Desktop Plotter

Discussion in 'Finished Projects' started by Mario, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Mario

    Mario Gin-Choobinest Member Staff Member

    After I saw Brunoip's printer, I really wanted to make something like that for myself. So I decided to make a plotter, heavily basing the design off Bruno's project.


    It has a 1.5x1.5 inch printing area, or 120x120 pixels. Here's a quick WIP overview:

    The casings of all the CD and floppy drives I went through:

    Beginning stages of the carriage and pen holder. The gear assembly was the opening mechanism for a CD drive. The sliding assembly was made with bent N64 heatsink, floppy drive read head sliding assemblies, and plastic. (Though that part isn't shown here.) I bought some plastics epoxy for this project - it was a godsend.
    Also, tip - if you're working with a soft material like plastic of aluminum, you can usually drill a hole and just use the screw to tap it. That's what I did for all the tapped holes in this project, and it works very well.

    The motor assembly is held with a spring and a loose screw. This keeps it stable, but lets the assembly give a little when the pen hits the paper.

    Had to buy $5 worth of hardware for the x and y axes. Total project cost: $5.

    Prototyping the motor control circuitry. A MOSFET turns the motor on and off, and another controls a DPDT relay that reverses current to the motor. Because everything else ran off 5v and the relay was 12v, I grabbed a TI step-up regulator I had laying around for a long time and used that just for driving the relay.

    Close up of the installed control board. The right-angle header on the right is for the pen motor, the big header here is for the parallel port, and the small header goes to the floppy drive boards.

    Close up of the whole pen assembly. The switch detects when the pen holder has gone down far enough, and signals the computer to reverse the motor. You can also see the pen holder I detailed earlier.

    And the tray to hold the paper. You can see one of the two metal clips used to keep it from moving:

    Here's a few examples of how the prints turn out:

    At 80dpi, it can make some pretty small stuff. I need a better pen for that, though, because ballpoints don't work so well when you just tap them on stuff, and the ultra-fine Sharpie is too big and bleeds everywhere. The lines turned out rather wavy on that mini Twilight for some reason, but it does the fine stuff very well usually.


    This is one of my favorites, printed on the back of my school ID:

    Obligatory Palmer. The spiral above him was printed with the "Ballpoint Mode" in my software, where it puts the pen down, moves it forward and back one step, then lifts it. It makes much darker points at the cost of some smudginess.

    That's it! If you have any questions, please ask.
  2. Prog

    Prog Not a Meme™ Staff Member

    Can you somehow make it vector or something so that it can do smooth curves?
  3. Mario

    Mario Gin-Choobinest Member Staff Member

    Unfortunately, no, not unless I get better stepper drivers. Ones that could do like 1/4 steps or something. The resolution just isn't good enough with these driver boards and steppers.
  4. ttsgeb

    ttsgeb Breaker of Everything Staff Member

    You have an amazing school ID.
  5. unicycler17

    unicycler17 Well-Known Member

    That is so amazing.
  6. nterror

    nterror Well-Known Member

    This is really cool! I need to make one of these for myself.
  7. public-pervert

    public-pervert Well-Known Member

    Very nice!
    Robotics is my another passion. I need to start something soon.
  8. brunoip

    brunoip Modder Extraordinaire

    Pretty awesome, I like it.
    I guess that palmers face took ages for being printed, lots of dots.
    Was my soft any useful?
  9. Mario

    Mario Gin-Choobinest Member Staff Member

    Thanks, guys!

    Bruno - Yeah, Palmer's face took a grand total of 23 minutes to print. XD I could make it a bit faster if I had it read data ahead and go to the next line when there's no more dots to be printed on the current line, but that would require a lot more programming that I don't really feel like doing. Maybe someday.

    I did use your software for a while, until I was doing more research and found a way to convert BMP's to a form of text that QBasic can read. So yeah, it was helpful, but I don't use it as much any more. :(
  10. DK

    DK Donkey>King

    Saw it on Hackaday and got momentarily weirded out by Palmer's face being there.
  11. Prog

    Prog Not a Meme™ Staff Member

    I guess that would be one way of getting on hackaday...
  12. nkiki2000

    nkiki2000 Newb

    i want to make one of these but i cant figure out how to do it in 2 different ways

    1.i just cant figure out the pin-out of my servos
    2. i want to do this using my arduino does any one know how to control the servos with the arduinio

    thanks for the help (if someone helps) and can you give me and idea of the code ill have to do im kind of a arduino noob : :lol:
  13. cheese

    cheese Member

    Kinda an old post, but this might help. A quick Google of servo lead me to the arduino servo reference page, which answers both questions. ;)

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