A few months ago, Jordan and I decided to build a chalk drawing robot. Our plan was to enter the Amazement Square 2016 Chalk Festival, draw an exact replica of the Mona Lisa, and walk away with the gold. We built Chalkbot over the course of three nights. Jordan focused on the electronics, wiring the stepper motors and programming the Arduino with a gcode interpreter, while I built the gantry and other mechanical aspects. Justin was there to lend some help in both realms.
We were pleased with Chalkbot's artistic talent . It wasn't drawing the Mona Lisa, but it made a pretty cool looking wolf. So full of confidence, thinking about how we would spend our winnings, we took Chalkbot to the Festival and unleashed his talent. In less than five minutes, it was clear that Chalkbot was the worst artist in sight. Embarrassingly, we had only ever tested him inside, on a smooth surface. So when it came time to draw on rough, uneven asphalt in the 95 degree summer heat, we'll just say that many things went wrong.
Not to be deterred, we vowed to rebuild Chalkbot, and this past Saturday began our endeavor to do so. We held our first member build, which involved nine Vector Space members, fueled by caffeine and bagels, working diligently on a CNC build from Thingiverse . They divided the work: cutting conduit, assembling various parts, building circuitry and programming the motor controller. The plan was to work on it for three hours, but they couldn't tear themselves away. At the end of the day, they had built the workings of a significantly improved CNC.
And while the members of Vector Space plan to use it as a CNC router, using it to make Christmas trees, airplanes, signs, 3D puzzles, and all sorts of other bizarre ideas, Jordan and I intend to attach a piece of chalk to it and defeat all humans at Chalk Fest 2017.