My DIY plotter is able to plot on a A4 format. A friend of mine noticed that any drawing that can be plotted on an A4 sheet of paper can be also printed on using a traditional printer, and thus the plotter does not enable making innovative creations.
So I asked myself what my plotter can make that a traditional printer cannot? (I mean, without adding a laser )
Can I put a sheet of paper in a printer? Yes.
Can I put a sheet of cardboard in a printer? Not in any printer.
Can I put a Lego brick in a printer? Definitely no!
The idea is to draw on a sheet of Lego bricks, which “enables” creating a Lego puzzle. Using Lego it is easy to convert the sheet into a desktop portrait.
I made a test creating a Homer Jay Simpson Lego puzzle/portrait.
Lego puzzle/portrait, before being plotted.
Lego puzzle/portrait, before being plotted, rear view.
I have finally managed to edit the video of my DIY plotter, I hope you enjoy it!
As you can see from the video, I have put the electronic inside the scanner, and I have improved the pen holder. I have also found an acceptable solution for cables of steppers, and added a reset/halt button.
DIY plotter, Arduino and grblShield inside the scanner body
DIY plotter closed. The red pin is the reset/halt button.
Now the plotter is a self-contained device, with just USB and power plugs (Arduino is power by the USB, the grblShield by a 12V 3.3A power source got from an old monitor).
Links and downloads
To sum up the experience of building this plotter I want to list all the resources that have been useful/necessary for me to complete it. I will follow the direction that goes from having the idea of plotting my “John Moses Olano” picture to actually having it plotted on a piece of paper.
A picture of John Moses Olano (yes, it’s me with a John Fitzgerald Kennedy/Barack Hussein Obama/Franklin Delano Roosevelt/George Walker Bush -style name).
The Z axis: the head movement unit of a floppy disk drive (though I have explored other possibilities), which supports the pen.
All this stuff to draw something on a piece of paper. Something that I could have done with a printer in 20 seconds!
The fun, the satisfaction, the true experience is not in reaching the goal, it is in the travel you do to reach the goal. And this has been a very nice travel, during which I have learnt many new things and met many nice persons.
While playing Lego with my daughters I tried to figure out a possible solution based on Lego, and I quickly came out with this design:
It uses a large rubber wheel to transfer the rotation (demultiplying it) to a steering component that converts rotation into the up/down movement. The movement is not perfectly linear, but the approximation is fully acceptable, since the pen needs just a millimeter of vertical motion to detach itself from the paper.
The stepper is firmly held in position just by bricks.
The pen holder is made of the plastic part of two wheels and a rubber band. It is pretty solid and the rubber band helps to keep some pressure between the pen and the paper, when the pen is down.
While it is perfectly working I’m not going to use it in the plotter, because (i) it is not compact, (ii) it does not blend with the rest of the plotter (it is better fit for a completely Lego-based project), and (iii) I don’t want to steal “forever” these bricks from my daughters’ constructions.
I’m working on a solution based on a floppy disk drive that seems promising.
I have finished the hardware part for the two main axes of my DIY plotter project. The main axis is based on a relatively old scanner. The scanning head, with electronics removed and properly reinforced, is the support for the … Continue reading →