AYAB - all yarns are beautiful

Give old hardware a new life. Open source hack for the brother knitting machines KH-9xx

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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).

With AYAB, you can just supply 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.

The control of the needles and needed identification of the current position and movement of the knitting carriage is substituted by a common Arduino microntroller, combined with a custom developed shield. You need to open one part of your knitting machine (warranty is void anyway…) and simply substitute the existing control board with the AYAB controller. Connect the Arduino with your computer and start knitting!

The API to the Arduino is designed in a straight forward way, so the control of the machine can be conducted by every piece of software which can access the serial port of your computer (or raspberry pi, or …) The API consists only of three commands (request information about the controller firmware, request the start of a new picture, send line[x] to the controller when the controller requests it).

Due to the hardware constraints, it is possible to knit images with 1 bit color depth and a maximum width of 200 pixel. The height of the picture is only constrained by the amount of wool and power in your arms you have.

For test and demonstration purposes we provide two python scripts which enable you to check if the hardware (sensors, needle coils) works correctly and to knit images just from the terminal/commandline. But of course it is also possible to do some more sophisticated things like a GUI software with integrated image preprocessing.

  • AYAB GUI Beta 2 released

    chris00708/13/2014 at 17:48 0 comments

    We just released version Beta 2 of the AYAB GUI.

    This version should fix the firmware upload issues of the Beta 1 version.

    More improvements to come in the upcoming versions, feel free to send us feedback!

  • AYAB GUI Beta 1 released

    chris00708/07/2014 at 20:29 0 comments

    Last Monday, we were able to release the first Beta version of the AYAB GUI for Linux and Windows. No fancy pattern designer, yet. But one of our main features, the integrated firmware uploader is already inside. And: The software is able to run standalone, no necessity to install a python environment or compile code yourself.

    This lowers the effort for people who are not so much into Arduino, avrdude, firmwares, hex files and so on to get started with our hack! Feel free to check out for a download!

  • AYAB Teaser also available on youtube

    chris00708/07/2014 at 20:18 0 comments

    To fulfill the requirements for the hackaday contest, the AYAB Teaser video is now also available on youtube:

  • AYAB shields available for purchase at a german distributor

    chris00708/07/2014 at 20:13 0 comments

    As a response to the overwhelming storm of interest on using AYAB by the knitting machine community and other curious folks, we decided to produce and sell a small batch of pre-soldered and tested AYAB Shields for Arduino. There is not profit for us by selling those shields (in fact, it's a lot of work to solder such a bunch of shields), but we wanted to enable also people which are not into soldering to try our hack with their (newly bought) machine :)

  • AYAB is an official project of Google Summer of Code 2014

    chris00708/07/2014 at 20:08 0 comments

    Needless to say, we are very proud to be chosen as a project for the GSoC 2014. Hosted by the organization FOSSASIA, our student Sebastian works on the development of a Python based graphical UI to control AYAB. This will be indeed a milestone in our project, as the currently maintained solution of a commandline control script initially meant to be only a test script ;-)

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Afrdt wrote 07/06/2014 at 18:20 point
I worked in a similar project last year, but our idea was to create generative textiles. Check out the project and the documentation

Cheers and good luck!

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Adam Fabio wrote 07/06/2014 at 05:00 point
Thanks for entering The Hackaday Prize andz! You've got a great intro video there! I've always wanted to get into weaving, but it's one of those projects I haven't found time for yet - this may push me over the edge.
Don't forget to keep the updates coming - and good luck in The Hackaday Prize!

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