Once you have your drawbot wired up and connected to your computer (but the controller is not plugged to the 120V wall outlet) you’re ready for software!
There are lots of ways to program Mr. Drew. I have a collection of software including Arduino, Processing, Sandy Noble’s software that is ready to go.
1) Unzip this to a folder.
2) Plug the controller to the USB connector on your computer. It does not have to be plugged to 120V yet.
3) Windows should recognize it and then prompt for drivers. Proceed as if you have disks with your own drivers for it. Your controller has an Uno arduino in it. Navigate to the Arduino folder (where you unzipped everything. There is a drivers folder there. It has the drivers for Uno. Select that. It should install.
4) Once installed you can verify if the arduino driver installed properly as follows.
a) Unplug the controller from USB.
b) Start the arduino software by double clicking Arduino.exe in the arduino folder.
c) Go to the menu Tools/Serial Port and take note of what serial ports are available.
d) Exit the arduino software.
e) Plug the controller in.
f) Start the arduino software again.
g) Go to the menu Tools/Serial Ports and take not of what serial ports are available. There should be a new one. Take note of this port number.
If there is a new COM port when the controller is plugged to the computer, we just got through the hard part.
5) Now that we know the controller is talking to the computer we can update it with the latest drawing software. With the controller plugged to the computer (the controller does not have to be plugged to 120V yet), you can do the following steps.
a) In the menu Tools/Board, “Arduino Uno” should be selected.
b) In the menu Tools/Serial Port, the COM port that’s associated to the controller should be selected.
c) In menu File, Open, select the file “DrawbotController.pde” which is in the DrawbotController folder inside the Arduino folder. When this file opens, it will open another instance of the Arduino IDE environment. You can close the empty instance and keep the one with the “DrawbotController.pde” file open.
d) Click the “upload” button which is the second last button on the toolbar. You should see no errors (they will be written in red at the bottom of the Arduino IDE).
The above steps are only done once. After that you can forget about the above steps unless you’ve received a software upgrade.
6) Close the Arduino environment. You will not need it again unless you are upgrading your software.
7) In the software folders, navigate to the Processing folder. Inside there is a file called “processing.exe”. Run this file by double clicking on it.
8) In the File/Open menu, navigate to the “DrawbotController” folder inside the processing folder. Open the “DrawbotController.pde” file.
9) Click the “Run” button which is the first on the toolbar. A little window should appear. Maximize this window. You should see a picture of Marilyn Monroe. You will eventually load your own images but for now use this image for this test.
10) There is a button called “Select TopLeft”. Click that button once and then click the top left of the image. Then click the bottom right of the drawing square which is larger than the Marilyn Monroe picture. Click inside the box for now towards the lower right. A red square should appear.
11) Click the “Resize Image” button. The image should grow to the size of the red square/bounding box.
12) Plug the controller in to 120V outlet.
13) In the far right of the screen there is the word “PAUSED” in red. Click that and it should turn green.
14) Click the button “Set Pen Position”, then click on Marylin’s face. A purple dot should appear where you clicked.
15) Click the button “Move Pen to Point”, then click somewhere else on the image. The two spools should move.
If the spools move, then your machine is completely operational and you are ready to try your first image. If you have any issues make sure the steps above were all followed and seek help from Darcy.
If they don’t move, then open the text file called “polargraph.properties.txt” in the processing folder inside the DrawbotController folder. Inside that file is a row for the COM port (controller.machine.serialport=-1). Using notepad text editor, change the number (in this case -1) to 1. Make sure you stop and restart the processing environment. Go back to step 7 and try again. If that doesn’t work, try the numbers 0, 2, 3, 4 and so forth until you find the number that corresponds to the sequence of the COM port your computer has assigned to the controller.
16) Unplug the controller from 120V.
Mounting Mr. Drew
Use great care not to fall when mounting things on the wall. Cut two lengths of fishing wire that are long enough to reach from the spool mount position to every corner of your drawing (add 50 percent or more to make sure). At one end of each line, tie a large not (perhaps a figure 8 with a couple overhands layered on top). This will fit in the slit at the back of the spools. Hook each line into the spool slots. Perhaps s small piece of masking tape to hold them in the slot while you mount the spools.
Position each spool and add screws through the mount holes.
Route all the wiring and make sure the controller and computer have a nice place to sit.
Tie the lines to the gondola. There are two mounting holes for that.
To wind the spools use the software to tell the spools to wind in. To keep a tension on the lines so they wind nicely on the spools clamp a clothespin or small clamp onto each line. As the spool reals the clamp up, move the clamp downward. Keep doing this till the gandola weight is on both wires. If one spool starts to carry the gondola before the other, simply unwind that spool a bit while the other catches up.
To make the spools wind, open processing.exe and open the DrawbotController. Click Run. Mark your pictures Top Left and Lower Right. Make sure the red “pause” indicator is not on by clicking it. Set the position of the gandola to the bottom of the image. Then use the move button to move it to the top. Set position to bottom. Move to top. Set position to bottom. Move top. Each time you do this the spools will wind up more. When it is getting close, click closer to the existing position so each time it it moves it will move less.
If it is going to pull too much tension on the wires, simply unplug the controller from 120. Replug.
Once the gandola is anywhere in the drawing area you are done.
Making your Own Image with Mr. Drew
The preparation of the image can be done on any computer (not necessarily the one connected to the Mr. Draw system). This is that part of the process where you can add your own creative input.
Start with your image as a JPG file. Load the file into a graphics editor. The following instructions are for the use of GIMP which is a free software. You can google “download gimp” to get it installed on a computer.
Once the file is in GIMP you can do the following types of changes.
Menu Image/Mode/Grey Scale or Image/Mode/Indexed. This will change the image to black and white so you can see the different shades that the machine will attempt.
Brightness and Contrast.
Re-sizing. I’ve been making my images about 400 pixels wide and that’s been working well. You can try wider ones with higher resolution too.
You can do whatever you want with the image.
Once you’re happy with the contrast of the image you can transfer it to the machine that’s connected to the controller. You can drop it into the DrawbotController folder in the processing folder. Within the same folder is a file called “polargraph.properties.txt”. Within that file you need to change the file name from
It is case sensitive.
Start the processing controller by opening processing if it’s not already open. Then menu File/Open and go into the Processing folder and the DrawbotController folder and open the controller file. Click the Run button and the little window will appear. Maximize the little window that appears and you should see your image in the controller.
Use the “”Select TopLeft”” button to click the top left and lower right of your image. You can go ahead and click out a large square. Resize the image with the button and it should fill your square.
If the red pause indicator is on, click it to turn it green.
First we want to move the pen gandola to the upper right of the drawing area. Do this by first using the “Set Pen Position” to estimate where the gandola actually is. Then use “Move Pen to Point” to move the gondola to the top right of the drawing area. You may have to do this several times to get it to be at the top right and also have the pink dot on the screen at the top right.
You can discover where the draw area of the drawbot is by using “Move Pen to Point” to move the gondola to each corner of the draw area on the computer screen. Make sure a piece of paper is mounted to cover this area.
Move the gandola back to top right.
Mount a pen in the gondola.
Click “Shade Scribble”.
It should start drawing your image.
Check the motor temperature from time to time. If they are too hot, you can turn down the voltage on the regulator.
Always unplug the drawbot from power before changing any settings or wiring.
The motor voltage is set by the dip switches (seen in the picture).
The voltage value is 1.5 volts plus the sum of all the switches that are in the left position. In this example it’s 0.5, 1, 2, 4. The total is 7.5. We add the 1.5 onto that and get 9V. So the drawbot is running on 9V.
If it gets hot, turn it off for a few minutes, then lower the voltage. For instance disable the .5 switch. To drop another 1/2 volt, disable the 1V switch then renable the .5 switch and so forth.
The idea is to have the voltage as low as possible and have the machine run reliably.