CNC Embroidery Machine Punches Out Designs a Stitch at a Time

It’s doubtful that the early pioneers of CNC would have been able to imagine the range of the applications the technology would be used for. Once limited to cutting metal, CNC machines can now lance through materials using lasers and high-pressure jets of water, squirt molten plastic to build up 3D objects, and apparently even use needle and thread to create embroidered designs.

It may not seem like a typical CNC application, but [James Kolme]’s CNC embroidery machine sure looks familiar. Sitting in front of one of the prettiest sewing machines we’ve ever seen is a fairly typical X-Y gantry system. The stepper-controlled gantry moves an embroidery hoop under the needle of the sewing machine, which is actually the Z-axis of the machine. With the material properly positioned, a NEMA 23 stepper attached to the sewing machine through a sprocket and drive chain makes a stitch, slowly building up a design. Translating an embroidery pattern to G-code is done through Inkstitch, and extension to Inkscape. [James]’ write-up is great, and the video below shows it in action.

We’ve seen a CNC embroidery machine or two before, but our conspicuously non-embroidered hat is off to [James] on this one for its build quality and documentation. And the embroidered Jolly Wrencher doesn’t hurt either.

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Mechanisms: Bearings

They lie at the heart of every fidget spinner and in every motor that runs our lives, from the steppers in a 3D printer to the hundreds in every car engine. They can be as simple as a lubricated bushing or as complicated as the roller bearing in a car axle. Bearings are at work every day for us, directing forces and reducing friction, and understanding them is important to getting stuff done with rotating mechanisms.

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DIY pick and place seems easy to build

We’re not saying it’s a simple project, but the build methods that [Alan Sawula] used for this DIY pick and place are probably the easiest we’ve seen yet. As this is just a CNC machine, the methods he used would also work quite well for mills or other machines. Instead of using precision rods for the X and Y axes, he used square tubing. The tubing is oriented more like a diamond, with the ninety degree corners providing the travel surface. Two bearings with a shim between them provide a groove that rides along the corner, and since this is square and not just ‘L’ bracket, the sleds are secured both above and below the tube. Stepper motors provide the movement along X and Y, with a servo motor for Z and another one to rotate the medical grade needle that serves as the vacuum tip. Starting four minutes into the video you can see that this not only works, but it’s lightning fast!

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Scanning tunneling microscope under GPL3

ChemHacker has posted schematics and code for a scanning tunneling microscope. [Sacha De’Angeli] finalized the proof-of-concept design for version 0.1 and released all of the information under the Gnu general public license version 3. You’ll need to build a sensor from a combination of a needle, a piezo, and a ring of magnets. There’s an analog circuit that gathers data from the probe, which is then formatted by and Arduino and sent to your computer.

We haven’t really dabbled in this type of equipment, though we did cover an STM earlier in the year. Take a look at the video after the break and then help jump-start are imagination by sharing your plans for this equipment in the comments.

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USB VU-meter

WaitingForFriday’s [Simon Inns] is quite possibly the USB interface and PIC master. This week he let us know about his VU-meter repurposed as a computer performance monitor using a PIC18F2550 and his open source USB Generic HID communication class. With PWM the meter’s needles and RGB LED can be accurately set and even dampened for CPU usage, network usage, HDD utilization, and even memory usage. Oddly enough, in his software we didn’t find the ability to use the device as a VU-meter – go figure.

Edison cylinder recordings need more cowbell

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[Norman] spent three years developing and building his own Edison cylinder phonograph with electric pickup. We’re glad he did, and that he shared it with the world because the product is a thing of beauty. Every part is clean and precise with plenty of room for adjustments to accommodate differences in media. He’s reused the head from a VCR and attached it to a CNC machined polypropylene mandrel. The needle is interfaced with the cylinder via a delicate passively driven carriage. This consists of an aluminum rod with the cartridge at one end, and two wheels at the other. The wheels travel along a precision rod, propelled by the needle tracking the groove in the wax. Wonderful!

We’ve embedded a video of the device playing a recording of Sousa’s El Capitan from the late 19th century. Although familiar with these cylinder recordings, we were surprised by how little recording space there is available on one. Continue reading “Edison cylinder recordings need more cowbell”

Syringe logic probe, revision 2

[Travis Goodspeed] has updated his syringe based logic probe that we covered earlier. Instead of soldering to the outside, he’s using silver wire shoved into the core of the needle. A nice side benefit is the safety cap now fits. Inside the syringe are two LEDs that indicate current direction. The sharp needle makes it a lot easier to hit small traces.