A Raspberry Pi controlled Eggbot printing on a golf ball

Eggbot and Raspberry Pi

A Raspberry Pi controlled Eggbot printing on a golf ball

I first saw an Eggbot at the Portland Mini Maker Faire last year. It’s something I’ve been aware of for a while (it’s been available for years) but after finally seeing it in person I was intrigued:

I finally decided to order one after seeing that it could be run from a Raspberry Pi (more on that in a bit). I ordered the Original Egg-bot Robot Deluxe Edition Kit (by Evil Mad Scientist but sold via Adafruit) from RoboShop in Montreal to save on any extraneous shipping or import fees.

My Eggbot arrived just in time for MakerFaire this weekend

It arrived ahead of schedule and I was able to assemble it during my lunch break very easily. The Deluxe kit just contains a few extras above the original version like brass thumbscrews instead of nylon, a precision egg coupler, extra mounts to hold an included and better quality hex driver and a few other spare parts. Worth the price difference but I’m not sure you can even order the original version from anywhere other than Egg-bot.com as all the distributors seem to have the deluxe edition only.

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I didn’t like the idea of using (wasting) eggs so I picked up some cheap ping pong balls to practice on and an assortment of Sharpie Ultra Fine markers to draw with.

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I think the ping pong balls I found are a little too cheap as the Sharpie markers seem to bleed a lot when printing. I also hadn’t quite mastered the centering of the ping pong ball so some of the prints are a little wavy.

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I also picked up some different markers (Crayola washable ‘Pipsqueak’ brand) to see if they would bleed less (not really) but they seemed to work a little more uniform than the sharpie ultra fine.
Eggbot output

Eggbot output

I’ve ordered a huge box of ping pong balls from ebay…hopefully they are better to draw on. I also ordered the diamond engraving attachment…which will let me engrave glass which will be interesting.

Eggbot control on the Pi

After seeing this Instructable about controlling the Eggbot with a Raspberry Pi, it seemed like a great thing to bring to MakerFaire. I had a small LCD screen handy (although it’s pretty low res) so it should work perfect for computerless demos and not take up too much space.

The Pi is definitely slower than my MacBook Pro at rendering images in Inkscape and even operating the Eggbot but hey, it’s a $35 computer vs a $2000 one.

Eggbot Pi

I also tried printing on some golf balls…which worked way better than I expected considering they are covered with divots. The Sharpies seem to work better on the golf ball surface than the ping pong balls.

Eggbotting a lightbulb with nutritional information

Lightbulbs work pretty good too.

Next up is to install a few more things and use the Eggbot wirelessly via an iPad or iPhone (or anything with a VNC client) but I think I need a powered USB hub to get wifi working with the adapters I have.

UPDATE: I switched to the latest Raspbian install and it all works great with the micro wifi module I have. Then installed TightVNC Server (“sudo apt-get install tightvncserver”) and used the free Mocha VNC client on my iOS device. Note that you’ll need to add the Pi to Mocha using the IP address and port 5901. This setup tutorial should help get it all working although I wish there was an easy way to just use Bonjour or a hostname instead of adding the IP address since taking the device to another location requires you to manually setup the wifi with a proper mouse/keyboard/screen setup. Still looking into that issue.

It’s pretty cool to control the Eggbot with my iPhone…plus it’s a lot less wires since it’s just two power and one USB cord now. I even had a perfect length USB cord that looks like it was cut to size for the job.

I’m looking forward to bringing the Eggbot along with my 3d printers to MakerFaire this weekend.

UPDATE #2: I found a way to switch the hostname on the Pi through the raspi-config tool (you may need to update it to get the option in the advanced tab) to ‘eggbot’ from ‘raspberry’.

Then I installed Netatalk (“sudo apt-get install netatalk”) which has two benefits – it let’s me connect to eggbot.local instead of an IP address and it also exposes the Eggbot to my Mac’s Finder which makes it easy to quickly add new eggbot designs to the Pi remotely.

UPDATE #3: I received the engraving tool and tried it out during MakerFaire…it worked really well on the chrome candle holders I found at the dollar store:

Etching a candle holder with the Eggbot

5 Comments

  1. Nice job John! Glad my instructable & youtube videos were helpful. Just a note: using eggs in the eggbot is not necessarily wasteful — just blow them out and enjoy scrambled eggbot eggs after you print on them.

  2. John says:

    Thanks Craig! Without your awesome instructable & videos, I’d never have gotten this far…it really was the deciding factor to order an Eggbot in the first place…2 cool things in one and it got a lot of attention at MakerFaire.

    Your trick also enlightened me to using the wireless remote control on some other projects I’m working on right now too.

    I’ll definitely use real eggs soon…just need to get practiced up on using it and collect more awesome designs to print before I start sacrificing chickens :)

  3. Arby says:

    My soon to be 12 year old is asking for an eggbot for her birthday. She will probably want to practice a lot, so do you have any suggestions for bulk ping pong balls?

    • John says:

      That’s awesome! Yes, I just got 100 ping pong balls for about $16 on eBay from China. They have a logo but are the good kind that the Sharpies don’t bleed through on.

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