Niklas Roy’s Cardboard Plotter

Craft & Design
Niklas Roy’s Cardboard Plotter


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Uber-maker Niklas Roy (see all his MAKE mentions) built this excellent pen plotter out of Finnish cardboard, welding rod, rubber bands, tape, and glue. I especially love the all-cardboard interface!

When I gave a workshop at the School of Art and Design in Offenbach about building digital devices out of cardboard, the students asked me to build a machine as well. I always wanted to own a plotter – so I didn’t have to think too long about what exactly I’d build. (…)

As an interface, I built two rotary dials and a switch. One of the dials moves the pen in y-position. The other dial moves the table under then pen in x-position. The switch lifts the pen or puts it on the paper. When I was done with building the plotter, I also compiled a little code book with coordinates for several drawings. They are written down as a list of numbers from 0 to 9, which makes it effectively a very simple digital storage medium for low resolution vector graphics.

By the way, Niklas’s Cardboard Computers workshop looks amazing!


12 thoughts on “Niklas Roy’s Cardboard Plotter

  1. mexoplex says:

    lmao, why did i think when he hit the “ON” switch, we were going to hear a machine chug to life and print out something automatically?! I’m so silly sometimes.

    1. mexoplex says:

      That thing is Awesome by-the-way!

  2. asciimation says:

    I’ve heard of Swedish steel before but never Finnish cardboard. I think I know what they mean but have never seen it called that before.


  3. stantonio says:

    What is finnish cardboard?

    1. Niklas says:

      Finnboard or woodpulp. You can order it here:

      1. stantonio says:

        Ah woodpulp thanks

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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