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brother kh-910

Arduino and Knitting Machines AYAB Graphic Interface Project

The goal of AYAB-Knitting is to be able to program a knitting machine (currently brother 9xx models) with an image from a computer and extending the capabilities of the machines, e.g. the maximum 60 pixel image width. This is achieved by substituting the control of the needles and required identification of the current position and movement of the knitting carriage is substituted by a common Arduino microntroller, combined with a custom developed shield.

In the last few weeks, we were looking at different options to make it easier for users to work on knitting machines and we came up with an idea to develop a graphic user interface in cooperation with the AYAB project. Sebastian Oliva from Guatemala will work on this project over summer gratiously funded by Google. Thank you!

What is currently supplied:
- A transparent and lightweight API between the client computer and the Arduino, based on 115.2 kbaud serial communication.
- A proof-of-concept python implementation of the client-side of the API (the machine side is in the firmware of the Arduino).
- A simple python commandline application which uses this implementation.

Ongoing work, that will be supplied shortly as the basis for the GUI project:
- A simple PySide (Python+Qt) based GUI application which uses the API implementation, as a proof-of-concept and starting point for further GUI application development work. It will just have the same functionality as the commandline version, no fancy image processing or so.
- A new firmware version for the Arduino with a debug option to mock-up "end of line" events by pressing a button attached to the Arduino. No AYAB Shield, nor Knitting Machine needed for operation.


Video from Chaos Communication Congress 2013 (German), Deutschlandfunk ForschungAktuell

The goal of the AYAB project is to provide an alternative way to control the famous Brother KH-9xx knitting machines. There are some similar projects on the interwebs, such as Knitic or, of course, ladyada's electro-knit. The main drawback behind the existing projects is that they make use of the 930/40 series of the knitting machine - which are still pretty expensive. AYAB uses the older KH-910 model, which is cheaper than the other models, mainly because it features an error-prone scanner-mechanism for reading the image data (but we don't care because we won't use the scanner anyway…). The 930/940 series already use some kind of digital programming, which opens even more ways to hack them, other than what this project did. Normally, the KH-910 is programmed using semi-transparent picture cards which are scanned by the machine line by line. Using this information, the machine sets the needles accordingly to achieve the knitting of the picture shown on the picture card. Probably due to memory restrictions, the machine only supports pictures of max. 60 needles (= pixel) width, although the machine has a total width of 200 needles. At least, it is possible to “copy and paste” the scanned image multiple times to achieve a banner-like usage of the scanned data (useful for norwegian patterns). Now what we achieved is that you can just program the knitting machine with an image from your computer. The restriction of 60 pixel image width has been abolished due to the improved control. You can just knit an image with up to 200 pixel width. [https://bitbucket.org/chris007de/ayab-apparat/wiki/Home]

Links:

* All Yarns Are Beautiful (AYAB) http://ayab-knitting.com
* Twitter AYAB https://www.twitter.com/AYABApparat
* AYAB Wiki and Documentation
* Current stable Version of AYAB
* KH-9xx hardware prerequisites and Arduino shield Hardware
* API and communication with knitting machine
* Needlework Knitting Starter
* Knittic http://www.knitic.com

Media

* http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/chaos-communication-congress-bastler-baustler-life-hacker-12729465.html
* http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/30-jahre-chaos-communication-congress-man-kann-sich-das.1946.de.html?dram:article_id=273236
* http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/30-jahre-chaos-communication-congress-forschung-aktuell-vom.1946.de.html?dram:article_id=273322

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