Happy Holidays

So the building that my workshop is in closes down over the holidays, from now until the 2nd of January, and like Bagpuss, when the studio goes to sleep, the Polargraph Company goes to sleep too. Of course I NEVER sleep, and will hopefully get a bit of time to finish the polargraph processing library over Christmas and New Year. That and Battlefield 4.


There’s a couple of new professional developments that might bear some fruit next year too, including a project with the Science Festival to make a big, show-and-tellable version. I’m hoping that will be a springboard to get auto-homing working properly, and do a bit more work on large scale machines.

Thanks to all the folks who have supported me this year, I hope you think it’s been worth it.

See you all in 2014!

PolargraphSD updates

Thank you to all the people who have terrified me by ordering PolargraphSD machines and  vitamin kits.  I have been gently buying up all the bits I still need, and have most things en route except for a critical component – motors.  Turns out the factory has a summer holiday and shuts down for a month!  So motors won’t be arriving until the end of the first week in September (a fortnight from now). Hopefully other stuff will be here by then, so most of the slow work will have been done and it won’t take long to assemble and test and pack.

I’m going to take a couple more orders before suspending – really a dozen or so is the most I’m comfortable owing folk, so there’ll be a pause while I figure out a smarter way of doing it.

Buying a Polarshield on its own

After talking with new forum member ITVirtuoso, I figured I should offer a polarshield-only pack.  This would be either 1) PCB plus components to solder yourself or 2) PCB with all essential components soldered.

This is a little trickier than it might otherwise be because it’s an SMT design (0805 sized components), and a lot of folk aren’t quite comfortable doing surface mount stuff.  But if I do only the SMT stuff, then it’s not quite complete enough to actually test.  So actually 1) could be very cheap, and 2) could be comparatively expensive, considering what you’re getting, which would be a board full of connectors and resistors (pretty much).  Don’t really know how much demand there’d be for either, so let me know if either appeal.  How much fear does SMT hold these days?

Full colour drawings

The same new user as above has just started with his machine, and has already got some very impressive results – jumping right in with a full colour, four-layer CMYK drawing that looks pretty great to me, go and have a look!

Polargraphs from Manchester Maker Faire on Wired blog

My two partners in crime Stuart Childs (he of the DRBO) and Matt Venn (he of the energy monitor and the two-wire pen-lift mechanism) have been evangelising with their own polargraph-compatible machines around and about this year, and were at the Manchester Mini Maker Faire last month to great effect.

Wired’s Geekmom covered it and has positive things to say.  Thanks to Stuart for pointing this out, and for both of them for being such enthusiastic supporters.

Resize images!

Just committed a couple of changes to the controller, the most significant is that you can now select an area (using the box1/box2) and then click “Resize image” and your loaded bitmap will stretch or squash to fit horizontally into your selection box. Don’t forget to save to properties after you’ve done it though, if you want to keep it.

Other little changes:

  • Names of buttons.  Box1 / Box2 is now Select TopLeft / Select BotRight.
  • New outlines.  Not actually new, but haven’t had their own button for a while.  Bottom section of the buttons panel on F1.  I put these back in because I’ve been battling with a new pixel direction choosing algorithm on the embedded side and they were going all over the place. Draw grid of box draws an empty grid over the area you’ve selected. Draw outline box isn’t new, but it’s been moved.  It just draws to all four points of the selection box.  You can use this to test if you have good geometry on your machine.  Draw outline rows draws a line around each row you have in your selection area.  Draw outline pixels draws a line around each pixel you have in your drawing area.
  • Fixed problem where it would crash if the top-left corner of the image was to the right, or further down of the selection box top-left.
As usual, this code is available from the Polargraph code repository.