After about a week of learning the basics of Arduino, we were given a brief for the final project that required us to create a plotter machine that worked on inputs from the user. Following the initial brainstorming sessions, we decided to work on a plotter machine that used proximity sensors as its input. The plotter would plot a drawing or navigate through a maze, based on the proximity of the user’s hands from the sensor. The inspiration behind the idea was a popular game known as the Vertical Labyrinth.
We began our development by studying and understanding similar plotter machines that students had built. After understanding the main components we required for the project, we began building an initial prototype that worked in principle. The prototype gave us a clear idea of what worked well and what could be improved. We then tweaked all the aspects of the protype and created a functioning plotter. After testing the prototype multiple times, tweaking the code and electronics, and then retesting it, we finally proceeded to build a body for the plotter. The body for the Spider Plotter was built entirely with panels of wood that were laser cut and fixed together like a puzzle.
Interface and Interaction Modality
The Spider Plotter is similar to the Vertical Labyrinth in the sense that it is a vertical game and requires user interaction in order to plot or navigate through a maze. It has only two buttons – the on / off button and the reset button. The body of the plotter has a TOF sensor on either side. The sensors control two stepper motors that can rotate in clockwise and anticlockwise directions in order to move the plotter head, that has a pen attached to it. The ability of the two motors to move in either direction is what controls the plotter head to move around. The pen that is positioned at the centre of the plotter head, draws along the canvas as the plotter head moves around.
The Spider Plotter sets itself apart by working entirely without any physical contact. All the user has to do is move their hands closer or further away from the sensor on either side of the body, and the plotter head moves accordingly. The Spider Plotter has an intuitive learning curve, where users can understand how to play with it without much prior instructions.