Category Archives: EMSL Projects

Introducing the AxiDraw V3

We are pleased to introduce the AxiDraw V3, a new generation of our flagship writing and drawing machine.

This new AxiDraw has been redesigned from the ground up for high performance. It features smooth rolling wheels on custom aluminum extrusions, specially designed for high stiffness and light weight. Its sturdy, rigid construction gives it finer quality output and in most applications allows it to operate at up to twice the speed of the previous AxiDraw, which it replaces.

As with the previous version, AxiDraw is a simple, modern, precise, and versatile pen plotter, capable of writing or drawing on almost any flat surface. It can write with fountain pens, permanent markers, and other writing implements to handle an endless variety of applications. Its unique design features a writing head that extends beyond the body of the machine, making it possible to draw on objects bigger than the machine itself.

AxiDraw V3 is available to order today, and begins shipping next week. See it in action and learn more on the product page.

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.

WaterColorBot & fabric markers

Quilted bag with geometric patterns drawn by WaterColorBot

Laurel Pollard posted a quilted book bag she made using WaterColorBot with fabric markers to draw designs made using Beetleblocks. Her technique:

iron freezer paper to back of fabric to stablize, tape down. Use Sharpie ‘Stained’ fabric markers.

AxiDraw in the Wild

We’re excited to see so many people sharing what they are doing with the AxiDraw. Here are a few examples we’ve found in places like twitter and instagram.

We’re going back to pen and paper with our logo, with a little help from the EvilMadScientist #Axidraw. A video posted by Spies & Assassins (@spiesassassins) on

Spies & Assassins have been trying out different writing implements.

NO/R has been trying materials like leather (above) and canvas.

#envelope #casualcalligraphy #axidraw #wedding #invitation #jimandpamforever A photo posted by Bonnie Kingdon (@penandletter) on

Bonnie Kingdon posted this elegantly addressed envelope.

this #axidraw and #sharpie #tinfoil print was first designed by Aldus Manutius in 1499!

A photo posted by adam sontag (@ajpiano_official) on

Adam Sontag posted several marker drawings on foil.

Moritz Stefaner discovered StippleGen, our stippling program.

Box with creature drawn on it using AxiDraw

Miki is using AxiDraw to create custom packaging.

Keep all these great pictures and videos coming! We always enjoy seeing the creative ways people use our tools.

National Week of Making: WaterColorBot in the Tinkering Studio

watercolorbot collage

This week for the National Week of Making, the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium is celebrating with a WaterColorBot and Beetleblocks workshop.

WaterColorBot always brings unexpectedness and whimsicality to your design. Here, getting the outcome does not become the end of your project. You feel you want to try more. Whether it is revising the code, tweaking the WaterColorBot setting, or replacing the brush, you are making a small but important adjustment for you. You find yourself in an eternal loop of iteration!

Tennis balls in the EggBot

We recently found out about a project to make custom printed tennis balls for an event in Sweden last year.

The first challenge was finding a way to print on round surfaces. Luckily, in our previous R&D experiments, we had played the with quirky EggBot, a printer that lets you print on eggs (yeah, you read that right). We knew that, with some work, it was possible to use that mechanism to print on a “normal” round object too. The Eggbot producers did not agree, stating on their official wiki:

“No matter what you do, EggBot will never produce good results on a tennis ball. Golf balls are okay, though.”

But those words only fueled our creativity and made us move forward.

They 3D printed some custom couplers to hold the tennis balls and wrote some custom software to streamline the printing process, and then printed on hundreds of tennis balls.

Tennis balls in the EggBot Pro

We’ve since updated the wiki.

TABIYSL: Talk and demo at Maker Faire

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

I’ll be giving a talk and demo on Saturday at this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I’ll be demonstrating one of the many projects from my book, The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory (and signing books as well).

You can catch the talk and demo on Saturday, May 21, at 1:30 PM, on the Maker Show & Tell Stage.

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory is available from Amazon.com, O’Reilly, and other sellers of books, as well as from our store.

Introducing the MOnSter 6502

MOnSter 6502 PCB

Our collaborator Eric Schlaepfer has been extremely hard at work this year, designing a truly monstrous follow up to our giant-scale dis-integrated 555 and 741 circuits. This is the MOnSter 6502: a transistor-scale replica of the famous MOS 6502 microprocessor, the processor found at the heart of influential early computer systems such as the Apple ][ and the Commodore PET.

It is huge, at 12 × 15 inches, with over 4000 surface mount components, and 167 indicator LEDs added throughout so that you can see the flow of data.

MOnSter 6502

This is a new project, still underway. We will be showing off the first prototype of the MOnSter 6502 at the Bay Area Maker Faire this coming weekend. We don’t promise that it will be completely working by then — this is a first stab at an extremely ambitious project — but we’re genuinely excited to show it off in this early stage.

Decode ROM

You can read more about the MOnSter 6502 on its main project page, monster6502.com, and at Eric’s blog, tubetime.us.

(Before you ask, the MOnSter 6502 is not yet a kit or product that we’re selling. Right now, it’s an amazing thing that we’re trying to build. If you would like to stay in the loop as this project evolves, we’ve set up a special mailing list for updates.)

Father-Daughter Makers

Our friend Brian Schmalz (creator of the EBB) and his daughter Deanna are featured on the Minneapolis St. Paul Mini Maker Faire site.

Deanna was our youngest presenter at the 2015 faire – she discussed the learn-to-solder board that she designed and uses to teach her elementary school classmates. At this year’s faire, she will show you how to solder with her specially-designed board.

Deanna will be teaching soldering and Brian will be talking about chipKIT at the mini Maker Faire, which is May 14 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.