THP Entry: All Yarns Are Beautiful

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There are a lot of builds out there that retrofit modern electronics into ancient knitting machines. The ability to print in yarn is very cool, but when you look at the total costs of these projects – especially the ancient Brother KH-930 knitting machines – these projects start getting very expensive. A much cheaper solution to these $700 knitting machines is the Brother KH-910 model, the first of its kind, and a machine that can be purchased for about $100. For their entry into The Hackaday Prize, [chris007] and [andz] put modern electronics into this slightly less capable knitting machine, turning what was once old junk into something with the same capabilities of a much more expensive machine.

The more expensive KH-930 and -940 knitting machines are fairly impressive pieces of technology, controlled with a floppy drive, and can be retrofitted with a serial cable to upload patterns. This is the basis of the Electro-knit and Knitic, but they simply don’t work with the Brother KH-910, a machine programmed with a primitive scanner and semi-transparent picture cards. It’s like the difference between punch cards and a disk drive, really.

[chris] and [andz]‘s new controller for the Brother KH-910 is based on the Arduino, acting as a connection between a PC and the 200 solenoids and pins inside the knitting machine. That in itself is impressive – now, instead of being limited to 60-pixel wide yarn prints, the Brother KH-910 can use its full width, limited only by your arm strength and amount of yarn.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

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Knitted Circuit Board Lends Flexibility to E-Textiles

knitted circuit boardWhat could be better than sewing a circuit into wearable fabric? How about rolling your own circuit-ready knits? Chicago-based artist and assistant professor [Jesse] has done just that by perfecting a method for knitting solderable circuit boards.

This can be done by hand or with a knitting machine. The basic idea is that 2-3 strands of 34-36AWG bus wire are knitted into mercerized cotton yarn in rows, mimicking a piece of stripboard. Once the knitting is blocked and the component layout chosen, the floating bus wire strands between the rows are cut as you would cut unneeded stripboard traces. When it’s all done, [Jesse] used iron-on backing to protect her skin from scratches and lead transfer.

Her tutorial covers a simple LED circuit with a battery and a sliding switch, though she describes in detail how this can be expanded for more complex circuitry and offers good suggestions for working with different components. She also advocates feeding the bus wire from a spool rack to maintain tension and recommends stretching a piece of nylon stocking over the spool to keep it from unfurling all over the place.

This is the most aesthetically appealing e-textile work we’ve seen since this electro-embroidery piece or this blinky LED necklace, and it’s fascinating to watch the e-textile world unfold. Watch [Jesse]‘s short videos after the break where she demonstrates a simple blinky knit as well as a lovely pulsing heart collar.

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OpenKnit, the Open Source Knitting Machine

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For all the hubbub about 3D printers leading a way into a new era of manufacturing, a third industrial revolution, and the beginnings of Star Trek replicators, we really haven’t seen many open source advances in the production of textiles and clothing. You know, the stuff that started the industrial revolution. [Gerard Rubio] is bucking that trend with OpenKnit, an open-source knitting machine that’s able to knit anything from a hat to a sweater using open source hardware and software.

We’ve seen a few builds involving knitting machines, but with few exceptions they’re modifications of extremely vintage Brother machines hacked for automation. OpenKnit is built from the ground up from aluminum extrusion, 3D printed parts, a single servo and stepper motor, and a ton of knitting needles.

The software is based on Knitic, an Arduino-based brain for the old Brother machines. This, combined with an automatic shuttle, allows OpenKnit to knit the sweater seen in the pic above in about an hour.

Since OpenKnit is inspired by the RepRap project, all the files, software, and assembly instructions will be up on Github shortly. there’s also a video available below, and a Flickr gallery right here.

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Twitter Knitter combines 40 year old hardware with modern social media

When presented with a vintage Empisal Knitmaster knitting machine, members of the TOG Dublin Hackerspace worked together to not only bring it back from the dead but to also add some custom hardware that allows for computer generated patterns.

At first the Knitmaster was in fairly bad shape requiring a few custom machined parts just to function.  It was originally designed to feed in special punch cards that mechanically directed the many moving parts of the machine (called “dibblers”) to knit patterns in yarn.  Using an Arduino, a number of servos, and a microswitch to detect when the knitting carriage is pulled across, this card-read system was replaced with a computer controlled mechanism that can direct the machine to print out images one row at a time.

Of course, you don’t get too many opportunities to name your project something as cute as “The Twitter Knitter”, so once the system was working, it was only a matter of writing some code to snatch tweets from the web and generate images out of the text.  Visitors of the Dublin Mini Maker Faire got to watch it in action as they posted tweets with a particular hashtag which the machine happily printed in yarn (as long as they weren’t too long).

Video demo after the jump.

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Giving a CNC knitting machine a new brain

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We’re all about big machines that build things for us – laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3D printers are the machines de rigueur for Hackaday.  Too often we overlook the softer sides of fabrication that include textiles and knitting. [varvara] and [mar] are doing their best to bring us the softer side of things with their modification of a Brother knitting machine. They call their build Knitic, and it’s a great way to knit with computer control.

Instead of previous Brother knitting machine hacks we’ve seen, Knitic doesn’t bother with emulating the keypad or controlling the microprocessor already there; this build dispenses with the Brother brain and controls the solenoids and switches of the knitting machine directly with the help of an Arduino and a home-etched shield.

It’s not quite an automated knitting machine – someone still has to run the shuttle across the machine – but the patterns are controlled via a Processing app available on the Knitic github. You can check out [Varvara]‘s demo of Kinitic after the break.

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Hackaday Links: March 8, 2013

Cheap GPS modules

GPS

If you’re making a GPS-enabled project, you may have noticed the commonly available GPS modules are pretty expensive – usually around $50. Here’s one for $8. It’s a U-blox PCI-5S GPS receiver on a PCI Express card. There are test points for serial and USB data, though, so fitting this in your project is a breeze.

Grandfather clock makes a giraffe’s scarf

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Here’s a clock project from [Siren Elise Wilhelmsen]. Over the course of 365 days, the clock knits a giant, 2-meter tube of yarn that should be the perfect start for a half-dozen pairs of socks. No video for this, but if you find one, post a comment.

A huge hackerspace for Hotlanta

hotlanta

Atlanta is getting a new hackerspace. It’s called My Inventor Club and they’re starting to move into their space. Judging from [Scott]‘s pictures of the new space it’s huge. We can’t wait for the video tour once they’re done moving in.

Ardino and Windows 8

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Windows 8 is… weird… and you can’t install unsigned drivers without a lot of rigamarole. This means installing the Arduino IDE is a pain but [Dany] has a solution. Reboot into “test mode” and you can install unsigned drivers without your computer throwing a hissy fit.

Tweet for welts and bruises

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[Zach]‘s boss told him to come up with a Twitter-controlled paintball gun. Why he was asked to build this is beyond us, but the build is still cool. It’s powered by an Arduino and was built in just 12 hours. If only there was a video stream…

Hey guys, need some help here.

Alright, I’ve got a little problem with component sourcing. I’m making a ‘shield’ for the Raspberry Pi. Does anyone know where I can get really long female headers for the GPIO pins so the board will fit over the USB and Ethernet jacks? Here’s the project if you’re curious. I think the female part of the header needs to be 14mm high at least to fit over the USB port.

EDIT: Samtec ESQ-113-33-L-D. Here’s their site. This site is amazing. You can actually… find things. Completely unique experience here. Thank you, [Richard].

Home built knitting machine

Wow, we knew it wouldn’t be too long before we would see a fully automated home built knitting machine show up. We recently posted a hack where people were emulating the keyboard input of a commercial knitting machine, and that was pretty awesome, but we knew we would be seeing some hacked together machines soon. [corex37] hasn’t let us down with this beast. It is mainly composed of old printer parts, a couple servos, and a Picaxe 18-x microcontroller. It seems to do a good job right now, but lets hope he keeps going. It would be cool to see it able to change colors like the other one.

[via Make]

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