Large Scale Polargraph Drawing Machine W/ Retractable Pen Head




Posted in TechnologyArt

Introduction: Large Scale Polargraph Drawing Machine W/ Retractable Pen Head

*The large scale installation of this machine was conceived and executed with Rui Periera

This is a design for the Polargraph ( open source drawing project. It features a retractable pen head and hardware to allow it to scale to 20+ feet wide.

Step 1: Window Mounted Implementation

The original implementation of our polargraph was on a clear glass wall. The two stepper motors are positioned using custom mounts, attached with suction cups. Counter weights take up the slack and keep the timing belts in position.

Step 2: Components

The second implementation of the drawing machine was mounted on a white wall and featured a retractable pen to allow text to be written.

The goal of this design was to create a gondola that could take the pen off of the drawing surface without moving the entire unit. What is lost from the classic Polargraph design are the pivoting arms that ensure that the pen is always at the center point of the two belts suspending the pendulum.

In my version, I laser cut out of plexiglass the round hubs of the gondola and the spacers between the hubs. In the files I include an Illustrator template with these pieces, as well as stl files if you prefer to print them Additionally I created plexi stepper motor mounts for the large motors needed to drive the larger scale machine, as well as counter weight brackets.

*BOM to be included soon

3d Printed and Laser-cut components:

Addtional hardware:


Step 3: Fabrication and Large Scale Installation

The printable parts and templates to laser cut the plexi body are featured here:

Project Files on Thingiverse

Step 4: Excecution



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    4 Questions

    How did you give these words as an input?
    Can you please explain me?

    The words were generated from text files and written to an SVG file. That SVG file was loaded into using the Polargraph open source software. SVG word layers were written over each other as the words were compiled. Unfortunately I no longer have all of the code to generate the SVG files, however depending on what your concept is, you could either: Create an SVG file with text and import into polargraph software, or generate text programmatically (Processing would work well for this) export a file to SVG. Good luck

    Hi - This text is in SVG format. You can use the software from the Polargraph project to draw any SVG file. Creation of that SVG file can happen using any method: by hand or programmatically.

    Can we write directly using XY plotter by giving a word as an input?
    Or we must creat any word image and should convert it into a SVG format?

    Absolutely lovely project! Combines my dream of building a plotter and a big scale projector.

    Im wondering how did you convert image files to actual -I presume- gcode?

    And to better answer your question: Drawings are made in SVG format. The Polargraph Processing software converts this to drawing instructions that are run on Arduino firmware.

    1 more answer

    Hello and thanks. So this project is built using the open source Polargraph project. The modifications needed for this specific implementation relate to the motors (steps per rotation) and the timing belt gear size. Also, due to the large scale of the machine I needed to fix a few integer overflow issues in the code (I believe these changes now reflected in the polargraph firmware)