Pencil Plotting

Posted by interlockroc on Fri 24 February 2012

HP 7580B Plotter 1

Oops. We've got another pen plotter at Interlock.

HP 7580B Plotter 2

I mentioned before that I've been tinkering with said plotters and webcams and some minimal computer vision noodling. Eventually, I'd like to implement some of my own software (likely using Processing) to do some more in-depth sketchy-yet-robotic drawings.

As such, I had been trying to think of easy/cheap ways to get a pencil working on the device. A normal pencil will only get so far before it needs sharpening, and none of my plotters have yet become talented enough to lumber over to the pencil sharpener. Soo...

Pencil Plotter 1

Tada! Did you know they make mechanical pencils that auto-advance their lead? I didn't, until this was mentioned on a mailing list I'm on for discussing the Chiplotle python plotter library (and plotters in general).

A quick Amazon Prime-ing of the BIC AI mechanical pencil and away we go. I stuck it into a hollowed out plotter pen, as demonstrated above, and it seemed to work fine and auto-advance the lead whenever necessary. Sweet.

Pencil Plotter 2

So for the two of you out there interested in pen plotters, now you know. For the rest of you, maybe you've got an Eggbot or a Makerbot Unicorn or some cool sort of homebrewed plotter... go get it running with some genuine [STRIKEOUT:100% lead] mixture of graphite with clay binder. And if you're into drawing and/or robots and/or software, you should stop in and play with the plotters someday. I'll get you started, so bring in some vector artwork, and maybe some paper, and we'll see what happens!