Assembled a Cheap Axidraw Clone Pen Plotter

Just finished putting together an Axidraw H-bot configuration pen plotter with no instructions – just using info picked up in various Youtube videos and blogs. It was an educational experience. The kit only cost about $50 dollars where I live. The kit includes Arduino Uno, CNC Shield V3.0, two Nema 17 stepper motors and a 12volt power supply. The frame includes all components and the hardest ones are already assembled (eg. bearings into their holders, pen mechanism).

This printer is an H-bot or CoreXY configuration with a single belt used by both steppers so if you use Grbl to communicate with it you must turn on the CoreXY option in the grbl program you load into your Arduino. The one I listed below works great and includes the code to control the pen up/down mechanism.


  • do not power the shield and motor controllers on until the stepper motors are connected to the shield/motor controllers or you will burn them out.
  • Put some additional weight on the pen drop mechanism so that it will not get stuck in the up position.
  • If the G1 X10 goes in the wrong direction you can flip the stepper cable header over on the shield to change direction.
  • Also you may have to set the $3 variable to other than 0 to get the steppers to move in the correct directions.
  • If G1 X10 moves diagonally, that means the CoreXY option in the Arduino Grbl is not on. It is automatically set correctly in the version listed below. In an H-bot configuration, both motors must run simultaneously to move in the X or Y axis only. To move diagonally only one motor moves or both motors move simultaneously at different speeds.

The plotter works great and the only problem I have run across is that the pen mechanism is a little loose and so the plots could be a touch tighter. I will work on my own mechanism later but with the style printing I do, scribble art, it doesn’t hurt it.

Axidraw Pen Plotter Clone kit. Had to assemble with no instructions.

Axidraw Pen Plotter Clone – using Arduino Uno and CNC V3.0 Shield with two Nema 17 stepper motors in H-bot configuration and a servo for the pen lift mechanism.

Axidraw Pen Plotter Clone – pen lift uses servo and works with Grbl version 0.9i modified by misan here:

Here is first drawing I printed to which I just washed a little water over.

Pen plot with acrylic wash over it from painting by Fred Remington.


I use this grbl version 9i, modified to use a servo to control the pen drop here:

Then I use DrawingBotV3 to modify a picture into a scribble style gcode. In this software you can set the commands M3 S200 to drop the pen and M4 to raise it, and have them inserted into the code file for you. Save the gcode file. Code for DrawingBotV3 here:

Finally I use Grbl Controller to connect to the Arduino grbl and send the gcode file I want to print. Code for Grbl Controller here:

About Jim Demello

Christian, ESL teacher, retired computer programmer, former US Army soldier, former Peace Corps Volunteer. Like to paint acrylic portraits, build and fly rc airplanes, play guitar and ukulele, juggle, and hang out with my Chinese wife. Am currently residing in a foreign country but I do love America.
This entry was posted in acrylic painting, artwork, Axidraw Pen Plotter and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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