An easy to use harmonograph drawing machine. These happy Gators allow for quick and easy setup on any table or desk.
Often seen at Science Museums the harmonograph drawing machines are usually huge devices that fill a room. Some are 8 feet tall. We had four goals in designing our Drawing Machine:
• Easy to setup and take down--less than 5 minutes
• Works on any table or desk
• Lots of variations and able to be expanded by DIY into a full axis rotary harmonograph
• A reuse for plastic bottles
Design and materials
After months of work and dozens of prototypes we've finally been able to meet all four goals. Our GatorGraph Drawing Machine is carefully crafted using laser cutters and CNC machines. For the heavy parts we use Appleply plywood made here in Oregon. The rods are made from Maple and Walnut hardwoods harvested and milled in Michigan. All the hardware will be brass. This is a toy that will provide tons of fun and last for years.
How does it work? Electricity? Magic?
Gravity! The power for the GatorGraph is provided by four 1-liter plastic bottles (not included) on a swinging pendulum. As they move back and forth the Gators produce what are called Lissajous curves. Where a Spirograph is bounded by a circle, the Lissajous curves are bounded by a rectangle. Changing the length of the pendulum alters the type of curve. The shape of the curve can be modified by using different hole positions on the rods.
An extensive instruction book will be provided but figuring it out for yourself is more than half the fun. Different colored pens can be used and multiple curves can be drawn on a single sheet for even more dramatic effects.
Harmonograph drawing machines were invented in the mid-1800s and were very popular in late Victorian times. Over the years there have been many toy versions. Since the 1950s most have been made of plastic and easily broken. Our wooden version is solid and built to last.
Setup is very easy but please be aware that there are lots of small parts--we provide extra screws and bolts--so this toy is not appropriate for children to play with on their own. It is best to work together and see what they'll come up with. After you are done playing, the harmonograph can be disassembled in minutes and put back into the box for storage. It all lives in a 19 x 12 x 3" box so unlike the Science Museum versions you don't have to give it a special room.
Each GatorGraph is tuned before shipping. This can take an extra day or two before the package is shipped.