Nov 7 – 9, 2022
Prague, Czech Republic
Europe/Prague timezone

The world's cheapest, simplest pen-plotter

Nov 7, 2022, 4:00 PM
Karlin 1 (Hilton Prague)

Karlin 1

Hilton Prague

25 Minute Talk Devices


Daniele Procida (He/him)


I present BrachioGraph: an ultra-cheap (€12.50 for all parts, including a Raspberry Pi) Python-powered drawing machine, constructed from cardboard, assembled using basic tools and glue.

Of course I will have a BrachioGraph (or two) live on stage, doing some plotting.

At the heart of BrachioGraph is a Raspberry Pi and some simple custom software, driving three servo motors.

The mechanical hardware can be built from nothing but household items. The only tools required are a ruler, a sharp knife, a screwdriver and something to make holes in the card.

Almost everything required can be found in a desk or kitchen drawer. The entire device can be built with no special skills in about an hour.

This is fun, but it's much more than that. There are barriers of skill, expense and materials around robotics.

I expect this to appeal to anyone who is interested in the idea of Python-driven robotics but is put off by the cost and complexity of hardware required actually to achieve something.

It will be particularly of interest to people involved in education, or who'd like to explore Python with young people. The code, mathematics and especially the hardware in this project are all simple.

The project shows that doing things with robotics isn't just for people with well-equipped workshops and the engineering skills to use them.

Session author bios

Daniele is a Director of Engineering at Canonical, where he leads documentation practice across the whole organisation. He is the author of the Diátaxis documentation framework. He has been involved in open-source communities for many years, as a contributor and organiser: Python, Django and especially the African open-source software movement.

Social Media @EvilDMP on Twitter
Level of Difficulty Beginner

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