Reviewing the iDraw 2.0 pen plotter
As the popularity of generative art continues to grow, more and more digital artists are turning to pen plotters as a tool to bring their digital creations to the physical world. In this review, we will be looking at the iDraw 2.0 A3 plotter, the latest addition to the iDraw series which Uuna Tek sent me to test. This review will provide an in-depth analysis of the iDraw 2.0, exploring its specs, features, strengths, and weaknesses. If you're in the market for a high-quality plotter, this review will help you decide whether the iDraw 2.0 is the right choice for you. So let's dive in and see what this new plotter has to offer.
Overview of iDraw
The iDraw 2.0 is a new plotter that offers an extended range of features and specifications. Its motherboard is the Drawcore V2.0, and it runs on GRBL firmware or with Inkscape. The plotter comes pre-assembled and requires minimal adjustments before use. It has a new auto-homing feature that ensures the drawing always starts from the same point, and a support board that keeps the paper in place and aligned during plotting. The pen holder is moved by a powerful stepper motor, which is more efficient than a servo motor. It can work with SVG vectors but also with a variety of image formats, including JPG, JPEG, PNG, BMP, and more. Additionally, it has an adjustable pen angle and offers connectivity through both USB and Bluetooth. The iDraw 2.0 is available in an A3 version with a working area of 420 x 297 mm, making it suitable for a variety of tasks.
- A3 drawing area
- Comes as a pre-assembled kit
- Controlled through Inkscape plugin via USB port (Mac, Windows or Linux)
- Auto Home function
- Stepper controlled pen holder
- Laser engraver attachments available
Uunatek offers free shipping and announced a lead time of 5-10 days for EU/US. The parcel got delivered in less than a week (London). The parcel was in good condition and the packing was sturdy.
To control the iDraw you'll need to use Inkscape 1.2.1. The manufacturer provides links to the right version for your OS, but for simplicity here are the Windows and Mac links. Here I'll show you the run down for macOS Monterey 12.5.1.
1/ Download and launch "Inkscape 1.2.1". Drag and drop the Inkscape file to the Applications folder.
2/ Download the extension zip file, uncompress it and copy the content of the "extensions" folder (link)
3/ Launch Inkscape, and click on Inkscape -> Preferences
4/ Under System, click on Open on the line that reads User extensions.
4/ Paste the files in the folder.
5/ Relaunch Inkscape, and under Extensions, check that you see iDraw 2.0.
6/ You're all set. Next step is to start plotting!
Time to feed our plotter some generative art! Open any svg file you might have already created. Or if you don't have any, why not use the generative benchy to test it out.
Open the file with Inkscape, launch AxiDraw control and go to the Setup tab.
There you can set the Pen Up and Pen Down heights, so that the pen is clearly touching the page when done and well above when it's up.
Now let's use the new Auto Home function to automatically set the pen in position.
Go on the Manual tab, select the AUTO machine origin and hit Apply.
Now jump to the Plot tab and hit "Apply" to launch the plotter.
Ok. Let's try a generative artwork:
What I like
There are several things that I really appreciate about the iDraw 2.0 plotter. Firstly, I love the fact that it comes pre-assembled, with minimal adjustments needed before use. This is a huge time-saver, and it also means that you can start creating your designs right away without having to worry about putting the machine together.
Another standout feature is the auto-homing feature, which ensures that the drawing always starts from the same point. This is a great way to make sure that your designs are consistent and precise, and it's especially useful if you're planning on making multiple copies of the same design. The home point is also out of the support board area so you can test how far below the surface you want to set the pen down height quite easily.
The support board is also a great addition, as it keeps the paper in place and well-aligned during the plotting process. This means that you don't have to worry about the paper moving around while you're drawing, which can be a frustration with some other plotters.
The stepper motor used in the pen holder is more powerful than a servo motor, which makes it more reliable and precise for heavy pens. I also appreciate that the iDraw 2.0 works with Inkscape, which is a popular and powerful vector graphics editor that's available for free.
Overall, the iDraw 2.0 is a well-designed and reliable plotter that offers a lot of great features for both beginners and more experienced users. It's easy to use, accurate, and produces high-quality results, making it a great choice for anyone who's interested in creating their own designs and artwork.
What I wish
While the iDraw 2.0 has many impressive features, there are a few areas that could be improved upon. Firstly, the pen height is not perfectly consistent across the page, and variation of 2-3mm can be an issue when using certain types of soft tip pens or brushes. While this may not be a problem for most users, it could limit the types of projects that can be completed with the iDraw 2.0.
The clip on the support board is not useful when using A3 paper, and in general it's much better to use magnets to hold the page in place so I'm not sure this adds much value.
Overall, the iDraw 2.0 is an impressive plotter with many great features, but there is always room for improvement.
Overall, the iDraw 2.0 is a powerful and versatile plotter that offers a range of features and functionalities that make it a great tool for artists, designers, and hobbyists alike. Its precision, ease of use, and compatibility with popular design software make it an ideal choice for anyone looking to create intricate and detailed drawings.
While there are some areas where the iDraw 2.0 could be improved, such as the inconsistency in pen height, these are relatively minor issues that do not detract significantly from its overall performance and value.
Overall, I would highly recommend the iDraw 2.0 to anyone looking for a quality plotter that offers excellent performance and versatility at a reasonable price.
Where to buy
You can get the iDraw 2.0 A3 on idrawpenplotter.com for $467 instead of $549. Get 15% off with Coupon code GENERATIVE to save $82.
Check out our other pen plotter reviews here.