Category Archives: Robotics

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.

Callie’s Crown

Callie's Crown

Last year while attending FIRST robotics competitions with the Firebots, I had the privilege of serving as a judge at both the Central Valley Regional and the Sacramento Regional. Judging gives an opportunity to get to know the folks involved in the competition, whether they’re students, mentors, or other volunteers like you. I’ve judged and volunteered at a few events now, and one of the great things to see is the way that the community builds and nurtures itself.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

One of the students I met in past years, Callie, had graduated from her team, but keeps coming back as a volunteer. Callie was refereeing at both events, and shines brightly as a role model. Literally. She built an LED tiara and programmed it to light in the event colors of red, white, and blue.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

She let me take a few pictures of it. It is made with Adafruit Flora Neopixels, a Gemma controller and a small LiPo battery.

Callie and her crown

She’s a student at UC Davis, and is a truly wonderful role model for the high school students at the events. While you don’t necessarily need an LED tiara to shine as a role model, Adafruit does have a tutorial so that you can make one, too.

AxiDraw on Stage

In unusual uses for our drawing machines, AxiDraw is playing the role of the master of ceremony in Joël Maillard’s play “Last sheet (after the big lack)”, a production about the robotic future being put on by Theater Marie in Switzerland.

Signal Generator Musical Instrument

Our friend Arjan van der Meij made this charming musical instrument from a signal generator, a servo motor, an Arduino and a processing program. He wrote an instructable for it so you can build one, too.

Signal Generator Instrument

He also wrote about his experience with the project in Dutch on makered.nl. Projects like this one, that started with a question (“Why don’t you build a machine to do it?”) are great for learning new skills. I often get asked what things someone should get for learning electronics, and my answer is usually that the first thing you need is a project that you want to make so that you’ll have motivation to research what you’ll need.

3d printed knob adapter connected to servo motor and signal generator

Arjan wanted to learn tinkercad, and used this project toward that goal by modeling the knob adapter he’d need for connecting his servo to his signal generator knob. Even if you don’t want to make a musical instrument from a signal generator, this project may provide inspiration for trying out new techniques.

Robotic Art Contest 2017

The second annual Robot Art contest Is in its final lap:

The Robot Art 2017 competition will be running between now and May 15th when more than $100,000 in awards will be given to the top painting robots. Winners will be determined based on a combination of public voting, professional judges consisting of working artists, critics, and technologists, and by how well the team met the spirit of the competition – that is to create something beautiful using a physical brush and robotics.

You can help by voting on the artwork now!

Introducing the AxiDraw V3

We are pleased to introduce the AxiDraw V3, a new generation of our flagship writing and drawing machine.

This new AxiDraw has been redesigned from the ground up for high performance. It features smooth rolling wheels on custom aluminum extrusions, specially designed for high stiffness and light weight. Its sturdy, rigid construction gives it finer quality output and in most applications allows it to operate at up to twice the speed of the previous AxiDraw, which it replaces.

As with the previous version, AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the body of the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw V3 is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

Introducing the AxiDraw

AxiDraw drawing machine

We are very pleased to introduce our newest art robot: the AxiDraw.

The AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with your favorite fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw drawing machine

The AxiDraw is a fantastic machine for making art — along with all those other things that you might use a pen-wielding robot for: Making “hand written” invitations, signing forms, or making neater whiteboard art than one might otherwise be able to.

AxiDraw is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

From the mailbag: Bristlebots and Scribblebots

Kate K.'s Bristlebot bug (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Jessica K. wrote in:

A few years ago I used your bristlebot design for one of my kid’s classes as a project and it was such a success I’ve done it for each kid (I have 4).

Kate K's Bristlebot Ladybug bottom (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

We also made made “pontoon” versions of your bristlebots with 2 toothbrush ends underneath a cardboard oval so it looked like a beetle and gave the kids more decorating space.

Scribblebot parts (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

Well, now I needed a new project and I came up with the easiest, cheapest Scribblebot I’ve come across, using mostly your bristlebot construction.

Kate K.'s Dixie Scribblebot (Courtesy of Jessica K.)

The big discovery is that a Dixie cup plus mini markers keeps the whole thing so lightweight. Then put your foam taped pager motor and battery combo on top. It was also way cuter with some antennae and googley eyes. Thank you again for your great bristlebot – it’s made me the most popular mom in each of my kids’ classes.

The bots shown were made by her daughter Kate who also demonstrates them in the video clips. Thank you Kate & Jessica!

Super Awesome Reporting on RoboGames

Super Awesome Sylvia has posted a video report from this year’s RoboGames. Highlights include a couple of combat matches, one of Sylvia’s LEGO competitions, WaterColorBot receiving a medal, and Sylvia completely geeking out after Grant Imahara interviewed her in the audience. (For extra fun, watch the raw footage of the interview from RoboGames.) Our STEAM shirt makes a cameo, too.