Open Source Pancakes

It is definitely a first world problem: What do you do when creating a custom pancake requires you to put a design on an SD card and plug it into your pancake printer? This is what was nagging at [drtorq]. Granted, since he works for a¬†publication called “The Stack” maybe a pancake printer isn’t so surprising. [drtorq] built the custom PancakeBOT software on Linux as a start to his hacking on the flapjack creating robot.

[drtorq] promises more hacking on the printer in the future, so this is just step one. We expect the mods will be a lot like a typical 3D printer, except the heated bed is absolutely necessary on this model. The printer is more like a CNC engraver than a 3D printer since it is basically an XY carriage with a nozzle that flows batter instead of polymer.

We’ve seen a lot of chocolate printers. Gummy bears are printable, too. For the more adult beverage-minded, you can print designs in a Jell-O shot, too. We are a little surprised we haven’t seen a conventional 3D printer or CNC modded to do pancakes but we have certainly seen other bootstrapped versions.

14 thoughts on “Open Source Pancakes

    1. No but the blog post referenced he is getting software for it from GitHub and building it under Linux. Honestly, though, just about any 2D CNC software could do this, so if you really wanted to duplicate it, I don’t think their closed source is an impediment. In retrospect I should have titled it something like Using Open Source to Drive a Pancake Printer but that doesn’t really roll off the tonuge.

  1. “open source pancakes”
    well are the pancakes open source? you mean a recipe? or the machine? because the machine isn’t.
    what the hell do flapjacks have to do with anything are they even mentioned in the video?
    what hacking does he do? none apparently just make some pancakes that are supposed to be ‘rockets’ but looks more like genitals. where is he building any open source software on Linux? is this the right video?
    flow is a transitive verb now? is the English language open source too why not write an article about that.
    wow look at all these different things you can do which are exactly the same because its just a 2 axis plotter essentially.
    what other kind of crap can we plop out of a tube onto a bed to make the next big kickstarter huh?
    what I really love about eating pancakes is waiting half an hour to make one and one side to be burned and the other side still raw and not flipped over and have all holes and shapes missing out of the middle so its only really half a pancake anyway. brilliant.
    parents used to maybe if you were lucky arrange your food to look like a crap smiley face, now we have this 300$ abortion to make sure kids can design their own pancakes. did anyone really think this was a good idea? that it was important? are there really people out there that funded this and bought one and actually use it? do you have pancakes for breakfast every day? do you need to design a new shape every morning? I just can’t imagine it.

    1. For someone who chose to attack the author for their use of the English language, you certainly end a concerning amount of sentences with prepositions… While I agree with you that the pancake bot isn’t exactly a household item, I don’t understand the need to go on such a rampage on an author of an article. If you truly feel the need to rant about how stupid this is, maybe you should be directing yourself in the direction of the machine you are so against. Or the people working on the open source software. Or really anybody that actually has anything to do with it. Not the person that came up with a clickbait headline and suckered you into reading the article. Go be a troll somewhere else. Even better than that, stop trolling altogether if you can’t even present yourself in a reasonable fashion. The hallmark of a good troll is well designed arguments, not a long string of questions and complaints that are barely even relevant to the topic of the article.

      1. My trolling isn’t good enough because it isn’t trolling.
        I’m sorry my english isn’t perfect i don’t purport myself as a journalist.
        The article is supposed to be about someone building open source software for this machine. The linked video doesn’t show this at all, it’s just a man who is very excited about showing off his purchase. the video description is only trying to get you to buy one via his affiliate link.

    2. Dear PFF,

      Thank you for your post. Albeit, a little unconventional, you bring up some points that I’m compelled to address to help you understand the story behind PancakeBot. I know you’re not a troll and know that seeing products like this may upset some people but I wanted to tell you how this came about.
      My name is Miguel Valenzuela and I’m the creator of PancakeBot. PancakeBot started off as whimsical dream to make a ‘pamcake machine out of LEGO’ for my daughters who were 3.5 and 1.5 at the time.
      It was the fall of 2010 and I had just moved to Norway from San Diego and there was about 4 feet of snow outside and I was going through culture/weather shock. On weekends I would spend my time in our small apartment at the dinner table reading Make Magazine. On this particular weekend, my daughter Lily asked me, ‘Papa, what are you reading?’ I replied enthusiastically, ‘I’m reading Make Magazine! There’s a story in here about a guy named Adrian Marshall that made a ‘pancake stamping machine prototype out of LEGO for his work.’ I mumbled something else and Lily’s eyes got huge and she turned to Maia who could barely talk and yelled, ‘Papa’s going to make a pamcake machine out of LEGO!’ Maia did a little dance (she was 1.5 at the time) and thus PancakeBot was born (because you know when a 3 and a half year old tells you to build a pancake machine out of LEGO, you better deliver).
      At that point I had a choice, either smile at her, pat her on the head and come up with some excuse that a machine like that could never be built and keep on reading my magazine, or I could teach her a valuable lesson that making anything is possible because if you can dream it, you can make it. So I chose the latter course and began a six month journey of making a ‘pamcake machine out of LEGO’ for my daughters.
      Six months and 20 liters of pancake batter later, I successfully made Mickey Mouse Pancakes for my daughters using 99% LEGO parts and two ketchup bottles. I posted a video of the result on Youtube and Jeri Ellsworth posted it to her twitter feed and it garnered something like 50 thousand hits in that same day. Next thing you know, my LEGO project and the smiling faces of my kids starting the machine was plastered all over the internet on tech magazines everywhere. As a result, we decided to take the LEGO version on a tour around the world going to different maker faires and making pancakes for kids and families. I even put the LEGO instructions on line for free.
      Every time we’d go to the faires, kids would stand around for 10 minutes watching in awe as the PancakeBot churned out regular round pancakes to their delight.
      After numerous shows and getting increasingly in debt, we decided to take a break from the project and then I saw an article written by Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine calling PancakeBot a ‘kid technology magnet’.
      I had seen what PancakeBot had done for the faces of many kids at faires so I wanted to see if we could do more with this.
      In spring of 2014 I created the acrylic version and displayed it at the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo California. In June, we were lucky enough to be invited to the White House Maker Faire and showcase PancakeBot there. The reviews came in and the new version was a hit. People were asking when we were going commercial with the device and so later that year we partnered with a Company called StoreBound to help me facilitate the manufacturing and distribution of the PancakeBot.
      We decided to do a KickStarter to raise money as well as get feedback from the product and it was rather successful.
      Now, the product is out, we’re working on polishing out some issues and making easier for people to print pancakes. PancakeBot is being used in libraries, maker spaces and universities to teach the concepts of 3D printing. Our PancakePainter software is open source, as well as the firmware and we used an Atmel Chip in it to make it maker friendly. A company in Canada recently hacked it because they wanted to use it measure material thicknesses in metal samples and the low cost of the unit made it an ideal solution for hacking.
      I hope more and more people can do more things with it, not just pancakes and I appreciate Al Williams writing an article about it in Hackaday.
      But in a nutshell, I did this for my daughters and I continue doing this to hopefully inspire a new generation of makers.
      If you have any more questions on PancakeBot, please feel free to email me at
      Miguel Valenzuela
      Creator of PancakeBot

  2. I’m the maintainer for the official open source pancake bot control/design software, PancakePainter.

    I know we don’t have official support for linux (though I develop the software in Linux!), but it wasn’t high on the list for the guys supporting it. We do have a growing crowd, and I encourage any and all hacking to make the bot more useful and interesting. Follow the code and PRs for news and new features coming down the pipe.

  3. Please allow me to add a few details to the discussion.

    My name is Rob ‘drtorq’ Reilly and I write a weekly column titled, “Off The Shelf Hacker” for The New Stack covers Docker, current software development stacks and general IT topics. My column covers micro-controllers, sensors, actuators, Linux, Internet of Things, radios, networking and so on. Essentially I focus on anything related to the “physical computing stack”.

    The New Stack crew attend a lot of conferences and do a lot of tech reporting and podcasts. The PancakeBot is used at our sponsored events as a conversation starter and attention grabber. Come to The New Stack breakfast and get a stack from the Pancake Bot. It’s a metaphor and play on words. We think the machine has a lot of potential for hacking, as well.

    We’re now expanding our article topics to include robotics, mechatronics and automation. I’ve covered Linux and Free Software for a long time and it made sense do a story on how to use the Pancake Bot drawing program under Xubuntu, since it isn’t currently officially supported under Linux.Take a look at the story at

    So, we’re looking at different things to hack on the Pancake Bot. I recently ordered a thermocouple, infrared thermometer and pressure sensor to capture telemetry as the Pancake Bot runs. Is there a way to load prints wirelessly? Is there a way to flip the pancakes using motors, servos and some crazy teflon arms? Could we possibly take a picture of someone and then print their likeness in pancake form?

    All legitimate questions? Good? I think so. Silly? Perhaps. Fun, sure. What else can we do?

    What hacks would you like to see with the Pancake Bot?

    Keep the comments coming.


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