Four Cable Drawing Machine Pulls Our Strings


[David] has created a four cable drawing machine for the Telus Spark Science Centre in Canada. Hackaday has featured [David's] unconventional drawing contraptions before, specifically his center pivot pen plotter. The drawing machine is a new take on a drawbot, and could be considered to be close cousins with [Dan's] SkyCam. The premise is simple: A stepper motor with a reel of string is placed at each corner of a square. The strings for all four motors come together at a center weight. When all four strings are taut, the weight is lifted off the drawing surface. When a bit of slack is added into the strings, gravity pulls the weight down to touch the sand.

It’s at this point that a simple premise becomes a complex implementation. Moving the weight in one direction is a matter of reeling out string on one motor, and reeling in string on the other. But what about the two “un driven” strings? They have to be slack enough to allow movement in the driven direction, but not so slack that the weight can dig in and tumble on the sand, causing a tangle. To handle some of these questions, [David] called on [Kevin] to write some software. [Kevin] created a custom kinematics module for LinuxCNC to control the drawing machine. The drawing machine runs on Gerber Code, similar to a CNC. Simply feed the machine Cartesian coordinates, and [Kevin's] module converts to steps.

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Building a SkyCam-like camera mount

With the Olympics on there are a lot of really great camera shots shown during the events. One of the best is the overhead view, which is provided by a camera suspended between cables. It’s not new for the Olympics, SkyCam has been around for over twenty years. What is new is [Dan Royer's] attempts to build his own aerial camera setup.

He’s not starting from zero with this project. [Dan] has done some really great work with the Drawbot. It’s a two-motor, two-axis plotter which uses CNC to draw on a white board. For this project he combined two Drawbots in order to add a third axis. The image above shows the camera mount suspended between the four strings. He’s been working hard on getting the software ready for this kind of addressing. Along the way he broke the strings a few times because he was too far from the kill switch to stop it in time. But what he’s got is a nice start and we hope to see a more illustrative follow-up soon.

One of the things that SkyCam has going for it is a stabilization system. We wonder if a spinning gyroscope would work as well as it did for that balancing bike.


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