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If you find yourself debating between a pen plotter or laser engraver, this project by Patrick Panikulam lets you have the best of both worlds in style. The DIY device pulls a writing instrument in the X-axis using a belt-driven overhead system, while the base itself moves in the Y direction.

Motion is handled by an Arduino Uno, along with a CNC shield and two A4988 drivers that actuate modified 28BYJ-48 steppers. The shield also outputs laser control signals, which are converted into PWM signals for the lifting servo when in pen mode. 

It’s an extremely clean build, and even features a Bluetooth module for wireless communication with your computer. Panikulam provides more details here if you’d like to create your own!

A couple of months back while checking out a few laser engravers on aliexpress, I came across some USB powered laser engravers. It was awesome that these could engrave on a variety of materials and also cut out shapes and designs from sticker sheets and paper and doing all this powered by a 5V USB supply. But the downside of these engravers was that they had a small work area, in most cases just 40mm X 40mm which is definitely way too small for my needs.

So I thought why not design and 3D print my own laser engraver from scratch. I started the designing process in Fusion 360 while keeping in mind all the 3D printing tolerances. And finally came up with something really cool. Along the way, I decided to make the laser holder modular so that I can easily replace the laser with a pen or marker for pen plotting. I also added a Bluetooth connectivity feature so that wired connection between your PC and the engraver can be eliminated while transmitting G-codes.

While computer printers are readily available, if you’d like a plotting device that drags a pen, marker, or whatever you need across paper to create images, your options are more limited. To fill this gap, studioprogettiperduti has come up with the d.i.d, or Deep Ink Diver.

This scalable pen plotter uses a frame made out of 3D-printed parts, as well as aluminum extrusion, which could be lengthened to support the size of paper that you need. A timing belt pulls the writing carriage back and forth, while a roller advances the paper. 

Control is handled by an Arduino Uno and a CNC shield, with a version of grbl that accommodates a servo used to lift the pen.

The materials and electronics used for the plotter are all standard and easy to source. The main frame is made of aluminum extrusion and 3D-printed connections. The motors are all standard NEMA 17 stepper motors and a single SG-90 servo motor. Everything is driven by a cheap Arduino Uno control board that handles the transition from g-code to movement. Furthermore, the software used to create G-code, Inkscape, is open source as well.

There’s nothing quite like building something to your own personal specifications. It’s why desktop 3D printers are such a powerful tool, and why this scalable plotter from the [Lost Projects Office] is so appealing. You just print out the end pieces and then pair it with rods of your desired length. If you’ve got some unusually large computer-controlled scribbling in mind, this is the project for you.

The design, which the team calls the Deep Ink Diver (d.i.d) is inspired by another plotter that [JuanGg] created. While the fundamentals are the same, d.i.d admittedly looks quite a bit more polished. In fact, if your 3D printed parts look good enough, this could probably pass for a commercial product.

For the electronics, the plotter uses an Arduino Uno and a matching CNC Shield. Two NEMA 17 stepper motors are used for motion: one to spin the rod that advances the paper, and the other connected to a standard GT2 belt and pulley to move the pen back and forth.

We particularly like the way [Lost Projects Office] handled lifting the pen off the paper. In the original design a solenoid was used, which took a bit of extra circuitry to drive from the CNC Shield. But for the d.i.d, a standard SG90 servo is used to lift up the arm that the pen is attached to. A small piece of elastic puts tension on the assembly so it will drop back down when the servo releases.

If this plotter isn’t quite what you’re after, don’t worry. There’s more where that came from. We’ve seen a number of very interesting 3D printed plotters that are just begging for a spot in your OctoPrint queue.

In this three part video series we watch [Dirk Herrendoerfer] go from scraps to a nice 3D printed assembly as he iterates through the design of a pen plotter for making circuit boards.

[dana] mentioned [Dirk]’s work in the comments of this post which describes a different process. Many permanent markers stick to copper well enough to last through the chemical etching process. While hand drawing definitely produces some cool, organic-looking boards, for sharp lines and SMDs it gets a bit harder; to the point where it becomes advisable to just let a robot do it.

Of course, [Dirk] was aware of this fact of life. He just didn’t have a robot on hand. He did have some electronic detritus, fishing line, an Arduino, scrap wood, brass tubes, and determination.  The first version‘s frame consisted of wooden blocks set on their ends with holes drilled to accept brass rods. The carriage was protoboard and hot glue. Slightly larger brass tubing served as bushings and guide. As primitive as it was the plotter performed admirably, albeit slowly.

The second version was a mechanical improvement over the first, but largely the same. The software got a nice improvement. It worked better and had some speed to it.

The latest version has some fancy software upgrades; such as acceleration. The frame has gone from random bits of shop trash to a nicely refined 3D printed assembly. Even the steppers have been changed to the popular 28BYJ-48 series. All the files, software and hardware, are available on GitHub. The three videos are viewable after the break. It’s a great example of what a good hacker can put together for practically no money.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, cnc hacks

In this three part video series we watch [Dirk Herrendoerfer] go from scraps to a nice 3D printed assembly as he iterates through the design of a pen plotter for making circuit boards.

[dana] mentioned [Dirk]’s work in the comments of this post which describes a different process. Many permanent markers stick to copper well enough to last through the chemical etching process. While hand drawing definitely produces some cool, organic-looking boards, for sharp lines and SMDs it gets a bit harder; to the point where it becomes advisable to just let a robot do it.

Of course, [Dirk] was aware of this fact of life. He just didn’t have a robot on hand. He did have some electronic detritus, fishing line, an Arduino, scrap wood, brass tubes, and determination.  The first version‘s frame consisted of wooden blocks set on their ends with holes drilled to accept brass rods. The carriage was protoboard and hot glue. Slightly larger brass tubing served as bushings and guide. As primitive as it was the plotter performed admirably, albeit slowly.

The second version was a mechanical improvement over the first, but largely the same. The software got a nice improvement. It worked better and had some speed to it.

The latest version has some fancy software upgrades; such as acceleration. The frame has gone from random bits of shop trash to a nicely refined 3D printed assembly. Even the steppers have been changed to the popular 28BYJ-48 series. All the files, software and hardware, are available on GitHub. The three videos are viewable after the break. It’s a great example of what a good hacker can put together for practically no money.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks, cnc hacks

As someone who started using computers in the last century, I find the current resurgence of pen plotters somewhat nostalgic. The difference, of course, is that this century it is easier to make your own, which is what [Miguel Sanchez] is doing.

Inspired by the Axidraw, he is making his own pen plotter. He’s made great progress so far, creating a design that looks quite simple to build. His design is driven by an Arduino Uno with a stepper shield, a couple of NEMA 17 stepper motors and a servo to raise and lower the pen. Throw in a few rods, a belt or two and a number of 3D printed parts, and you’ve got a decent looking pen plotter.

He originally started with laser cut components, but shifted over to 3D printing as the design evolved. It’s not as fancy as the HP pen plotter I used to print out rude words in giant letters with in my youth (a HP7475, I think), but it is a neat build. Check it in action in the video below.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks


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