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by Milind Sonavane

Published on September 25, 2014

What is GramoPaint?
GramoPaint is an arc art generator powered by electronics from littleBits, and 3d printed components. It breaks away from the pure symmetric patterns of conventional Spirograph, offers creative control to the user and presents hours of fun and meditative creativity through the power of arcs and cycles.

Design Brief
We set ourselves some basic targets for the GramoPaint, each with its own logic. We wanted a form that incited nostalgia and emotion – it is a tool for creation after all – hence the visual resemblance to vinyl turntables from the 70s. We wanted it to be portable and easy to assemble, without any tools. But above all we wanted it to let users explore and do more, not less.

How To Make It


Mount dc motors into the 3d printed dc motor holders with adhesive shoes.


Mount the entire circuit on acrylic base plate using adhesive shoes as shown.


Insert 3d printed spacers through slots at the four corners of the base.


Place the acrylic top plate aligning the spacers. Rotate the spacers to lock the assembly in place.


Place the 3d printed ball bearing cups into their respective slots. Put the ball bearings in the cups.


Place the black acrylic spin disc on top of the main dc motor shaft. It should rest easily on the ball bearings.


Place the arm eccentric disc on top of the second dc motor shaft.


Insert the 3d printed eccentric arm pivot through the pen holder arm and the two acrylic sheets.


Align the slot on the acrylic drawing arm through the peg on the arm eccentric disc.


Operation Place the pen holders over the slots on the drawing arm. Insert brushes/pens into the pen holders and press until they make contact with the acrylic spin disc. Move the drawing arm away as you would in a gramophone to stop the music. Fix a square paper/canvas 210mm x 210mm square on to the spin disc. Make sure the dimmers are on Zero and power on the littleBits circuit. Place the drawing arm on the paper mounted on the spin disc, also ensuring that the slot on the drawing arm fits over the peg on the arm eccentric disc. Increase the speed of the motors gradually till both discs begin to spin. Play around with the speeds and watch how the patterns change. Remember, the device is only a tool. You are the artist.


More Fun There are xx slots along the radius of the drawing arm. Experiment with these positions to see how the patterns change. Feel free to change the position midway through the drawing – just pick up the drawing arm and move it off the paper, change the drawing slot and engage again. Use multiple pens/brushes with contrasting colors to create even more complex patterns. Place a littleBits pulse module before the dimmer on the main spin disc dc motor or the arm eccentric disc, or both! Add a micro-sequencer right after the branch to get stepped arcs. These have a very different visual quality. Feel free to grab a brush or a pen and just hold it over the spin disc to create beautiful circular patterns over the mechanically generated arcs for a human piece of art.

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