Fun Projects


So I have a few projects that I am currently working on and if someone wants to gain experience or play around with some fun things let me know. I love to collaborate and I am sure there are things that can be improved on these things.

First off, the openKnit project.
My contract at the childrens museum is having me build a machine. I can do it myself but I mean its pretty cool right?

Another contract I have is to get this polargrapher working:
The machine is simple enough but I have to admit I absolutely hate the software. Its clumsy and busy and just a hot mess. I am considering an openframeworks port, processing works fine and all but the IDE is just not that great. I could move over to eclipse to sorta recitify that but really I would prefer visual studio or xcode. There have been several examples in the art world of similar machines. I guess the end game of this would be to streamline the arduino and control software. It just tries to do too much and doesnt do anything well so I want to pare things down.

The third project I have going on is my homemade laser cutter
This is an ongoing thing but really I am just trying to make a simple to use suite of tools to control cn machines. Currently this suite runs on any computer using Firmata to talk to any arduino, or on the Raspberry Pi. Currently it can load images, vector images, interpret gcode, and has the ability to draw and print. Imagine MSPaint that can control steppers. I havent opened up the software yet but anyone familiar with openframeworks can probably grasp its concepts. Eventually I want to make my own 3D printer so I need to add another axis and am thinking it needs to be threaded. This isn’t such a problem on the raspberry pi but it would be helpful with the firmata versions.

Just thought id post what I’ve been working on in case people were interested in tinkering.


Wow – how cool is! @jonrockford is this something you’re interested in?

Similar drawing machines and open plans by Harvey Moon (mentioned on the polargraph page) were developed at SAIC! I’ve also done some work with similar machines. What about a web-based gui using ofxHTTP and openFrameworks underneath (this is how we designed ofSketch and Kibio).

Do you have any images or documentation of your laser cutter? I’m sure it would be inspiring to see …


Yes - very cool! An interesting twist on the openknit project might be to create a Gerhardt-style knitting machine for creating dimensional forms (originally designed for knitting socks).


I dont see why that wouldn’t be doable the mechanism seems simple enough and all it really needs to know is how many passes to do before stopping though I think an issue would be the dimension. Unless you had it so that the diameter of the circle was dynamic it would always create the same diamter knit would it not? That seems like an interesting premise nonetheless


Also, from my research (I totally got into this the other day) it appears that you can make make panels with Gerhardt-style machines:

Seems like they should all be circular :smile:


@jonrockford with our 3d printing capabilities you’d be unstoppable – I’m thinking … thesis project ?! :wink:


Interesting, I wonder if the spacing between the needles is of particular importance. If not a dynamic ring should be simple enough to code for. All you would need is 1 rotation to set the devices total number of steps and assuming all the needles are equidistant from each other just a simple math problem, yay pi, and it should be able to create more dynamic shapes than that video demonstrates. Like a Hoberman sphere would probably work as long as the material it is made out of is pretty rigid and you only need one ring instead of the whole spherical contraption.


Here are some pictures and videos of the laser cutter I talked about earlier

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3
Video 4


Has anyone done anything with the openKnit or had any more ideas? I think I will be starting on the build on both versions in the near future. I talked to the people at the librarys maker lab about it since they have a robotic sewing lab they host weekly.

I generally finished my work on my laser cutter, or at least this version. Certainly some learning through failure but I think I am going to expand the software. It runs on a pi ok, and supports Firmata. I think the next step is to make it talk to Grbl devices and be able to encode gCode since right now it only decodes.


These all look like awesomely fun projects! I am currently working with a polargraph machine in my studio–I’m also trying to get away from the current software setup. Mostly, I’m interested in creating a hands-off installation version.

Also, I know that Taylor Hokanson was working on a build of an openKnit over at Columbia, so that’s maybe a resource to tap into.