Hack, Make, Teach
There are more and more people diving into hacking on knitting machines, which is really great!
It’s getting to the point where there are too many people to thank for carrying this forward, you know who you are.
But, the increasing popularity has led to some problems and frustrations for people.
Recently I discovered an old thread on a Ravelry forum about the PDDemulate.py disk emulator that I wrote. People were frustrated by problems they were having. By the time I discovered the thread, I had already been contacted by one of the people with the problem, and I discovered a bug in the emulator. It’s now fixed in the repository. But months had gone by between the forum postings and email contact. The forum thread is still out of date, because a solution has been found but that’s not indicated.
I try to be responsive to people when they have problems with the code – I help when I can and try to be up front if I’m too busy to dive in deeply or if the problems are with an environment I don’t have (I only have a KH-930, and only run the emulator under Linux). But I don’t have time to find and follow every forum where this is being discussed.
Through email from people using the software, I’m becoming aware of more people who are working on this but unaware of others doing the same thing. It feels like there’s a larger community forming around this, but it’s fragmented.
Therefore, I’d like to respectfully suggest that we centralize the resources used for these projects, so that we can help each other, and keep a record in one place of the existing knowledge. Other forums are great, and I know there are communities with forums which reach and help the people who participate in them. Those should continue of course, but for people with deeper interest it may be appropriate to point them to this blog entry.
The definitive repository for the knitting machine disk emulator and related files is here:
If you’d like to fix or improve the code, or add information about different models of knitting machine, please fork that repo and then make pull requests to have your changes incorporated.
Technical information about connecting to Brother knitting machines and about the KH-930 is here:
Discussion about the software and reverse engineering of the data formats is taking place here:
The Yahoo group and git repository are the only places that I’ll regularly follow, and try to respond to questions.
I’ll still respond to email, my email address is in the code in the repository. But I’ll probably ask you to go to the Yahoo group. Still, if you’re self conscious about the question or whatever, you can use email.
Now, let’s all make great things!
There’s a great tutorial up by Lady Ada and Becky Stern which is based on some reverse engineering I did of a Brother Knitting machine. This is great, and makes me want to get that machine off the shelf.
It’s so great to find that something you threw out to the public is useful to someone.
I’m late posting the news, but Antitronics moved out of the Flying Monkey Arts Center. There’s big news, though! Susan found a great 18 foot trailer that’s in the process of conversion to a mobile shop/space. I expect that the trailer will double as my normal electronics shop, plus travel as needed to be a mobile hacker space.
The tile floor is half installed, and insulation is probably next on the list. The trailer is a vending trailer with a big side door, and already equipped with AC power and lighting. This project is going to take months to finish.
I’ll post some photos soon.
Come on down to the Haiti relief event at Lowe Mill tomorrow. You will seldom see such an amazing musical lineup for $5 admission. There’s also a silent auction fundraiser, and Antitronics is contributing some items so come bid on them! Here’s what we’re putting into the hat:
Two Drawdio kits from Adafruit Industries. These are fun little kits that make a lencil that generates tones when you draw, using the resistance of the graphite on the paper. You can see one already built at the Antitronics space – I’ll be there this afternoon.
Auction Info (pdf).
Update: Here’s a link to some of the awesome artwork available at the auction.
I arrived today in Dallas with the makerbot in fine shape, after flying with it as checked baggage. I had checked with the folks at makerbot labs, and they advised me that a Pelican 1620 case was the way to travel with a ‘bot. They were right.
I have to give a shout out for the people I ordered the case from – Leisure Pro. I ordered the case with less than a week to go before this trip, so I had it shipped second day via UPS. Leisure Pro called on delivery day and said “Your shipment was just delivered to us. We don’t know why, but since you ordered this second day you must need it in a hurry – what can we do to make sure you have it when you need it?”.
Wow – proactive customer service! They got the case to me in time, it holds the makerbot, a handful of tools, and a couple of pounds of plastic with no problems. And – it comes in under 50lbs, which makes the checked bag limit.
So the ‘bot is here at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, and is printing as I write.
Way back in July I thought I was almost done with the power monitoring box.
Well, it had some software issues and then got set aside for more urgent projects (like the makerbot – oh yeah!).
Tonight I wasn’t sleep-inclined, so I dragged it out and dug in. I ended up having to dig pretty deeply into the Xport configuration and learn more about how it works, which was a good thing in the long run.
The problem turned out to be an error in the Xport configuration that I had copied from an arduino example sketch. The owner of that example’s been notified, and my arduino code works, so it was a good evening of hacking.
The power monitor now PUTs a request to the web server as it should. There is still a bug on the server side, but it will wait until another day.
It’s been nagging at me that this got set aside, so now I feel better. I think I’ll go get some sleep.
I brought the bot to a kernel sprint this week and did a demo. Colin’s post about it made the makerbot.com front page.
We had a great arduino class on Saturday – it went a lot faster than I expected, and I ran out of things to talk about pretty early. That may have been because we had relatively few problems getting the arduino development software installed for everyone. Cory was a hero for bringing the windows version on a CD, because the network bandwidth went to almost nothing just as we needed a copy.
I meant to talk more about the history of the Arduino project and about open source, but I failed to prepare and didn’t cover it well. Next time I’ll do better.
All the material we covered came from examples supplied with the arduino platform, and they worked for everyone. An unexpected moment that I really enjoyed was when I pulled out the Oscilloscope to show what the Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) signal looked like. This is definitely staying in the class. There were a few notes that I made on the whiteboard, and didn’t give anyone copies to take home. So that there’s no confusion about hooking up the extra parts from the class, I’ve reproduced those notes here on the wiki.
Cory also asked an interesting question about using the arduino to trigger a photographic strobe. I reverted to to bad engineering behavior, and forgot that this was an intro course, and gave an answer that was probably discouraging. I realized I had lost my way when I heard myself saying “interrupt driven”. I’ll attempt to make a topic out of this for this wiki in the next day or so. But – the important thing is to go ahead and try that idea – it’s really easy to mock something up with the arduino platform. In fact, here’s a posting by someone who has played with triggering a strobe, and shared his project. I love sharing.
The class is full
If you want to take the class but didn’t get in, send an email
and I’ll schedule another one soon.
It’s on – an Introduction to Arduino Class
Where: Antitronics – Flying Monkey Arts Center
When: Saturday, October 3rd 4:30 – 7:00
Cost: $30 (for the things you get to keep)
Let me know in advance if you will be there.
You need to bring your laptop, let me know which O.S. you run.
I have in my hot little hands a stack of Arduino Duemilanove boards. For your $30 you will get one of those, a USB cable, a 9V battery clip with a plug, a couple of LEDs and resistors. and a potentiometer. I will not supply a 9V battery. You won’t need one for class – you only need one later if you want to run your project disconnected from your computer.
The goals will be:
1. To get the arduino software environment installed
2. To demonstrate the structure of a basic arduino application
3. To show how to read information from the real world
4. To control some simple outputs, including PWM (and an explanation of what the heck PWM is anyway).
We will not go into deep details of the AVR processor or any other technical aspects of the arduino and how it works — this is sort of an appliance operator’s view.
Arduino home: http://www.arduino.cc/
The Duemilanove: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardDuemilanove
The Software: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
You are invited to go ahead and install the software before the class if you are comfortable with that. If you want the hardware early, just pay me and it’s yours. I should have the remainder of the items (battery clips) in by next week.
Registration is limited since this is the first class. I don’t want to end up overloaded.
The class is full
RSVP to info [at] antitronics [dot] com
It was a great day down at the space – including a visit from a bunch of people from Maker’s local 256. I’m sure we’ll find a lot to collaborate on.
I wanted to reciprocate and stop by their place on the way home, but evening arrived I realized that I’m being beaten by a cold of something, and headed home.
I’ve been painting and building the makerbot for a couple of weeks, and finally powered it up today. After fussing around with various versions of software for a while, I hit a mostly working combination, and printed this:
I’m having a few minor printing problems, but most of them can be tweaked out I think. The one that worries me is the periodic halting of the print for a second or so, which causes problems, and the occasional hard motion stop during printing – although the extruder keeps going.
But – not bad for the first few hours under power.