The EggBot FAQ

Is the EggBot available for sale? How much does it cost? Where can I get one?

Yes, EggBot kits are now available from stock!
Several different models are available. Kits are available to order 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 ballslacrosse ballslarge 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?

The different sizes of EggBots will accommodate different sizes of objects. All current EggBot models work well for chicken eggs. However, the EggBot Pro is better for smaller objects, and the Ostrich EggBot (not currently in production) is better for larger objects. Please see the comparison table for more information.

Which EggBot should I get?

There are two primary models of EggBot available, which you can read about in the comparison table.

For almost everyone, the Deluxe Egg-Bot or the EggBot Pro are the two best choices. The Deluxe Edition (by far the most popular) is a Basic Egg-Bot kit, upgraded with several of the most helpful accessories, including the precision egg coupler and brass hardware. The EggBot Pro is a high-end version with a CNC-milled chassis and a different geometry that makes it a little easier and faster to set up for different kinds of objects.

While it may be tempting to get the Ostrich EggBot, we do recommend that model only to people who really need to work with larger objects. The smaller, more nimble units are better choices for most users.

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?

The EggBot Pro comes assembled and ready to use. For all other models, you’ll need an internet connection to download instructions and an hour or so to put it together.  You will also need some basic tools, like medium and small phillips head screwdrivers.  Assembly is straightforward with our detailed assembly guide. No programming or soldering are required.

Do you have to remove the yolk?

No. 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 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 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.

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 even fit a lot of things that aren’t pens. One example: We offer a diamond point engraving tool for EggBot, capable of etching and engraving hard materials like glass, stone, and ceramic.

And, if decorating eggs is your focus, check out our Electro-Kistka attachment, capable of painting wax onto eggs for traditional wax-resist and dye (batik) processes.

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.

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.

For a typical chicken egg with a diameter of 1.7 inches, that gives an effective resolution of 3200/(π × 1.7″), or roughly 600 DPI, around the diameter.

How long does the EggBot take to draw on an object?

This question is a lot like asking an artist how long it takes them to make a drawing— the answer is “it depends.”  The EggBot generally draws faster than a human, but it still takes time to move the pen over the surface to cover all of the area that you want to.

As a rule of thumb, most things take “a few minutes” to draw. However, many drawings with a single color and simple graphics take under a minute. At the other extreme, highly complex drawings with fine tips, multiple colors, and large filled areas can potentially take hours.

How do you create filled areas with the Eggbot?

Pens tend to draw lines, not filled areas. However, 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 comes with an EggBot kit?

  • The EggBot chassis with integrated stand
  • Two precision stepping motors
  • Pen-lift servo motor
  • The EggBot controller board
  • All the hinges, standoffs, and other hardware that makes up the Eggbot
  • Plug-in universal-input power supply
  • USB cable
  • One Sharpie brand permanent marker

What are the features of the included EBB controller board?

  • Includes independent 16X microstepping bipolar drivers
  • Screw terminals to motors
  • Independent regulator for servo motor
  • USB interface
  • Documented serial commands and open source hardware design
  • Fully assembled– no soldering needed.

What will you need to run it?

  • Recent vintage Mac, Windows, or Linux computer with available USB port
  • Internet access to download free software
  • A place to plug in the power supply
  • Objects to draw on

What are the power requirements?

A plug-in power supply is shipped with the Eggbot kit.  Our 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.