One Man, A Raspberry Pi, and a Formerly Hand Powered Loom

[Fred Hoefler] was challenged to finally do something with that Raspberry Pi he wouldn’t keep quiet about. So he built a machine assist loom for the hand weaver. Many older weavers simply can’t enjoy their art anymore due to the physical strain caused by the repetitive task. Since he had a Pi looking for a purpose, he also had his project.

His biggest requirement was cost. There are lots of assistive looms on the market, but the starting price for those is around ten thousand dollars. So he set the rule that nothing on the device would cost more than the mentioned single board computer. This resulted in a BOM cost for the conversion that came in well under two hundred dollars. Not bad!

The motive parts are simple cheap 12V geared motors off Amazon. He powered them using his own motor driver circuits. They get their commands from the Pi, running Python. To control the loom one can either type in commands into the shell or use the keyboard. There are also some manual switches on the loom itself.

In the end [Fred] met his design goal, and has further convinced his friends that the words Raspberry Pi are somehow involved with trouble.

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CNC Jacquard loom will weave anything

The Jacquard loom, invented in the early 1800s, used punched cards to manufacture relatively complex textiles such as damask and brocade. These punched cards were eventually used by census workers, mechanical calculators, early analog computers, the earliest digital computers, and even the humble Arduino.

That doesn’t mean the Jacquard loom was left in the 17th century, though. This one made it to the Open Hardware Summit in New York last week and it was so cool the organizers of the Maker Faire graciously found space for it.

The entire loom is controlled by computer – no punched cards required – and is build out of inexpensive aluminum extrusion. It can also make any two color graphic into a textile (yes, even the Hackaday logo). The loom wasn’t quite operational during the one day it spent at Maker Faire, but we’ve been promised updates in the future.