The best way to learn is by doing. You can read programming books all day, but you’re not really learning how to program until you start typing code. The same is true for just about everything else in life, and that’s the reason educational toys are popular — even for adults. They provide motivation through fun, and let you jump right in and get your hands dirty. If you’re interested in 3D printing, CNC, and microcontrollers, the TinyCNC Mug-O-Matic will give you that experience.
The Mug-O-Matic was created by EngineerDog.com as part of the new TinyCNC collection of educational maker toys, which also includes the Desktop Sentry. It’s a small 3-axis CNC pen plotter that sits on top of your coffee mug and draws your designs on the outside wall of the mug. Use a dry erase marker, and you can plot a new design every day of the year!
Of course, that’s just motivation for you to actually build the thing. In the process of building it, you’ll learn about 3D printing, how CNC (computer numerical control) G-code works, and how to program microcontrollers like the ones found in Arduino development boards. Once completed, the Mug-O-Matic can be controlled manually over Bluetooth, via calculated algorithms, and, of course, through G-code. Everything is plug and play and based on open source hardware and software, and EngineerDog.com will have detailed online instructional tutorials.