Category Archives: AxiDraw

The AxiDraw MiniKit 2

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Today we are introducing a major refresh of the smallest member of the AxiDraw family of pen plotters: the new AxiDraw MiniKit 2. The AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is our special compact DIY-kit version of the AxiDraw lineup.

AxiDraw MiniKit 2

Versus the original AxiDraw MiniKit, the MiniKit 2 has been redesigned for easier assembly, better precision, and higher performance. The key change is that the long linear rail that forms the base of the machine — a custom aluminum extrusion in the original — has been replaced with a solid bar of 6061-T6 aluminum, machined in the same precision process as our top-of-the-line AxiDraw SE/A3, and then anodized to a satin-silver finish. This change simplifies a number of the assembly steps, but more importantly has a cleaner overall look and tighter manufacturing tolerances for improved precision.

AxiDraw MiniKit
In addition to be being “Mini”, the MiniKit 2 is also still a kit.

Unlike other models of the AxiDraw family like AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw SE/A3 (which come assembled, tested, and ready to use), the AxiDraw MiniKit 2 is a machine that you assemble yourself.

We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build, own, and use.

AxiDraw MiniKit

The new version is also heavier than the old one, which helps it to stay stable on your desk at higher speeds and gives it a small boost in effective speed, in addition to the upgrades in precision. Small but sturdy, The MiniKit 2 is built with machined parts, just one custom aluminum extrusion now, attention to detail, and care.

The AxiDraw MiniKit

AxiDraw MiniKit

Today we are introducing a brand new member of the AxiDraw family of pen plotters: the AxiDraw MiniKit.

AxiDraw MiniKit
The AxiDraw MiniKit is a special compact addition to the AxiDraw lineup.

Designed for lighter-duty applications, It takes up less desk space and less storage space. With a plotting area of just 6 × 4 inches (150 × 100 mm), it’s small enough to take with you, or to fit into places where bigger machines can’t.

AxiDraw MiniKit
In addition to be being “Mini”, it is also a kit.

Unlike other models of the AxiDraw family like AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw SE/A3 (which come assembled, tested, and ready to use), the AxiDraw MiniKit is a machine that you assemble yourself.

We’ve taken great care in designing a kit that is rewarding to build and to own.

AxiDraw MiniKit

And of course, it’s an AxiDraw, and performs like one. Small but sturdy, it’s built with custom aluminum extrusions, machined parts, attention to detail, and care.

From the mailbag: Geometry with AxiDraw

Mark from MN wrote in to say:

I persuaded my school district’s community foundation to buy an AxiDraw for me to use with my high school geometry students. It’s SO GREAT! These kiddos are seeing their 2D creations come to life because of AxiDraw, which is a great motivator for their future studies (either computers or mathematics or art or all/some of the above).

We’ve written about how AxiDraw gets used in the classroom before, and we love hearing from teachers who are using it. Thanks for the note, Mark!

From plottertwitter: a first painting

Corey Haber just posted a clip of his AxiDraw finishing its first painting:

Featured artist: Michael Fogleman

Drawing of lots of small coils titled Spiral Galaxies

Michael Fogleman is an active member of the plotter art community. His twitter feed often contains either new art, or links to new tools that he has made.

He has created and shared some incredible resources, including a wide variety of vector art tools and even an alternate Python library for AxiDraw.

Drawing of a protein diagram displayed at the Plotter People Meetup

I am a fan of science as an art subject, and Michael’s protein ribbon diagram drawings are a great example. A ribbon diagram depicts the 3D structure of the protein as well as the common secondary structures of helixes, strands, and coils.

In addition to making the drawings, he has a twitter bot that publishes ribbon diagrams and has published the code for the project. This ribbon diagram was one that we got to see at the Plotter People meetup in San Francisco.

Drawing of Galaga

Michael hits another of my weaknesses, vintage gaming with his NES Sparklines drawings.

For these drawings, I use an NES emulator (of my own creation) to record a snapshot of the Nintendo’s RAM at each frame (60 fps). The NES only had 2048 bytes of RAM. For each address in memory, I plot its values over time as an individual sparkline. I only show addresses that changed at least once, so there are usually fewer than 2048 sparklines. Because each game developer used the memory in different ways, each game produces its own unique look when plotted.

MOS 6502 processor drawing

He also plotted something dear to our hearts (and close to the heart of the NES), the MOS 6502 processor.

Topographic map of Mount St. Helens

One subject that I’ve often thought appropriate for plotting are maps, and Michael’s topographic maps are elegant. Again, in addition to making drawings, he has provided his code for working with AWS terrain data as well.

Drawings of the Stanford bunny

Michael sells drawings, and accepts commissions for favorite NES games, proteins, map regions, and even cellular automata. He has projects on wide ranging subjects, not limited to pen plotters, so go check them out!

Featured Artist: Vincent Pidone

An array of drawings featuring Moire patterns

Vincent Pidone is an artist particularly interested in Moire patterns, making the AxiDraw a tool well suited to him. You can find him on instagram, and he has a show opening this week.

I have a show of my recent artwork opening August 17th in Hudson, New York. The show will be up through October. All of the work consists of Moire drawings, some hand drawn, but most of them were done with my Axidraw. (Everything in the photo above was done with Axidraw.)

I am always intrigued to see artists building on each other’s work. In the piece above, Vincent took artwork from Justin Lincoln and added colors and layers with the AxiDraw to make it into something new. Here’s Justin’s original:

Vincent has also experimented with using his AxiDraw for dispensing paint.

He has shared the software and hardware details of the project on

Vincent’s show, focusing on his recent Moire pieces, is opening this Saturday, August 17th at Walnut Hill Fine Art in Hudson, New York, and will be up through October. Even if you aren’t able to make it to his show, you can follow him on instagram.

From the mailbag: a happy plot

Paper on clip easel in front of AxiDraw that reads

Technical support can be a challenge, and often a successful outcome is one where you don’t hear back because everything is working. Sometimes, though, you get an extra special confirmation that you’ve fixed the issue. Thank you to Nick Z. for sending this AxiDraw plot in after we resolved a hardware problem!

Stroke fonts from Quantum Enterprises

One of the features in our new Hershey Text v 3.0 software is the ability to extend it with new fonts.

One company, Quantum Enterprises, is already selling high quality stroke fonts that are compatible with the new Hershey Text, and ideal for use with the AxiDraw.

Their fonts are available in matched pairs: A TrueType (outline) font and a single-stroke SVG stroke font. The TrueType font works as a regular computer font, which you can use to lay out and edit text on your page. Hershey Text then performs automatic font substitution replacing the text in place with the matching stroke font.

Here is a sample of what one of their regular (TrueType) handwriting-like fonts looks like, as laid out on the page within Inkscape:

And, here is how that same text looks once rendered with Hershey Text into its single-stroke SVG font version:

The single-stroke text comprises a set of paths ideally suited to be traced with a pen. And finally, here is how that stroke text looks as plotted with the AxiDraw:

These new stroke font pairs, as well as custom fonts, are available to purchase directly from Quantum Enterprises.

An especially neat feature of these fonts is that they can work with the Quantum Enterprises Scriptalizer character substitution software — now available directly integrated within a special version the AxiDraw software. This software performs automatic substitution between different letter forms (glyphs) for the same character, making plotted text look more like handwriting.

The AxiDraw CLI and Python API

Following the release of our new AxiDraw software this week, we are pleased to announce the release of two additional software components that greatly extend the capability of the machine.

The AxiDraw software is now available in two alternate versions that may be helpful for developers or for anyone who would like to control the machine programmatically rather than through Inkscape: A stand-alone command-line interface (CLI) tool, as well as a full-featured Python library.

The AxiDraw CLI

The first new tool is the AxiDraw CLI,  a command-line API to drive the AxiDraw outside of Inkscape. Like the Inkscape-based software, its primary function is to plot SVG files. However, it is a stand-alone utility that can be driven from within shell scripts and other environments that make use of shell commands.

Once installed, plotting a file can be as simple as executing the following command:

axicli filename.svg

There are, of course, a breadth of different modes and configuration parameters available. We have written detailed descriptions of each of these options in our comprehensive API documentation. The CLI also supports the use of configuration files to quickly switch between different sets of parameters.

Since most common scripting and programming environments allow one to call shell commands like this, that allows the AxiDraw to be used directly within a wide variety of frameworks.


The Python API

The second new tool is the AxiDraw Python API. The AxiDraw CLI is written within Python, and we have both exposed and expanded upon that nucleus to create a flexible and powerful Python module, complete with its own comprehensive documentation.

Just like the CLI, the Python API can plot SVG documents; it can both read SVG files and accept strings containing SVG data.

It also has features that are not available within Inkscape or the CLI: It supports direct interactive XY control. You can use absolute or relative moveto/lineto type commands to control the AxiDraw from within your own programs. This is particularly useful for a wide variety of potential AxiDraw applications that are not writing or drawing, but otherwise making use of the AxiDraw as a low-cost motion control platform.