DrawBot, the Adventure Begins

Update:  If you want to find the latest on my DrawBot adventures and build log, check out this link!

Okay!  I think I’m ready to do this!  Is anyone interested in playing along at home?  Let’s give this a whirl!  Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. Type.  There are at least three distinct drawing styles among the various drawbots.  However, I suspect this is mostly a software issue.  Der Kritzler draws with lines or little cross marks.  The Polargraph draws large “square” pixels.  Harvey Moon’s Drawing Machine draws tight concentric circles.  I’m not sure I have a preference among the various methods and, really, I suspect any differences really lie in the software, not the specific hardware setup.  In any case, for a variety of reasons, explained below, I’m going to try to build a Polargraph based drawbot.
  2. Documentation.  I like the Polargraph for its use of off-the-shelf parts like an Arduino and Adafruit motorshield and for its documentation.  The Make Magazine drawing machine also has a lot of documentation – but it is a very from-scratch design and there are some important images that are broken in the tutorials.  Der Kritzler also has decent documentation, but it appears to be more technical than I’m comfortable with at the moment.  One other huge benefit to the Polargraph is that Sandy Noble is still publishing updates for it – as recently as yesterday.
  3. Parts.  Der Kritzler uses expensive toothed belts, the Polargraph uses (plastic) beaded cord with weights, and Harvey Moon’s drawing machine uses something with weights – probably beaded cord.  The most interesting variation for me is monofilament spool method used by the Make Magazine system.  It has a weight on the “gondola” / printhead itself and winds/unwinds filament off the spool.  The benefit for me with this system is that it won’t have unnecessary hanging and swinging weights associated with each of the two cords.  When one has kids and cats it is best to minimize attractive nuisances.
  4. Sourcing.  Adafruit is out of their motor shields, so it looks like the MakerShed is going to be my best bet for picking up Polargraph-style parts.  An added bonus is that the MakerShed is located in Sebastopol, which is only a two-hour drive from my place in the SF Bay Area.  While I’m not about to drive four hours to save $15-$20 in shipping, it does mean the parts will get here quickly.
    1. Arduino: $30 @ the MakerShed
    2. Adafruit Motor Shield: $20 @ the MakerShed
    3. Stepper motors (one for each side): $10-$38/each.  However, which should I buy?!
    4. Servo motor (for pen lifts):  $15-$20.  However, which should I buy?!
    5. Power supply:  There are lots!  Which should I buy?!  Will I need a second to power the steppers?
    6. Since I’m planning to build a working Polargraph style robot using a monofilament spool rather than beaded cord, I’m going to forgo the beaded cord for the moment.  If I need the beaded cord, I can just print the gear/sprockets later. 1

Anyhow, your input on which steppers, servos, and power supplies is greatly appreciated.

Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series
  1. Wanna make a DrawBot?
  2. DrawBot Resources and Links
  3. DrawBot, the Adventure Begins
  4. DrawBots for the slow learner
  5. DrawBot - Parts Ordered!!!
  6. DrawBot - The Breakdown
  7. DrawBot - Parts Shipped!!!
  8. DrawBot - What would you draw?
  9. DrawBot - The Plan!
  10. DrawBot - The Hacks
  11. DrawBot - Giant Unicorn?
  12. DrawBot - The Delivery?
  13. DrawBot - The Delivery, Part II
  14. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part III
  15. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part I
  16. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part IV
  17. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part II
  18. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part III
  19. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part IV
  20. DrawBot – Design Considerations
  21. DrawBot – Halp!!! No - seriously, a little help?
  22. DrawBot – The Face Palm
  23. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part V
  24. DrawBot – The Silver Lining of Failure
  25. DrawBot – The Delivery, Part VI
  26. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part V
  27. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VI
  28. DrawBot – Printed Parts
  29. DrawBot – The Assembly, Part VII
  30. DrawBot – The Operation, Part I
  31. DrawBot – Printing!
  32. DrawBot – Printing, Part II
  33. DrawBot – Why are you crying?
  34. DrawBot – Calibration
  35. DrawBot – Pen Selection
  36. DrawBot – How to Recover from a Stalled Print!
  37. DrawBot – Drawing Success(ish)!!!
  38. DrawBot – Pen Selection, Part II
  39. DrawBot – Onwards and Upwards!
  40. DrawBot – Another Successful(ish) Drawing!, and an Update
  41. Restarting a Stalled DrawBot Drawing
  42. Speedier DrawBot Drawings
  43. Excellent DrawBot Slides
  44. Another Drawing Robot!!!
  45. DrawBot Practice Tip: A Watched Pot
  46. The biggest inkjet printer ever
  47. Why do DrawBots draw on walls?
  48. All New Polargraph on the way!!!
  49. Ideas for improving my DrawBot
  50. DrawBot Aesthetic Re-Design Ideas
  51. The Eagle Has Landed
  52. Every Body Needs a Skull
  53. I think I know what I want to draw next...
  54. This project is not going to overengineer itself
  55. Overengineered Spools
  56. Overengineered Stepper Motor Mounts, Filament Guides
  57. Overengineered Bolt Endcaps, Case Holder
  58. Sourcing DrawBot Parts
  59. DrawBot - A Tour!
  60. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot Poll
  61. Building an Arduino Drawing Robot - On The Cheap
  62. DrawBot - Printed Parts Tour
  63. Arduino Powered Drawing Robot - Take 2 (Or 3)
  64. DrawBot, now ACTUALLY wall mounted!
  65. A Study of Drawing Robot Pen Holders and Design Considerations
  66. Drawing Robot Pen Holders, Calligraphy Pens, and Thought Experiments
  67. Ideal Qualities in a Drawing Robot Pen Holder
  68. Enough talk! Finally a pen holder!
  69. DrawBot Pen Holder Post Mortem
  70. Skipping! How could I forget the skipping?!
  71. PlotterBot at Maker Faire Bay Area 2013!
  72. PlotterBot.com - a new site dedicated to drawing robots
  1. Don’t you just love having your own 3D printing robot?! []

7 Responses to “DrawBot, the Adventure Begins”

  1. kongorilla says:

    You’re going to have lots of fun. I finished my self-sourced polargraph before xmas and was busy printing gifts during the holiday. Everyone who visited and saw my machine asked for a print.

    I’ve been meaning to document my build, but my work queue has been keeping me from hobby stuff. You can find links to pics of my handmade gondola in the comments here:
    -but I expect you’re going to makerbot something instead.

    For me the build wasn’t as hard as finding a good paper/pen combo. I did a lot of experimenting before settling on a pairing that was dependable. I plan to start a thread in the polargraph forum discussing paper and pens.

    Good luck!

  2. MakerBlock says:

    @Kongorilla: I can’t wait! I’m really looking forward to getting started on this project! I hope you won’t mind overmuch if I pester you with questions. :)

  3. whosawhatsis says:

    Motor shield is on sale from MBI for $12 if you wanna save a few bucks and wait longer for shipping.

  4. MakerBlock says:

    @whosawhatsis: ZXOMG!!! How did I miss that?! Yes!

  5. […] Apparently MakerBot has a crazy deal on the Adafruit Motor Shield!  (Thanks to Whosawhatsis) […]

  6. […] No problem!  The “Simple Series” plugin will always update the series lists in each of your posts whenever you publish a new post.  The newest post will always be added to the series in chronological order, by publication date.  You can see an example of what it looks like here in my own DrawBot series. […]

  7. […]   Posts in the DrawBot Adventure Series ← Wanna make a DrawBot?DrawBot, the Adventure Begins → […]