Hackaday Prize 2023: The Realities of The Homework Machine

For those outside the world of education, it can be hard to judge the impact that ChatGPT has had on homework assignments. If you didn’t know, the first challenge of the 2023 Hackaday Prize is focused on improving education. [Devadath P R] decided that the best way to help teachers and teaching culture was to confront them head-on with our new reality by building the homework machine.

The goal of the machine is to be able to stick in any worksheet or assignment and have it write out the answers in your own handwriting, and so far, the results are pretty impressive. There are already pen holder tools for 3D printers, but they often have a few drawbacks. Existing tools often take quite a while to generate G-Code for long pages of text. Hobby servos to lift the pen up and down take more wear than you’d expect as a single page has thousands of actuations. Vibrations are also a problem as they are a dead giveaway that the text was not human-written. [Devadath] created a small Python GUI to record their particular handwriting style on a graphics tablet and used ChatGPT to generate answers.

Multiple versions of each character are used, though [Devadath] plans on slightly varying the strokes as needed to create variation. A hand-rolled Python script outputs G-Code with page turns include, which makes it easy to dump multi-page content in. The core XY CNC pen plotter glides on linear rails, runs on Klipper firmware with vibration cancellation, and has an actuator driven by a stepper for longevity. To [Devadath]’s credit, they have been using this setup since 2022, and teachers haven’t noticed so far. They say the plan to open-source the code and design for the plotter once they’re finished iterating.

It demonstrates AI’s capabilities and what can be built with parts on hand. Whether it pushes education away from rote memorization remains to be seen.

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