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Raspberry Pi Drives Tiny CNC Drawing Machine

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Pheux9558)

Maker and developer Pheux9558, as they’re known on Reddit, has developed a custom CNC drawing machine from scratch using a Raspberry Pi. This tiny CNC machine (opens in new tab) is much smaller than your average plotter and uses some recycled hardware from old PCs, including parts from a CD drive and even components of an old floppy drive.

In addition to the Raspberry Pi, it works with an Arduino Uno to process the image details into workable commands for the CNC machine to print with. Finally, to bring everything together, Pheux9558 designed and 3D printed a few pieces for mounting the hardware.

The Raspberry Pi is responsible for taking the gcode commands and transmitting them to the Arduino. The Arduino uses this information to drive the components by the gcode instructions before pinging the Pi to let it know the system is ready for the next set of instructions. This process continues throughout the gcode file until the image is complete.

According to Pheux9558, he’s using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ to drive the operation. However, there’s no reason you couldn’t duplicate this project with something newer like a Raspberry Pi 4B. The CD drive pieces control the X-axis and Y-axis, while the floppy drive handles the Z-axis using a servo motor to life the pen up and down.

Pheux9558 developed the code for this project from scratch, including the gcode interpreter for the Arduino Uno and an original Python application for the Pi to use. Pheux9558 also explains that a custom GUI for the system is currently in development.

If you want to create a similar Raspberry Pi project, check out the original project thread shared by Pheux9558 on Reddit (opens in new tab) to get a closer look at how it all goes together. You can also find more demo pictures of the project on Instagram (opens in new tab). Be sure to follow Pheux9558 for future updates and more cool projects.

Ash Hill
Freelance News and Features Writer

Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.