Sandify pattern ideas

I’m opening this thread to brainstorm on different input ideas. There must be more than rotating polygons that are interesting to watch.

Well, you know when turtle is working right we should be able to ‘graph’ pretty much any reasonable equation.

I’d really like to see what we could do with Mandelbrots… Graph the intersections usually seen as color changes. It might be awkward to keep it from doing a step at the end of each rotation, but maybe we can gradually (gradual would involve a bunch more math than the polygons do) shift like we do with the polygons.

Conic sections could be pretty. Disturbed ellipses similar to planet orbits giving helixed chains around a center. I’m not sure if my visualization is working right though.

There are just so many things that we could do with curves…

Bitmap image to line art algorithms… There was software mentioned in the forums a while ago that did it.

How would firework patterns work with this? Looks like the ball would have to retrace its path back to the center of the burst each time.

Here are some pretty cool fireworks photos I shot this July 4th.


If you remember what software that was, could you let me know? I’m looking for something like that.

Other ideas - I’m looking for a tool that will develop toolpaths that don’t have travel moves outside of the toolpath itself, or minimizes them. Sort of like the firework pattern idea - the tool path should retrace its steps to get to the next point.

I mentioned this in the giant sand table thread, but since this is where we’re discussing things now, I’ll mention again the TSP technique for creating single-line drawings: I don’t think doing a drawing like that on a sand table will look like a picture, but it might look interesting.


The bitmap to lines topic is here. A more direct link to the project is here.

1 Like

Thanks, Bill!

These are all good ideas. I haven’t researched any of it yet, but I will. I just found this though:

I’m not sure who his intended audience is, he’s doing some pretty complicated stuff, but also defining what CAD is. Anyway, his machine is pretty simple, and his controller is very interesting. He’s not doing gcode or marlin. He’s just reading the coordinates from the SD card and moving the two motors directly. I don’t like this approach because it’s not compatible with any other CNC machines, but it’s pretty neat none-the-less.

Also, @Omri has done great work with line drawings. Obviously not directly applicable to sandify, because the pen lifts, but the software is worth reading about, for sure:


I found some interesting ideas on the eggbot site. In particular, they have plugins for inkscape that do some cool things - especially filling areas with “hatching.” They also have tutorials on how to use them. Here’s a good page to kind of get the idea:,_part_3

It’s not plug and play for our application, but it’s a good start and some good tools to use with inkscape. Here’s a design I created just now in inkscape, saved as a DXF, and then opened in estlcam to do the toolpaths. Looks okay in the simulator - I’m running it now and will post a picture when done.

Here’s what it looks like in the simulator.

[attachment file=41684]


I think that will look really cool, if the travel moves don’t mess it up. We almost need a retrotraverse path option.


I was thinking it would be really neat to use scanning lines, with changes in direction to emphasize shapes. I was drawing a square pattern with rotation and the path of the corners was so we’ll pronounced.

Something like that would be pretty cool.

Some way to retro-traverse (neat term!) would be really useful.

What I did was, in Estlcam, I was careful with the machining order, and put in a few “cheater” moves to position the ball where I wanted it - for instance, to force the travel move through an area that hadn’t been printed yet. It took a few tries with the simulator in Estlcam, but here is the result. Not perfect, but a good start.

[attachment file=41708]

This table is keeping me up too late! I’m off to bed.


This eggbot tool/technique makes it easy to create more artistic designs. I threw this together this morning in about 20 minutes. Should work for all sorts of images, as long as they’re simple enough.

[attachment file=41719]

Here’s the seagull printed over a spiral design. I think I will make a separate thread for this technique.

[attachment file=41723]

I was just surfing Engadget and saw this article, Very nifty patterns we could support…

Those are neat. I would like to add something like this. I haven’t been working on it much, but I wouldn’t mind a little boost.

Now that I have a sense of what the patterns will do IRL from the simulator, I’m not sure these will look as cool.

Specifically, two “ugly” areas are:

  1. When there are open spaces. Because this just has the previous pattern poking through, and it’s not any dimmer, or relaxed or anything, it takes away from the top shape.
  2. When lines are bluntly crossed, like an intersection. Even more so when they are crossed multiple times. The sand gets pushed out to the sides, so when it is crossed, you end up with an overpass looking thing, which isn’t as pretty. Crossing closer to parallel isn’t as bad because the piles of pushed sand end up being a feature.

The cycloid function (spirograph) ones, for example, would look better if they did 30 circles in one revolution instead of doing 3 circles and 10 revolutions. But that wouldn’t be a cycloid anymore either.

Not trying to dismiss it, it’s just some thoughts I’ve been trying to get out of my head. I think this is definitely worth the experiment. I really need some time to go back and get the sandify code easier to work on, and I think having an actual turtle editor in the GUI would be pretty useful for ideas like this. Just a little more work, and it will be a lot more usable for others.

How about something that fills the field with repeating shapes (eg. 1 in circles left to right, bottom to top). squares , stars etc.

Like a combination of the fill and the shape pattern? That could be neat!

I would love to see something like this on there.

Seeing the different sand tables, I want to build a simple, one arm radial plotter that could draw graphs like this:

It would be even better if you could have a physical dial for each of the variables on the table so you could simple turn one to change the pattern. But thats a whole different machine than the ZenXY. I found the link for the graph from another sand table on youtube and though it might help spark design ideas.

1 Like

I could definitely make a tab for this pattern and I am hoping to do a spirograph style tab soon. I can let you mess with RGB pdq, but I would really like letting you put in your own equation. I don’t know how to do that ATM though.