If you were in the market for a sewing machine with embroidery capabilities, you’d either be spending a bunch of money or settling for a lower-cost machine that can only do a handful of pre-programmed designs.
A DIYer by the name of [SausagePaws] came up with a 3rd option, he would build one himself. He was also highly motivated, [Mrs SausagePaws] wanted one!
An off the shelf embroidery machine is similar to a standard sewing machine except the movement of the fabric is done automatically rather than by hand. Not only does the work move, but it has to move in time with the needle traveling up and down. [SausagePaws] took a no-nonsense approach and decided the simplest way to go about the task was to mount an embroidery hoop to the end of an XY drive system.
The X and Y axes consist of NEMA 17 stepper motors, timing belts and v-wheels that ride on aluminum extrusion. There isn’t a lot of information available on how the needle position detection was accomplished. There is, however, mention of spring steel being used… maybe when the needle travels up it contacts the spring steel, closing a circuit and effectively becoming a switch.
A custom written app communicates with a PIC Microcontroller which provides the stepper motor control based on the design file and needle position. Unfortunately, no information is provided regarding the PIC code or controller app. Even so, this is a neat project and shows that it can be done.