Category Archives: Engineering

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.

Fliptronics Flip-Pins

Flip-Pins installed on a PCB

The makers of OSHChip are now producing the IC pins on their own for you to use in projects where square header pins just aren’t a good solution. The larger header pins can damage breadboard sockets, but Flip-Pins are the same size as traditional IC pins.

Flip-pins in their carrier strip

We’re stocking these elegant parts in packs of 10 of each of the available sizes: 8-pin, 14-pin, and 20-pin strips.

Soldering Flip-Pins onto a PCB

They come packaged in a carrier strip for ease of soldering into your PCB.

Hilbert Curve Cat

Shy wrote in to tell us about a tool he created to generate Hilbert curves from images for plotting called Image2Hilbert. (Main GitHub project link, here: )

Shy says:

I added a calculation in the interface and this line is approximately 35.881 meters long and it took about 45 minutes to draw.

Thank you, Shy, for sharing this tool! We look forward to seeing what people make with it.

Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2016

MFNY 2016

This year for Lady Ada Lovelace Day, I want to celebrate the many women who shared their projects at Maker Faire New York.

I was thrilled to see the Touch Creature sculpture above by Talya Stein, especially after having seen an earlier version. She and I talked about the approachability of organic materials like wood. It was wonderful to see kids interacting with it.

I had a great conversation with Blythe Serrano, who I had met at a previous Maker Faire, about the material properties she has learned this year from experimenting with silicone casting. She makes light up pet collars, and generously shares her learning processes.

MFNY 2016

I loved this spatial magnetic field visualization by Inhye Lee. The three tubes in the center contain individually controllable electromagnets. The  compasses spin in their spheres in response to the changing magnetic fields.

There are so many more I had the pleasure of connecting with and catching up with, including Becky Stern, Sophi Kravitz, Star Simpson, and Sally Byers. I love Maker Faire for the opportunity to bask in the glow (LED glow in some cases) of so many incredible women.

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.

Paper Circuits roundup at MakerBlock

toner - 15

MakerBlock is exploring paper circuits, and has published a roundup of articles, including our Single Sided Circuit Board, Electric Origami, and Edge-Lit cards.

While I’m a big fan of paper and circuits, I’ve never really given paper circuits/circuitry a shot.  Unfortunately, I have no good excuse for this.  (Fair warning:  I’ve been collecting links and ideas on this topic for several weeks now, and even though I intend to break up the post into more manageable chunks, I have a feeling this is going to be a doozy) …

 

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.)