Category Archives: Art

Signal Generator Musical Instrument

Our friend Arjan van der Meij made this charming musical instrument from a signal generator, a servo motor, an Arduino and a processing program. He wrote an instructable for it so you can build one, too.

Signal Generator Instrument

He also wrote about his experience with the project in Dutch on makered.nl. Projects like this one, that started with a question (“Why don’t you build a machine to do it?”) are great for learning new skills. I often get asked what things someone should get for learning electronics, and my answer is usually that the first thing you need is a project that you want to make so that you’ll have motivation to research what you’ll need.

3d printed knob adapter connected to servo motor and signal generator

Arjan wanted to learn tinkercad, and used this project toward that goal by modeling the knob adapter he’d need for connecting his servo to his signal generator knob. Even if you don’t want to make a musical instrument from a signal generator, this project may provide inspiration for trying out new techniques.

Fractals with AxiDraw

Paul Butler wrote a tutorial on Fractal Generation with L-Systems and posted some example code with the output plotted by AxiDraw.

Fractal tree drawn by AxiDraw

The tutorial is also available as a Jupyter notebook with runnable code.

555 Storage Ottoman

Ottoman (closed)

Ross wrote in to share his project:

I saw the 555 footstool on your site a while back, and wanted to build one a bit larger that provided space for storage and also didn’t require CNC. Enclosed are photos of my 555 storage ottoman, built from 1/2 and 3/4 inch plywood. … Thanks for the inspiration, and hope you enjoy the photos.

Ottoman (open, with magazines inside and magazine on lid)

Thanks for sending the photos and letting us know about your build! It looks great!

Robotic Art Contest 2017

The second annual Robot Art contest Is in its final lap:

The Robot Art 2017 competition will be running between now and May 15th when more than $100,000 in awards will be given to the top painting robots. Winners will be determined based on a combination of public voting, professional judges consisting of working artists, critics, and technologists, and by how well the team met the spirit of the competition – that is to create something beautiful using a physical brush and robotics.

You can help by voting on the artwork now!

Robert Dering: Batik Egg Artist

Daniel Clifton wrote up a nice article at 101highlandlakes.com about Robert Dering, a retiree who makes batik dyed eggs he gifts to people in his community. The article talks about the process of making them, including using an EggBot.

He started batik egg coloring about 15 years ago after Martha Stewart demonstrated it on her TV show. (Dering said it’s a bit embarrassing to admit he watched the show, but he pointed out he was retired and you never know from where you can learn something new.) The first few were terrible, but he continued, improving with each one.

“I’m still improving,” he said.

For most of those years, he used a small, hand-turned lathe designed for batik egg coloring to pen on a design. It was a bit tedious. But recently, he came across a mechanical device called the EggBot, which does that step for him using a computer program. The program frees up Dering’s creativity. He simply scans a photo or a design into the computer program, which adapts it for the EggBot, which, in turn, draws it on an egg.

There ends the time-saving. Now it’s back to the dying, waxing, and washing.

Holiday Cards with AxiDraw

Pitch Interactive, a data visualization studio, sent out “Happy Holidata” cards made using the AxiDraw.

This year’s card features a snowflake that uses two data points in its generation: how long we’ve known the recipient and the air quality where we’re sending the card. It is unique to the person we sent it to, and no two snowflakes are alike.

After getting some inspiration from dozens of photos of snowflakes, we brainstormed about the different types of symmetry and shapes that would make our design. We then generated the snowflake with a script that draws a certain number of radial spikes based on how long we’ve known the person we were sending them to. Other parameters for the generation rely on random numbers, ensuring that each generated snowflake was completely unique.

They’ve published the code on github, as well as a set of svg files.

AYAB: A new interface for vintage knitting machines

Machine knitted versions of the AYAB and the Evil Mad Scientist logos

AYAB — All Yarns Are Beautiful — is an open source hardware and software project that provides an alternative way to control the widely-loved Brother KH-9xx range of knitting machines using a computer. There are other hacks (such as Img2Track, Knitic and electro-knit) which work with certain machines in certain conditions. The AYAB interface works with all Brother KH-9xx machines except the KH-970.

AYAB control board

We’ve just launched a new interface board for the AYAB project. They’ve written about it on their site, and you can read the product details on our store page for it.

Historically, these machines were programmed with semi-transparent picture cards which were scanned by the machine line by line. For later machines, you could enter a pattern via lots of tedious button-pressing. Some models had an add-on gadget that connected to your vintage TV.

Knitted image of Live Long and Prosper hand gesture

With the AYAB interface, you can provide an image of up to a 200 pixel (or needle) size from your computer. The control is done by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board, which replaces the vintage control board. We are excited to be helping to bring new capabilities to these beloved machines.