Squirrels have fuzzy tails.

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hmmmm I have units everywhere . . . for example:http://www.societyofrobots.com/robot_arm_calculator.shtmllets you choose your own units . . . and do all your math for you . . .and google can even do unit conversions for you, such as:4 pounds * 3 inches to newton metersnow for the counterweight . . . the point of the counterweight is to reduce the amount of torque an arm needs to lift . . . the disadvantage is that it increases required dynamic torque (reduces arm acceleration)so if you have a 4 inch arm lifting a 1 lb weight on one end, and a 4 lb counterweight at 1 inch away on the other end, then that means your actuator will not require any static torque (but will require dynamic torque, for acceleration)now for the parallel bars . . . it doesn't give your arm a lifting advantage, but it is however a way to make your arm more rigid but also lighter at the same time, in exchange for being more complicated and taking up more space. There is a mathematical way to calculate which design is better, but that'd require another tutorial . . .

wouldnt you want something like 1 lb 4 inches away, and 2 lb 1 inch away, that way if there is the expected 1 lb weight you only have to lift 2 lbs, and if the weight is not present, you only have to lift two pounds.

if you attached the motor( via a lever and translational movement) on the side of the gripper, two inches in, wouldn't that be the same as applying translational movement to a point two inches away from the fulcrum on the opposite side of the gripper.

would these be exactly the same in terms of torque needed?

in the back- umm IDK. i think so that it wouldnt get in the way of anything