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How to Build Your Very Own Arduino-Based DIY Braiding Machine

With a few bits and bobs, you too can make you own Arduino-based DIY braiding machine.

Are you an avid knitter, or know someone who is? Do you fancy making a machine that helps you custom weave your own tri-color, or more, braided thread? 

Perhaps, by chance, you also like to tinker around with Arduino-powered gadgets as well. If so, then this Arduino-based DIY braiding machine is right up your street.

Like most projects of this nature, you'll need a few basic tools (listed below) and some other bits and bobs to get the job done. 

We have included links to some of the products in case you need to buy them: 

Main components:

Gear needed:

With all your gear and other components in hand, it is now time to crack on with the build.

The first thing to do is to cut and shape the wooden board to shape to form the base of the machine. No specific dimensions are given by the creator, so ensure it is at least large enough to incorporate all the components. 

arduino braider wood base
The finished wooden base, Source: Interesting Engineering

Once cut to size, sand down and round the edges as needed using either sandpaper or a bench mounted belt sander if you have one. 

Next, you will need some 3D printed gears and other bits to move the wool spools in order to braid the thread. The models for these pieces can be found by following this link

You will need to print:

  • Three main gears.
  • One driver gear for one of the stepper motors.
  • One figure-of-eight piece.
  • Two teardrop pieces.
  • Three each of the two halves of the wool spool carriers (oval-shaped pieces).
arduino braider 3d printed parts
Source: Interesting Engineering
arduino braider ball bearings
The 3D printed gears and inserted ball bearings, Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, mark out a bisecting line on the wooden base and place the gears so they meet directly in the center of the board. Once happy mark out the point of contact and also the position of the holes of the ball bearings.  

arduino braider mark out position
Source: Interesting Engineering

Now drill two equally sized holes in the positions marked for the centers of the ball bearings. Countersink the underside of the holes using a 5/8 inch (12 mm) spade drill bit to house the head of some suitably sized threaded bolts.

Now take the figure-of-eight 3D-printed piece and place over the drilled holes so that the drill holes are in the epicenter of each circle. Once happy, mark out the position of the drill holes in each corner. 

arduino braider figure of eight
Source: Interesting Engineering

Drill the holes as shown in the video. Now insert the bolts into the central holes, add one large washer each and place the 3D-printed gear and ball bearing components onto the bolts. 

Add an extra washer to each bolt, and secure it into place using sufficiently large enough nuts. 

arduino braider gears in place
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, add four other bolts and nuts to the figure of eight drill holes as shown in the video. These will hold another wooden figure of eight-piece (next phase) at a height above the gears similar to a table.

Next, make wooden copies of the teardrop and figure-of-eight 3D-printed pieces. Use the same dimensions as the 3D-printed models, mark out on the plywood, cut out and sand down, as necessary. 

Alternatively, you could probably get away with just using the 3D-printed pieces instead. 

Secure in place the teardrop wooden/plastic piece on top of each gear (and using an acorn capping nut to hold in place). Do the same for the figure-of-eight wooden or plastic piece too. 

arduino braider main table
Source: Interesting Engineering

Now for that extra gear. Assemble as the other two with a ball bearing and mark up its position so it sits directly adjacent one of the other two.

It will need to turn the other two so make sure its position is right before finalizing. Once happy, mark its central position, drill a hole, countersink it, and fix it into place like the other two (but with a shorter bolt). 

arduino braider third wheel
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next up create another wooden piece (or 3D print) to mount on the stepper motor. It will need to be slightly larger than the motor to accommodate four bolts on each corner. 

It will also need a hole in the middle to allow the motor's axle to freely rotate. Once happy with the design, glue, or bolt on to (depending on your wishes) onto the stepper motor. 

You will also need another 3D gear that has to be designed to fit onto the axle and drive the other three gears. This will take some trial and error. 

arduino braider stepper motor
The final stepper motor and mount assembly, Source: Interesting Engineering

Now mark out and drill four more drill holes directly below the third gear. These will hold the stepper motor assembly in place. 

Make sure they match the position of the stepper motor mount corner holes and that the central gear cleanly contacts the third wheel. 

arduino braider gears and motor
Source: Interesting Engineering

With the mechanical bits more or less finished, let's turn our attention to the electrical pieces. For this part, you will need a custom-designed PCB board

It will need sections to mount the Arduino Nano, motor driver, and other components. You will need to watch the video for more information on this. 

Mount and solder into place the various micro-components as shown below. 

arduino braider custom pcb
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next insert the Arduino Nano into place, as well as the A4988 motor drivers, and the stepper driver motor controller, as seen below. 

arduino braider complete pcb
Source: Interesting Engineering

Now place onto the baseboard adjacent to the stepper motor. Mark out the mounting holes, drill them out and secure the custom PCB into place. 

arduino braider mount pcb
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next another critical component -- the Arduino code. Here it is in all its glory: 

#include
#include "BasicStepperDriver.h"
#include "MultiDriver.h"
#include "SyncDriver.h"


#define MOTOR_STEPS 200
#define MOTOR_X_RPM 30 // change this value to change to winding motor speed
#define MOTOR_Y_RPM 90 // change this value o change bottom motor speed


#define DIR_X 8
#define STEP_X 9


#define DIR_Y 6
#define STEP_Y 7


#define MICROSTEPS 32


BasicStepperDriver stepperX(MOTOR_STEPS, DIR_X, STEP_X);
BasicStepperDriver stepperY(MOTOR_STEPS, DIR_Y, STEP_Y);


MultiDriver controller(stepperX, stepperY);


void setup() {

stepperX.begin(MOTOR_X_RPM, MICROSTEPS);
stepperY.begin(MOTOR_Y_RPM, MICROSTEPS);

}

void loop() {

controller.rotate(360, 360);

}

And now back to finishing the mechanical parts of the machine. 

Now cut two equally lengthed sections of the 3M threaded rods and one slightly longer one. All three of them will be used to mount the wool spool carrier 3D printed pieces. Assemble these as shown in the video and below.

These pieces will be used to guide the wool spools around the figure-of-eight track once complete. They will sit in and pass between, the U-shaped grooves in the main gears once assembled. 

arduino braider spools
Example of complete rod and wool spool carrier, Source: Interesting Engineering

Now to make the actual spools. The creator in this video machined three of them from a metal rod, but you could probably design, or indeed purchase, plastic alternatives too.

Alternatively, you could whittle from wood, or other material, a set if you are up to the task. However you do it, remember these spools need to fit fairly loosely so they can be removed. 

You will also need a fourth to receive the braided thread latter. For this reason, you can either machine or 3D print one more too. This last spool will need to be mounted right on the other stepper motor axle, so bear that in mind whatever you decide to do. 

To faithfully recreate this device, watch the video for more details. 

arduino braider spool trolleys
Source: Interesting Engineering
arduino braider grooves
Closeup from below of grooves, Source: Interesting Engineering

Next up, cut a length of the 20 x 20 aluminum rod. Bracket into place between the braiding assembly and the PCB board using either purchased or 3D-printed brackets. 

arduino braider rod
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, mount the second NEMA stepper motor into the mounting bracket and affix near the top of the central aluminum shaft. The mount should come with all the nuts and bolts necessary.

arduino braider mount motor
Source: Interesting Engineering

Next, attach your fourth spool to the stepper motor axle. You may want to complete this step before mounting to the central aluminum rod too. 

arduino braider receiving spool
Source: Interesting Engineering

Now, a fashion the thread feeding loop that will feed the colored threads together to enable them to be braided together before being would around the receiving spool. You will need to design this in such a way that the other end can also be mounted on the central aluminum pole. 

arduino braider loop design
Design of loop, Source: Interesting Engineering
arduino braider loop
Loop mounted in place, Source: Interesting Engineering

Now, wire up the motors to their respective ports on the custom PCB, add some colored yarn to the spools and secure in place on the carriers, tie their ends together, feed through the loop, and tie to the receiving spool.

arduino braider complete machine
Source: Interesting Engineering

With all that done, simply power up the Arduino, and watch it braid away on all its glory. Happy automated braided!

Interesting Engineering is a participant of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and various other affiliate programs, and as such there might be affiliate links to the products in this article. By clicking the links and shopping at partner sites, you do not only get the materials you need but also are supporting our website.

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