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.
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.
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.