Testing Out 3D Printed Scribble Machines

In the weeks to come, we are focusing on Maker Faire prep, but I’m also working on an updated project guide for scribble machines.

It would be nice if I could fit this project guide to the template I just created for Turtle Art, but we’re talking about two very different kinds of projects. The Turtle Art project guide is designed to teach a specific curriculum over a series of lessons, while scribble machines are more of an exercise in creative design and observation. So I’ve been playing with different ways to structure this guide, which has led me to experiment with expanding the project, itself.

I’m wanting to add a greater complexity and technology aspect to scribble machines, beyond just taping markers to a plastic cup, so right now (as I type this), I’m 3D printing my own, customized scribble machine that I designed on TinkerCAD. I feel like this takes scribblers from an elementary school project to a middle and even high school project, giving students the opportunity to really think critically about their designs, and spend time tinkering and fussing over the nuances of how their machine will work. I started my design yesterday, and have already had to tweak measurements five or six times.

Right now my idea is to create shafts that the markers can fit snuggly in, (because, as anyone who’s ever made a scribbler knows, getting the markers secured solidly and precisely is a pain), with holes throughout the body to tie a motor down.

A few tips:

1. Test run individual components before spending two hours waiting for the entire design to print. Don’t assume your markers will fit into your precisely measured and designed tubes that you’ve spent an hour printing. Make a tiny ring using those measurements first, then go for the gold. I learned this the hard way…

2. For my design, I had to angle the shafts outward for balance.

3. As much as possible I tried to fill my design with holes, to not only cut down on print time, but also to give as many options as possible for tie-ons to my design.

So, here it is, after just a few hours of tinkering and printing.

(The video is too big to upload, but click here to see it in action.)

I really like how snuggly the markers fit. (I think I used a diameter of 0.635 for the shafts.) I can see students taking this project even further from here. As I was printing mine, I considered how annoying it would be to have to design and print a whole new machine if I wanted different marker placements, etc, so I thought creating interchangeable parts might be fun, to keep the design as flexible as possible. And I think it probably wouldn’t be too hard to use an electronics kit with servos (like Hummingbirds) to program the machine to draw specific shapes.

Anyway, these are some ideas I’m playing with right now. Perhaps you’ll see some of them at
Maker Faire.