Conduit, Birdhouse, And Skateboard Become Giant Pen Plotter

If you think you need fancy parts to build a giant robot drawing machine, think again! [Cory Collins] shows you how he built his Big-Ass Wall Plotter v.2 out of stuff around the house or the hardware store, including electrical conduit, gang boxes, scrap wood, and skateboard bearings, alongside the necessary stepper motors, drivers, and timing belt. (You should consider having this trio of parts on hand as well, in our opinion.) With a span of 48″ (1.2 m) on a side, you probably don’t have paper that’s this big.

And while the construction is definitely rough-and-ready, there are a ton of details that turn this pile of parts into a beautifully working machine in short order. For instance, making the rails out of electrical conduit has a few advantages. Of course it’s cheap and strong, but the availability of off-the-shelf flanges makes assembly and disassembly easy. It also hangs neatly on the wall courtesy of some rubber cuphooks.

Note also the use of zip-tie belt tensioners: a simple and effective solution that we heartily endorse. [Corey] makes good use of custom 3D printed parts where they matter, like the compliant pen holder and linear mechanism for the z-axis, but most of the mechanical accuracy is courtesy of wooden shims and metal strapping.

[Corey] uses the machine to make patterns for his paper sculptures that are worth a look in their own right, and you can see the machine in action, sped up significantly, in the video below. This is the perfect project if you have a DIY eggbot that’s out of commission post-Easter: it reuses all the same parts, just on a vastly different scale. Heck, [Corey] even uses the same Inkscape Gcodetools extension as we did in that project. Now you know what we’re up to this weekend.

Can’t get enough pen plotters? Check out this one that lets you write whatever you want!

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Using Electrical Conduit For A 3D Printer Frame


We’re always on the lookout for parts that can be source locally and that don’t cost a bundle. This hack fits both of those criteria. [Lee Miller] came up with a way to use steel electrical conduit as a 3D printer frame. He recently finished building the device seen above, and has been showing it off at Solid State Depot, a Hackerspace in Boulder, Colorado where he is a member.

Look closely at the corners of the frame in this image and you’ll see the 3D printed parts that make up the clamping mechanism. Each has three components that screw together. The two gaps in between each have a rubber ‘O’ ring. When the plastic clamps are screwed together they squeeze the rings which hold the electrical conduit firmly. This also has the side benefit of dampening vibrations.

It’s certainly easy to find this type of conduit which is sold at every home store (and most hardware stores). Just make sure that you check that a piece is straight when you pick it out. The SCAD files for the parts are available from his Github repo.

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