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DrawBot Software Guide

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1.0 Introduction

After the mechanical build of the machine has been completed, the Drawbot can now be interfaced with software.

Certain files and settings in the software configuration need to be adjusted from the base firmware to suit your Drawbot. Although you can perform these changes manually, we’ve simplified the process for you by precompiling the necessary files.

LaserGRBL is a popular software program designed for pen plotting, laser engraving, and cutting applications. It’s known for its compatibility with GRBL-based laser machines, offering users an easy-to-use interface for designing and controlling laser projects. For the Drawbot we will use LaserGRBL to plot designs and this guide will help you to set up the software and get your designs plotted on a piece of paper.

2.0 Drawbot Recommended Software File Extraction 

Please download the Drawbot Recommended Folder by clicking on this link. This folder contains all the necessary files for configuring the Drawbot and handy project files to get you started which will be used later in this guide. Please follow the steps listed below to extract the folder:

Step 1: Download the Drawbot Recommended Software zip folder using the above link. Right click on the downloaded zip folder and click on “Extract All”. A new window will appear, select the location where you want to extract the folder and left click on “Extract”.

Figure 1
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Step 2: Go to the location where you extracted the folder and open it to access the files.

Figure 3

3.0 Configuring USB Drivers and Flashing the Arduino Compatible Microcontroller with LaserGRBL

The LaserGRBL is used to flash the Arduino-compatible microcontroller with the correct firmware as well as install the CH340 USB drivers required for interfacing the Arduino-Compatible microcontroller with your computer.

Please follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Download LaserGRBL from this link.

Step 2: Navigate to the Downloads folder of your computer and double-click the file named install.exe to start the installation procedure. See Figure 4.

Figure 4

Step 3: Complete the installation procedure by clicking the Next button.

Figure 5

Step 4: It is recommended to tick “Create a desktop shortcut” for ease of locating the installed software. When the software has finished installing, ensure that the “Launch LaserGRBL”  checkbox is ticked and click “Finish”. The program will automatically launch.

Figure 6

Step 5: When LaserGRBL opens, navigate to the “Tools” Menu. In the drop-down, select “Install CH340 Driver”. Please see Figure 7.

Figure 7

Step 6: A pop-up will show. Click the “INSTALL” button highlighted by the red square. Please see Figure 8.

Figure 8

Step 7: A successful installation will show the following message. Click “OK” to exit the installation manager.

Figure 9

Step 8: Connect your Arduino-compatible controller to an available USB port on your computer and make sure that the COM port is set to the COM port that your Arduino-compatible controller is plugged into. In the Figure 10 below, Arduino-compatible controller is connected to COM4, this may differ from the COM port number on your device.

Step 9: After selecting the COM port, navigate to Tools and click “Flash Grbl Firmware” to flash the controller with the firmware. Please see the Figure 10 below.

Figure 10

Step 10: A dialogue box will show. Select Arduino Uno as the target microcontroller. To select the appropriate firmware file, click on —select custom firmware—.

Figure 11

 Step 10: A window will launch. Navigate to the Drawbot Recommended Software File folder created earlier. In this folder, select the Drawbot_main.hex file. Press the OK button and the firmware will flash to your Arduino-compatible controller. Please see Figure 12.  A command window will open and report on the progress of flashing of the controller.

A successful installation will show the message shown in Figure 13 below.

Figure 12
Figure 13

4.0 Configuring your DrawBot with LaserGRBL

Step 1: Plug in your Arduino based microcontroller to your computer and open LaserGRBL software. 

Figure 14

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Step 2: Click on the connect button as shown in the Figure 15 below. You will hear a beep sound indicating connection established.

Figure 15

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Step 3: To load the configuration file, go to “Grbl” and click on “Grbl Configuration” . See the Figure 16 for reference.  

Figure 16

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Step 4: Click on “Import” and select the configuration file “drawbot_settings.nc”.

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Figure 18

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Step 5: After the file has loaded, a message “Config imported successfully!” will pop up. Click on the “Write” button to finish the process. 

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Figure 20

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5.0 Plotting Your First Drawing

5.1 Adjusting the Pen

Prior to using the Drawbot, it is recommended to adjust the pen so that the drawings are consistent across the page. Please follow the steps listed below:

Step 1: In LaserGRBL, navigate to the LaserGRBL consoleType M3S1000 in the console and press the Enter key on your keyboard. The pen will move down to the bottom position. You may notice that the pen is not touching the paper. Please see Figure 21.

Figure 21

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Step 2: Using an Allen Key, loosen the two screws holding the pen in place and push down gently on the pen until it slides down and touches the paper. Re-tighten the screws. In the LaserGRBL console, type M5 to make the pen move back to the default position above the paper. See Figure 22 for reference.

Figure 22

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5.2 Loading an Image into LaserGRBL

Images can be loaded into LaserGRBL for drawing by the drawbot. Image files are accepted such as the popular .JPG, .PNG, .SVG image file formats. Please follow the steps listed below to load an image into LaserGRBL.

Step 1: Navigate to the Menu bar, click on “File” menu and select “Open File”. Select the image you want to draw and click “Open”

Figure 23
Figure 24

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Step 2: With the file now loaded, you may need to adjust the sliders to get the desired lines. It is recommended to have the following settings for this drawing file of the dog:

  • Brightness: 72
  • Contrast: 133
  • White Clip: 51
Figure 25

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Step 3: Click Next, and the drawing parameters will be shown. Adjust them to show the following:

    1. Border speed is the drawing speed in millimeters per minute (mm/min)
    2. S-MIN and S-MAX should be 0 and 1000 respectively. These control the power of the height of the pen and should not be changed.

The image size by default depends on the resolution of the image. It can however be adjusted to a new size by entering the desired drawing size in millimeters (mm). Click create to generate the drawing file. In the example below it was set to 100mm x 100mm. Click “Create” to generate the drawing file. See the Figure 27.

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Figure 27

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Step 4: The drawing file will now be loaded and the bottom toolbar will now be active.

Using the jog panel at the bottom right, the Drawbot can be moved. The slider to the left controls the speed in millimeters per minute while the slider to the right controls the distance travelled per button click. For example,  If the right arrow is pressed once, the drawbot will move 10mm in the right direction. The Drawbot can also move diagonally by clicking the arrows pointing at 45 degrees. See Figure 29 for reference.

Figure 28
Figure 29

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Step 5: Using the jog panel, move the Drawbot to the front left corner of the paper as shown in the Figure 30 below. Press the Set Zero button indicated by an Earth globe icon with a navigation icon to set the start position. This is where the Drawbot will start drawing from.

It is recommended to check whether the drawing file will fit comfortably on the paper if the file is large and close to the dimensions of the paper or if you have multiple drawings on the paper. Press the Frame and the Drawbot will trace around the perimeter of the drawing file. See the Figure 31 for reference.

Figure 30
Figure 31

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Step 6: After setting the Work Zero and checking the framing, the drawing can be started. Press the Green play button to begin the drawing. The Drawbot will start drawing  and the progress, estimated time are displayed at the bottom of the screen. See Figure 32 & 33 for reference.

Figure 32
Figure 33

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Check the video below:

5.3 Pausing the Program

To pause the program left click on the Red Hand Icon. The icon of a person next to the Hand icon will illuminate orange and the Hand icon will be greyed out. To resume the program, click on the Person. See Figure 34 below for reference.

Figure 34

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5.4 Aborting the Program

To abort the program, left click on the red button shown in Figure 35. A message will appear confirming aborting the program. Click Yes to abort the program.

Figure 35

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For additional projects please refer to the earlier downloaded Drawbot Recommended Software folder. 

6.0 How to Open Projects

Step 1: Navigate to the Menu bar, click on “File” menu and select “Open File”. Select the project from the Drawbot Recommended Software folder you want to draw and click “Open”.

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Figure 37

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Step 2: The project will open up in the window and then click “Next”. Adjust the image resolution as per your liking, by default its set to 100mm x 100mm.

Figure 38
Figure 39

Step 3: Click on “Create” and the image will open up in a new window ready to be plotted. See the Figure 40 for reference.

Figure 40

Support

For any questions or concerns regarding the setup or software, please contact us at sales@makerstore.com.au

Australian customers: For more project ideas and solutions, please visit makerstore.com.au

North American customers: For more project ideas and solutions, please visit makerstore.com.cc

 

Credits

  • Maker Community
  • GRBL Community
  • Laser GRBL Community
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