Taking Apart a CraftRobo

The main project I’m working on this summer is hacking a CraftRobo cutter to be used as a deposition tool for creating diagnostic tests. The idea is to put cheap, robust, open-ended tools in rural clinics and hospitals to empower them to create the devices and tests they most need without having to rely on multinational corporations deciding the kind of tests they need. Multinational medical corporations inevitably design for well-funded hospitals, not rural clinics.

Today I had my first challenge with the CraftRobo, which is to say it didn’t work. It wasn’t able to move the plotting head completely to either side and would make a very sad noise when trying to. You can take off the cover of the motors (there are two main motors — one for the moving the plotter head, the other for moving the paper through the machine) by removing two screws. You also have to push on some small plastic “locks” on the bottom of the cutter.

When I pulled the cover off some of the electronics got detached, but you can easily reattach the connection.

The issue in my case was that a small piece of plastic got stuck to the second gear (the white one) and was preventing the gear from turning more than 360 degrees. After I removed this it worked fine.

I was able to attach a pen and print some test shapes. Next step is to see how precise and accurately it can print dots and lines. Then using a pen with a changeable cartridge and then printing hydrophobic boxes on hydrophilic paper to prevent reagents and samples from being wicked all over the paper. Lots to do.

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