For most of my life, the hardware store has been an uncomfortable, yet fascinating place. Each aisle brimming over with neatly organized bits and pieces from disciplines I had no familiarity with as a young person (plumbing, roofing, automotive, construction). I was a visitor in a foreign world.
Still, I’ve always enjoyed roaming up and down the aisles and imagining different ways I could potentially misuse or adapt things for my needs. Zip ties, hose clamps, unloved dollar bin misfits -- all of it ripe with potential.
In this way, I can deeply relate to maker Randy Sarafan’s methods for crafting robots and machines from seemingly unrelated bits of hardware.
In his latest Instructables project (shown recently at the Tinkercad booth at the 2019 ISTE conference) Randy shows us how to create a mechanical drawing machine with a handful of inexpensive parts and three 3D printed fittings. It’s a fun, classroom-friendly project that requires no coding or soldering.
The result is a quirky machine that can be placed on any flat surface (paper, t-shirts, blacktop) to draw a number of different patterns. Randy’s design uses a fitting for a standard Sharpie-style marker. But because the fitting is designed in Tinkercad and easily customized, it’s a perfect invitation for students to resize the pen holder to whatever medium they want to work with -- chalk, ballpoint pen, pencil).
As an alternative, Randy also has a simpler guide for creating a Circle Drawing Machine using fewer components, great for younger students. If you make one for yourself, be sure to share your build on Instructables, or share it with us over Twitter or Instagram. We’d love to see one of these out in the wild.