I finally tuned the plotter a bit to make it perform faster. I was trying to make it move faster by increasing the stepper motor speed, it turns out optimizing the pen up/down action was really where all the slowness was and makes everything appear to run faster. It’s quite spiffy now and I’ve been plotting non-stop this past week.

Snowflakes courtesy of llemarie @

Working with Handwriting

One of my obsessions in developing PlottyBot has been handwriting. Even with Mandalagaba I care very much that the penstrokes originate from one’s hand and avoid tools which “do the drawing for you”. This is where your personality transpires on paper beyond your ability to draw. I thought it’d be neat to have a pen plotter able to write in one’s handwriting.

This idea came up a long time ago, and I researched many ways to achieve it. The unfortunate but predictable conclusion was that I would need to write my own font format to get there.

Introducing Flexible Font. PlottyBot comes with the ability to capture your handwriting. The Flexible Font format is monoline based, holds metadata on your pen strokes to define where ligatures may occur, it also allows for character variations. It’s tailored just for plotters :).

The video bellow shows several ways to use PlottyBot with handwriting. The first is a simple live replay of pen strokes from, the next ones use Flexible Font.