Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Eggbot available for sale? How much does it cost? Where can I get one?
Yes, Eggbot kits are now available from stock!
Kits start at $195, and you can order yours directly from Evil Mad Scientist.
Can I see a demo of the Eggbot operating?
Sure! Eggbot inventor Bruce Shapiro demonstrated the Eggbot on the Martha Stewart show, October 20, 2010. You can catch video from the demo here on Martha's site.
Is it just for eggs?
Absolutely not! Ping pong balls, golf balls, lacrosse balls, large marbles, stone balls, ball bearings, mini pumpkins, light bulbs, holiday ornaments and wine glasses are just some of the other items that have been drawn on. You can print on almost anything that's sturdy, spherical or ellipsoidal, will fit in the robot, and has a fairly smooth surface.
How big of an object can you draw on?
You can draw on smooth spherical or egg-shaped objects from about 1.25" (32 mm) to 4.25" (108 mm) in diameter. The longest object that will fit is 6.25" (16 cm) long and it is possible to modify the chassis and use various other tricks to make it a little bit larger.
There is also now an Ostrich Eggbot kit, which is an extra-large version, specially designed for decorating larger objects, up to and including Ostrich eggs.
How does the Ostrich Eggbot compare to the "Original?"
There are two sizes of Egg-Bot kit available:
The chief differences between them are (A) that the "Ostrich" is larger— large enough to fit ostrich eggs — and (B) the chassis materials that are used. The Ostrich Eggbot chassis is made of wood, while the ("standard") Original Eggbot chassis is made of white fiberglass. Both are tough and sturdy, designed to last through years of regular usage.
The Ostrich Eggbot can print on egg-shaped objects from as small as a chicken egg up through small footballs and very large ostrich eggs, up to 6.25 inches (16 cm) in diameter. It also accommodates spherical objects in the range of roughly 2.25 to 6.25 inches in diameter (6 - 16 cm).
If you do not need the extra size that comes with the Ostrich, we do recommend sticking with the standard size— it is more compact and more nimble for plotting on "regular size" objects like ping-pong balls, chicken eggs, golf balls, and christmas ornaments up to 4.25" (108 mm) in diameter. (Besides which, you can get an upgrade to the Ostrich chassis if you need it later.)
Which Eggbot should I get?
For almost everyone, the Original Egg-Bot Kit (Deluxe Edition) is by far the best choice. The Deluxe Edition is an Original Egg-Bot Kit, upgraded with several of the most popular accessories, including the precision egg coupler and a brass hardware upgrade. The Original Eggbot is compact and quick, and these upgrades make it even more pleasant to use. (Order yours today!)
What do I need to run Eggbot?
You will need a reasonably modern computer with a working USB port to connect to the eggbot. Our software runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You'll need an internet connection to download instructions and the necessary software. You'll also need a standard power outlet for the Eggbot's power supply.
What do I need to put an Eggbot together?
You'll need an hour or two and an internet connection to download instructions. You will also need some basic tools, like miniature screwdrivers. Assembly is straightforward with our detailed assembly guide.
Do you have to remove the yolk?
Nope. It helps if your egg is at room temperature so you don't have condensation issues, but you can draw on full, raw eggs and remove the centers later, or blow the eggs first and draw on empty eggs: both methods have their proponents.
Shouldn't you hardboil the eggs first?
You can— if you really want to —but it's not required. Egg shells are actually surprisingly strong when they are raw. And besides: if you boil the egg first, you'll have to smash your artwork to get the egg out later.
How many patterns does it include?
The eggbot is not like many existing "craft" machines that come with a limited set of patterns. Rather, it's much more like a computer printer that can print anything that you can draw. That said, we provide a couple dozen example files to help get you started, along with pointers to places where you can share and download additional examples.
Does it work on a Mac?
Yes, the Eggbot is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux.
How do I program it?
No programming is necessary— you can create artwork using the drawing program Inkscape, and plot on your Eggbot from within Inkscape. (If you really want to program it, you are of course welcome to. You can use any programming environment that lets you talk to usb-serial devices. Please see our documentation to get started.)
What is Inkscape?
Inkscape is superb drawing program with capabilities similar to Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. Inkscape is available for computers running Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It also happens to be a free and open source application.
Can I use other software?
To some extent. You can use many different software packages (including Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator) to generate your vector artwork, which you can then import into Inkscape, preferably as an SVG. However the Eggbot's "print driver" is designed as an extension to Inkscape.
How do you tell the eggbot the size and curvature of the object?
The Eggbot software and electronics do not actually need to know the size or shape or the object that you want to draw on. Rather, you mechanically adjust the eggbot as needed to center your object and such that the pen can reach the surface. For different size objects, the drawing that you've prepared naturally scales up or down, as though on the surface of a balloon.
What kind of transformation do you do to make it fit onto a sphere?
We start with a rectangular drawing area, which is mapped over the surface of the object. You can think of this as the way a flat map of the earth corresponds to a globe.
Is it "cheating" if you use the Eggbot to decorate eggs?
Only if you are trying to pass off your Eggbot art as something else, like handmade pysanky. This is a completely different way of decorating eggs, and certainly shouldn't be considered "cheating". A healthier attitude is to think of this as one more tool in the egg decorator's arsenal.
Can you put a laser on it?
Sure, maybe a laser pointer for pen centering? But we don't recommend using lasers capable of cutting/etching without really good safety controls, which are not a standard option for the Eggbot.
How do you do multiple colors?
In your drawing, put different colored items on different layers. Then print the layers one by one, changing the pen between layer plots.
Can you draw on anything round?
Spherical or egg-shaped, yes, but not cylindrical. Your objects need to have curvature for the pen to follow.
What is the resolution of the Eggbot?
The stepping motors have a native resolution of 200 steps per revolution and with our 16x microstepping drivers we achieve a resolution of 3200 steps per revolution in each axis of motion. Typically the total "canvas" available on an egg is roughly 800 x 3200 steps— 800 steps high, from polar region to polar region, and 3200 steps around the circumference.
How much does the software cost?
The software is free and open source, and newer versions will always be freely available for download. That's extra-nice, because you'll never have to pay for software upgrades.
How do you create filled areas with the Eggbot?
You can create a set of wiggling, nested, or spiraled lines to fill a region— our documentation shows a variety of ways to do this.
What supplies do you need to buy?
Unlike most printers out there, the Eggbot is not designed to sell consumables of any type. It's designed to last for years of service with your choice of pens, and your choice of objects to print on.
What kinds of pens can you use?
Ultra fine point Sharpies are the "gold standard," but many pens of a similar diameter will work, too. (Please see our documentation for additional notes on pen choices for Eggbots.)
You can also modify or make your own pen arm to fit any size pen you like. We have additional pen arm parts available on our store, ready for use or modification.
What are the power requirements?
A plug-in power is shipped with the Eggbot kit. The power supplies are designed to run on US and international voltages; a simple plug shape adapter is all that's needed to run the Eggbot in Europe, for example. If you can't use the standard power supply (for example if you need to run on batteries), you may want to know that the power input jack expects 9V DC with at least 1 A capacity, center positive.
I have an older kit. Can I get an upgrade?
If you have an Eggbot "Beta" kit from 2009 (Clear chassis), an upgrade kit is available for nominal cost to update your pen lift mechanism to the current version, making your kit fully compatible with the current "2.0" release. A few different levels of upgrade are possible, starting at $10 (the cost difference between the old and new kits); please contact us for details.