Weekend Project: Making a Drawbot

Weekend Project: Making a Drawbot

I am a beginning robot enthusiast. I got hooked looking at the article in Make: 07 about the scribbler. Robotics is a bigger project than a weekend. If you are looking for something simple, you could mess about with a kit or reverse engineer this.

I got lucky and found the chassis and motors for my drawbot on ebay. Another starting point would be to start with some printer motors and build up from there.


You could make a drum plotter. I like the way that this plotter’s y axis is on the tube.


or make up your own like this fischertechnik model. I bet you could make something very similar out of lego.

There are a lot of issues involved in building a robot, if I didn’t have friends who have healthy robot building obsessions, I would have sent Egor to go extract the brains from Dorkbot and my local Seattle Robotics Society.

You’ve got to have tools to work on robots. Here’s my list of tools that I recently got to make my shop more robot friendly.

You’ve also got to have materials on hand. You can scavenge most everything if you’re willing to be a packrat and have the time to take things apart. I got a bunch of aluminum stock so that I would have a lot of material on hand to build things. A lot of industry is still rooted in the paper catalog, but I like to either scavenge my materials, go to the store, or order them online and have them delivered.


Recently I stopped by OnlineMetals here in Seattle to check out their warehouse and pick up an order. They are rad. It’s on my list to make a list of good tools and materials that would be good to have in my workshop.

Update: I’m a fiend for ordering online. Here’s the list of the stuff I recently got to stock up the workshop for reference and transparency.

Plastic dip for the legs so they don’t slip. A box for the little bits and replacement timing belts.

I got a center punch which is infinitely helpful for making a divit in metal before drilling.

I stocked up on some steel and alluminium: Mild Steel A36 Perforated Sheet Round Hole ,
Stainless T-304 Perforated Sheet Round Hole
Aluminum 6061-T6 Extruded Angle Structural
, (in lots of sizes- big, medium, small), Aluminum 6061-T6 Bare Sheet 0.125″.

Lathe goodness: Aluminum (6061-T6) Round Bar Pack .
And finally, some small pulleys to replace the drawbot pullies that keep cracking.

What are your favorite robot making tools? What materials do you have on hand? People who knit tend to hoard yarn. Do you hoard aluminum and fasteners? Even if you don’t build robots, if you’ve got a stash of material, take a picture of it and upload it to the make flickr pool. If you’re an experienced robot maker, what advice do you have for someone who is getting obsessed with robotics?

This pdf is a copy of all the messy notes that we made, plus you can see the stars that we’ve gotten the drawbot to draw so far. We’re on the brink of being able to draw something like this.


My friends and I are making this up as we go along, if you’ve got ideas, feedback, questions, leave a note in the comments.

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