Monday, December 15, 2008


This project was completed a while back, but I haven’t had a chance to post on it until now… A good friend of mine is a hardcore knitter… well… beyond hardcore… her life is yarn. Knitters are a funny bunch and their culture equally complex… Spend any time with one and you’ll find yourself learning all sorts of knitting facts (whether you mean to, or not) What does a computer nerd like me need to know about a Kitchener stitch? I don’t know. But it’ll be stuck in my head forever.

One thing I noticed about the whole knitting process was what my friend had to go through every time she wanted to start a new skein (that’s knitter-speak for those long unwound spools of yarn)… They literally have to wind the whole thing into a ball before it can be knit… While they have small winders to aid in the process (should the back of a chair not be handy…) they’re hand-cranked… This is a significant issue as a good deal of my friend’s customers (she also runs a yarn store... I mentioned the hardcore part, right?) are seniors… and the thought of them cranking away on those things is heartbreaking (and perhaps arm as well?!). Some searching around the internet yielded little... I found three precedents. The first were commercially made winders from the UK... the second was one made from lego "mindstorm" parts (but these kits are quite expensive and I can't imagine too many people outside of serious hobbyists have them handy). The last option I found was a winder offered by a (now defunct?) company in the USA but it turns out it's no longer available... None of these were quite what I was looking for... Something had to be done!

Parts:
A small AC/DC or Universal motor to power the winder… Because of the need for speed control I opted for a gear motor… Some may say you can get a way with any small fan motor but it won’t last long if it’s not meant to run at variable speeds… I found one for around 70 bucks…


I used a ceiling fan speed module for control of the motor… Again, the little things make a big difference… While it may be tempting to use a simple light dimmer for the speed control of small motors, for the health of your motor (and safety’s sake) I strongly recommend going with a proper fan speed control… dimmers take raw chunks of power right out of the current and like trying to vary the speed of fixed speed motors, it’ll burn out your motor.
I found one quite similar to this one…

A regular universal power cable cut at one end…

And last but not least, a standard (manual) yarn winder… I used a “royal” clone… it came in a box that reassuringly read “New Wool Winder”… We just need this for it’s precious gears and angles! It looks like this one…


Putting it all together…

I opened the royal clone first and removed its guts… which basically consisted of a crank and a series of gears… The original hand crank was removed and the motor was fit into its place... Once rigged up, the shaft of the motor fit directly into the main gear of the spindle base. Lastly, I made a brace to hold the motor in place and minimize vibrations…



I had my electrician friend look over my wiring on the speed control and motor (I wanted to help the yarn store, not burn it to the ground…) Make sure you know what you’re doing or have it checked over…

The last thing I needed to make was a small “guide” pole to feed the spindle properly… I ended up just using a bit of coat hanger bent into a loop on one end… The yarn is fed through this “eye” first and then into the spindle cone…
I also decided to paint it… I wanted something that says, “I’m a machine in a yarn store… but I’m approachable?”

Here are some pictures of it in action courtesy of my friend… It actually works!
Until next time,
m.

*EDIT*
12/30/2008

A video is on the way... Also, while it was never my plan, if people are truly interested in making/or obtaining one of these, email me and we can discuss logistics... Thanks for all the comments and thanks to Hack a day for mentioning the project!
m.








Labels: ,

posted by Marcus at 6:03 AM |



12 Comments:

At December 15, 2008 at 4:08 PM, Blogger Spokehedz said........
This, more than anything I have ever known to be, requires a video.

Make it so.
 




At December 15, 2008 at 6:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said........
I agree, video please. I know the thing must oscillate as well as rotate, but I can't visualize what is actually going on just by looking at the wind pattern.
 




At December 16, 2008 at 3:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said........
great work! need video!
 




At December 16, 2008 at 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said........
This video provides detail of comparable function:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxoY9iBentg
 




At December 25, 2008 at 8:41 PM, Blogger sdealfitzgerald said........
Just an idea...I've used sewing machine motors, the kind that are operated with a foot control for a variable speed motor on a motorized "spinning wheel". Good idea though, I've been thinking about altering a jumbo ball winder, for my own use. This might inspire me to actually do it!
 




At December 25, 2008 at 8:53 PM, Blogger Barbe Saint John/ Saints and Sinners® said........
I think the real question is: how do we make your our best friend and bribe you to make one for each of us LOL
 




At December 26, 2008 at 12:41 AM, Blogger Peanutga11ery1 said........
Dude, that is teh awesome. You know how many knitters are coming over here to see this? We are weird, we are numerous, and I for one am glad I am married to a computer/electronics geek, and he has just been sent a link here ;-)

Thank you! It's like you are the knitting Santa!
 




At December 26, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said........
This is so cool, now I just have to get my husband to convert my yarn winder for me.
Jane
 




At December 28, 2008 at 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said........
Actually, there is a company i the US that produces such a motor to accompany its winder. If you go to wwww.nancysknitknacks.com you will be able to see it. There is a lot of information you can access on this, through Google, so I am unclear as to where you had searched online. But even when you do the winding by hand, it really is not at all arduous. Happy winding!
 




At December 28, 2008 at 9:17 PM, Blogger Russia Moore said........
Lovely! My father and I built a spinning wheel together recently. Next time I go up I should request this as well (I work at a yarn shop, and while I'm hardly old and infirm, I wind a LOT of yarn, and almost never remember to win my own).
 




At February 16, 2009 at 5:40 AM, Blogger Chiro said........
This was a Marvelous Party.

chair rentals
 




At December 27, 2009 at 7:07 PM, Blogger Terri said........
I really like your idea for a motorized ball winder. I was checking out your links and the link to the website with the motor (kingsolar.com) is dead. Would it be possible to update the link. I really want to make sure I get a motor with the right specifications. Thanks!
 





Epic Disclaimer: Certain projects are inherently dangerous, and even the most simple tool can cause serious injury or death if not used properly. Always read and follow instruction manuals and safety warnings. You must be particularly careful when dealing with electricity - always use common sense. Any advice, guidance or other information provided on the Robot Party! website or within any of its publications cannot completely anticipate your situation. If you are at all unsure about completing any aspect of any projects, consult a qualified professional or contractor to advise or perform the service(s) for you. Always follow electrical code requirements specific to your area, and before undertaking project that involves electricity, contact your local electrical authority and your insurance company to ensure that you comply with all policies, warranties, regulations and authorities concerning this work. You expressly agree to hold Robot Party! and its contributing authors, harmless for any property damage, personal injury and/or death, or any other loss or damage that may result from your use of the information provided. No advice or information obtained by you from us shall create any warranty not expressly made herein. Reader agrees to assume all risk resulting from the application of any of the information provided by Robot Party!. By using this web site, including any applets, software and content referenced therein, the visitor agrees that the use of this web site and its information product is entirely at his/her own risk. RobotParty! does not take any responsibility for the information presented. Information offered through Robot Party! is in no way guaranteed. Due to the nature of the internet, technology and the DIY movement some articles may discuss topics which may be illegal in some locations. Said information is provided for educational purposes only and is to be used at the reader's own discretion. Robot Party! and its contributing authors do not condone or endorse any illegal activity. All contents copyright © 2010, Robot-Party! All Rights Reserved.