Sourcing DrawBot Parts

This can be a surprisingly good place to shop for robot parts

This can be a surprisingly good place to shop for robot parts

I’ve previously discussed sourcing the main electronic components for a drawing robot.1 Since there’s more to a robot than just the electronics that make it work, I thought I would list my other resources in one place.

  • Electronics.  The electronics are the brain and heart of this project.  There’s really only two parts that could not be found or scavenged – these parts being the Arduino and the Adafruit Motor Shield.
  • Project Box. I’m using a long thin pine box left over after a huge catering party platter order. Frankly, you could mount the parts on nearly anything – a 2×4 or a nice custom box – it’s entirely up to you.  Heck, you could even screw these parts directly into a wall if you were feeling particularly adventurous.

  • Structural Parts.  Besides these main components, it’s really really useful to have a 3D printer to manufacture all the parts necessary to make it all work.  Motor mounts, spools, etc.  If you had a laser cutter or a ton of quick-set plastic, you could probably fabricate perfectly serviceable parts.  The parts I’ve designed are ideally suited for my own project, could be modified for your own project, or you could just design some parts from scratch.
  • Hardware.  There are also all the little bits of hardware to hold everything together.  I still have a ton of M3x16 bolts and M3 nuts left over from building a Cupcake CNC and Thing-O-Matic.  Besides these M3x16 bolts and M3 nuts, I did use two screwhead M3x16 bolts to hold the Polargraph case in place and eight M3x8 bolts to attach the two motors to the mounts.
    • McMaster has a truly amazing website.  Even if you want to build a drawing robot and have zero parts on hand, you could pick up all the hardware you need from them super-cheaply.  Update:  The only thing I don’t care for about their website is that they don’t have a way of getting an estimate on shipping.  Among McMaster’s virtues is their amazingly responsive customer support.  I just asked them for a shipping estimate on these parts and they got right back to me.  You could pick up a set of 100 nuts, 100 M3x16 bolts, and 100 M3x8 bolts for about $6.  This is an absolute bargain for way more nuts and bolts than you’ll ever need for this project.
    • Chances are if you really had to you could use whatever bits of hardware you can find lying around your place.  I’ve seen examples of similar drawing robots using zip ties to hold the motors in place.
  • Electronic Bits.  I still need to track down some rainbow colored ribbon cable and connectors.  While I do actually have all the pieces of scrap around my home to finish the robot right now, I don’t want to do this half-way.  I want to use a rainbow ribbon cable because (a) I need to extend the motor leads to reach the circuit board, (b) it would be very helpful to have each lead color coded separately, and (c) they’re really pretty.  As for the wire connectors, all the other parts to my setup are very modular and it would be very nice to have the electronic connections just as modular.  After searching around, I found that Sparkfun has all the little pieces I need to finish this project.

I recently had a very unsatisfactory experience trying to source some parts locally, so I”ll be placing an order for some ribbon cable and jumper wires from Sparkfun.

  1. Photo courtesy of Jes []
  2. This is the type I have left over from building my MakerBots []

One Response to “Sourcing DrawBot Parts”

  1. […] a few more days yet before I can completely finish the drawing robot.  I still need to order some rainbow ribbon cable and connects, wire up the motors, and then actually draw something with the brand spanking new PolargraphSD […]

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