Archive for the ‘CNC’ Category

Arduino Uno-driven plotter uses rulers for arms

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

When you see a plastic ruler, you wouldn’t normally assume it was destined to become part of a CNC plotter. Maker “lingib,” however, realized their potential to be combined to form plotter arms, in this case actuated by two stepper motors.

The resulting build can expand and contract the resulting shape, allowing a pen at the end point of the two sets of rulers to move back and forth across a piece of paper. Necessary spaces in the plot are provided by a micro servo that can lift the pen/ruler off of the writing surface.

The device is powered by an Arduino Uno, which controls the two NEMA 17 stepper motors via a pair of EasyDriver Modules. You can find more details about how to create one of these, including code and how the geometry behind it works, on its Instructables page. (more…)

Farmbot and why documentation’s vital to open source projects

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015


Farmbot is the first open source cnc farming machine with the aim to create an open and accessible technology aiding everyone to grow food and to grow food for everyone. It runs on open source hardware like Arduino Mega 2560 and  involves a community of contributors on the wiki and forum where you can find documentation, schematics, assembly guides, troubleshooting tips and many more on all currently supported and old FarmBots. (more…)

Using Arduino in a semi-automatic production line for casting polyurethane foam

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013


Alexander Kozusyev wrote us from Kiev to share how he introduced Arduino in his semi-auto production line creating decor by casting polyurethane foam.

Production line has two independent CNC 3-axis manipulator. The first spraying of release agent. Second automatic pouring polyurethane into the mold. Before spraying or pouring read RFID unique code for the mold, and then loads the G-CODE from the database server based MySQL. After pouring, the mould is moved to the waiting area.

He used Arduino Mega to read RFID codes and to  control some components, an Arduino Uno with firmware GRBL version 0.9 to control the CNC. Take a look at the video:

My open-source, do-it-yourself cellphone (built with Arduino).

Monday, August 12th, 2013

DIY cellphone (in hand)

For a little over a year, I’ve been working on an open-source, DIY cellphone as part of my PhD research at the MIT Media Lab. The current version of the phone is based on the Arduino GSM shield and Arduino GSM library. It sports a deliberately low-resolution screen (8 characters, each a 5×7 matrix of LEDs), a laser-cut wooden enclosure, flexure (living hinge) buttons, and a ~1000-line Arduino program that powers the user interface. The phone can make and receive phone calls and text messages, includes a phone book and caller id, and keeps the time. Everything you’d expect from a 20-year old Nokia! (Except snake.) I’ve been using various iterations of the project as my primary cellphone for the past six months or so.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

The phone is open-source and the design files are available on GitHub (hardware, software). Assembly instructions are on my website, although I wouldn’t recommend making your own unless you have experience with soldering surface mount components.

Second DIY cellphone workshop

Of course, it’s not just me that’s been building these phones. I’ve run two workshops in which other people have made them for themselves. A few people have been building them on their own, including someone who posted his result on Twitter.

Ben Peters' Phone.Dena's purpleheart phoneNadya and Jeff making cellphones

Here you can see some the variations on the enclosure that my friends have made. On the left is a 3d-printed case by Ben Peters, the middle is a CNC-milled purpleheart wood case by Dena Molnar, and on the right is a hand-cut cardboard case by Jeffrey Warren.

DIY Cellphone Prototypes

The phone has undergone numerous revisions as I’ve tried to get it into a robust, useable form. Here you can see some of those variations. I started with an LCD screen like those found on old Nokia phones, but it would break after a month or so in my pocket, so I switched to the more-robust LED matrix. The enclosure has had a few tweaks as well, primarily to find a good design for the flexure buttons.

DIY Cellphone (LED matrix variant)

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the current incarnation. It seems to be relatively robust, simple enough to assemble by hand, and functional enough to use everyday (although a long way from a smart phone). That’s my DIY cellphone.

Othermill on Kickstarter: a robust, personal CNC machine for milling circuit boards and more

Monday, May 6th, 2013

My friend Jonathan Ward and the rest of the team at Otherfab have posted their new CNC milling machine, the Othermill, to KickStarter. This is a robust, low-cost machine for milling circuit boards, wax molds, wood, aluminum and more. The machine is made from high density polyethylene with an ingenious snap-fit mechanism that’s strong, reversible, and easy-to-assemble (although the machines will come fully assembled). There are lots of other clever features to ensure good alignment, minimal / non-existent slop, and quiet / robust performance. The working area is 5.5 x 4.5 x 1.4″ and the machine itself is only 10 inches cubed.

This is a great tool for milling your own circuit boards, something that’s done a lot in How to Make (Almost) Anything and at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Bits and Atoms generally. It handles relatively fine-pitched components (down to 1/64″ or even 0.010″ between traces) and is great for doing arbitrary shapes and cut outs. Here are some examples from the Othermill KickStarter page.

Jonathan has a long history of making milling machines, and I’m excited to see them get out into the world.

Find out more or support the project on KickStarter.

Arduino based Milling Machine

Monday, June 25th, 2012

This is a working model of an Arduino based Milling Machine created using FischerTechnik. For those of you who are unaware of FischerTechnik, it is similar to the LEGOTM Building Blocks.


A group of four Mechanical Engineering students at the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) created this project as part of their Mechatronics class in their Second year of Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.) Program.

Laurens Valk, one of the creators, explains the essence of Arduino in the project:

“The system uses the Adafruit motor shield to run two stepper motors, and the Sparkfun EasyDriver for the third stepper motor. The Arduino runs code that listens to Matlab commands over USB. We expanded that code a little to make it possible to add the third stepper motor and some other commands. Most of the actual code was programmed in Matlab, with the Arduino as the interface between computer and motors/sensors.”

We had a little chat with Laurens. Here is the excerpt:


When did you first hear about Arduino, and when did you first start using it?
I’ve seen a lot of Arduino projects over the years, but this was the first time we used it in a project. Personally, I usually build robots with MINDSTORMS NXT, but this felt like a good opportunity to combine mechanical work (the printer hardware) with real electronics (Arduino).
How did you end up making a Milling Machine/ 3D Printer for your project?

We chose to come up with our own design challenge and decided not to do the standard exercise. Initially we thought about making a (2D) plotter or scanner. Then quickly we started thinking about the same things, except in 3D. One of the projects that inspired us was the LEGO Milling Machine by Arthur Sacek. Both a scanner and printer would still be doable in 3D, but the time was limited, so we settled with the printer idea.

All construction had to be done in one workweek for logistical reasons. To make sure we were able to finish in time, we prepared much of the electronics and software outside the lab. We finished just in time, but unfortunately we could do only one complete print before we had to take it apart. Not surprisingly, it was very exciting to wait for the result of the one and only complete test run. We couldn’t see the result until we used the vacuum cleaner to remove the dust.

Here is a video showing the working of this machine. [And the Vacuum Cleaner Laurens is talking about]:

This gives an Insight into the many feats that an Arduino can accomplish.


DIWire printer – Draw, click, bend!

Monday, May 7th, 2012

So, you want a DIY printer, but you have no idea to print the intricate squiggly design on the board? Enter Pensa!

In the maker’s own words:

But there are times when we need to output lines in space rather than volumes. Most 3D printing technologies are not well suited for printing thin lines because the materials are weak, the machine uses a lot of 3D-print support material, and the process is slow. The closest thing to a machine that can output lines is a CNC wire bender, but these machines are used almost exclusively for mass production in factories. They are not used for rapid prototyping because the equipment is large, expensive and takes trained personnel to run. So, we decided to make the DIWire Bender.

Apart from a mere prototype, the machine can read any data. A few desired applications can be : artwork from a random number algorithm, or internet data like stock prices and weather stats. You can also create mass customized products, like eyeglass frames that fit, or be a street vendor printing jewelry from a person’s silhouette, on demand.

And it doesn’t have to be aluminum wire; in principal the machine could bend other materials, including colored electrical wires, some plastics, memory metals, even light pipes to create small light forms. And if you don’t like the output, it could be configured to pass the bent wire through the straightener to start again.

Have fun!