Mindstorms Plotter

Robin built a very cool Lego Mindstorms based plotter. I’ve seen him run into issues similar to what I ran into, and solve them. I’ll sometimes attach a monetary prize to some of his Mindstorms projects. Once he’s scratched the itch and wants to move on, but I know a lot of challenges occur not just making a robot work, but making it work well.

For a while there was $5 on making a drawing machine that drew something beyond a basic shape, it didn’t have to be much, just had to be something that proved the machine’s worth. And he’s earned it with this:

He didn’t write the software that turns text into lines, but there were plenty of mechanical challenges to getting the machine consistent enough to make this. Overall I’m blown away by the quality of today’s Mindstorms. Seeing him build his machine reminded me I had this set growing up:

Might have planted some seeds.

In the meantime I’m testing a 10′ deployment, a drawing machine so big one needs a ladder to get to the top. I haven’t ran it yet, but I know there will be new issues arising from the scale. Even just setting the paper is challenging.

Gondola Plots

I took the gondola plotter to work, where I can deploy it in places of variable public visibility. I have many social experiments lined up for it, but it’s sometimes hard to find the right formula to get people drawn to it. One thing I noticed, is that as people walk by, if the plotter isn’t moving, they won’t even notice it. But if it catches their eyes while drawing, then they get close and start pondering what’s going on.

And so the most engaging thing I’ve been able to come up with so far, is to simply have the plotter draw complex drawings over a day.

The Girl with the Pearl Earing

Then it’s really fun to sit nearby and watch people get close and observe the drawing, listen to their comments. I think it’s safe to say at worst it stops people and get them wondering what’s going on, at best it blows their minds.

Nat Geo’s Afghan Girl

This one went on the tabletop plotter too

I experimented with Esther’s drawing, trying various size.

And some multicolor scratching paper

I like to see people wonder what’s going on, I call it triggering brain sparks. I can say, between the gondola plotter and Esther seeing her drawing replayed on a different medium, that brain sparks were most definitely achieved.

For reference, the algorithm I used for the portraits is: https://github.com/serycjon/vpype-flow-imager, it’s one of my favorites.