Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

A collection of posts and articles on getting started in Flowcode v6

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Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

Post by PaulNe »

Hi all,

I joined the Matrix team at the start of July as an Applications Engineer, having recently completed my PhD in electronic engineering. I had very limited prior knowledge of Flowcode, using version 2 only briefly during my undergraduate degree so learning Flowcode 6 was the same for me as it may be for you. One of my first tasks as an applications engineer was to develop both a simulation within Flowcode and a working machine to demonstrate the capabilities of both Flowcode 6 and the Matrix E-Blocks. It was decided that I should develop an XY plotter, with which I should be able to provide basic XY coordinates which could draw a simple shape.

This post is to give you an insight into what is possible within Flowcode 6. The XY plotter is a concept design, and by no means a finished product; however, it demonstrates the power of Flowcode 6. Both the simulation and the hardware run from the same Flowcode file, with the ‘simulation’ commands not affecting the downloaded program.
In terms of hardware, the plotter uses two stepper motors for XY axis movement and therefore two E-Block motor boards, one for each motor. It utilises a solenoid to lift and drop the pen when required, based on a Z coordinate. A Matrix keypad is used to provide additional manual control over the motors while hardware interrupts and switches are programmed to halt the system if the axis limits are reached due to using coordinates out of bounds. These switches stop strain being placed on the system which would occur if the motors continue to drive the hardware into the limit pillars. The base for the XY plotter base is one of our Automatics bases, and the clear Perspex was laser cut with our own machine. Liam, a fellow employee, designed the hardware within Google SketchUp, and we separated the model into 4 components and imported the mesh files into Flowcode. The XY plotter components were then configured, detailing which motor connections connect to which port etc.

I have included both a screenshot and a photo of the finished design, which is fully working.

More of the design process will be uploaded to our blog over time (we’re currently very busy with moving offices and with the new open beta) to demonstrate how the plotter was programmed and the challenges faced both mechanically and electrically, and also within Flowcode.

If you have any comments or questions please feel to post! We always love your feedback.

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Re: Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

Post by medelec35 »

Hi Paul,
Congratulations on your PhD.
I dread to think how tough that was to pass?
I have an interest in electronics myself.
Not that good at it, but I do try :lol:
Plotter looks great.
You must a felt great when it worked the way it was intended.


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Re: Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

Post by RobZ »

Hi Paul (or should that be Dr Paul?) , Congrats on your Phd.

I truly believe an XY plotter has the power to hypnotise any human! (or maybe i am super susceptible?)
Can't wait for the Design & Flowcode to be published -

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Re: Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

Post by Steve001 »

Ditto Martin and Rob

Success always occurs in private and failure in full view.

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Re: Flowcode 6 Example Application (XY Plotter)

Post by quazar »

Hello all,
Could you please provide more information on the XY plotter?
I do have a small 3 axis CNC machine and I would like to drive it from a controller programmed with Flowcode.
I did find the old "XY plotter.fcfx" V6 program but it generates errors in Flowcode 8.
Also, I do not see any hardware ports? Is it simulation only?
Please advise.
Thank you.

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