Printable Polargraphs and Drawing Machines

Posted by on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Polargraphs are basically really cool drawing robots that have been designed by Sandy Noble, a programmer and artist.  If you’ve never seen one in action, now’s your chance. 1  Imagine a slow spider crawling around a wall and drawing at the same time.  A microcontroller operates two motors which reel in and out a line which is attached to a pen.  As the pen swings back and forth, it draws in a precise pattern to draw whatever you’ve programmed it to draw.  While very slow, it can cover a really huge drawing area that is pretty much only limited by the amount of string you set it up with and the ink reservoir of your chosen pen.

Thingiverse citizen and prolific printer John Abella recently created a printable gondola to hold the Polargraph’s drawing pen.  The Polargraph requires a bunch of stock off-the-shelf parts and some custom lasercut acrylic and wood bits.  By using a 3D printer to create these assemblies, you’re reducing the need for custom lasercut parts, fasteners, and the assembly time that would normally go into their construction.

Noble’s work reminded me of a similar project by Chicago artist Harvey Moon who showed off his work on “The Drawing Machine” at the recent Maker Faire.  Using a similar cable driven microcontroller controlled2 pen drawing machine, Moon’s robot draws the same image differently each time!  Thus, each drawing is a unique little snowflake of arbitrary drawing machine coolness!

There are other equally impressive variations on drawing wall robots in the form of the Hektor, which draws with spray paint cans, the Drawbot by AS220 Labs, and Der Kritzler by Alexander Weber.  Alexander’s website provides a number of links to the websites of similar projects, if you’re looking for more information.

Also, thanks to John Abella for patiently answering my questions and pointing out additional resources!

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  1. Cue video! []
  2. Redundant?  Perhaps. []
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One Comment so far

  • Benbo231
    October 20, 2011 at 6:47 am

    If I’m not mistaken, you can skip the electrical-tape tie offs for those Mardi-Gras beads. I’ve found that simply twisting the beads together is quite sturdy, maybe even more so than the black tape.


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