Lego Laser Plotter





Introduction: Lego Laser Plotter

UPDATE: I will be unable to post the programming video because of a few problems getting video from the camera onto the computer. I'll see if I can get it fixed.

To build this plotter you will need the Lego robotics invention system with few extra parts and a laser. It's too complex to describe with just words so look at the pictures and descriptions. High powered lasers can be purchased at Wicked lasers. If you are interested in learning about high powered lasers go to Laser forums

General description: The robot can move along two axis and turn a laser on and off. The X axis is controlled by a rack and pinion that move very slowly. The Y axis is controlled by a slow turning axle that pulls a string connected to the rack and pinion assembly. Each of the axis has a touch sensor that is pressed about every millimeter. This makes the robot very precise because it knows where it is at all times. The action used to turn the laser on and off is simple but very efficient. It slides a small part over the button on the laser. This part is constantly being pushed against the laser with rubber bands. Thus it can simply slide on and off the button without the motor having to run constantly to hold the button down. I only have a 15 milliwat laser so I have to focus it. I used a small plastic tube that is about the same diameter of the laser. At the end of the tube is a small convex lens I took out of an old gun sight. This is all attached to the end of the laser with electrical tape.

I have uploaded some files and software to view in 3D. The software will install MLcad and LDview. After you have the software installed, open LDview and it should ask what files you want to open. save all of the files I have posted to one folder and open them one at a time. The file named laser plotter is the whole assembly. I recommend looking at each part individually to build them then using the laser plotter file to see how they are put together.

Posted by Laser Community member: CaptainCrash

Step 1: Base, Y Axis

The method for building I used is rather easy to look at and figure out. The longer black beams are spaced apart by two layers of flat parts this makes it very strong and spaces them the right distance so that vertical beams can be added. A lot of gears are used in this assembly because it has to go slow enough to give the laser time to burn.

Step 2: Rack and Pinion, X Axis

This is very fun to make because of how this part works. The gears make their way to the bottom of the assembly and touch the beams at the bottom that have teeth on them. On side of this assembly has wheals on it so when it has to move along the y axis it moves evenly.

Step 3: The Laser Mount

This was the hardest to design but it works very well. There is one arm on each side that move up and down to activate the laser. A small piece is slid over the button holding it down without constant motor activity. The laser I used is the Executive Classic that can be found here. The model that I received is a bit over powered so I recommend using the 35 mw. The lens I used to focus the laser was from an old gun sight that is attached to the laser with some electrical tape.

Step 4: Final Assembly

To see how all of the parts work and are put together I took a video of it in action.



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    Nice instructable! How precise is this system? in mm/cm? thanks,

    1 reply

    every mm, now I see nvm, great job.

    how do you tell it what to draw?

    Great instructable. The pictures are very helpful. I love this thing. I so want to build something like this. I saw this thing a few weeks ago. Ever since, I've been obsessed with Legos and spent way too much money on them. My kid is happy because we play together, but my wife isn't too thrilled. I have a question for any Lego experts out there. I need some Lego gears. Which sets have lots of gears? The packaging isn't always clear about what's inside. I could order some individually from the Lego web-site, but I think buying sets is more cost effective. Maybe I'm wrong. Any advice would be appreciated? Thanks. - Chris

    4 replies

    Im OBSESSED with legos also and I got Lego Mindstorms NXT 1.0 Its a little expensive but its WAY worth it. it comes with lots of gears and lots of other great parts HERE IS A PARTS LIST:

    HAH! Thanks JB123! Actually it's been nearly a year since I posted that comment. Since then we removed all of the furniture from our spare bedroom and populated the space with a futon, an HDTV/Xbox 360 and a whole lot of Lego. It has been dubbed "The Lego Room" in our family. We have the Mindstorms NXT 2.0 and a whole bunch of the Creator / Power Functions sets. It's awesome. We make all kinds of crazy stuff now. We go to the Lego Store in Orlando, where they have these big plastic milkshake type cups that you can fill up with parts from the wall-o-lego bins for like $15.00. We buy lots of sets there too. I think I'll use your list to order more motors and maybe another brick. Thanks for the tip.

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    You are SOOOO lucky I only have 1.0 and I have been to that wall-o-lego bins its called pick-a-brick you can also go on and order from there just type in pab in the search box. Speaking of I ordered from there bout a week ago, when will my parts get here? ps: Does the 2.0 set come with any technic bricks Thanks, JB123

    Hey, I'm currently trying to develop a plotter to laser cut my stencils using the light sensor ... 

    I really appreciate your work. And if you have some good advices ^^


    Do you think it is possible to cut an image with that robot... I think about doing "stencils" ...

    Hi ! Your creation is really interresting and could be really helpfull to cut stencils ... But, do you know if it's possible, to ask to the robot to laser-cut a picture ?

    well im not stupid enough to shine it in my eye second polarized sunglasses filyer it out unbeknownst to you apparently and no one said that you have to participate anyone that chooses to make instructables does it at their own risk and finally i dont mid your input but your attitude was rude and stuck up and i would appreciate it very much if you had said that nicer because we're not enemies we're just not on the same page about things.

    2 replies

    I didn't mean to sound rude. That is one of the problems with reading text. The laser would not have to be shined directly into your eye to cause damage. I'm careful with my 15-25mw because the dot is so bright. 120mw of IR would kill your eyes just looking at the visible 5 mw dot. If you can find some IR goggles or something to protect yourself then go ahead and do it because it will save money. But if you can then I think you should save your eyes instead.

    can you use the goggles and shields surveyors use?