05.3 The Unraveler [Molly Samuels]


The Unraveler is a 3D Form Destroying machine that unravels knitted scarves stitch by stitch. The machine was inspired by lyrics from Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song” (“if you want to destroy my sweater/ pull this thread as a I walk away/ watch me unravel…”). The original intention was to design the machine so that the further away you got the faster it unraveled. Due to a problem with parts (see below for further discussion), the machine is not controlled by a distance sensor, but a light sensor. The more light the machine receives, the faster it unravels.


  • DC motor
  • TIP 120 resistor
  • Diode
  • 9V Battery (+ battery clip)
  • Photocell
  • 1 100 ohm resistor
  • 1 10k ohm resistor
  • Arduino
  • Wire
  • Foam core
  • Yarn

Code: Unravel

How it Works

The structure is made up of a foam core spool (which is attached to the dc motor with hot glue) and a deck that holds the knitted yarn. Knitted yarn should be attached to the deck with pins or glue. The end of the knitted yarn is attached to the spool by making a small cut in the spool and inserting the yarn inside.

The photocell reads in an input value (amount of light). That value is then mapped to the correct scale (1-255) and used to tell the motor how fast to turn. As the spool turns, it pulls on the knitted yarn, unraveling it stitch by stitch. The unraveled yarn is neatly collected on the spool.


I had a lot of difficulty making sure I had the right parts. I mentioned before that I initially wanted to use a distance sensor, but I didn’t have the right connector and I was unsure about how to solder. I’ve since learned how to solder, so hopefully I’ll be able to deal with these kinds issues in the future. I have a better understanding of how to plan for a project and make sure I have all the necessary materials. I’m also going to take Jacky’s advice and try to use old electronics since they have all the necessary connectors already.


~ by mollysamuels on March 31, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: