Drawing with the Makeblock XY Plotter

Drawing with the Makeblock XY Plotter

In my search to find a good, modern drawing plotter I recently purchased a Makeblock XY Plotter kit. It is a step up from the Plotterbot which was simple and easy to build but very unsteady and only had a drawing area of about five square centimetres.

The Makeblock plotter is a fairly straighforward to put together but the instructions are at some points difficult to follow and I found myself searching through the forums for help. Furthermore, the pin numbers on the microcontroller differ from the published firmware.

Makeblock XY plotter in action Makeblock XY plotter in action Makeblock XY plotter in action

To create a drawing on the Makeblock plotter I generated the instructions algorithmically in Python using the pixel values of a source image. This control code (G-code) is written to file and then send to the plotter device on a serial port using node.js.

A drawing made with the Makeblock XY plotter

The end result shows that there are still teething problems that need to be addressed: the paper moves rather too easily under pressure from the pen; one of the stepper motors seems to lose accuracy over a few degrees every turn; the pressure of the pen against the paper is controlled by a rubber band. For a rather expensive self build project the Makeblock plotter is a somewhat fragile mechanism and bad design. Next I plan to build the much cheaper open source alternative Cartesio.