Automate Your Graffiti With The Graffomat!

an image of the graffomat at work

In Banksy’s book, Wall and Piece, there is a very interesting quote; “Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked…”. This sounds like it would be a very exciting city to live in, except for those of us who do not have an artistic bone in their body. Luckily, [Niklas Roy] has come up with the solution to this problem; the Graffomat, a spray can plotter.

The Graffomat is, in its creator’s own words, a “quick and dirty graffiti plotter.” It is constructed primarily from wood and driven by recycled cordless drills that pulls string pulleys to move the gantry.  The Arduino Nano at the heart of the Graffomat can be controlled by sending coordinates over serial. This allows for the connection of an SD card reader to drip-feed the machine, or a computer to enable real-time local or over-the-internet control.

We are especially impressed with how [Niklas] handled positional tracking. The cordless drills were certainly not repeatable like a stepper motor, as to allow for open-loop control. Therefore, the position of the gantry and head needed to be actively tracked. To achieve this, the axes are covered with black and white striped encoder strips, that is then read by a pair of phototransistors as the machine moves along. These can then be paired with the homing switches in the top left corner to determine absolute position.

Graffomat is not the first automated graffiti machine we’ve covered. Read here about the robot that painted murals by climbing smokestacks in Estonia. 

[via r/arduino]

30 thoughts on “Automate Your Graffiti With The Graffomat!

      1. In my City (Edmonton, AB, Canada) the Graffiti “victim” has a limited time to clean up/remove the graffiti or they are fined… so the victim is penalized for something they never did or wanted… You have to love how some Gov work…

    1. Imagine a city where people can deface your property at any time with no consequences. I have no problem with graffiti as long as you put it on something you own.

      I bet Banksy would be more than a little upset when the local gang tags his masterpiece.

      1. in fairness, just put your “art” into your bedroom, it’s very hard to imagine a worst form of destruction, i mean with littering that can be picked up, but with a permanent paint you cause almost permanent damage

    2. The first time I was in Zurich, I was mesmerized at how good the graffiti was along the side of the highways and retaining walls along the train lines. Very few tag scribbles – really like the best of the best in graffiti art. Dunno if it’s sanctioned, or there are just less shitty artists in Switzerland.

    1. Fastest way to build this machine? Just replicate it, this is some off the shelf elements found in trash thrown together, maybe controlled by arduino. But effect is passable, certainly good for the time put into this.

      Fastest way to draw something like this? Make sturdier frame and use faster motors.

    1. Course I understand the railroad companies not wanting to encourage anyone hanging around their tracks waiting to get their limbs cut off or worse. But I oft wonder why they just don’t give up to the graffiti artists. Save the material and labor cost of having to buff it. Not only do I never see a train without any graffiti, I actually enjoy seeing it as it goes by. Cause my genuine opinion is that the graffiti will ever stop anyways.

      I mean if I’m gonna have to be stuck at a crossing for 15 minutes I may as well be entertained.

      1. “I mean if I’m gonna have to be stuck at a crossing for 15 minutes I may as well be entertained.”

        Have you thought of trainspotting as a hobby?
        Some people log the numbers of locomotives and rail cars, along with date/time/location. And thanks to the DHS, it is on the verge of becoming (gasp!) ILLEGAL ACTIVITY!


        Earlier this year, I saw a train with a caboose! REALLY!

  1. I built a sand table that draws pictures in sand by moving a magnet under the table. The magnet moves a steel ball on top of the table, through a few mm deep “sand” (baking soda). The mechanism I used a a corexy type commonly used in 3D printers, and unlike other sand tables and 3D printers, it uses servomotors that can drive the mechanism at 2000 mm/sec or more (with larger pulleys), and up to about 2g acceleration.

    I have considered the possibility of standing the mechanism up against a wall and equipping it with an airbrush to spray paint.
    I did one experiment with mounting an LED and battery on the carriage, turned out the light, pointed a camera at it and opened the camera’s shutter. The result is quite nice.:
    That drawing was about 2m x .9 m and took under 5 minutes. The mechanism and drawings can easily be made larger.

    Servomotors and a 3D printer controller board will speed up the mechanism and simplify the electronics quite a bit, and the servos have encoders built in, so all you have to do is give them step/direction/enable signals. The 3D printer controller’s Z axis can be used to turn on/off the flow of paint. I used a Duet wifi controller so I can send patterns to the sand table without a wired connection. It’s all off-the-shelf stuff!

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.