Art In the News Makelangelo

Friday Facts 18: New Makelangelo generators

The Makelangelo plotters software is always getting improvements and today I’d like to share some of the latest with you. As of today the last official release of Makelangelo Software is 7.37. But did you know that exciting work is always going on in the discussion group? Hot new stuff is being added all the time. We’re up to version 7.44. Here’s a list of changes.

  • Firmware can now be updated from every platform
  • Added image intensity to height converter
  • Added Quadtree-like instant filter
  • Added Circular mazes
  • Added Honeycomb mazes
  • Added more Truchet Tiles
  • Misc other fixes

Firmware can now be updated from every platform

OSX proved to be quite challenging. But it was worth it if it makes everyone’s life easier going forward. Firmware changes are rare and now they are that much less painful. So now when the code in the brain of the robot is changed you won’t have to jump through a lot of hoops. Instead you can use File > Update firmware and follow the prompts.

Added image intensity to height converter

The change in height of each line is affected by the intensity of the underlying image. Line spacing and line offset are adjustable from the menus.


Added Quadtree-like instant filter

Contributed by itsMohammedThaier. Starting from the whole picture, divide the rectangle in 4 quadrants. if the chnage in color over a quadrant is too much, split this quadrant and repeat.


Added Circular mazes

What’s not to love? Being randomly generated from a depth-first search, I’m pretty sure there are sometimes two ways to solve each maze.


Added Honeycomb mazes

Would you believe all well-formed mazes are generated the same? The difference is in how the walls are drawn.


Added more Truchet Tiles

Orthogonal, Diagonal, and Curved. You can mix and match them together!


And more!

  • Better drawing of counterweights and belts
  • Added timestamps to Marlin conversation
  • Added more unit tests for unused translations and missing translations
  • Internally merged shared code for Vornoi diagrams
  • Internally merged shared code for Truchet tiles
  • Internally merged shared code for Mazes

Final thoughts

So if any of that seems interesting to you, check it out in the nightly builds.

Thank you to everyone who donated to support the software development. Your donations keep me in beer, and beer keeps me at Ballmer peak.

Discuss this and anything else plotter related on our Discord.

Makelangelo News

Friday Facts 6: Makelangelo software 7.28.2

Today I’m pleased to announce the stable release of Makelangelo software 7.28.2. I’d like to thank everyone in the community for your support, especially the Discord users working to find and report bugs.

Lookin’ good, good lookin’!

Goodbye, Makelangelo Firmware

The big news is that Marginally Clever is no longer maintaining Makelangelo-firmware. It was too much esoteric work taking up all my time. Instead I teamed up with the good people that make Marlin 3D printer firmware. Together we’ve added polargraph robot support. Check out FF4 if you want the open source code or to make your custom machine tweaks.

New plotter controls separate making art from driving robot.

Get Makelangelo Software

The newest makelangelo software is available in our store, by donation. You can also get releases from our open source github repository.

In order to make it run you will need to install Java JDK 17 or later.

Use Makelangelo Software

Video time!

video late because editor is AFK. one more pandemic shortage!


We’d love more people translating the app and sharing ideas about how to make it better. Join us on Discord or submit a ticket to github today.

Makelangelo News Robot Arm

Friday Facts 1: Sixi 3 update

This week I worked on the Sixi 3 arm quite a lot.


Monday, I made a new tool to talk to my robots. Arduino Serial monitor is all well and good but I needed more features and some color coding.

Sixi 3

Tuesday I tackled a problem with the base of the robot. When I designed the first version it seemed fine! Then I tried to drive it while in a Zoom meeting for the Vancouver Robotics Club and discovered that at the right spot the base and the J1 actuator collide.

Whoops. So I designed and 3D printed a new base…

…which didn’t work! The screws to attach the base to the board could not be accessed after the base was on the J0 gearbox. No tool clearance is bad! Taking the whole robot off the board just to fix J0 is bad! So that went in the recycling and I tried again.

That worked much better!

The screws that go on an angle through the top and bottom halves of the base need a nut. The nut can’t turn. I could make a really tight slot that the nut barely fits into… but then how do i get the nut out later? My solution is these nut holding tools. They fit snugly, prevent the nut from turning, and give me a convenient handle to grab with pliers when I need to pull them out. A gift to my future self!

Makelangelo 5

As you know from the previous post, there’s a new firmware coming that is faster, smoother, and much more friendly to all they DIY people out there. Much of this week has been talking with people on Discord, showing them how to set up their custom versions. In short,

  • Install the apps mentioned in
  • Get the firmware currently at
  • read Marlin/Configuration.h and change where needed for your board, your drivers, your LCD.
  • For size changes and more advanced stuff, come talk with us!

I’ve also filmed raw footage about how to use 3M hooks to put a Makelangelo on a flat wall. Some people don’t like the suction cups or they don’t have a big window. No problem! Subscribe to my Youtube channel and watch for the announcement.


Makelangelo software 7.26.0 beta

This Makelangelo software 7.26.0 beta release brings several changes that should improve drawings and quality of life. It is a pre-release for the very brave. If you do try it then please come to our Discord, introduce yourself, and tell us about the experience so we can make it better.

All new firmware

Before Marginally Clever Robots was even conceived I was learning to move motors with Arduino. As time went on 3D printers arrived and the Marlin firmware in my Prusa printers got really really good. So good, in fact, that I make a fork of the Marlin code and taught it to run a Makelangelo 5 robot. It is smoother, faster, and it means going forward I will have more time to do the things Marginally Clever Robots is good at.

Firmware update tool for Windows

Built into the Makelangelo app is a new firmware update tool. Your robot must be on and connected via USB cable. The app should not be connected to the robot yet.

  • avrDude path: is the location of the windows tool that uploads the .hex file to your robot. A copy has been included in this release. If you have Arduino software installed it will try to use that instead.
  • *.hex file: is the file to upload. This release includes a file called firmware-2021-09-10.hex.
  • Port: is the COM port your robot appears on when USB connected.
  • Refresh: will update the COM port list if you add/remove a robot.
  • Start: will initiate the upload process. It can take up to 2 minutes.

Sending code to the robot

The correct way to send a file to the robot is to use Makelangelo > Save to File/SD card. Save the *.gcode file to your SD card (included with the robot) and run your code from the robot.

Quality of Life

I want to separate the “make art” part of the app from the “drive robot” part of the app. You will find new top level menu items for all art stuff, and the right hand panel is for driving-only.

They are as follows:

  • Makelangelo > New: start over
  • Makelangelo > Open File: open an image file and begin converting it to lines.
  • Generate Art: The name hasn’t changed, only the location. The artwork does not “stack” – a new creation will replace the old one.
  • Art Pipeline: This might be renamed later to “tools”. It includes things like scaling, flipping, and the Simplify and Reorder actions. Until now every image loaded automatically ran simplify and reorder, even if you were not done experimenting with your image conversion. Now you must do it explicitly. Take note of your estimated drawing time, it will often drop by large amounts!

Final thoughts

This release does not respond to connect + drive commands. It tries to connect, does not recognize the new firmware, and then never unlocks the driving buttons. At this time I want to gauge your feelings about the new firmware and the quality of life changes.

The tool works in Windows only. It should make life easier for 99% of the artists out there. The firmware upload tool is only designed for the Makelangelo 5 robot.

This version of the Makelangelo Software app is written for Java 15. Get Java SE 15 here.

For the rest of you… please come to our Discord, introduce yourself, and we’ll figure it out together!


Testing the Bleeding Edge of the Makelangelo App

As I and other devs write new features into the Makelangelo App, we push our shared code to Github where it is automatically compiled, tested, and packaged in Nightly Builds. These nightly builds have unconfirmed bug fixes, delicate new features, and that new code smell. This is so we can get and implement your feedback as quickly as possible. We recommend you try the nightly build before reporting a bug to our issues list.

The builds aren’t actually nightly – they happen any time a new copy of the code is pushed to Github. This way we have the tightest turnaround and best acceleration in class.

There are never more than 3 nightly builds. You’ll probably want to unpack this on top of an existing copy of the latest official release because the fix file will replace the one in your install.

Big shout out to and IRC#github for their help making this work. You rock!