It's no secret that PopSci loves robots, but even we think they have some shortcomings--mainly that there aren't more of them everywhere doing everything, from the very big to the very small. Plus, robots are expensive and often complicated. But not Piccolo. This pocket-sized CNC platform from London shop Diatom Studio turns your ideas into high-quality doodlings for less than $70.
Right now the Piccolo is still in prototype stage, but soon enough the Arduino-compatible platform will allow those of us with the least artistic acumen to turn our visions into beautiful back-of-the-envelope schematics and cocktail-napkin diagrams. Says Piccolo's Web site:
Piccolo is a pocket-sized stand-alone CNC platform. For under $70, you will be able to assemble your personal Arduino-compatible kit for tinkering, and playing with basic CNC output. Be it plotting a quick graffiti, printing a one-off business card on the fly, or multiple Piccolos working together to create a large mural, this kit provides a platform for experimenting with 2D or 3D digital fabrication at a small scale.
That's pretty neat, even though its working space is a bit limited because of its small size. The finished product will include Arduino and Processing libraries so users can experiment with their Piccolos as well. Which means Piccolo isn't just an inexpensive sketch-bot, but potentially a really interesting learning tool. More details and a demo in the video below.
I'm probably having a ditzy moment here but can anyone explain to me why I'd use one of these over a printer?
Either novelty or education, most likely. In high school a number of years ago, we had a somewhat larger desktop CNC drawing rig we had made from an old computer and stepper motors from 5 1/4" floppy drives. It did a terrible job replicating complicated designs (would have been better if we had servos instead of steppers) though, so it was never really USEFUL.
On the other hand, it was a great low cost platform to teach CNC coding (G code at the time), and play around with different settings. With other CNC platforms costing hundreds or thousands, a little toy like this could bring experimentation with automation down to high school level or lower.
Would also make a great desk toy :)
Back in 1980 we called that a pen plotter. They were fun to watch, but very slow. An ink jet plotter could do in a minute what a pen plotter would need a half an hour or more to do.
they're gonna get sued by the creator of the anime Dragonball
This would be great as a start up device for anyone trying to go on these types of jobs. But for me its more of a novelty/entertainment kind of thing.
you could put a pen with silver ink in the machine and have it print out detailed prototype circuit boards. just a thought on a useful application.
Hmmm... I like to draw, but how does it know what to draw?