Motorized Drawing Arm (MDA)


  • Get raised lines instantly as you draw
  • Use the included drawing tools to make accurate measured drawings
  • Carry it and all the tools with you with the included custom carrying case
  • Combine with the TactileView Design Suite and store drawings on your computer
  • Use to get audio/tactile feedback from the TactileView Design Suite

Learn More

By manually adding to a raised line drawing that is sketched by the MDA, visually-impaired users can engage with tactile graphic during creation providing a deeper understanding of how to create and interpret tactile graphics.

In some cases it’s necessary to have multiple TactiPads with the same image. This can be quite tedious to do by hand, but becomes easy to do with the MDA by repeating the last sketch.

The MDA makes use of the wide spread scalable vector graphics (SVG) file format. A number of SVG files are already stored on the MDA. Additional files can be uploaded or retrieved from an inserted USB-drive.

Use at School

MDA in the Classroom

A teacher creates a task in which a tactile diagram is involved. This can both serve as a means to provide information and as a template in which the exercise is made. By dividing the exercise into several consecutive steps, tactile graphics become easier to understand and create a dynamic interaction.

  • Participate in the classroom by sketching (‘printing’) images from the smartboard or handheld devices on the TactiPad (or multiple TactiPads simultaneously).
  • Create a map and add step-by-step topographic or geographic information.
  • Study graphs, geometry, physics diagrams, read and process values, etc.
  • Use the MDA as a document reader for images in schoolbooks.

Use at Work

MDA at the Office

  • Create charts, diagrams, work flows, graphs and more
  • Use it to help communicate visual ideas with colleagues
  • Sketch building layouts or office floor plans for increased accessibility

Use for Fun

MDA for Fun!

  • By allowing you to manually add to a sketched image, a wide range of games and puzzles becomes accessible
  • Print simple designs from the TactileView catalog, such as animals and flowers, as a source for kids to have fun with discovering shapes and drawings
  • Print simple objects and draw a copy to learn the basics of drawing
  • Sketch a partly finished drawing and have it finalized
  • Produce fun drawings with games such as ‘Connect the dots’

Hardware Layout

General product layout

The top layer of the MDA is made of the same material as the TactiPad. It has the same tactile properties and rich contrast colours: yellow and black.

To give it its sturdiness, aluminium plates form the foundation for the mechanical parts.

The unit is highly suitable to be used on a table/desk. The user can sit in front of the MDA even while it is sketching.

Two motors that move the arm forwards and backwards are housed underneath the bed of the MDA. The two motors that operate the stylus up and down and from left to right are housed inside the moving arm. The motors create little noise ensuring that the MDA can be used in settings where too much noise is undesirable. Caution is required when the arm is moving. Make sure that no objects or hands are obstructing the path of the arm.

Placement of the TactiPad

The MDA’s bed is just as wide as the TactiPad is in landscape position. The rounded front corners of the MDA line up with those of the TactiPad, making it easy to confirm, with touch, the correct placement of the TactiPad.

Lifting the TactiPad up is easy due to the indentations along the front, left and right side of the bed.
Six black anchors can be found on the bed. They are shaped in such a way that the TactiPad will naturally slide into one of two fixed positions. The four anchors nearest to the front panel hold the TactiPad in the horizontal (landscape) position, while all six are covered when the TactiPad is in its vertical (portrait) position. The front side of the MDA aligns with the TactiPad in both cases.

For correct placement of the TactiPad the hinge has to face backwards (landscape position) or to the left (portrait position) to ensure that the measurement indications surrounding the TactiPad and the internal measurements system of the MDA will match.

Even in the portrait position, the frame of the TactiPad can be opened to replace the drawing paper, assuming the arm has fully moved backwards.

To ensure a maximum of tactile recognisable details in the image, the MDA will, when necessary, rotate and/or scale an image to fit on the TactiPads A4 sized drawing area. To do so, built in sensors detect the position of the TactiPad.

For a quick identification of the image, a right up marker is always sketched in the upper right corner of the image.

Almost to the rear of the MDA a black ridge protrudes from the MDA’s bed. This is the dock for the receiver of the TactileView’s digital pen.

Connectivity Options

The back panel not only holds the on/off push button and the power plug but also the connectors for Ethernet an USB Type A and B . There is also a WiFi transmitter that is not visible but that operates the wireless connection for the hotspot or connecting to a local network.

Built-in interface

The software in the MDA operates as a website and the page is accessible from any browser. The default address is http://mda/

The home page provides a general description of the device, details for the network configuration and the owner/managers data.

The setup page offers password protection, WiFi/network configuration, selection of user interface language and the choice of the measurement system (metric / Imperial (USA)).

The Manual page directs to the English user-manual sections.

On the Examples and Interactive pages pre-made images can be found. Just select one of them and click to start sketching.

On the Upload page the images from external sources are listed. Files can be deleted from this folder for storage management.

The USB-drive page allows the reading and sketching from a USB drive.

The MyImages page allows users to submit a design request. Also see the section on the Community of designers.

Basic Operation

How to operate and configure

The on/ off switch on the back panel is the only (push) button on the MDA.
All further operation of the MDA is controlled through the web interface.
For the many situations in which the MDA can contribute to the creation and exploration of tactile graphics, a carefully selected combination of the connectivity options and the desired application(s) for a single – or multi user setup requires consideration from the owner/manager to configure the MDA accordingly.

1. USB – the MDA is connected via USB cable to a computer.

The designs made with the TactileView software can be sketched directly on the MDA, similar to using a regular printer. However, no printer driver has to be installed.
– TactileView offers no access to the MDA’s Web Interface.
– When connected via USB, wireless or wired access via hotspot or local network can be established for simultaneously accessing the MDA’s internal website/user interface from a browser.

2. Hotspot – direct Wifi connection.

The MDA can broadcast its Wifi network: mda-hotspot. Multiple mobile phones, tablets and computers with Wifi access can connect to this network. With a browser, the MDA internal website/user interface can be accessed.
The owner/manager can visit the Setup page of the internal website for advanced network configuration of a local network, wired and wireless.
– A browser has no internet access anymore (no throughput).
– The functions in the internal website that rely on internet services are not available.
– TactileView designs can be sketched (via HTTP protocol) or via USB connection.

3. Local network – wireless or wired.

The MDA can be connected to a local network, either via Wifi (A) or via an ethernet cable (B); access via the hotspot to configure the Wifi network is required, while the wired connection will automatically be configured.

– All pages/ functions of the user interface are available.
– With the local network connected to the internet, the MDA will have internet access as well, which is required for updates of the MDA software.
– The USB connection remains open.

A. Local network; wireless.
– Access via the hotspot is not available. MDA’s Wifi connection is occupied for accessing the local network.
– The internal website and internet access for browsers are available (throughput).
– The USB connection is available.
B. Local network; wired.
– The hotspot and the USB connections are accessible as well.

4. USB drive

SVG documents stored on a USB drive can be selected and sketched only from the internal website. A hotspot or network connection is required for a browser to activate the functions on the upload page.

When connected via hotspot or network, wired or wireless, SVG files created with third-party applications (Windows, Mac, IOS Android) can be sent to the MDA via a browser, via dedicated file transfer software, or by mounting the MDA file system directly to the PC/Mac (like a NAS server) to:
A. The upload folder; user controlled sketch process on the Upload page
B. The autosketch folder; start immediate sketching with no further user input
For developers: The MDA provides direct access from their application or website. Via the HTTP protocol files can be transferred.


The Raspberry Pi hardware contains the built-in interface software, takes care of the connectivity and converts the SVG information into G-codes to drive the motors.

The required file format is scalable vector graphics (SVG)

User interface languages: English, Dutch

Measurements system: Metric and Imperial (USA)

MDA Purchase Includes:
Motorize Drawing Arm
Connection Cables
TactiPad Drawing Board
Drawing Paper