One of our members, Jeremy Rans, is currently working on a hanging pen plotter, i.e. a machine that draws on a vertical surface with a suspended pen. The inspiration for the project came from this article on Hackaday. The parts being used include two NEMA-17 stepper motors for controlling the X-Y position of the pen, two EasyDriver stepper drivers, a servo for lifting the pen on and off the drawing surface, and an Arduino Uno for controlling the motors.
The main goal of the project is to make a plotter that can be easily attached to a wall-mounted whiteboard of any size. Most vertical plotters rely on the drawing surface being slightly inclined so that gravity applies the force necessary for the pen to write. Since that’s not really an option with wall-mounted whiteboards, magnets will be used to hold the pen against the board. The plotter will draw using G-Code instructions, a common choice for this type of device.
So far, most of the work done that has been done has been on the software. That includes the Arduino sketch for driving the motors, for which the AccelStepper library has been very helpful. AccelStepper allows for the stepper motors to be driven concurrently which cuts down on a lot of the math that would be involved in having to drive the motors one at a time. The other part of the software is a simple python program for reading in G-Code instructions and telling the Arduino how many steps each motor will need to take to satisfy each instruction. The software was recently tested with a quickly hacked together plotter which can be seen in action in the video below.
With most of the programming work out of the way, the current focus is on the design of the pen holder, the motor mounts & the line guides. The line guides are basically magnetic hooks that the suspension line will run through at the upper left and right corners of the desired drawing area. This allows for the motors & other electronics to remain close together.
Stay tuned for a future update in which we’ll feature the finished product!
For those of you who have built a robot kit with me at Saskatoon Techworks, I will be holding the first programming workshop on December 13th, 12-3PM. If you are available and plan to attend, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please bring your robot, and if possible, a laptop.
Earlier this summer, Techworks was approached by the group OPEN, who wanted our help building an art installation for the upcoming Nuit Blanche art festival. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of Albert La, the result is SoundCloud.
Physically, SoundCloud is a suspended undulating paper cloud which creates a landscape composed of clustered paper forms. The modular paper shapes are folded from reused and discarded architectural drawings, making use of the medium used to create structures, recycled as material which forms the basis of the structure for the installation. The overhanging cloud works to creates an immersive environment at the plane of the ceiling, leaving the floor clear for viewers to wander the Storefront and interact with SoundCloud above. Idle when sound levels are low in the room, SoundCloud is dark while it waits, pulsing occasionally in anticipation and enticing passerbys to take notice. Once somebody moves through the room and sound is detected from the shuffling of feet or the sound of voices, SoundCloud illuminates in the area in which it senses sound below it.
SoundCloud will be on display from September 12 – October 22, 2014 at the storefront gallery, 224 20th Street West, Saskatoon. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 5 pm and Saturdays 10am – 4pm. The opening reception will be held Friday, September 12th at 7pm.
We’re ridiculously excited about the success of Rylan’s Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign for the Peachy Printer. He was able to raise just over $700,000 which will go towards R&D of the printer and, eventually, production of nearly 5,000 Peachy Printers for backers. We’ll be posting periodic updates here regarding his progress, but for the news as it happens you should check out his website, http://www.peachyprinter.com. Also worth noting is that The Peachy Printer currently holds the title of “Most Funded Canadian Kickstarter Ever” as mentioned in the Kickstarter blog. Let’s see how long he can hold that title for!
This is a really impressive project put together by one of our members, Rylan Grayston. It’s a motion camera rig that is fully controlled using Blender 3D, an open-source 3d modeling and animation software. If the video below isn’t enough for you, you can read more about it here or here.
Last year, one of our members purchased a laser cutter of questionable quality off of eBay. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by what the machine is able to do, and over the last year we’ve been constantly improving the machine. Our latest improvement is that of a proper water cooling system for the laser to replace the “snow cooled” system we’d been using all winter.
For more details on this project, head over to our forum.
Over the weekend, a couple of our members put together this Raspberry Pi powered relay whose purpose will be to trigger a buzzer in a shop with highly regimented work times. The Pi will keep time using NTP to stay in sync with the shop’s timeclock.
For more details on this project, head to our forum.