Three pendulum harmonograph

Just the other day we were thinking “You know what we need more of around here? Harmonographs!” And our requests were answered when [Paul] sent in his three pendulum harmonograph. For those unaware, it’s a mechanical device that draws Lissajous curves or “really cool circles” to quote some of our staff.

[Paul] includes all the plans necessary to make your own harmonograph and begin drawing today. If you can’t wait, there’s a video of the three pendulum harmonograph etching a masterpiece after the jump.


  1. Drake says:

    I wonder if a rotational axis would make interesting drawings as well

  2. Mythgarr says:

    I don’t believe the choice of font or sountrack could be any worse. I award them no points, and may god have mercy on their soul.

  3. biozz says:

    its an amazing device and if it was nto so damn big i would without doubt … think about doing it … but im sure once im done it will be arduino controlled with servos and an earth rotational emulator XD (joke)


  4. Mythgarr says:

    @biozz No – a troll would have pointed out that it doesn’t use an Arduino.

    The project itself is interesting (even if I can’t really grasp the point of the whole thing). It’s the video I can’t stand – sure, 8-bit fonts have a certain charm but they aren’t very readable.

    @Drake That might produce some interesting results. You could either use a cylindrical mass or (probably more realistic) a motor mounted inline on the drawing axis.

  5. nemo says:

    Aesthetic is wonderful. Great project, and I appreciated the music and fonts :D

  6. Drake says:

    @Mythgarr Better yet a mass about an axis with a spring mechanism to ossilate

  7. Haven’t we seen this one before? Maybe the one before this consisted of 1 or 2 pendulums. Alas I’m to lazy to look up the article.

  8. gyro_john says:

    That was *beautiful!*. Now I want to make one.

    @Drake: OSCILLATE

  9. MFunkibut says:

    Looks like he built the same one Karl Sims [yes that Karl Sims] built for his kids.

  10. man I remember seeing one of these things at a science museum when I was a kid… they had a huge one where the pendulum hung from the ceiling and the platform was nearly the size of a car. they also had several smaller ones in different configurations that would draw in sand.

  11. Ben says:

    He is trying to find the island. He must be stopped at all cost.

  12. blue carbuncle says:

    @twistedsymphony: same here :) I remember one at the Smithsonian (of course lol) and oddly enough one at the Cumberland Museum in Tenn. I also remember seeing smaller ones at a local fair. You could set the pendulum and buy the print. Really neat to watch and let’s not forget about spin art with paint lol. Or the penny funnel. That was the best when the penny went sideways…

  13. Alexis says:

    Men… this is awesome, and is very refreshing seen something thath is “old school”, maybe this curves were the satart point to complex equations, the begining of the early development of technology.
    And is very Artistic. So… I like so much

  14. strider_mt2k says:

    The soundtrack just kept going and GOING…
    Muted 1/4 through.

    Please don’t let that mar what is otherwise a really cool piece of work!

  15. biozz says:

    @Mythgarr hahahaha X3 i never said it needed an arduino you just need something to bitch about

  16. hacky97 says:

    Cool project! I like things doing stuff without them eing told to.

    I hate the font and soundtrack though. @Mythgarr: the font is actually 20bit(4×5). still no vector, but I can’t miaine making fonts in 8-bits per charact or I’d have to find out some sort of compression.

  17. PedantG says:

    I would like to mention that Lissajous parametric functions are sinusoidal, and that the non-simple harmonic motion of a pendulum is not exactly sinusoidal. It’s Mathieu sinusoidal.

  18. Tim says:

    There is a fun interactive harmonograph to play with here:

    it is built with HTML 5 Canvas

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