Author Topic: Pet Piccolo Project  (Read 941 times)


  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 587
  • I make technology into art and art into porridge.
    • View Profile
    • JohnBentCope
Pet Piccolo Project
« on: March 21, 2015, 03:05:26 PM »
Some awesome people at the lab decided to put together Piccolo kits for a build day that ended up never happening, but I was able to buy one of the little sets and have a go myself. I thought I'd document the process for anybody interested in this toy CNC.

I took some short videos of the laser cutting process. You can download the files from their github repo directly.

The wood panel:

The acrylic plates panel:

The acrylic gears panel:

The paper gaskets:

Once the board was soldered the rest of the assembly process is very easy. Their online instructions are cleanly illustrated and help you align the various axes as you snap and screw things together. Some clever tricks I learned building were to use machine screws to thread wood components. By keeping the laser cut hole smaller than the diameter of the bolt, it will grip onto that layer better for at least the first assembly. Greg Saul has some clever arrangements within the build to keep screwholes and other rough edges to a minimum. If you are interested in designing flat pack machines and robots, I'd recommend getting yourself one of these as an entry-level project. I'm certainly enjoying the efficient design.

The pieces fit extremely snuggly fresh off of our laser without adjusting the files. I would like to see exactly how thick the materials in the kit were, because once assembled, many of the screws seemed just a bit too short against four or five layers of wood. I might be getting longer screws from McMaster and swapping them out.

The library PiccoloLib, available through github here, has two examples, Spiral and usbTether, both doing about what you'd think. The usbTether sets up the device to listen for serial commands. Provided by Diatom Studio is the Controllo software, a drawing and svg converter for the Piccolo.

My Piccolo or my computer seem to have an issue with the usbTether or the Controllo software, and so I'm unable to control it directly. There's still a lot of fun in writing native algorithms for drawing, or playing with the parameters in the spiral demo. I'm also thinking about redesigning some of the files to make it more of a desktop fixture as opposed to a lightweight trinket. If the head, in my case a marker, finds too much resistance on the paper it can easily move the Piccolo instead of dragging the tip. I'd like to have an attached easel of sorts that holds the material still for the plotting head.

The servos also buzz quite a bit when the Piccolo is still but powered, I assume from light tension held on them while they try to maintain their position. I interested in disabling the servos after each drawing is complete to avoid this.

Thank you so much to Doug, Mike and Jamie for putting your time into assembling this kit. Diatom Studio doesn't sell any kits directly, so it was a great help to have all of the parts baggied out, along with the acrylic and wood ready to cut.

I think a Piccolo users meeting would be a great way to come up with fun ideas to mod or create with these little bots!
« Last Edit: March 21, 2015, 03:14:30 PM by johnbentcope »
I like colors.


  • Treasurer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 757
  • I am no one but all that I am.
    • View Profile
Re: Pet Piccolo Project
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 12:44:42 PM »
Wow, thanks for the write-up, John!

Two things:
1) Iggy also put a lot of time into this with Doug, so I'm going to give him props.
2) Would you consider making this a blog post? This is awesome. :)