PatternCraft 2017-06-25T21:31:36+00:00

Project Description


PatternCraft – Launched at Liverpool MakeFest

Following some initial explorations (see blog post here) into the links between textiles, code and Minecraft and a chance Twitter conversation, I have been lucky to get the chance to work with the amazing David Whale(Co-Author of Adventures in Minecraft) recently.

I love the social nature of Twitter and how it brings like minded people together. I had been conversing with David through this format for a few weeks after tweeting an image of a Minecraft textiles pattern/build I had created using a piece of his code. One evening, the amazing suggestion of “I bet you could build a punchcard reader for Minecraft” leapt from a tweet from David.

Having been exploring links between process, data, code and weaving (punchcards in particular) through various projects, I was excited by this challenge. Also, having seen the power of Minecraft to engage kids through my work with Playful Leeds, I could see the potential to teach and pass on textile heritage through this medium.

After a few weeks of wrangling with exploding sensors and burnt soldered fingers, it soon became apparent that a punchcard reader may have been a little too ambitious for my first electronics project!. David kindly stepped in and together we developed the design and plans for a working reader.

Housed in a laser cut plywood box, and built using a Pro Micro Arduino, IR LEDs and Phototransistors, the reader is set up to read rows of holes with an additional registration hole at the end for patterns where a row has no punched hole. The reader is then attached to a Raspberry Pi via the USB port allowing for the input of designs into Minecraft Pi via Python.

Although designed for the Raspberry Pi the reader and code can be used for the PC and MAC versions of Minecraft when using a Raspberry Pi plugin which can be downloaded from the Adventures in Minecraft website.

For Liverpool MakeFest, visitors were invited to create an 8 x 8 design and punch it out using traditional punch and hammer. Each card was then fed into the reader and ran through two pieces of Python code, the first to convert the reading into a CSV text file of 0s and 1s and the second to read this file and build it on a Minecraft Map.

The reader got a great response throughout the event and proved to be an accessible talking point for all generations. I was able to engage children in conversations about the origins of technology and computers via textiles and specifically the Jacquard loom whilst older generations were excited by the links to original programming using punchcards.

David and I have lots of ideas for further development and additional uses for the reader including large scale Pattern generation both inside and outside of Minecraft, LED displays and even use with Sonic Pi. We will shortly be writing up detailed build instructions for the reader and releasing artwork for the laser cut box. In the meantime, the code used can be downloaded from David’s GitHub page.

The reader will next be showcased at MOSI Makefest 8th & 9th August where we using the Raspberry Pi to create a larger piece in inviting visitors to generate repeat patterns inspired by the weaving archives at the Museum.

Tags: Textiles, Barnaby Festival, Patterns

Date: June, 2014