Arduino Etch-a-Sketch?

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DICKEYBIRD

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One of my grandchil'uns is showing interest in the wonders of electricity & I've planned a few simple things for us make in the shop (electromagnet, solar fan, etc) & I was thinking about us CNC'iing an Etch-a-Sketch this coming year if she stays interested. I have some old stepper motors, Mach 3 & a junk box but saw a youtube vid about doing it with an Arduino. If it could load G-code & run without a PC or Mach it'd be swell. We can make simple CAD drawings & post process on the shop computer but I'd like to stay as simple as possible at the E.a.S. itself.

I have absolutely no knowledge of any of the Arduino tech & was hoping some of you wizardly folks here could point out the cheapest, simplest ways to accomplish this feat. I've seen some earlier Arduino stuff for peanuts on my favorite surplus site. At this stage in my tinkering career I'm not looking for a new obsession or the latest greatest toys, just trying to fascinate & challenge a brilliant (& so cute) young lady without breaking Pappaw's hobby budget.:)
 

ShopShoe

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dickeybird,

I don't know about "the absolute cheapest:" sometimes spending just above cheapest adds substantial benefits and saves time.

First of all, read Chuck Fellows's excellent thread on the arduino dividing head to get an idea of some of the things that are involved in what you are starting. I am in the middle of a build of one of these myself. (It's going so slowly due to interruptions that I have decided that I will post when done, rather than in process.)

Second, go to:

http://www.arduino.org

for the information from the source.

Third, I took the approach of searching and buying an arduino learning kit and the stepper and power supply and etc. through Amazon. With the downloaded tutorial and the kit of parts in the learning kit you can get up to speed on both the programming and the ways you make the arduino fit for different tasks.

If I remember correctly from about 8 months ago, I did not spend more than $150.00 for everything to learn and build with the arduino and the other parts as recommended by Chuck. So, probably less than $100 for just the arduino learning kit and some miscellaneous items for learning. (BTW, there is a basic motor in the learning kit, but it is too small to move much of anything.)

You will need a computer to program and upload to the arduino. I had an old Windows XP box that I put on my electronics bench for that purpose.

Good luck. Post your experiences. I promose to read them.

--ShopShoe
 

DICKEYBIRD

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Hiya ShopShoe; thanks for the info! I have a lot of research to do for sure.

My plan is to get the minimum equipment needed to load & execute simple X/Y G-code files; no Z-axis needed. The control just needs to output to low power stepper drive(s); no limit or homing switches, etc needed. I plan to use my old TurboCAD program to generate .dxf's to load into ACE converter which will spit out a simple G-code file. I'll probably get the drivers & motors installed & tested with Mach & then tackle the Arduino stuff.

I don't yet know about shields, sketches & stuff but I hope to learn. No way I'll need to get under the hood" (I hope) "of an Arduino; I'm hoping that's all been done & is available easily.
 

Foozer

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I had that idea, get the grandkids interested in Arduino - They think I'm nuts. Out of the mouth of babes "This is your brain on Arduino . . ."


Cat has the right idea . .
 

ddmckee54

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You've probably already looked into this, but what about using 3D printer hardware/software? The boards are getting dirt cheap and the software is open source, just download the flavor you want to start using. Most, if not all of the boards, will allow you to run off a small flash drive eliminating the need for a PC to run the g-code. You might even be able to use one of the existing slicing programs to generate your g-code for you.

Don
 

rodw

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Also look at TinyG on the Arduino platform. Also consider LinuxCNC and a parallel port breakout board.
 

vederstein

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The GRBL motion control software is what you need to turn the Arduino into a G-code motion controller. Because the Arduino (it only works with the basic UNO for now) only has 32K of memory, it's unable to store the G-code program, so it must be spoon fed the code.

So you still need a computer and a USB cable to feed the code to the Arduino. Hardware requirements are very low. I did it with a ten year old netbook. There are several programs out there to feed the code to the Arduino (bCNC, UGS, Easel, etc). Some only feed the g-code, others have some design components capability built in. My preference is bCNC. Easel seems more geared for artsy stuff. Hell you can even use a simple terminal program to talk to GRBL, but nobody really wants to.

I may be running Linux, but there are Windows versions of the software as well.

As for wiring the Arduino, it's really not that hard:



You don't have to use all the pins. On my machine I skipped Feed Hold, Cycle Start, and Coolant Enable. Either I just control these from the computer or I don't need them. If you're careful, you don't even have to wire up the homing pins.

As far as configuring GRBL, bCNC has an easy interface so you don't have to type in $$ command directly to configure it.

My setup uses some pretty powerful motors, so accordingly my cost was higher. But if you go with the cheap NEMA 17 motor, you should be able to get a motion system for under $150. Note that I tried a Chinese knock off Arduino with no luck. The genuine Arduino worked much better.

I hope this helps...

Ved.
 

DICKEYBIRD

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Great info Ved, thanks! My other, more selfish project has shoved the Etch-a-Sketch off the table temporarily but all this info will be very useful down the road. Maybe a birthday or Christmas gift for her. It certainly won't hurt to gather bits & pieces & read up on it 'til I get time!
 

BrianS

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You probably have enough information for this project but just in case you wanted to actually build your own version of an Etch-a-sketch instead of just using the normal toy, I though I'd share this video:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq3Et9gOISI[/ame]

In the video he gives some history of the Etch-a-sketch and builds his own version using the original patent information. I found it interesting and thought I'd share.

Brian
 

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