Hello and Painting boat with Maslow 4?

Hello. Long time maker, first time Maslow user. Please be gentle.

I retired from the electronics industry a couple of years ago, sold my house (with very large, heated/air conditioned workshop… sigh), cars, 50 years worth of packrat accumulation, etc. in the US, moved to the UK, and bought a 59ft narrowboat. Because I can’t do art on anything without an “undo” function, I’ve been thinking of different ways to paint art on the cabin of our boat. Basically, two flat, very nearly vertical slabs of steel 50 ft long x 4 ft high with holes for windows, lights, fittings, etc.

I kicked around things like using an engraving laser to cut something like vinyl applied to the surface or burn away something paint-resistant like wax to create in-place stencils for manual painting, and lots of other half-baked ideas.

Then I remembered looking at early Maslow designs years ago, discovered there have been continuous improvements, got all excited, and ordered one last night. Looking at it in the clear light of day, I’m wondering if it’s going to be too big and unwieldy to work for my purposes. My thought was to use heavy-duty magnets to attach the belts to the hull, rig up a way to mount a paint pen or other color-dispensing apparatus in place of the router, and go to town. I was hoping the baseplate could sort of “float” near the hull without touching it, so it wouldn’t smear the paint. Am I completely insane for thinking this could work? I guess I can always donate the unit to a local maker space if it doesn’t work out. Thoughts? I’ve read what I can find on using the Maslow to hold a pen or paint marker, but most of those discussions are a few years old. I have only hand tools to work with, and very limited space, but there are fabrication companies in most larger cities here that could presumably make me adapters, etc.


Which Maslow did you order?

Re: the M4:
Your biggest issue with doing things the way you are suggesting is that you will constantly be changing the frame size between each cut by not using the same frame each time (because you’d be remounting those magnets) and would need to calibrate before each section.

So, even if the magnets are enough, its still going to be very tedious, if it works at all. I personally wouldn’t want to deal with that, it’s already frustrating to have to re hang it after having it off overnight, I can’t imagine calibrating it before every job.

What I could see being reasonable is using it to cut large stencils and then using those as masks for a paint sprayer, but I dont see you directly attaching any form of Maslow to the side of this and having a worthwhile time.

The only thing I could even potentially see working even a little bit would be a hollow frame with set dimensions that you anchor to a surface with tie downs or something. You’d have to make sure it’s taut and square before trusting your calibration values. It still wouldn’t be able to handle the curves present here, though, and stencils are still way easier to do instead.


I would Google “wall drawing robot” and look at some of those inexpensive options. Draw your design then paint it manually.


nice boat! maybe print up large vinyl with your artwork and apply with polyurethane or clear marine sealant around the edges? Maslow needs at 15 degree slope will not work on pure vertical surface

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Will not, or isn’t supposed to? :wink: If it’s just because the router normally needs that much to hold it in the material, I had thought to possibly use more magnets to pull the sled against the hull. Or if I used a spray applicator, it wouldn’t need to touch at all, would it?


Hm. The stencil idea might work. I had initially thought maybe one of the cheap laser cutters that seem to be all the rage lately to cut stencils. Then I remembered the Maslow and apparently took leave of my senses… :drooling_face:

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Yeah - kind of looked into that previously. One issue is that I no longer have a workshop or even large flat areas on which to assemble things. The other is that getting deliveries is a bit of a challenge unless there’s an Amazon locker near the canals. I was thinking I’d have to order a bunch of little bits and pieces, some of which invariably would be wrong, lather, rinse, repeat. Which is why I jumped on the Maslow, because it’s a complete kit. Are you aware of any “plug and play” drawing robots that can be purchased as a complete kit?

And lastly, you’re assuming I can color inside the lines! :yum:

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I think it might work vertically, though calibrating might be tricky, but I think it does need to touch the surface to keep it “the right way up” because the four arms have different z heights it won’t be stable other wise. You could put it on wheels maybe to keep it parallel to the surface.
Or use the drawing utensil from Marzsman: Maslow plotter, or getting used to Maslow without spoiling wood - #21 by marzsman


In this regard, you’d need to set up a gantry and mount the sled to it so you could keep it suspended off the surface, especially if you’re painting with it so it doesn’t smear.

You’d also have to devise custom hardware and firmware to add controls for a paint sprayer, if I’m not mistaken.

$2400 or $2500 before accessories

Yikes! That’s a bit rich for my blood, especially for something I’ll probably use for about a week and never need again. But thanks for the link. I vaguely remember seeing something that worked more like the Maslow but with a marker.

I really love what you are trying to do! But I think for this project you 'd be better off with a classic Maslow, with just 2 chains on a top rail ( the lower anchorpoints of an M4 will be underwater I fear), which can slide up and down on some sort of vertical gantry, the gantry then can ride on a track on the roof, while the lower end of the gantry rides with a horizontally placed wheel on the side of the boat. This is when you dont want a sled on the material, when using paint or a spraygun.
But when you are just going to use a marker, a sled on the material is no big deal. Make a topbeam with two motors and stands to put on your roof, which you can relocate to paint other parts of the boat. And a sled with a z-axis and a marker holder.
And I think there will be lots of Classic Maslow Parts available secondhand :grinning:

Good luck,


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I’m going to be a contrarian and suggest that without the router the sled would be considerably lighter, so it might be possible to suspend the sled slightly away from the surface. The things I would be worried about are how much the surface curves, and what you are using to apply the color. Spray paint would probably require a separate mechanism to measure the distance to the “canvas” and adjust its height. Markers might work, but would be subject to some accuracy degradation if you are using a spring loaded mount.

The most important thing you need to consider is that you are going to be way outside the known space, so you will probably need to spend quite a bit of time trying things before you reach a solution. On the other hand, I bet many of the fine folks on this forum will be willing the offer ideas as you hit roadblocks.

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Ive seen a few here and there, but they were all custom jobs and I’m not sure that there are sales or plans, etc, of/for those.

Not sure at all if this would work but in case this might be helpful I wanted to share. This conversation made me remember a Kickstarter (I think) from maybe ~5-8 years ago and is a “hang from 2 anchor points and draw on the wall” robot. It seems closer to the $500 price range from the quick look I just took. Note: I have not ever used this, have never seen it being used, nor have I ever talked with anyone who has owned/used/seen it in real life. Just knew it existed as a product.


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This machine seems more suited to your use case.

This may be one nail not worth hitting with Maslow.

I’m going to throw in my own “this is not the way”, but not for the reasons already shared.

I’m basing my “nay” on the basis of using magnets as anchor points in your use case. While magnets can be incredibly strong anchors, their strength is almost completely normal to the magnetic poles (i.e. normal to the surface they’re connected to). While you may not be able to pull a strong magnet directly away from a surface, you can (more or less) easily slide a magnet.

And it wasn’t named Aslan :slight_smile:

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Yeah… that’s been a concern too. I have solar panels and cameras and everything else mounted on the roof with magnets, but you’re right about the direction of force. Part of the problem is that I have no feel for how much tension will be on the belts without a router installed. At the top of the cabin there’s a “gutter”/rail that things can be clamped onto, say with C-clamps. But that still leaves the bottom; there’s not much below the gunnels until you get to the sacrificial “chine” (chin?) at the bottom. I’ve been wondering if I could get away with a rigid frame that the four belts would attach to, that I could then suspend from the top rail. Since force between the sled and the hull will be minimal in comparison to dragging a router bit through plywood, it might work. All of the diy “paintbots” are a problem in one way or another; I don’t have the facilities for a lot of fabrication of parts, and a lot of them are just really flimsy. The Maslow 4 is at my MIL’s house in London waiting for me to pick it up. I’ll get a better feel once I have my hands on it for a bit. Worst case, some local makerspace gets a nice gift.

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The biggest issue with the frame being for this kind of thing is having it stay rigid, because you would also need it to be completely hollow. You could potentially use tied own straps to help the frame resist the pull from the belts and have it not warp.

I just still see issues with the Maslow sliding across the surface and smearing paint or being suspended and being bounced around by inherent forces from the sled moving or from wind (the sled is basically a sail at that point).

The hollow frame, tie downs to keep it in tension, and some form of gantry to keep the sled level and suspended are all things I’d expect you to need to make this work.

All that said, if you don’t go with a full size frame, the gantry gets less expensive.