The first mention of a “string drawing robot” on the internet is dated back to 1988 in in footage from MIT depicting a computer lab and a drawing robot built from Legos. Over the last 25 years since this video was made many others have created their own such drawing robots.

This type of drawing robot is sometimes referred to as a “wall hanging” drawing robot, a “v-plotter,” a “vertical plotter,” or even a “string drawing robot.”  Whichever name is chosen, these drawing robots have a common method of operation.  They basically consist of two motors which reel in and out a cord or belt with a pen hanging from a device between the two motors.  By varying the amount reeled in or out on either side of the pen, the pen can be moved to almost any point between and below the two motors.

There are a lot of benefits to this kind of robot.  It is relatively cheap and easy to build and operate.  The size of the robot’s drawing area is basically only limited to the amount of string and flat surface you have.  And, you will find that the drawings produced by the robot are extremely forgiving to most mistakes that might be made in its construction.

However, it is only fair to disclose that the robot is quite slow.  Filling an A41 sheet of paper could take an hour or more.  A detailed drawing the size of a large movie poster could take days.  If you’ve got the patience to build and operate such a robot, you’ll find that the drawing style of the robot tends to be strangely hypnotic and entertaining.

  1. 8-1/2″ x 11″ []