Drawing Robot School Part 1

Drawing Robot School Part 1


I’ve been obsessing about making a drawing robot ever since I saw the article about scribbler robots in the current volume of Make: . Many people have made drawing robots and they have inspired me to want my own or at least give it my best shot. If I am successful, I will be able to use it like a new printing process in photography.

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That’s a stepper motor on the left and motor with encoder on the right. Both of these things come in all sizes. I made a little drawing machine out of a printer, but left it in the main offices in Sebastapol last time I was there. I’ll have someone shoot some pics of it and I’ll post those later in the week.

Now the article in Make: doesn’t give specific instructions or have any software to download, but I figure that I can handle the hardware and that I might be able to get help with the software and connecting it all up to a microcontroller. Since I am new to this, I’m depending on my friends and Make: readers for support in learning how to make, wire up, and program a drawing robot.

I started by ripping apart some old printers to find some stepper motors and optical encoders, shopped ebay, and 3ric gave me a cool contraption that used to be tape flipper for a tape drive complete with optical encoder motors. He also taught me a bit about stepper motors and motors with encoders.

In tomorrow’s post I’ll rip open a stepper and an encoder and take a look at their guts.

More pics after the jump.

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So this is a picture of the thing I got off ebay. From my research it is a little bit of a cnc kind of machine that will organize vials of blood in a medical context. i like that it tells what the voltage is and how degrees per step.

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This is another view of the medical cnc ebay thing. It’s got a very clever system of pullies so that it is an xyz machine. That means that the motors can make it go left/right, forward/back, and up/down. This means that I should be able to program it to lift the pen up.


Here is a view of the contraption that 3ric gave me. It’s controlled with long poles that have screws on them and the motors make the screws turn and push things around.

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Here’s another view so you can see the screws.

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I am a microcontroller newbie. I will need help in figuring out how to hook this up.

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I bought this microcontroller right off the advertisement at the top of the page. I like how teeny it is. I don’t think that I’ll be able to get enough current through this to run my drawing robot unless I make a teeny tiny one… I like teeny tiny robots, so that sounds very tempting.

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