Drawing Machine Kit

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 gantry is coming together.

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.

The print head is supported by two shafts which are supported, in turn, by another two on the periphery.

Over three work sessions, we carefully followed the instructions overlooking the numerous inaccuracies somehow intuiting their intent.

The pen holder is pulled up by a servo motor and counter balanced by the most technologically advanced part of this build, a rubber band.

Having a fully built version ultimately came in handy as we could compare some of the more confusing parts of the build.

The control panels are exposed in this build. No enclosures to speak of.
Completely wired up and ready to go.

After a few fits and starts, we were fortunately able to get the machine to run and actually draw something.

Our own little addition, an upgraded version of the foam feet that were included in the kit.

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.


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