BoardBot - Principals of Engineering

12 Dec 2017

final image

BoardBot Demo

BoardBot is a low-cost open souce whiteboard plotter that is easy to build and hack.

We built BoardBot with a team of 5 students as the final project of Principals of Engineering. We had 7 weeks to develop a project with non-trivial electrical, mechanical, and software components. You can see full documentation of the project and how to build your own at

For this project, my main learning goal was to develop my project management skills. On the technical side, I focused on embedded programming and laser cutter fabrication.

We split the project up into two week sprints, with a design review at the end of each sprint. We changed roles for every sprint, which forced knowledge transfer every two weeks. This was useful at reducing knowledge silos and creating written documentation. Doing many handoffs in a row helped me recognize what documentation was useful.

To keep up with our timeline we had to iterate our product quickly in the first week of each sprint, because integration always took much more time than we kept budgeting.


The complete hardware. See a step-by-step process here.

We also focused on properly documenting of our progress and technical decisions. We kept a blog and status updates on our website, which were very useful references a few weeks into the project.

Looking back, I wish that we had pushed ourselves harder to make a better functioning product. I think we could have created a more polished demo, and more robust software that other people could have used.

You can view the CAD of the 3D scanner on Onshape and the source code on Github.