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Video, try it yourself

I've made a video showing how it works. My camera unfortunately cut it off after a few mins, but the idea should be clear. There are other movies from earlier revisions of the hardware/software too. And yes, the plotter is slow but precise.

For the people who want to copy my setup: Due to the random parts ripped from hardware I had around, I can't exactly give you a step-by-step howto. If you know php and can program an AVR, you can probably make sense of the source-code, which can be downloaded here.

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24 comments

Wayne wrote at 30 Nov 2011, 0.41:

how long do your pens last with the cap off?

Jeremy Harton wrote at 29 Apr 2010, 23.47:

You should change the mechanics into a cnc/laser cutter like idea. That is, to make it a bit like a scanner where it can slide on bars. In that case it can move very, very neatly and specifically. It would need a head with it's own x-y axis so it could write letters without being a dot matrix white erase board. Although it would need to be able to slide all the way off the board so that the board could be used by hand as well. At least that it wouldn't involve dangling,swinging weight and jerky writing. It would also be able to draw pictures and if you improved the web interface, it could be used to draw pictures from a remote user's tablet or load pictures from a site. With some more software it could draw scaled up schematics and other pictures from websites.

shridhar nakade wrote at 8 Aug 2009, 6.19:

actually we have our mega project as wall crawling plotter . In which the ckt diagram as well as its hardware its too hard to understand so i need help in that. Email ID:- shridharnakade@yahoomail.com

Not Important wrote at 16 Jun 2009, 1.11:

Journeyer made a HG2G reference... I'm now happier...

Journeyer wrote at 30 Jun 2008, 13.43:

Just wanted to say... whomsholly glabbergurby splutterfligghop slartibartfast 42

Sharrei wrote at 19 May 2008, 21.35:

That is awesome... How do I write on it?

carter wrote at 8 May 2008, 18.32:

ah. there should probably be some sort of "comment posted" notification since new comments aren't posted within view of the entry form.

carter wrote at 8 May 2008, 18.32:

Rig it up to a camera and have it draw chuck close style portraits. You have a very unfriendly captcha system.

carter wrote at 8 May 2008, 18.31:

Rig it up to a camera and have it draw Chuck Close style portraits.

carter wrote at 8 May 2008, 18.30:

Rig it up to a camera and have it draw Chuck Close style portraits.

DeadlyDad wrote at 5 May 2008, 21.06:

What an awesomely simple/simply awesome project! A few notes: 1) If you hang the weights inside a piece of PVC pipe, they won't swing and the whole thing will look more polished. 2) If you connect cables to the bottom corners of the head, down to pulleys at the bottom corners, then up to pulleys at the top, then finally to weights, it should steady the head better. 3) It shouldn't be difficult to expand the head to use multiple markers, so you can draw in color. Instead of a solenoid for each pen, you could a) mount the pens in a circle b) have a stepper motor/servo in the center with a disc with one tooth c) mount the motor/disc on a solenoid When switching pens, the solenoid is released, the disc is rotated so that the tooth is above the proper pen, and then the solenoid pushes the disc/tooth/pen down. (The software would need to calculate the physical offset of each pen.) This same method would work just as well for different thickness of pen. For example '114' might be 'fine blue', while '714' might be 'fat blue'. Personally, though, I would measure the width of the line in mm and use the (00-99)RGB value of a square of each marker as the WWRRGGBB number for each pen. It's a bit more prep work, but will make it easier to program. Another way to do it would be to create a holder for each pen that would lock together with the other holders in a line. You could have different size holders for different sized pens. The holders don't have to be anything more complicated than plastic tubing attached to a stack of three plastic sheets offset in a tongue-and-groove setup. A special piece with a copper pad would attach to each end of the strip to electrically indicate each end. That way, you could easily have from 1-XX pens, without needing to make any changes except adding/removing holders. Instead of the motor rotating a disc, it would have a gear that would slide the strip of pens back and forth to put the proper pen in place. No matter which way you decide to go, by telling the software the WRGB number of each pen as you put them in place, it could decide on its own which color/width of pen to use. 4) If you have a metal whiteboard, you could mount rare-earth magnets to keep it firmly attached to the board and use the nibs of ballpoint pens on outriggers (to keep them as far from the fresh ink as possible) as microbearing spacers to keep it from smearing the ink. If the whiteboard isn't metal, you could have a separate, flat, synced head on the back of the board with magnets mounted on it.

Mixadj wrote at 4 May 2008, 2.36:

About the camera. Try a tused Playstation eyetoy. You can buy one for around $5.00 USD a a gaming store, and its a pretty high quality web cam. Just have to get some drivers, but you can google for how to get those.

Bob wrote at 1 May 2008, 21.49:

Pppp plotter, Pppp plotter, you CAN plot anywhere, including there, and there, and there! :)

jonny wrote at 1 May 2008, 7.18:

hey- check out the Hektor spray paint robot... http://www.hektor.ch/

Woeka wrote at 30 Apr 2008, 10.37:

The board needs cleaning ;)

Sigg3.net wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 18.28:

Very impressive! :) Not sure if it's a long queue or what, but text does not appear. Still I must say I'm really impressed.

DarkAnt wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 16.59:

This is really awesome! I agree, the precision is much more than I expected.

Joseph wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 14.35:

That is great, i love abnormal uses of everyday things. It reminds me of this project: http://www.hektor.ch/ I noticed that at the end of a line move the often starts to wobble, in the hektor project they calculated a path that minimizes shaking, i don't know if that applies to your project or not. Anyway, Great Job!

James wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 13.26:

That's really cool :) I work in a school, we have interactive whiteboards connected to teacher PCs in our classrooms. A projector shines the PC's screen at the whiteboard, and special pens allow people to draw on the board, with it being stored in the computer.

mike wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 7.31:

i love the idea of a magnet to keep the bouncing to a minimum. i was thinking of modifying this to a nice, large scale vinyl cutter. going horizontal instead of vertical would reduce skipping/bouncing, and adding springs to the "bottom" corners should simulate gravity.

Daniel wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 5.10:

if you add a small magnet to the end of the perspex rod (maybe with a small point to prevent erasures) you could reduce the bouncing. (this is of course assuming that your whiteboard is magnetic.)

Cool wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 5.09:

The NFL uses this sort of idea for the fly-over cameras in the Superbowl. It would be interesting to see 4 stepper motors (because the lower down on the board, the less control you'll have, because of the length of the strings) one in each corner. that way, you could control the tautness more precisely?

Tim wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 4.52:

hack the planet!

Lars Friend wrote at 29 Apr 2008, 4.49:

Wow, that is pretty nifty! I am very surprised by how precice it really is, to use such a small font.

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