Makeblock, a Shenzhen-based open source hardware company, has raised almost double their goal on their Kickstarter campaign for the mDrawBot, a 4-in-1 drawing robot kit that can be assembled into 4 different drawing robots: mScara, mCar, mSpider and mEggBot.
The four different configurations give you the choice between a drawing arm that clamps to a table, a car-style bot that drives and draws, a polarbot that draws on vertical surfaces, and a robot that draws on an egg.
The kit includes two 12V/1.7A stepper motors, really great motors that could potentially be part of a 3D printer or something similar if you decide. Also included is a small assortment of blue-anodized aluminum girders and connector plates, a pair of plastic gears, belts and pulleys, as well as a pen control system controlled by a micro servo. Naturally, the mDrawBot kit’s parts are all compatible with Makeblock products, giving you the opportunity to make all sorts of interesting creations with the kit beyond the four robots.
The brain of the kit is the Makeblock Orion, an Arduino UNO-compatible main board with RJ25 sockets covering it. Included cables connect the Orion to motor control boards, and you could also plug in sensors, though none come with the kit.
Makeblock focuses on their namesake construction set, a blue- and gold-anodized aluminum girder system with a bunch of useful qualities like a threaded groove along the length of every beam, as well as Lego Technic-compatible hole spacing allowing you to mix the sets together. They recently released a 3D printer kit, the Constructor, that uses aluminum beams for the chassis and an open source RAMPS shield and extruder for the printing part.
Drawbots are robots that draw using stepper motors to make precise shapes on paper, combining the precision of a computer-controlled motor with the analog quality of a marker. There have always been different categories of drawbot: for instance, the polarbot, a pair of stepper motors that pull a pen around on a pair of strings. Some artbots resemble cars with pens attached to them, and drive around making shapes on a big sheet of paper on the floor or the tabletop.
Another category is the robot that draws on eggs, most notably the original EggBot, an open-source project originally created by Bruce Shapiro and sold by Evil Mad Science Laboratories. EMSL also sells the WaterColorBot, another artbot that uses an XY plotter setup to draw with a watercolor brush.
In addition to their Kickstarter, MakeBlock also has a project github.