Oct 26, 2015 | By Benedict

An Instructables user going by the name of MakersBox has shared instructions for building a 3D printed, Arduino-powered drawing robot, originally conceived as part of a 10-hour workshop for ChickTech.org. The robot, equipped with a pen in the centre of its body, is able to move around on wheels, drawing shapes on an underlying sheet of paper. The robot is powered by an Adafruit Pro Trinket 3V, using code written with Arduino IDE.

The 3D printed drawing robot takes inspiration from Turtle robots, first introduced in the 1940s, built  low to the ground and perfected by Seymour Papert, co-inventor of the Logo educational programming language in the 1980s. Papert’s Turtle robots, programmed with Logo, were equipped with a pen so that complex “turtle graphics” could be drawn upon a surface by the robot, given a set of position-relative commands.

[Makersbox] decided to take the Turtle robot idea, throw some 3D printing into the mix, and hope that the project would capture the imaginations of budding female programmers and engineers. ChickTech, for whom the maker developed the 3D printed drawing robot project, is a non-profit company “dedicated to retaining women in the technology workforce and increasing the number of women and girls pursuing technology-based careers”. With ChickTech in mind, [MakersBox] sought to devise a project which was both interesting for its participants and achievable on a modest budget. Most importantly, given the novice status of its intended audience, the project had to include relatively simple building and programming steps.

With these factors guiding his choice, [Makersbox] naturally looked towards Arduino, with its user-friendly integrated development environment and code editor. A 4xAA battery power source was used to keep costs low and allow easy off-the-shelf purchase, and a 3D printed chassis was implemented to allow for customisation and personalisation of the drawing robot.

The nifty 3D printed device is driven by an Adafruit Pro Trinket, a pair of steppers (and driver), a micro servo and 4xAA batteries, alongside a bunch of wires, screws, and such. Furthermore, the robot contains eight 3D printed parts, including its impressive-looking chassis and wheels.

Images from Instructables

The robot is programmed using a set of commands relating to its position on a piece of paper. The Trinket can be programmed to move the robot backwards and forwards, rotate it in both directions, and raise and lower the pen (so it needn’t always be drawing). A standard "Turtle" command on the 3D printed drawing robot is written with the following code:

  • forward(distance); // millimeters
  • backward(distance);
  • left(angle); // degrees
  • right(angle);
  • penup();
  • pendown();
  • done(); // release stepper to save battery

This simple set of commands allows for a great deal artistic potential. Although some patterns are easier to master than others, the robot is able to perform a range of tasks, such as drawing a snowflake, writing a sentence, or simply doodling neat vector patterns as the earliest Turtle robots did.

Although this model was built with a miniature Adafruit Trinket, the maker suggests that a regular Arduino (or even a Raspberry Pi) could be used if a larger chassis was assembled. This would allow for even further creative potential. Have a go at building your own, using the guide over at Instructables.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Rocco Varuolo wrote at 2/20/2017 2:55:48 PM:

Hi, can you port the logo language to this robot instead of the ARDUINO IDE? Thank you.

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