
  if (buttonState != buttonStateLast && buttonState == HIGH){
         'Your Code'              

The example code can be found here.

6. Two encoders and two stepper motors

The purpose of this section is to develop a 2-joint robotic arm that can replicate the movement of the 2-joint encoder arm in a certain sequence.
The Encoder arm is called the 'replica' here. It allows the user to create a series of movement using the replica. The encoders record the directions, magnitude, and sequence of the two joints and save them in an integer array. A push button is used to send the data in the integer array to the slave MCU and actuate the stepper motors accordingly.

When there are two motors moving at the same time, you must consider the SEQUENCE of the movements. Yes, if you don't, the motors will still move to the final destination finally, but the two motors will not exactly replicate the moving trajectory and the sequence as the replica just did.

The way to solve this problem here is the divide the movement into certian timeframes. The timeframes are short and the digital clock is fast enough to pick up all the moves of the encoder.

There are 40 steps for ONE revolution for the encoder and 2038 steps for ONE revolution for the stepper. We can roughly use 1 VS 50 to mirror the moves of the enoder to the moves of the stepper, so one encoder move will cause 50 stepper moves.

The way to construct the array to store the movements in different timeframes:

The hardware connections:

The software won't be provided for this section. The demonstration video can be found here:

(The 10 ms time delays are added to the Encoder state checking cycles so the shakes are prevented).

Tasks: Repeat the work in Section 1 - 6. (15 points for Sections 1 - 5, 20 points for Section 6)