Picture of The PrintBot
The PrintBot is a iRobot Create-mounted dot-matrix printer. The PrintBot prints using Talcum powder on any ground surface.

Using the robot for the base allows the robot to print a virtually unlimited size. Think football feilds or basketball courts. Maybe the rivals should be on the lookout for a swarm of these thanksgiving weekend next year. the robot also allows the printer mobility, allowing it to travel to a location to print, then move on to another. Wireless is included, so remote control is also possible. Sidewalk art and advertising is also a target-market for this device.

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Step 1: IRobot Create

Picture of iRobot Create
The iRobot Create is very similar to iRobot's Roomba, but without the internal vacuum. This allows us to add a greater payload and gives us convenient mounting holes. iRobot also provides a complete programming interface to the Create that makes controlling the robot very simple. The interface is a simple set of commands and parameters sent to the robot serially. Read the Open Interface specifications for more info.

For our simple use we only required a few commands. Upon initialization the 128 command must be sent to tell the robot to start accepting external control. Next a mode must be selected. For full control we send the 132 command to the Create. Note you must send all data to the Create as integers, not regular ascii text. Each command opcode is one byte, the value of that byte is the integer value 128 or whatever. If you were to transmit in ascii or ansi text, each character in 128 would be a byte. For testing or control via PC we recommend Realterm as it makes everything very simiple. You will also need to set the Baud rate to 57600 as stated in the Open Interface documentation.

Now that the Create is initialized, we use the 137 command to drive the robot forward. Wait Distance, 156 is used to stop the robot after a specified distance. The script commands 152 and 153 put everything together and make a simple script which can be run over and over.

iRobot sells what they call the Command Module which is basically a programmable micro controller and a few serial ports which you may use to control your Create. Instead we used a Cypress Programmable System-on-a-Chip (PSoC) combined with a very small x86 PC called the eBox 2300.

The robot has an 18V battery which we will use to power all our peripherals.
ginrain1 month ago

haha go jackets

I don't see the code here. Can you put up a compatible arduino code? That would be so much helpful? I'm trying to make another project but is using interrupts with the linear encoder that was there on the printer itself..

Bartuss1 year ago
Robot that makes ur carpet dirty instead of cleaning it... I WANT IT!!! :D


Timmers1 year ago
Have you seen this, could be a really cool creation.
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are you? i am
creid5 years ago
This is awesome. IMHO though the real genius here was in your printhead creation. You could do this much cheaper using maybe an arduino as the controller board. Add on an atmega8 and 3 stepper controller ic's and 3 salvaged printer steppers and the whole thing would probably cost 30 bucks or less (including buying the arduino)
C0D39145 years ago
what r the freakin materials? reply me the materials
C0D39145 years ago
this thing is freakin awesome why dont u just send me a copy? haha jk
da_punx6 years ago
I'm hoping that eventually this idea could be shrunken down to the size of say, a paperback book, so that one could have a portable printer. It could detect the edges of the paper, be bluetooth controlled, and accept jobs from one's laptop. Using actual ink, of course.
sotsirh1946 years ago
Was that a school mascot hornet? My School has a mascot very much the same.
Yes it's the Georgia Tech Buzz. We created this project for our embedded systems class.
uberdeity6 years ago
Come on man, first word written in a white powder should have been "SCARFACE"... Awesome idea, though I'd be careful using it for "sidewalk art" and the like- either you'd get nicked by the police or the Printbot would!
the only thing I'm missing is what it's actually printing with, kinda looks like tippex... I really love this Idea and think and upscaled one would be amazing, think the head and rails off an A1 printer and a create controlled vehicle... the posibilities would be endless and generally rather large...
Powder it says but what powder? Talcum?
TeamEasyEnough (author)  btop7 years ago
Yup, talcum.
Isn't Talcum a known cancerogen?
johnkzin7 years ago
I don't know if it's the angle of the photography, or what, but it looks like as it moves forward (perhaps just when printing), it has a slight lean to the right (the top of the letters look narrower than the base, slightly, indicating that it turns toward the top of the letters a little on each pass). Might be related to the fact that the print carriage is off-center. Or the big weigh at that end of the print carriage. Or both. (and, if GT is Georgia Tech, GO JACKETS!)
TeamEasyEnough (author)  johnkzin7 years ago
You guys should read step 6. ;) and yeah, it is skewed a bit when it moves forward.
Resource for printing
Where is at buying such a machine? It will be a good chance for me for my advertising company.
I want to print advertising materials on football fields.
It's possible with this robot
W_world6 years ago
Awesome Buddy! way cooler than posterbot (I'm allowed to say that). You really did what I couldn't.

W_World, the creator of PosterBotPosterBot
xtank56 years ago
I have an awesome idea. What if you used plaster powder then had the robot spray a fine mist of water onto the powder and then dried it with infrared lamps all in one pass. That could make the print more permanent. Or to make it even more permanent instead of water it could use laquer/shellac/diamond-coat to give it a harder surface that will stand up to more wear-and-tear. Then you could make advertisements and signs on the ground. As long as the clear-coat is water based or has water in it, it should harden the plaster itself and then provide further protection to the plaster.
Run N Gun7 years ago
This instructablecould be modded to be super cool (in my opinion of course!) by dressing it up as like a big hand or something, and using a different colored ink, like red, to simulate blood coming from the bottom of its severed hand! ...Just using my imagination! And, neat instructable! - Gun
masonj7 years ago
What does the GT stand for? Georgia Tech?
wow ! =o)
awesome, thats super cool!