CNC plotter from old parts

Get a quick fix of CNC for the day with this plotter. [Francisco Dulanto] grabbed the cartridge carriage from an old inkjet printer and turned it into a gantry by mounting it on two drawer sliders. The optical head assembly from a cd-rom provides the Z-axis movement with the whole thing controlled by three RepRap boards. [Francisco] called his project a joke compared to the Turing Machine, but we like it and we’re glad he tipped us off. There’s something zen-like about the projects that are thrown together with what you have available. After all, he’s certainly achieve a clean-looking build that does what it’s intended to do.


  1. Andrew says:

    The Z-axis looks to be a floppy drive head stepper motor.

  2. Mikey says:

    That seems like everything you would need to make a 3d printer on the cheap (thinking rep-strap).

  3. Mikey says:

    @Andrew maybe the same company who made that cd-rom, also made floppy drives, and used the same motors for both, to save on part-sourcing-costs.

  4. derp says:

    “There’s something zen-like about the projects that are thrown together with what you have available.”

    very much so. this is a great build

  5. Hirudinea says:

    Where’s the Egg?

  6. Nightstar says:

    Nice! Very cool job! ^_^

  7. Andrew says:

    Ok. I see it now. I always find floppy drive motors unsatisfactory as the bearings fall apart when you dismantle them. This looks much more substantial.

    Very cool project. I am eyeing up the printers and CD drives in this office. Too bad someone is using them…

  8. poorhandluke says:

    just pulled some stuff back out of the garbage can

  9. zer0 says:

    this is from floopys indeed

  10. svofski says:

    Brilliant pen grip!

  11. Amos says:

    Plus, add one of those cable-driven rotary tools and boom, instant engraver.

    Extra internets to anyone who does a tutorial on using the motor drivers in these printers/CD-drives, to save the cost of the expensive rep-rap boards. That would make this a /true/ scrap-heap hack (not that it’s not an excellent build already).

  12. svofski says:

    Amos: it’s very easy to play with a floppy stepper, I even made a video on that once.

    No parts required at all, only a rotary encoder.

    Re: other hardware, the drivers in consumer hardware can be very different but it is very rare when you get reusable chips. And if you do, you just google them up.

  13. blue carbuncle says:

    Very cool! Kinda like high-end circuit bending lol. Keep up the good work :)

  14. nes says:

    @Mikey, no CD ROM sleds use a DC motor driven by a transconductance amplifier (as they need the precision), floppy drives simply use a stepper motor as it’s actually part of the spec (gap between tracks on the disk = n*motor steps).

    The amplifier from the CD ROM can be reused, but you have to make your own feedback arrangement for the servo. In the original setting it’s driven by filtered PWM from the optical front-end IC. Just cut the trace and feed in your own signal.

  15. yn0t says:

    Damn. I wanted to see what it was drawing.

  16. bothersaidpooh says:

    i did have an old epson printer with 3 stepper drivers (was out of an old CX3200) but it went a bit wrong. Good news is the print head survived and is now happily printing in another 3200.

    As for the cdrom sled, I came up with a truly awesome hack involving tapping into the (working) eye signal from the pickup and feeding it into a circular analogue delay line. If the circuitry in the drive thinks it has a valid signal then it doesen’t care what you feed the stepper motor drive.

    this is quite a neat way to built a laser etching jig on the cheap and all that is required is installing a write laser on the sled.

  17. clifdweller says:

    I built a plotter like this a couple years ago using the same parts and found it wasn’t suitable as an engraver. The printer system can’t handle the load and gets a lot of backlash usually which can be corrected by replacing the springs in the one cog with a block but there is still a lot of jitter.

  18. Josh says:

    great work, did something similar. There’s is much better as its possible to lift the pen.

    If you have an old scanner laying around and a parallel port its possible to build one of these in an afternoon.

  19. fedeortiz12 says:

    Great work!! Keep it up!

  20. Robert says:

    Just get some ‘real’ linear bearings at http:/
    I got some 16mm that would be perfect for this type of application.

  21. jae686 says:

    Awsome. I’m looking forward to make a CNC, this could be a nice approach to build a test bed for stepper driver / algorithm testing.

    I’m sort of ashamed for not having this ideia earlier…. Kudos for Francisco Dulanto!


  22. durezas says:

    Can you publish some details? Thanks.

  23. Richard says:

    I love these ‘repurposing’ type hacks… ‘Makers’ FTW :-)

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