Introduction: XY Plotter Drawing Robot | Arduino | Polargraph

In this tutorial we will learn how to make X Y Plotter Drawing machine. With Drawing Robot you can draw images on wall, panel or A4 paper. You can print pictures or print text. All required hardware for this project are listed below. We will learn how to install and use the Polargraph program for robot control. Video editing of this project took a lot of time. I hope the video will be useful to you. If you want, you can subscribe to the my channel for support.

Step 1: Required Hardwares

Picture of Required Hardwares

Arduino Board --

L293D Motor Shield --

L293D Motor IC --

17 Stepper Motor --

Servo Motor --

GT2 Pulley 16 Teeth Set --

GT2 Rubber Belt (5M) --

DC Power Supply --

Adapter Power Supply --

Board Marker Pen --

Jumper Wires --

Lead Weight --

Anet® A8 3D Printer --

3D Printer not Available

Stepper Mounting Bracket --

CD for Gondola

Step 2: 3D Models - Plotter Gondola and Stepper Bracket

Picture of 3D Models - Plotter Gondola and Stepper Bracket
  • You can find many models on the Thingiverse platform.
  • Links of the models used in this project as below.

Gondola 3D Model --

Stepper Mounting Bracket 3D Model --

  • If a 3D printer is not available, you can use a CD for create the Gondola

Step 3: Assembly of the Gondola, Stepper Motors and Servo

Picture of Assembly of the Gondola, Stepper Motors and Servo
  • Belts connect to the Gondola. (Adjust the length of the belts according to size of your board.)
  • Servo motor connect to the Gondola
  • Assembly the mounting brackets to the stepper motors.
  • Attach a weight to the empty end of the belts (I used 4xAA batteries for weight.)

Step 4: Assembly All Parts on the Board

Picture of Assembly All Parts on the Board

  • Fix the stepper motors to the upper right and upper left corner of the board.
  • Fiz the servo motor and pen to the gondola.
  • Connect enough weight to the empty en of the belts.
  • Also use a weight to hang the gondola down. (This weight may be coins or batteries.)

Step 5: Machine Dimensions

Picture of Machine Dimensions

  • Remember that your machine size is NOT the same as your surface siz.
  • Your PAGE or drawing AREA size will be smaller.
  • Machine Width:

This is the distance between two closest points on the sprockets (between two pulleys).

  • Machine Height:

This is the distance from the sprocket axis to bottom of your drawing (board) area.

  • Home Point:

This is a magic point marked on the centerline, exactly 120mm (12cm) down from the top edge of your machine.

  • Keep the dimensions of your machine. We will use these values in the software section.

Step 6: Connections

Picture of Connections

  • We use a high-torque stepper motors with the L293D motor driver, so the L293D integration overheated.
  • We should upgrade the L293D motor driver before connecting. You can watch the following tutorial for this.

Tutorial - L293D Motor Shield Upgrade for the High-Torque Stepper Motor

  • After L293D upgrade, make connections according to the circuit diagram above.

Step 7: Source Code and Polargraph

Picture of Source Code and Polargraph
  • Download and install Processing version 1.5.1 --
  • Download and install Arduino IDE version 1.0.5 --
  • Finally, download the Polargraph 1.2 and libraries --
  • Copy the libraries to be used for the Arduino source code. (Copy the libraries in the Polargraph libraries folder to the Arduino libraries folder.)
  • Find the source code to use for the Arduino. (Open the cource code in the Polargraph/ arduino-source/ polargraph_server_a1 folder.)
  • Upload the polargraph_server_a1.ino source code to the Arduino.
  • Then open the Processing software. Find the SketchBook folder from file / preferences/ sketchbook/ location
  • Find the Processing libraries in the Polargraph folder. Copy all the library folders in this folder into the libraries folder in the Processing Sketchbook folder.
  • Move the Polargrapcontroller folder inside the Polargraph folder/ processing-source/ folder into the sketchbook folder.

Define first settings - Machine dimensions

  • Open Processing. Then open polargraphcontroller (file -> sketchbook -> polargraphcontroller)
  • Run the program by pressing the Run button.
  • Enter the Setup section from the tool bar.
  • Adjust the size between two pulleys on the Machine Width
  • Adjust the Machine Height (height between the pulleyand the end of the panel)
  • After machine dimensions, adjust the size the area you will draw. (If ou will draw on an A4 paper, set the A4 size.)
  • Then, first clicthe Center Page and then set the Page Pos Y value 120.
  • Secondly click Center Home Point and set Home Pos Y value 120.

Stepper motor and pulley settings

  • Set the MM Per Rev value according to the pulley and belt you are using. For example, if the belt is GT2 the lue is 2mm. If the pulley has 16 teeth, 2x16 = 32mm. So, the belt will advance 2mm each turn.
  • Adjust Steps Per Rev according to the stepper motor type. For example, if te step angle of the used stepper motor is 1.8 degrees the value is 200 steps. This value is adjust to 400 because dual motor is used.

Servo motor (Pen) settings

  • Pen Up Position and Pen Down Position values are the operating angle of the servo motor.
  • Click Serial Port and select Arduino's port from the list of connected devices.
  • When the correct port is selected, the 'No Serial Connection' display will turn GREEN and the port number to which it is CONNECTED will be displayed.
  • Click on 'Command Queue' and command transmission is activated.
  • Click Upload Lift Range, then click Test Lift Range and test the servo motor angle.

Last Settings - Upload vector image and start the print

  • Save your setting. Load your setting every time you turn on the program.
  • Click the Input tab and switch to the main screen of the program.
  • Then we will anually set the gondola for 'Set Home' manually. Move the gondola by manually and move it to the previously defined home point. The gondola must be adjusted this way before each drawing before clicking 'Set Home'.
  • After this adjustment is done, Set Home and Set Pen Position are clicked.
  • Click Set Area to specify your drawing are. Then click Set Frame to Area to make all necessary settings for drawing.

Draw Vector

  • Find any vector drawing image. Convert image to the SVG format from any converter platform.
  • After select Load Vector from program. Adjust image size with Resize Vector. Move the image to the desired area with Move Vector. Then adjust the area to be printed with Select Area and Set Frame to Area.
  • Finally, click the Draw Vector command to start the machine.


drtonis (author)2017-12-06

very nice project. I would like to build one, but your link to Polargraph 1.2 is broken... Could you re-link it? Thanks

MertArduino (author)drtonis2017-12-13

Thanks for your inform. I created a new link.

tanvirmahadi (author)2017-11-25

can i use Nema17 Stepper Motor 42mm,... for this one..?

alan.phan1 (author)tanvirmahadi2017-11-30

Yes you can. Same same

pedrotorres25 (author)2017-11-27


Can we beef it up to a router and chain and istead of print cut plywood?

heinzdrei (author)pedrotorres252017-11-28

This has been done -- see for example . There are issues however, mainly regarding precision.

JohnW539 made it! (author)2017-11-27

I like your design. I just got my polygraph working last night. (Using another instructable as the basis.) Mine is a bit different. It uses the cheapest stepper motors and drivers that I could find. Modifying the Arduino code was pretty easy. I am just mounted the motor directly in the board and used a wheel design I made and printed. My first drawing was based on a cat image. Instead of a vector drawing, it rendered a greyscale image. I was pretty happy with the results.

MillennialDIYer (author)2017-11-24

I would have loved to see a death match between this contraption and Bob Ross!

About This Instructable




Bio: For more project and tutorial visit my YouTube channel Mert Arduino and Raspberry Pi
More by MertArduino:XY Plotter Drawing Robot | Arduino | PolargraphArduino - Balance - Balancing Robot | How to Make?Arduino - MPU6050 GY521 - 6 Axis Accelerometer + Gyro (3D Simulation With Processing)
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