Cartesian robot(X,Y,Z-axis)


Im searching for ideas,hardware aswell as coding for making a cartesian robot (controlled in X,Y,Z axis). My idea on this stage is still rudimentary(3 servos,“maybe stepper motors would be better?”,one Arduino, some aluminiumpipes or plastic and a loop head for writing on microbiological media plates). The construction dont need to be perfect. I just want ideas…and some basic code so I can tinker my own way…(hmm three potentiometers for “navigation” or? Joystick?)
Mouse control through Processing hmm…X,Y grid for the interface and the Z axis to compensate in depth(loop needs to touch the surface)

Hmm… a nice discussion with someone that has done a similar thing with the Arduino would be appreciated? Meenwhile ,Im going to play around with a single servo…to make a mixing device :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance…

Would a 3 axis CNC router be somewhat similar to what you want to build ?

If so, just google DIY CNC or Hobby CNC, there are loads of websites with info ábout both the mechanical parts and the electronics. The all use steppermotors, since most servomotors are limited to 180 degrees of rotation.

That was a fast reply…and Yes! that is what I like to build somewhat modified for microbiology work instead of woodwork,but still the principle is the same. Stepper motors is of cource nice but I happend to lay my hands on three 360 continous rotating servos (fun but tricky to program)…and I dont have stepper motors yet…still searching among laboratory equipment :slight_smile: (I need an Igor…)
And I still need to get ideas on how to wire the arduino (ok! three servos…not that hard but still I need some basic code…preferably with x,y grid in the “software”). I have just dived into the programming part with Processing(so far has everything worked)

The mixing device have during the writing “arised from the dead” (live,live!!!..rotate45,go back rotade 45…hahahah…Arduino is fun for i biologist like me…)
Now Im thinking of a sensor that measures the growth of the cultures, turbidity or spectrophotometric hmm…(LED,LDR,optic filter and some tubes)…lets find some more stuff…

…and Im going to search for an Arduino supported 3 axis CNC…and some processing code.

Thanks again…


Did the search part…now I just need to hunt down some old printers for stepper motors (IGOR!!!, go,go,go…fetch -Yes,master!)

This i soooooo fun and …so fun. Time to bring home the old printers for slathering…gather the flock and rip out the good parts…hahahaha…remember me of the dissectionpart in zoology…what is this?? DUNNO,red soggy bit…aha… a powerregulator…there is the stepper motor, I just need to cut away that vein and that vein…sorry got carried away…

fun so much fun…

…now I just need to hunt down some old printers for stepper motors

How much movement do you need? You may want to look into reusing the laser positioning mechanisms from old CD drives.


A new world is opening…

CD drives ok!,(basicly I just need like 10-20 cm of motion or less…) I just walked by ten or so down in the basement. How do you get them out in one piece? I have never opened one…
(I love working at a place were the equipment is replaced each 3-5 years (University) and everything is piled up in the basement, waiting to be destructed or recycled.
How do you wire them? Is there something special to think about?
I guess their movement are more precise then others(?)…which suits my project perfectly. Small microbial things = bigger machines and greater precision…

Maybe this will end up becoming a microbial printer…hmm…replication on plates will be quit easy…I just have to find a nice “positioning system” for the project…

wow! Maybe I could mount a thin glas rod on an arm (servo, stepper motor aided) and be able to make an potentiometer controlled micromanipulator for the microscope with ability to separate yeast cell and collect small worms, fly eggs, etc etc (small things) and organise them in a pattern.

Hmm…I think I had to much coffein today…ideas erupting lik…,Hey… I could make a chemostat with help of the Kegarator project found at MAKE!!!

Igor have a lot of things to do…Mohahahahaha…BEAMS!!! I must have beams Every Mad scientist uses beams… Ill show them…Mohahahaha…(maybe for range detection then (No,be serious!)…but i would be cool with neon green when the light are turned of…Evil style…a couple of LEDs will solve it)

Pimp my scientific project…WOAW!!! :sunglasses:


Im searching for ideas,hardware aswell as coding for making a cartesian robot (controlled in X,Y,Z axis). My idea on this stage is still rudimentary(3 servos,“maybe stepper motors would be better?”)

I’ve got great news for you!

The RepRap project has published PCB’s, wiring solutions, and everything you need for this around the Arduino. The firmware is also working (newly completed). It is focused on Stepper Motors, but the motor drivers are pretty flexible.

It is a Cartesian robot… actually there are two designs: One is an enclosed frame using pulley system (“Darwin”) and the other is based off a CNC design (“McWire RepStrap”) that uses 1" steel water pipes. There are provisions for optical end-stops, etc [all controlled by Arduino].

Info here on the electronics:


This project is turning out more fruitful than I ever expected. Now I just have to hunt down some steel/aluminium pipes and start on the skeleton of the machine. The RepRap videos and pictures gave some nice ideas on how to solve the actual construction and assembly.

More ideas? Im gathering all information I can get. Hmm…maybe I want to have some lidlifting device(for getting into the plates). Grippers or vaccum? More searching to do…

Its great that you could do all this with just the Arduino as controller (I like the small thing more an more…).

Now Im of to plunder kids stuff of servomotors…Hmm… that remote controlled dinosaur looks promising…hehe…

I have scavenged stepper (and DC ) motors from many printers. To open them you usually have to unscrew a few screvs here and there, and then pry some plastic tabs apart.

If the printer has a built in powwr supply it’s a good idea to keep it to power the motors.

Also save some of the other mechanical parts like the steel rods the printhead is moving on it might come in handy in your project.

In inkjet printers there are usually one stepper to advance the paper and one DC motor that moves the printhead, sometimes they are both stepers. But they are not the highest resolution steppers.

The best steppers i have found came from old scanners, and very old 5.25" floppy drives.

If you can get your hands on some the old big Apple Imagewriters you should take them, they have really big and good steppers.