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Wax Pen (Kistka) for eggbot

edited January 2014 in Egg-Bot
How to make an electric wax pen for the Egg-bot
30 gauge nichrome wire (jacob's online)
krylon tape / silicone tape (heat proof)
3 volt power supply (2 AA batteries)
hookup wire (two twelve inch sections)
Soldering tools (optional)

You will need six inches of 30 gauge nichrome wire.  This will be the heating element.

Solder the ends of the nichrome wire to the hookup wires.  Solder the other ends of the hookup wires to the power supply with switch.  This will create a complete circuit.  When the power is on, the nichrome will heat up to about 400 degrees.

The kistka will mount on the pen arm of the eggbot.  It is easiest to mount it on the underside of the pen arm with the wax reservoir of the kistka under the hole in the pen arm meant for the pen.  With the handle of the kistka full length, it will not fit.  You will need to cut the handle to about 2 inches.  Hold the kistka under the pen arm and make sure it fits and the hinge works after it is cut.

The traditional kistka is wrapped in copper wire to hold in heat from a flame.  If the nichrome touches the copper, it will short the circuit.  Wrap the copper wire and copper wax reservoir in a single or double layer of carefully placed krylon tape.  Any other non-flammable insulating material could be used.  The goal is to provide insulation from the copper.

A delrin kistka with a machined wax reservoir will also conduct electricity and short the heating circuit.  The metal reservoir will need to be covered in tape.

Once the metal is insulated, wrap the nichrome wire around the kistka.  I put a couple of loops in similar orientation to the copper wire on the traditional kistka with another loop around the writing end of the wax reservoir.  I don't think the wrapping matters much.

Place another layer of krylon tape over the nichrome to hold it in place.

Secure the hookup wire to the shaft of the kistka with krylon tape.

Tape the kistka to the pen arm, taking care to keep the wires and the shaft of the kistka out of the way of the pen arm motor.  Put the battery pack in a place that allows the pen arm full movement.

Now, turning on the battery pack should heat up the kistka.  If you put wax in it, it will draw wax on an egg.  

  • This really eats up batteries.  I keep two in the battery pack and four on the charger.  
  • You will need to slow down the writing speed of the eggbot to make the wax lines uniform without skips.
  • My hinge is a little stiff and I needed to put a couple of nickles on the pen arm to weigh it down.
  • Obviously this will get hot, don't burn yourself. I repeat: be careful.
  • The method of putting wax on eggs then dying them multiple colors is wax resist. There is a great deal of information on this if you look at the Ukrainian gift shop's web site, if you search pysanky or pisanki.  
  • My next step is to buy a replacement head for the electronic kistka with reservoir extender and see if I can mount it in the pen hole, eliminating the need to tape the kistka to the pen arm.
  • I would like to know if plugging this nichrome wire heater into the engraver power supply on the EBB will draw too much current and ruin the board or if it is possible.  It would make life easier not to have to use batteries.


  • Neat--  Thanks for writing this up!

    We have also been working on an "official" kistka attachment for the Eggbot, which connects to the EBB, much like the engraver attachment does.  That's certainly possible, but you do need to watch the total power consumption.  Our prototypes have been using 0.9 A at 5 V (4.5 W), but it appears that it could be done with considerably less power.
  • One note: We have *not* succeeded in using the reservoir extender with our version; it just takes too much power to keep that wax melted all the way up the column.  
  • Windell,  I would love to purchase the kistka attachement whenever its available.   
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