Light painting with a string plotter

[Matt Bell] sends a shout-out to Hackaday by creating a light-painting of our logo with his string plotter. He starts off by setting up a pair of stepper motors which each have a spool to wind and unwind a string. The plotter is made by suspending a stylus between these two strings. In this case, he’s using a wireless LED board (seen above) built from the remote control receiver/transmitter from a toy car. The link above is part of a Flickr set from which you can get the whole story by reading the captions of each image.

After the break we’ve embedded a clip of an in-progress light painting. You can see there’s some oscillation of the LED unit that makes it a bit less precise than the CNC light painter we saw a couple of weeks ago. It seems like string plotters usually don’t have this issue if the stylus has something to help stabilize it. We wonder if a piece of acrylic would help get rid of the shakes? [Read more...]

Polar pen plotter draws huge images very slowly

[Euphy] just posted and Instructable of his Polargraph drawing machine that’s able to draw huge images slower than molasses in November. The plotter only uses two stepper motors to control the position of the pen and can be made nearly entirely from salvaged parts – [Euphy] built his for just about £150.

The Polargraph uses two stepper motor on the top corners of a large, flat surface. A weighted pen carriage is attached to both motors with beaded cord that’s often seen in window blinds. By controlling the distance from the carriage to each motor, the position of the pen can be precisely controlled. It’s not a very fast way of drawing an image (check out the real-time video), but it sure is interesting to watch.

There have been a few other rope-and-chain plotters, like Der Kritzler and Hektor. [Euphy]‘s work is the is one of the best documented builds we’ve seen, and he’s also put up the code and a website.

We really could have used [Euphy]‘s plotter when we wanted to draw some whiteboard art. While we’re out dumpster diving for some small stepper motors, check out the time-lapse video of the Polargraph after the break.

[Read more...]

Insanely kludgy pen plotter actually works

This pen plotter, held together with structural epoxy, is an amazing piece of engineering, and almost as impressive as a bridge made entirely out of Bondo.

[Brian] at the Rochester, NY hackerspace Interlock needed to build something for the BarCamp geek “unconference.” To lure BarCamp attendees over to the Interlock table, they needed a small tabletop device with whirring motors that was able to make some decent swag. Hacking together a pen plotter sounded like the perfect project.

The mechanics of the build were scavenged from old printers and scanners. [Brian] decided to use pin-feed card stock, so the take-up wheels from an old dot matrix printer was sacrificed as well. This paper feed mechanism serves as the Y axis, and the X axis rides above the paper on precision rods. The pen holder is supported by a tiny solenoid.

Things start getting crazy at the software level. grbl was loaded onto an Arduino with a stepper driver shield, and vector text drawings were printed. After a bit of live-action hackery, [Brian] figured out how to plot captured webcam images. OpenCV captures and does a trace outline. This is converted to vectors with autotrace, and from EPS to HPGL by pstoedit. A Python script then cleans up the HPGL and converts it to G code and sends it to the printer. Confused? So are we, so just check out the video of the plotter in action after the break.

[Read more...]

Material of choice: felt pen on glass

If you’re paying big bucks for those floor-to-ceiling windows why not make them into a canvas for your art as well. Der Kritzler is a motorized plotter that can make this into a reality. It’s a laser-cut pen holder suspended from a pair belt pulleys. Those belts have counterweights, which make it easier for the stepper motors to move the pen jig smoothly. The firmware running on the Arduino that controls Der Kritzler has some very precise setup requirements. Since there is no feedback for the Arduino to sense the position of the pen, the two stepper motors must be exactly 1500 mm apart with 1060mm of toothed belt between the carriage and each stepper motor when the power is turned on.

Input images are converted to code for the device using a processing sketch. So far [Alex] has tried out a couple of different effects, starting with a vector graphic, or using some open source tools to convert bitmaps to vector graphics. Don’t miss his video demonstration embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

A Plotter Made from Lego Parts

We’re always amazed at what people can come up with using Lego parts, but this hack certainly pushes the limits. Originally conceived as a 3D printer, this plotter is still an impressive proof-of-concept. Ironically, this “3D printer” was build with the hope of winning a Makerbot 3D printer, so be sure to vote for it if you’re impressed.

it’s pretty impressive seeing what [graphmastur] has done using only Lego parts. It’s especially entertaining to see a sheet of Lego “grass” used as the Y-axis table. The build was designed in Lego Digital designer, and the parts are available in “LDD” format or HTML.

This project is explained further in the video after the break. If you’d like to simply see it do a plotting operation, fast forward to around 4:30. The device is not perfect, but as the video says “it worked, pretty well” when drawing a square with an ordinary marker. [Read more...]

3 Axis Plotter Made from Spare Parts

The plotter featured above was, according to the author, made almost entirely of salvaged parts. In addition to what he had accumulated, only $20 in parts was needed to complete this build. Pretty good considering the thousands of dollars that a new plotter goes for.

Control of all axes is accomplished using unipolar stepper motors.  In this case only one unipolar motor was available along with two bipolar motors. [Lovro] actually hacked these into a unipolar setup to save costs on the build.

Mach3 control software along with a parallel port is used to control the steppers. A similar “junk” setup could be used to power a CNC mill or laser engraver, so think twice before tossing that old printer in the trash!  Check out the video of this plotter in action after the break! Also, see this hack for a similar laser engraving machine using Mach3 control software. [Read more...]

K’nex whiteboard plotter


[Jerry] has been wanting to put together a whiteboard plotter for some time and just recently got around to building one.

The plotter draws pretty much about anything he can imagine on a white board measuring just shy of 2′ x 3′. The design first started off with a Basic Stamp board at the helm, which he sourced from another project he no longer had any use for. The Stamp worked for awhile, but eventually he ran into problems due to the board’s limited 128 bytes of program space. Needing a more robust micro controller, he switched to an Arduino mid-project, which he says runs the plotter far faster than the Stamp ever did.

The plotter uses a pair of stepper motors mounted on a horizontal platform situated above the whiteboard. Much like this large-format printer we featured earlier this week, the steppers vary the length of a pair of fishing lines, moving the pen precisely across the board.  As you can see in the image above, [Jerry] has been able to create some pretty intricate patterns with his plotter, and we imagine they will only get better with more refinement.

Be sure to check out his site for more details on his build process as well as several additional samples of the plotter’s capabilities.