Pen plotter alignment and tiled plans


Active member
First off, we love scratch building from plans posted here and FTCA!

We typically print tiled plans on US letter-sized paper, trim, tape, and cut form board through the paper plans. It works OK, but requires a lot of prep time and tape. So far we've probably built 10 models in this manner. I enjoy cutting the foam board, which takes less time than all of the preparation.

We have an AxiDraw SE/A4 pen plotter (8.5" x 11.5" printable area) that can be placed on any surface, and convert SVG drawings into reality relatively quickly. I've successfully extracted elements from PDF plans re-oriented within Inkscape, saved as SVG, and plotted directly onto foamboard.

Here is an example of a part from the ShrubSmacker that just happens to fit on an 8.5"x11" printable area, in Inkscape, saved as an SVG ready for plotting. The jagged appearance seems to be an artifact of JPEG compression; the SVG and resulting link lines were smoother than I could ever draw with ruler and marker.


In this example, the plotter is sitting on the table, but aligned with a clean edge of full foam board sheet.


The main issue with using this pen plotter on full-sized foamboard sheets is alignment (registration) of the plotter across multiple printable areas. In other words, the plotter has to be physically moved around / across the large foam board sheet for each tile. The registration marks on the corners of tiled plans seem like useful landmarks...

Does anyone have ideas or suggestions on how to keep the plotter aligned with adjacent tiles when working with full-sized foam board sheets?
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Site Moderator
Staff member
...Does anyone have ideas or suggestions ...
I have taken a different approach. I print from the full size plans on to regular letter size paper. I go through the plans one part at a time, selecting the part I want to print. For example, I select the fuse & print it. It will normally print on 4 pages, not the 8 pages from the letter size plans. Many of the parts print on a single sheet or two. Far less joining of pages this way.