Roboartist Draws What It Sees


The perfect balance of simplicity and complexity have been struck with this automated artist. The Roboartist is a vector drawing robot project which [Niazangels], [Maxarjun], and [Ashwin] have been documenting for the last few days. The killer feature of the build is the ability to process what is seen through a webcam so that it may be sketched as ink on paper by the robotic arm.

The arm itself has four stages, and as you can see in the video below, remarkably little slop. The remaining slight wiggle is just enough to make the images seem as if they were not printed to perfection, and we like that effect!

Above is a still of Roboartist working on a portrait of [Heath Ledger] in his role as Joker from The Dark Knight. The image import feature was used for this. It runs a tweaked version of the Canny Edge Detector to determine where the pen strokes go. This is an alternative to capturing the subject through the webcam. For now MATLAB is part of the software chain, but future work seeks to upgrade to more Open Source tools. The hardware itself uses an Arduino Mega to take input via USB or Bluetooth and drives the quartet of servo motors accordingly.

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Old Inkjet Turned Into An SVG Plotter


What do you do when you have an old printer, a portable CD player, and a handful of other electronics sitting around? Turn it into a plotter, of course.

The frame of the plotter was taken from a ye olde Epson printer, reusing the two stepper motors to move the paper along its length and width. The pen is attached to the laser head of a junked portable CD player. With this, it’s just three stepper motors that allow the Arduino control system to move the pen across the paper and put a few markings down.

The motors on the printer are, in the spirit of reuse, still connected to the printer’s driver board, with a few leads going directly from the Arduino to the parallel port interface. The motor in the CD player is another ordeal, with a single H-bridge controlling the lifting of the pen.

On the software side of things, a Processing sketch reads an SVG file and generates a list of coordinates along a path. The precision of the coordinates is set as a variable, but from the video of the plotter below, this plotter has at least as much resolution as the tip of the pen.

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Fubarino Contest: A Really, Really Old Plotter

DCF 1.0

Decades ago, [Vegipete] found an old drum plotter at a university used equipment sale. This plotter was old in the 80s, so like any great tinkerer, [Vegi] reverse engineered the plotter’s circuitry and got it working with his Apple ][.

The years went by, dust accumulated, and in 2010 [Vegipete] found himself doing some work with linear acceleration on a PIC microcontroller. Remembering his old plotter, [Vegi] realized he could build an embedded version of his old Apple ][ circuit. He built a circuit that turned the plotter into something that can be controlled with an FTDI adapter. A small update to the code added the an Easter egg. When the Konami code is entered on the plotter’s buttons it responds in the spirit of our Fubarino contest.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Hanging Plotter With a Color Twist


[Jack Boland], a mechanical engineer at the University of Wisconsin, built a cool hanging plotter project called HangBot. It’s a fairly standard setup, where he converts an image to G-Code files, and it is plotted using two stepper motors for control. We’ve seen vertical plotters before, but they tend to only have a single pen. [Jack] expanded this one to bring color into the mix by splitting an image into separate CMYK layers, and plotting each onto separate transparency film. When overlaid, they create something close to a full color image. His idea is to use this setup as a replacement for typical window signage.

Since it’s drawing a continuous line, he appears to be employing a grid instead of a traditional dot pattern. That, combined with the inaccuracy of a marker tip means resolution will be limited. Still, you can tell that he’s made a great start in this (albeit blurry) photo. Check out the video of it’s operation after the break.

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Robot Painter Works Like a Photobooth


[Ben], [David], [Drew], [Kayla], and [Peter] built a robotic artist as their senior design project. This mashes up a bunch of different project ideas, but the thing we like the most about it is that it works much like a photo booth that produces a painting. A Raspberry Pi uses a webcam to snap the picture, converts the image to three colors (plus the white background of the canvas) and sets the robot in motion. The team laments that initial testing of the completed project (seen in the clip below) worked out quite well but took hours to produce the painting. What do they expect? It’s art!

This is quite a bit different from the WaterColorBot (whose manufacturing process we just looked in on yesterday). WaterColorBot uses a flat canvas and a gantry system. This offering, which is called PICASSAU, uses an upright canvas with the paintbrush mounted in much the same way as a plotter robot. The biggest difference is that there is the ability to pivot the paint brush in order to pick up more paint, and for cleaning in between color changes.

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A Six Part CNC Machine


CNC machines are impressive pieces of kit. We’re all for seeing the big, burly, impressive machines, but there’s something to be said about seeing how small they can get. [Jay] has what is probably the most minimal CNC plotter we’ve ever seen, built from only six 3D printed parts.

[Jay]’s plotter is based on the Piccolo, an exceedingly small-scale CNC platform that can be built for $70 with laser-cut parts. This version, though, uses only six parts that can be downloaded from Thingiverse. Powered by an Arduino and two micro servos, this CNC plotter would be a great introduction to CNC for any robotics club or hackerspace tutorial series.

[Jay] has been doing some awesome work with CNC plotters; we saw his large format Plotterbot earlier this month, and his giant plotted HaD logo with HaD infill poster was a great submission to our Trinket contest.

Video of [Jay]’s plotter in action available after the break.

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Android pen plotter snaps, processes, and prints pictures


Here’s an Android powered pen plotter that does it all. It was built by [Ytai Ben-Tsvi] to take with him to Maker Faire. He’s the creator of IOIO, a hardware interface module designed to communicate with an Android device via USB (host or OTG are both supported).

The physical hardware is simple enough. He draws on a pad of white paper using a felt-tipped marker. Located at the top of the easel are two wheels with stars etched on them. They are reels which spool and dole-out string to control the pen’s movements. The pen tip can be lifted by a ball bearing mounted just below it.

But the project really takes off when you watch [Ytai’s] demonstration. The Android tablet controlling the device captures a picture of an object — in this case it’s a toy truck. The app then processes it using edge detection to establish how to plot the image.

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