So Tuesday night Matt finally cracked open his Egg Bot and assembled it. According to him it was a pretty easy, straight-forward assembly. No soldering or any of that variety of monkey business, just some screws here and there. You hook it up to your computer and install some software (drivers for the bot itself and then Inkscape, a relatively nice open-sourced vector graphics program for the data to send to the egg-bot). All told, he got it up and drawing in under 90 minutes.
The drawing process is pretty simple. You make vector drawings, each color separated into layers. You then tell the bot to print this layer or that layer. You can swap out pens and get your different colors. The one thing that makes it complicated is that you can’t just “fill” an image. You have to hatch it (draw lots of little lines) for fill, but the bot comes with some good extensions for Inkscape that greatly simplify the process.
The single real “issue” we ran into was with one of the motors. The pen kept falling off the end of the egg and he motor didn’t seem to have the power to bring it back up. It was also making jerky movements and made the first drawings look pretty sloppy. Some online searching netted the answer … we had to increase the voltage to the step motor by adjusting a potentiometer (all that sounds hard, but it just requires a small turn of a screw-driver). Instantly, we had smooth strong drawing.
So instead of cleaning the house last night, we played with the Egg Bot. We made our own designs, simple lines, etc. and downloaded a couple from Thingaverse. It was pretty magical to see the bot do its thing. Tabby was particularly fascinated by it … Ben mostly tried to grab at it.
Of course it is not without its drawbacks. Matt is claiming that this is his “gateway robot.” Now he wants to build a Maker Bot, a 3-D printer. Pricetag $2K. Yikes.