Review of Construct & Create's Hydraulic Cyborg Hand

By Dr Jennifer Martay PE, Course Leader for Medical Engineering at Anglia Ruskin University

Box Cyborg Hand Comes In

I am interested in Biomechanics and was recently working on a 3D printed robotic hand and arm.
Naturally, when I saw this hydraulic hand, I had to buy it to give it a try!

What did I think about it? In short, it is great! For more details, keep reading!

First Impressions

This kit is incredibly well-organized. There is a user manual and multiple sheets of parts (don't take the parts out yet!).
Contents of Box

The manual is refreshingly clear and easy to read and understand. Each step has a picture, and each piece you need is labelled. The label tells you which sheet and which part on the sheet you need (ie, D8=Sheet D, Part 8). There are even pictures of common errors to help you navigate tricky assemblies!
Example of User Manual

Step 1: Constructing the Palm

The build makes intuitive sense. You start with the palm. The different parts easily click together. The resulting levers are fun to work with.
Palm Base for Hand

Step 2: Constructing the Fingers

Next, you make the first finger, which you repeat with slight variations 3 times. Each finger has pads around the side to make it easier to later pick up objects.
Single Finger

Step 3: Assembling the Finger Unit

The 3 fingers are then assembled into the Fingers Unit, seen below. At this point, you can manually move each finger lever independently - which makes it look a bit like a spider!
Finger Unit from Above Finger Unit from Side

Step 4: Adding the Hydraulics

The next step is assembling the different units and putting in the hydraulics. I expected the hydraulics to be difficult and messy so put this final step off for a few days. It was a needless worry, however. The instructions clearly explained how to install the hydraulics, and I didn't make a mess!
Hand from Above

Hand from Side

Step 5: Putting it all together!

A video showing the assembled hand moving is below.

A Few Things to Note:

-The hand is much larger/longer than I expected! It takes up a lot of space after assembled.
-The palm adjusts to different hand sizes. I need the hand on its smallest size - my children (3 & 4 years old) can't use the cyborg hand as intended.
-The 4 main fingers are incredibly easy to use, but the thumb is at an awkward angle so I have been avoiding using it much.
-I worry my kids will pull the hydraulics out and water/oil will go everywhere. This hasn't happened - yet - but I monitor the kids carefully when they play with it.

A Final Overview!

All that said, my overall review is that this is an excellent product. It's so easy to put together and fun to play with afterwards!

There are also many potential levels of learning for everyone, 3 years and up.
-I learned more about levers, hydraulics, and biomimicry (comparing the created hand to our human hands).
-The 4 year old learned the basics of hydraulics, practiced using a screwdriver, identified letters and numbers when finding parts, and was exposed to a really fun STEM project.
-The 3 year old learned more about levers and got involved in a really fun STEM project.
-Both kids loved experimenting with what the hand could pick up.

This would be a great Christmas present for anyone interested in building things, robotics, or the human body. I'll be buying more Construct and Create projects like this!

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