Are you ready for some old-school hard-core making?
Take a good look at what you're wearing, nearly everything is knitted!
I think with all modern dat techniques and electronics, one thing that is still very old-school is knitting. My mother spins, weaves and knits, and when you think of it, it's not all that different from 3D printing. It's funny that everybody seems to have forgotten this (who of you men have actually knitted? I know I haven't.)
The mechanics of this 30 year old machine are just from engineering perspective magnificent. Cams pushing needles out, depending on the needle position.... Adjustable tension.... Adjustable size of the stitch (stroke of the needles).... Timing of the needles.... If you like mechanics you'll appreciate a knitting machine.
I searched on marktplaats.nl and found a Brother KH-910 knitting machine (actually 2 of which the second one for spare parts), and a lot of extra's. Including a KR-850 ribber bed, KRC-830 Colour changer and a box full of yarn.
In the process of buying the second hand machine (nearly 30 years old !) I ordered the AYAB shield and an Arduino Uno.
It took a sunday afternoon to get my first knittings from the machine, and while waiting for the electronics to be delivered I started getting familiar with knitting.
In a matter of one morning (of which most of my time consisted of getting the needed python libraries installed on my Mac) I got something in 2 colors out of the machine. Some tweaking of the hall end-sensors which detect the end position of the carriage and everything worked.
This evening I added the ribber bed. Paving the way for double colour jacquard knitting...
I need to delve in the actual control and electronics about why this works (I first neeeeded to knit something). Because there are only 16 solenoids who drive 200 needles. But forget about that for now, I'll open the spare machine at a later time.
I know the needles are sensed by the electronics (like an encoder, sensing left/right motion) and it seems there is a 3rd sensor sensing banks of 16 needles. Just have to investigate.
Maybe in the future I'll add a motor and make it entirely automatic. Maybe some future Machinekit project. Then I'll name it MachinekNit. :)