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I love the simplicity and beauty of Robert Howsare‘s record player-based drawing apparatus. Be sure to watch the video of it in action; you’ll find it quite mesmerizing to see the device generate its Spirograph-like patterns. According to Wired, Robert made the device out of second-hand turntables, a few slats of wood, screws, and a sharpie held in place with a clothes pin. I’m curious to see how varying the RPM while it draws affects the pattern. [via DudeCraft]

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Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


  • Dave Bell

    Clever, and a compelling art project!
    I’m curious, though: How does he get the “third axis” into play?
    The two turntables, running at different speeds, with different pantograph lengths make nice Lissajous figures, but if you watch the right-hand turntable in the video, you can see that the pivot point changes over time.
    This introduces a richness to the figures that makes them even more interesting.
    But is that done manually, with the video edited together, or … how?

    • http://twitter.com/restifo Christian Restifo (@restifo)

      I’m not sure the pivot point is changing. I think it may just be the angle you’re looking at it. I thought it was changing at first, too, but if you watch it very closely, it appears to be in the same spot from the 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock position. I think it’s hard to see because it’s on the vinyl and not the label like the other one.

  • Mena Eid

    Nice, complexity came from simple things that is all

  • http://drewbatchelor.com Dr_Ew

    It’s called a pintograph :

    We made one last year using an arduino and stepper motors – a fun weekend hack :)

    We were inspired to make one after seeing that Charlie Visnic made a pintograph as part of his creative 365 which is documented on his blog the B-Roll (be creative every day! that’s real dedication, his 365 archives are worth a look, there were some great projects).

    I think that Charlie was inspired by Fran McConville, who’s page about harmonographs and Pintographs is a great resource. Fran has some seventh dan blackbelt skills with Excel, and the spreadsheet he made which simulates a pintograph is super useful. (It was his daughter who named it a pintograph.)

    Fran in turn was inspired by the Kunstmachine – Drawing machines ofAlfred Hoehn, an artist in Switzerland here’s a good video of one of his machines.

    After that, my story drys up…anyone know of any prior art before Alfred Hoehn, or is he the innovator here?

    That’s all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.a.kellar Michael Kellar

    Place that paper on a *third* turntable, and do it again!

    • http://drewbatchelor.com Dr_Ew

      Fran McCornville already did, you can see the results here:
      http://www.fxmtech.com/harmonog.html

      • http://www.facebook.com/charlie.visnic Charlie Visnic

        Dr. EW, thanks for the kind words on the blog. It’s awesome to know you found some inspiration. Funnily enough, I happened to revisit Fran McConville’s site earlier this afternoon because I’d seen this record player project on the internets and was surprised to see that Rotary Pintograph idea. Such a cool and simple modification!

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  • http://www.bestrecordplayer.com BestRecordPlayer

    That’s pretty sweet. We had to build something similar to this in my Engineering Mechanics class back in college.

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  • http://www.torbalscales.com/ Piotr

    Machine like this one seems to be a good exercise in perfecting the craft in Engineering Mechanics…

  • http://www.marturiinunta.info MarturiiNunta

    Very, very interesting! A very clever idea!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002937622988 Philip R. Cox

    They are called Lissajous figures…a closed pattern results when one frequency is a multiple (harmonic) of the second frequency… made them in engineering school thirty years ago with two strings and a pencil…

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