Category Archives: Engineering

Callie’s Crown

Callie's Crown

Last year while attending FIRST robotics competitions with the Firebots, I had the privilege of serving as a judge at both the Central Valley Regional and the Sacramento Regional. Judging gives an opportunity to get to know the folks involved in the competition, whether they’re students, mentors, or other volunteers like you. I’ve judged and volunteered at a few events now, and one of the great things to see is the way that the community builds and nurtures itself.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

One of the students I met in past years, Callie, had graduated from her team, but keeps coming back as a volunteer. Callie was refereeing at both events, and shines brightly as a role model. Literally. She built an LED tiara and programmed it to light in the event colors of red, white, and blue.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

She let me take a few pictures of it. It is made with Adafruit Flora Neopixels, a Gemma controller and a small LiPo battery.

Callie and her crown

She’s a student at UC Davis, and is a truly wonderful role model for the high school students at the events. While you don’t necessarily need an LED tiara to shine as a role model, Adafruit does have a tutorial so that you can make one, too.

Using the WaterColorBot to teach programming

Water color painting titled Ocean Woman
JR has been volunteering in a high school programming class and wrote up a thoughtful post about his experiences using the WaterColorBot in the classroom. He wrote a Python library that allows users to directly control a WaterColorBot by writing Python code.

To be honest, this library is a pretty insane way to control the bot. It’s needlessly low-level: you’re manually controlling the brush’s position, you’ve got to remember to wash and re-ink the brush every so often, etc. If your main goal is to just get the bot to paint a pretty picture, there are lots of better ways to go about it.

As a teaching aid, though, it’s been a total success, because it lets students flex their burgeoning Python skills and actually make a real thing in the process! We’ve been blown away by the stuff our students have created.

He has also documented and shared his code on github.

AxiDraw on Stage

In unusual uses for our drawing machines, AxiDraw is playing the role of the master of ceremony in Joël Maillard’s play “Last sheet (after the big lack)”, a production about the robotic future being put on by Theater Marie in Switzerland.

Happy Halloween!

Paintings of skulls made by WaterColorBot

I also thought you might enjoy seeing the design we were running today in the classroom…

Spencer Yonker sent in these skull paintings made by WaterColorBot in the classroom.

Halloween!

And we had a customer stop in the shop to show off his red velvet skull, with added flickering LED eyes.

Thanks to both of you for sharing your Halloween spirit with us! And Happy Halloween!

AxiDraw and TouchDesigner

We’ve noticed a few artists on twitter and instagram using TouchDesigner as a tool in their workflow toward creating output with AxiDraw.


David Braun has been posting beautiful, and sometimes mindbending artwork on twitter.


Chris Hall posted this piece using sound waves to create scenes.

Some like it plot . . . . . #inktober #axidraw #touchdesigner

A post shared by Hard Work Party (@hardworkparty) on


Noah Norman has been posting geometric plotting videos.

#axidraw #touchdesigner

A post shared by Matthew Ragan (@raganmd) on


Matthew Ragan has been taking advantage AxiDraw’s ability to draw on just about anything, and plotting over already printed materials. He also has published his tools on github for getting vectors out of TouchDesign. He describes it as:

A pipeline for handling the SOP to SVG pipeline. This is especially handy for using procedurally generated geometry for paths to be cut or plotted.

We’ve added a link to his repository on the AxiDraw documentation wiki. We love it when folks share their tools and would love to hear what tools and processes people are using or creating for working with our plotters.

AYAB v0.90 is here!

AYAB (all yarns are beautiful) Logo

The All Yarns Are Beautiful project has just released a new version of the AYAB software, v0.90!

It’s a bugfix-release, that means it fixes mostly known issues and no additional features are introduced. This is necessary to get more stability in the software and to have solid foundation for future developments.

If you’re using our AYAB Interface, we’d encourage you to upgrade. If you want to contribute to this project that brings new life to old Brother knitting machines, head over to the announcement to read more.