This page outlines a project that occupied about a year of my time; controlling a hand-weaving loom with a computer, a Raspberry PI. As with most projects, the idea for this arose out of necessity and a failed project.
Among other things, Gina is a weaver, and has been a weaver for about 30 years. We have various looms around the house and as we get older the physical aspects of hand weaving start to become an issue. Issues include back and neck pain while warping floor looms. Some weavers have problems holding down pedals of larger floor and jack looms. I occasionally run into “former” weavers who complain about similar problems.
One day we stumbled across a Youtube video of a computer controlled tabletop loom that looked kind of fun to work with. Before we knew it we ordered one of these “cute” little items and started eagerly awaiting delivery. The manufacturer kept delaying the delivery date due to “software” problems for almost a year and a half. The day the loom arrived was exciting. We unpackaged it and connected it to our MacBook Pro. I immediately saw a problem. The loom controller and the instructions called for an early version of Java 6 to connect with the loom. That was a problem as the MacBook Pro had a late version of Java 7 installed. Wasn’t there something more up to date.? Anyway, after several tries at configuration, we got the loom to work when connected to the MacBook Pro with a USB connection. We never could get the advertised wi-fi to work. We put the loom aside for a couple of months due to other projects before warping the loom and trying to weave a complete project.
During the couple of months the loom was sitting in the corner waiting for a project, a new version of OS-X was installed on the MacBook Pro. When we next tried to connect to the loom, the Java 6-based software could not find the loom control unit. After several weeks of trying to patch the software we ended sending the loom back. On top of the software problems, the loom was heavy, for a tabletop loom, and quite noisy. The evening we sent the loom back Gina and I were discussing some of the failings of this project. All of a sudden she says: “You should be able to build a computer controlled loom with one of those Raspberry Pi things of yours”. The most reasonable answer I could give to that was: “as a matter of fact, I think I can”. A project was born.
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