6 of Our Favorite Drawbot Projects

Arduino Raspberry Pi Robotics Technology

In honor of National Robotics Week we thought we’d take a look back at some of the more interesting and fun robot projects we’ve run on Make: over the years. One unique category of actuated smart object that’s not really a robot in the conventional sense (it’s really more of a CNC plotter) but uses much of the same hardware and software found in robotics is the drawbot.

A drawbot is what it sounds like, a computer-controlled machine that draws. They mechanism for a simple drawbot can be anything from a brainless vibrobot that holds a pen and motors around on a piece of paper, to one with computer-control and a robot arm to precisely translate and render a digital image, to wall-mounted drawbots that use motors to control the location of a pen suspended from string.

Drawbots are a great way to explore robotics technology in a fun and not very intimidating way. And when you’re done, you have your own cool little robo-Picasso to do your bidding.

Here are some of our favorite drawbot projects that we’ve featured at Make:.

A Drawbot That Writes Poetry in Sand

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How many robots do you know that write poetry? Skryf rolls along on the ground, using a reservoir of sand to draw out poems as it goes.

This Drawbot Constantly Writes Out the Time on a Whiteboard

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This whiteboard drawbot uses its adorable little arms to draw out (and erase) the time every five minutes. I can imagine this might get distracting after awhile, but the little bugger sure is cute.

Turn Two Old CD Drives into a RBpi Drawbot

drawBot_1Learn how to create your own drawbot using two old CD drives, a servo, and a Raspberry Pi.

Arduino-Compatible Drawbot Building Set

drawBot_2The mDrawBot is a girder-based construction kit that lets you create a number of different drawbot configurations, from a wall-based artbot to one that draws on eggs. The project was crowdfunded by MakeBlock and you can now buy the kit on their website.

Turn Your iMac Box into a Drawing Robot

“Man Turns Computer Packing Material into a Drawing Robot” isn’t a headline you read every day. But that’s exactly what James Coleman did. He turned his discarded iMac box into a unique drawbot design and meticulously and cleverly documented the project.

TRS Drawbot

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Here’s one of the more innovative projects we did during our RadioShack-sponsored Weekend Projects video series. Sean Ragan shows you how to build a very clever and relatively simple drawbot that uses the audio output from any digital device to control the servomotor’s position on the robot. The design data for your drawing is stored as a .WAV audio file. The name “TRS” comes from the “tip, ring, and sleeve” designations on an audio jack.

AxiDrawIf you want to see what state-of-the-art drawbot technology looks like, check out the recently-announced AxiDraw from our pals at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for drawbot content on Make:. Do a search on the site to uncover many more projects.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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