You may not know it, but your old computer CD ROM drive is a treasure chest of useful components. Inside you’ll find stepper motors, rare earth magnets, bearings, and coils. It’s enough futuristic-looking greeblies to construct your own Star Wars prop, or maybe even your own portable CNC drawbot.
To prove the point of what can be done with a few repurposed CD ROM drives, Norbert Heinz popped open a pair, stacked them perpendicularly, wired up their stepper motors to a pair of H-bridge driver boards, and controlled his new creation with a Raspberry Pi.
The result is a CNC Pen Plotter that can move on an X/Y axis. To take it further and add the ability to have the pen automatically lifted from the surface (on the Z axis), Norbert added a simple servo to lift or drop the lightweight metal arm that attaches the pen to the unit.
You can find the full instructions for creating this DIY plotter posted here, along with the video walkthrough.
I love this project both for its small size and its creative reuse of cheap, old technology. It’s also great to see how Norbert took deliberate steps to make the device portable, including a Wi-Fi adapter to send bitmap image data to the Pi, and adding a lead-acid battery to get enough power to both the motors. That said, if you don’t have a large battery handy, the project can quickly get off the ground with conventional benchtop power supply or probably even a basic breadboard power supply.
So hack away, and show us what you create! You can tweet your creations to me if you feel so inclined. And for more inspiration on scavenging interesting components from old technology check out Make: magazine’s guide to tearing down an old computer printer.
15 thoughts on “Build a Drawbot from Two CD Drives and a Raspberry Pi”
pretty neat. just needs a servo strong enough to lift a dremel and you have an engraver :P
rftgj The current market is nothing but debt fueled smoke.
Jobs and job growth. Very funny, that was a good one. You know there are actually people out there who don’t know what is happening and believe that. Good one!!.. Next Page
The stepper motors are not strong enough to overcome the side load during engraving work. Have a look at my CNC machine V2 if you’d like to have a tool instead of a toy:
sadly there’s a huge price difference.
I’ll have a closer look at the motors in the old printers / scanners I have in my cellar. They have stronger motors that might be useful do build a cheaper CNC machine sometime…
all the construction info is still valid no matter where you get the parts though. good work, thanks!
maybe a soldering iron, and have a CNC wood burner
…a laser would be the better choice since that would avoid friction when moving along the paths. Stepper motors from CD drives are not very strong.
can i connect it to a Linux based computer without raspberry
You need GPIOs to control the stepper motors. Of course you can replace the Raspberry with an Arduino to drive the mechanics and so to connect the plotter to nearly any computer through USB, but you will have to do some coding to make it work.
Before the days of Arduinos and Pi’s, we used the parallel port of desktop and laptop computers to provide GPIO for motor control. There’s lots of free software that takes direct control of the parallel port and can drive stepper controllers directly.
But nowadays a parallel port card (if you can find one) costs more than an Arduino–unless you can salvage an old PC from 1995 or so.
15 year old work experience … i-n-m-a-k-z-… Check Out Now </b
Here Is mmmaaakkkeee Fb Online Wrok
Comments are closed.