Credit:  Core 77  6/1/15

Using a Steel Ball, Motorized Magnets and Sand to Draw CNC Zen Gardens.

Combing your Zen garden with a rake is so 15th Century. So inventor Bruce Shapiro’s Sisyphus machine ditches the rake and uses steel balls, untouched by human hands and seemingly moving on their own, to carve the sand.

Steel BallsThe balls aren’t moving on their own, of course. As for how he did it, it seems that motion-control pioneer Shapiro has rigged up the underside of the table with a clever propeller-like arm that expands and contracts along its axis. By rotating, it can gain a full 360-sweep beneath the table’s surface. Unseen magnets embedded within the arm, on either side of the center point, presumably control the dual balls’ motion. Once Shapiro’s designed his patterns, his programming and stepper motors take care of the rest.