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ThinkFun's Hypnograph drawing machine makes creating beautiful mechanical art easy and fun!
303 backers pledged $12,404 to help bring this project to life.
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Drawing Machines?  

Way before there were plastic drawing toys like the Spirograph® there were wood and metal drawing machines. Some were elegant harmonographs from the 1880s. Others were simple wooden epicycloid toys like "The Marvelous Wondergraph" from 1906. While the harmonographs were infinitely adjustable, all the cycloid toys were simple and limited. Joe Freedman has been working for the last ten years on improving the design and functionality of drawing machines, with previous Kickstarter campaigns for his GatorGraph, DuoGraph, and Cycloid Drawing Machines. The Hypnograph is ThinkFun’s version of Joe’s DuoGraph machine, mass produced in plastic rather than handmade in wood. The Hypnograph has infinite adjustments to allow for a fulcrum that rotates and moves. Gone are the simple rotary drawings of old. The Hypnograph allows for massively complex artwork while remaining easy to use. Other toy drawing machines require careful hand skills to complete your drawing, but with the Hypnograph you just turn the crank! It comes with 13 gears and a detailed instruction booklet showing how you can make an infinite number of drawings.  

The Hypnograph machine is large enough to make 6-inch diameter drawings but small enough to pack into a box that can fit on a bookshelf.  

Sample Patterns 

Sample Patterns
Sample Patterns

How to Play 

This movie shows a simple setup from start to finish.

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Is it Math or is it Fun? 

The answer is YES! Simple patterns are easy to make. More complicated math can be done with the carefully curated selection of gears. The gears can produce wonderful drawings with 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, and 30 curves (nodes). You can use easily compute the number of curves, or refer to the instruction booklet, which provides all the info in an easy to use table. You can also just turn the crank and see how the drawing turns out! It’s easy to make new patterns and there are an infinite number of possibilities. 

Changing the penholder position adds even more complexity to the drawings. All of the below drawings use the same setup: a 30 tooth gear as a moving fulcrum and a 41 tooth gear as the drive. The only difference is the position of the penholder. Infinite variations are possible. Imagine how many possibilities there are using the 13 gears in various combinations!

Here's a video showing the 30 gear in action:

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Motors? Batteries? Software? 

No motors. No batteries. No apps. Just crank it by hand. There are lots and lots of gears. They are held in place by plastic hold downs that are easy to reposition, and you operate the machine by cranking the gears. 

Setup can be as easy as adding one gear. Every part is easily tightened by hand. By moving the fulcrum point you can make radically different drawings. The penholder length can also be moved by changing a nut. You can make a variety of beautiful drawings with just one gear. Different colored pens can be used and multiple drawings can be made on a single piece of paper for even more dramatic effects. The penholder is versatile and allows you to use fine tip pens, markers, pencils, and even crayons. 

The Hypnograph can use a wide variety of pens and pencils
The Hypnograph can use a wide variety of pens and pencils

An extensive instruction book comes with the set but figuring it out for yourself is more than half the fun. The instructions detail a few basic setups to get you started right away. More complicated setups will also be explained with easy to follow photographs. 

What's in the Box? 

There are 13 gears to provide for lots of variation in your drawings, and the Hypnograph comes with circular paper. Our Kickstarter exclusive version includes 100 sheets of paper, along with a multi-colored pen!

STEAM for Math Classes 

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) turns into STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art Math) with the Hypnograph. Unlike other drawing machines that have hard to understand ratios, the Hypnograph uses an easily understood set of gears. They are all based on factoring the turntable which has 60 teeth. 60 factors into 2 x 2 x 3 x 5. This lets you easily understand the greatest common factor in the set of gears. A 30 gear has a Greatest Common Factor of 30 with the 60 teeth on the turntable. This means that the 30 gear will produce a drawing with 2 curves (nodes). The instruction book provides a chart so you don’t have to do the math but there is also a good explanation of what’s going on with the gears. A couple teachers have told me that it was the best visual explanation of Greatest Common Factor that they had ever seen. 

The Hypnograph can be used in math classes to show GCF in action or at home as a fun learning project. 

Even after ten years of making and using drawing machines I still discover new patterns. There is always something new to discover. 

Add-On Item

We're now offering extra sheets of paper in packs of 100 for $5. Simply add $5 to your pledge for every 100 extra sheets you'd like!

Risks and challenges

Our collaborator, Joe Freedman, has done 8 successful Kickstarter projects, and ThinkFun itself has executed on one. The Hypnograph is a complicated project containing lots of parts that need to mesh perfectly. We have gone through many tests and prototypes to get everything just right. We’ve even taken the step of making the injection molds to make sure everything works. The instructions have been written, designed, and are at the printer. All the parts are ready to go, and we’re confident that we can meet our delivery date and provide you with an excellent machine.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    The Hypnograph Drawing Machine!

    In addition to everything listed below, the Kickstarter Exclusive version of the Hypnograph Drawing Machine comes with a multi-colored pen and 80 extra sheets of circular paper, at $5 off our eventual retail price!

    The Hypnograph includes:
    -HypnoGraph base
    -Turntable Gear with Outer Ring
    -13 Repositionable Gears
    -Gear Spindles
    -Gear Crank Handle
    -T-Arm-to-Gear Connectors
    -T-Arm-to-Base Connector
    -Adjustable Pen Holder
    -Pen Holder Connector
    -Gear Puller / Spindle Tightener
    -Fine-tip Drawing Pen
    -20 Paper Discs (100 total in this exclusive version).

    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    Limited 292 backers

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Funding period

- (30 days)