Pen plotter, plz recommend microcontroller.

Thread Starter

Mrdouble

Joined Aug 13, 2012
105
I have been kicking around the idea of building a pen plotter for a a while. At this point I'm still considering whether or not I have the necessary skills to tackle building one. I guess the first step for me is evaluating what microcontroller would be suitable. I have a PicChip trainer board so I would prefer to use a 16 bit PicChip microcontroller. Only criteria so far is the software for the microcontroller to has supporting library's for multiple fonts set and xy translation of fonts for text plotting. one thing im not interested in is reinventing the wheel. Also, I'm not interested in using the new micro Linux
Conputers like raspberry pie. I have a grip on machine language for the pic but can program C if need be.
Thanks in advance
Micheal
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
I have been kicking around the idea of building a pen plotter for a a while. At this point I'm still considering whether or not I have the necessary skills to tackle building one. I guess the first step for me is evaluating what microcontroller would be suitable. I have a PicChip trainer board so I would prefer to use a 16 bit PicChip microcontroller. Only criteria so far is the software for the microcontroller to has supporting library's for multiple fonts set and xy translation of fonts for text plotting. one thing im not interested in is reinventing the wheel. Also, I'm not interested in using the new micro Linux
Conputers like raspberry pie. I have a grip on machine language for the pic but can program C if need be.
Thanks in advance
Micheal
First question, what is the planned end use?
 

Thread Starter

Mrdouble

Joined Aug 13, 2012
105
Printing on a 3 x 5 card. I should also say the entire circuit should be stand alone (not hooked up to computer running gcode).
 
Last edited:

spinnaker

Joined Oct 29, 2009
7,815
Well since it is a custom design, you aren't going to find any libraries to draw anything. You will need to write those. It is not going to matter what mcu you choose.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
Printing on a 3 x 5 card. I should also say the entire circuit should be stand alone (not hooked up to computer running gcode).
Will this be for a label printer / price tag printer stand alone type thing or are you looking to make a USB-connected to a printer?
 

Thread Starter

Mrdouble

Joined Aug 13, 2012
105
Will this be for a label printer / price tag printer stand alone type thing or are you looking to make a USB-connected to a printer?
Label printer with small keyboard with a contained plotter.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
Label printer with small keyboard with a contained plotter.
Pen plotter makes a very complicated device. A lot of mechanical bits. A lot of precision alignment. Drying out felt top pens. Significant power consumption with:
- motor for x
- motor for y
- solenoid for pen lifting
If you plan on multicolor, them you have a pen carousel and pen grabber (unless spring loaded for specific pens).

This will be a chore. The mechanics is going to be a huge issue. Is that done already? If not, and I know you didn't ask for thus advice, but, focus on the mechanicals. If you are making one, or low volume, I think you will need to focus on using a raspberry pi instead of picking a Microcontroller.

If you are after a high volume consumer / industrial product, then I would focus on the much simpler thermal printer.
http://www.brother-usa.com/Label_Printer/ModelDetail/23/QL1060N/Overview#.ViMMqtq9KSM

Are you after a hobby project or are you hoping to mass market something?
 

Thread Starter

Mrdouble

Joined Aug 13, 2012
105
Pen plotter makes a very complicated device. A lot of mechanical bits. A lot of precision alignment. Drying out felt top pens. Significant power consumption with:
- motor for x
- motor for y
- solenoid for pen lifting
If you plan on multicolor, them you have a pen carousel and pen grabber (unless spring loaded for specific pens).

This will be a chore. The mechanics is going to be a huge issue. Is that done already? If not, and I know you didn't ask for thus advice, but, focus on the mechanicals. If you are making one, or low volume, I think you will need to focus on using a raspberry pi instead of picking a Microcontroller.

If you are after a high volume consumer / industrial product, then I would focus on the much simpler thermal printer.
http://www.brother-usa.com/Label_Printer/ModelDetail/23/QL1060N/Overview#.ViMMqtq9KSM

Are you after a hobby project or are you hoping to mass market something?
Lol. I can imagine. No multicolor, just a sharpie, will gladly sacrifice precision for speed. I'm just toying witht he idea. The mechanics I think I can handle. Hobby, I just pick a project pretty much arbitrarily so this is it.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
7,983
I have (had) a board from an HP pen plotter. If I can find it, you can half it (if I haven't stripped anything off of it yet).
 

Thread Starter

Mrdouble

Joined Aug 13, 2012
105
Maybe I will entertain the idea of raspberry pi
 
Last edited:

mcgyvr

Joined Oct 15, 2009
5,394
There are so many tutorials for pen plotters on the internet..
just google "diy pen plotter" and get reading...

FWIW I run "smoothie" software on a "smoothieboard" for all my CNC projects.
http://smoothieware.org/


Good luck.. I think you have bit off more than you can chew..
feeding a plotter machine some gcode on an SD card is fairly easy.. but to write something to convert a text string to various fonts and control the motors/acceleration/motion paths,etc.. based on that is quite a different beast..
 
I found a pen source recently. http://www.spacepen.com/plotterpens.aspx I HATE Sharpies. I love Staedtlers.

X-Y is probably the way you want to go, but drum plotting has been used. HP plotters had an electrostatic hold down. A high voltage grid under an insulator. A vacuum hold down may work for you and so might a clamp.

HPGL may be an appropriate language.
 
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