Has anyone built a ZenXY clock? Sounds like a fun application - it can draw a varying, relaxing pattern continuously, and draw a circle with two hands every 10 minutes. Just a microcontroller needed.

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That would be fun. Is there a way to keep the old lines without having to wipe them (design wise)? Wiping the old hands could take longer than a minute.

There’s also no reason to conform to the circle and lines approach. A bar graph style, or number of circles, or anything could be used alternatively to provide the time, without numbers, and might give you more flexability to work within the constraints of a sand table.

Regarding software, Marlin or grbl is just running on a microcontroller. So there’s no cost savings to make your own solution. But you would need to drive it. I could imagine either a completely gutted grbl software, but added in functionality for the clock. Or, a separate controller that would compute and send gcode.

I just mean no need for a computer to drive it, not trying to save money over an established controller board. Though it’d need a real-time clock, at least.

A pi zero sending gcode would have a RTC, and wifi for ntp. As a bonus, it would be easy to make it in a higher level language like python, and even include a small web server for some basic things like stop/start, Timezone adjustment, Pattern chooser…

This is making me want to make Yet Another Gcode Sender that would be specific for sand tables… I probably won’t get to it, but wouldn’t that be nice? Capable of uploading and running gcode, like we have wanted. But also capable of generating patterns on the fly for things like clocks, or reading tweets?


So tempted to work on this…

I’ve done a few small projects around the house (and for friends) where I have used Python and flask to serve a web page with React and Reactstrap. The tricky part for that was finding the actual files to include, since many of these projects (this one included) need to be able to run, even if they can’t find the CDN.

If you started with that, I think the serial connection to grbl or Marlin is pretty simple with pyserial.

The CustomPIOS I used for the v1pi could also be used to make reliable images with everything installed.

That leaves us with a bunch of work (boo) and some serious design/modify/iterate work on an interface. And then the fun part, creating fun designs in python from the current time of day.

how would you keep the sand on the surface when you hang it on the wall?


Mod Podge, of course…

But if you’re going to hang it on a wall, shouldn’t you change from a CoreXY (CoreZX?) to a mini-Maslow?

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Ooooh, ZenXY with clock mode sounds cool. Could we add etch-a-sketch mode too, while we’re at it? 8^)



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Why not go full-on Etch-a-Sketch? Z axis can move the stylus to the surface or away from it (no more single-line drawing, unless you want it), and some sort of stirring/mixing mechanism to get the powder back up onto the surface when activated. What is in an E-a-S? Graphite on plastic? OK, maybe that’s not the best material to have blowing around electronics of any sort…

no need… replace the magnet with an electro-magnet. Use a magnetic ball instead of a bearing. to lift up the ball, reverse the electro-magnet. Careful on the current so you don’t shoot the ball bearing through the glass.

But, the ball would have to keep it’s orientation, or when you reversed it, it would just flip over.

Monopole ball… And the extra current just makes it more exciting to watch!

Depends on how quickly you reverse the current. It should at least ‘hop’ while flipping over… Then we can turn it into a semi live-action Frogger game

So that post was mostly tongue in cheek, but…I do have eventual designs on a ZenXY…and even I can figure out how to code an Etch-a-Sketch mode…I won’t be building one soon, but when I do, I think I’ll have to include a couple of knobs or a remote for Etch-a-Sketch mode.

The posts sometimes get a little tongue-in-cheek, but often it’s just in the details or complete tangents. I agree that an Etch-a-Sketch mode would be awesome! Even better is if you can work out how to record it, so you can replay your favorite works of art!

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What about a digital one, where you can draw it once, with undo, and then have the machine play back the program?

Dang. Feature creep already? 8^)