Category Archives: CNC

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.

Hershey Text v 3.0

Some years ago we wrote a neat little Inkscape extension called Hershey Text. Hershey text could take a little bit of text that you would type and render it into stroke fonts, also known as engraving fonts.

We are very pleased this week to release an all-new version of Hershey Text, written from scratch, and far more useful, capable, and extensible. We have a comprehensive user guide for it as well.

Hershey Text v 3.0 will be bundled into future versions of Inkscape, but it’s also included with the new AxiDraw software and available on its own for download today.

Continue reading Hershey Text v 3.0

Stroboscopic Ornaments

Jiří Zemánek, whose EggBot work we have featured before, sent in this wonderful video of stroboscopically animated Christmas ornaments.

The stroboscopic patterns are designed in MATLAB and drawn by EggBot Pro on colored glass Christmas ornaments. Motion of the balls is controlled by custom mechanism built using components from two Prusa i3 MK3 3D printers, like six stepper motors and two Rambo boards. On top of designing the patterns, which is Jiri’s hobby (when he is not busy with research) and building the whole contraption in a very short time, the team had to deal with issues including non-spherical ornaments, or how to use Rambo board to precisely control the velocity profiles.

We love to see how people make things, and Jiri did not disappoint, sharing process photos of making the rotation mechanisms.

With great help from his colleagues Martin, Krištof, and Filip they took Christmas ornaments to the next level and taught them to dance!

The final setup shot captures how they created such a beautiful video.

Merry Christmas to Jiri and the Advanced Algorithms for Control and Communications group! Thank you for sharing your project!

PCB Etching with AxiDraw

Patricio Gonzalez Vivo has been using AxiDraw for circuit board etching experiments.

He draws on copper clad boards with a Sharpie marker with the AxiDraw.

Drawing is followed by a chemical bath.

The marker is cleaned off of the remaining copper to reveal the design. It came out beautifully.

If you’ve used the AxiDraw for marker masking for etching, we’d love to hear about it!

Science Hack Day SF

I will be at Science Hack Day SF giving a lightning talk on Creative Off-Label Tool Use featuring some of the cool and unusual ways people are using AxiDraw and other tools we make. I’ll also have an AxiDraw in the hardware hacking area to play with.

Science Hack Day is October 27-28 and is free, so register now!

P.S. If you’re doing something interesting and science or research related with your AxiDraw, please let me know!

Invisible Ink with AxiDraw

Joanie LeMercier has been working on a project using invisible ink and different lighting schemes with the AxiDraw. He has posted a bunch of clips and pictures in his twitter stream with the heading “Invisible drawing.”

Head over to the thread where you can see more progress shots as well as completed drawings.

The AxiDraw SE/A3

AxiDraw SE/A3

We’re very pleased to introduce a new member of the AxiDraw family: the special edition AxiDraw SE/A3. This new model joins our existing models including the AxiDraw V3 and AxiDraw V3/A3.

Like the AxiDraw V3/A3, the AxiDraw SE/A3 has an XY travel suitable for use paper up to 11×17″/A3 size. However, in place of the central extrusion that makes up the body of that machine, the AxiDraw SE/A3 has a central beam that is CNC machined from a solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum, and then anodized to a sleek black finish.

This heavy, rigid structure — it’s a solid block of metal! — provides dramatically better straightness and stiffness, even compared to the already-stiff AxiDraw V3/A3. This design adds mass exactly where you want it: to the non-moving base that forms the X-axis of the machine. In order to keep the weight light where it matters, the moving Y-axis of the AxiDraw SE/A3 uses the same stiff and light custom aluminum extrusion that we use on the AxiDraw V3/A3.

We made a video showing off the SE/A3, and how it’s made:

The AxiDraw SE/A3 is available to order now at the Evil Mad Scientist shop.

CMYK Portraits with AxiDraw

Spongenuity has been posting some wonderful portraits made with AxiDraw on instagram, including some CMYK ones like the one below.

AxiDraw on t-shirts

We’ve seen a bunch of posts about using AxiDraw for fabric lately!

Fabric makers and sharpies are both making appearances.

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