Our first assignment in XYZ was to build an XY plotter using an existing kit. Easy enough, right? Knowing that we were given two weeks to actually complete the assignment, my teammates, Zsaknor Powe and Zohreh Zadbood, and I adjusted our expectations accordingly.
The machine we built is an XY plotter. It reads G-code sent from a PC and translates it into movements of a pen. The machine itself is made from aluminum extrusions, similar to those used in window manufacturing, steel shafts, two stepper motors to control the print head, and one servo motor to raise and lower the pen. There is also a micro-controller limit switches and some other components I wasn’t familiar with.
Our efforts began easily enough. The instructions were mostly depicted in a friendly axonometric view, not unlike those used in Lego instructions. Our first challenge arose when we were required to use some of the various screws included. Of course, they weren’t labeled at all. We then had to go through, measure their lengths and label them correctly, always keeping in mind that they may have given us just the bare minimum numbers of hardware.
Over three work sessions, we carefully followed the instructions overlooking the numerous inaccuracies somehow intuiting their intent.
Having a fully built version ultimately came in handy as we could compare some of the more confusing parts of the build.
After a few fits and starts, we were fortunately able to get the machine to run and actually draw something.
As a final touch, we tossed the foam feet that were included in the kit and went with some rubber feet I had lying around in my toolbox. These felt much more secure.