Zen and the Art of Arduino

A zen garden should be a source of relaxation and escape from the everyday. The whole point should be to escape from–among other things–your electronics. Unless you are [MakrToolbox]. Then you’ll make a beautiful zen garden end table that allows you to make patterns in the sand using a ball bearing and an Arduino. You can see a video below.

Technically, the device is almost an upside down 3D printer with no Z axis. The mechanism moves a magnet which controls the steel ball and draws patterns in the sand. However, the really impressive parts of this project are the woodworking for the end table and the impressive documentation, should you want to reproduce this project yourself.

We couldn’t help but think of this as a really nice grown-up Etch-a-Sketch. [MakrToolbox] originally used a 3D printer control board to get everything moving but later decided to take a different approach. From the user’s point of view, a joystick drives the ball. We can’t comment on if it has the same soothing effect, or not.

You’d think that a CNC zen garden was a novel idea, but time has demonstrated that it isn’t. Not even close. Seriously. However, it may be the most aesthetic one we’ve seen.

25 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Arduino

    1. As someone that has built a “Zen Garden” I can confirm this.

      Here is my post-mortem
      https://blog.abluestar.com/cnc-zen-garden-maker-faire-post-mortem

      Here is a video with the “natural” sounds

    1. Probably because this is very good handiwork when compared to what is most often posted.

      If you can do better, you should share some of your work. I’m always happy to see wooden projects that don’t involve laser-cutting.

      1. Congrats on the build! But I have to agree the stain is pretty bad and it looks like he had to cut cheater strips to fix his bad measuring. I saw the Sisyphus table for the first time last night and was considering building one. Hackaday to the rescue with a completed build I can copy. You guys are awesome. but in the future less is more when staining.

  1. I want to turn this into a clock. Get it to draw the outlines so the numbers stand out more.
    Or analog, so you’re left with the shadow of previous minutes. Or in the shape of an hourglass to take it full circle.
    brb

  2. I’d like to make a garden sized one of these, obviously the methods required would need to be completely different and unless it used an overhead cable system it would need extra motion planing to not level tracks, assuming you settled for a wheeled robot stick in the sand solution.

  3. I thought this was greatly over designed but no one else seem to think so (so far).

    I would have used four corner pulleys that use dial-cord (string) to move one width-ways flat bar (slat) back and forth in parallel and then have four pulleys, two on each end of the slat that use a H-Bot (core x-y) arrangement to move a magnet back and forth along the slat.

    The above has no linear rails but may have sideways deflection towards the center. That could be fixed by having the slat fixed at a right angle to one linear bearing on one linear rod – much better than having four of each.

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