The Harmonograph
March 5, 2005 2:08 PM   Subscribe

The Harmonograph is a device that translates motion into drawings called Lissajous curves or just harmonograms. Build your own or just check out the various online emulators. [Java required for emulators]
posted by Gyan (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Topic selected after reading this book: Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music.
posted by Gyan at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2005

There was one of these in my local museum as a kid, it always fascinated me. It was much larger than the example pictured and employed a much more complicated system of weights and pendulums, beautiful to watch. I'd more or less forgotten about it. Great links, and I now know its name.
posted by fire&wings at 2:27 PM on March 5, 2005

Nice! Never heard of these. Many thanks
posted by IndigoJones at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2005

Olders like me will recognize Lissajous curves as those funny patterns on the computer monitors in the ancient TV show "The Time Tunnel"
posted by Nyrath at 3:04 PM on March 5, 2005

Fascinating, cheers!
posted by carter at 3:26 PM on March 5, 2005

Those of us who aren't as old as Nyrath will recognize Lissajous curves as one kind of the funny patterns that showed up on screensavers in the 90s.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:33 PM on March 5, 2005

Really neat, thanks.
posted by interrobang at 5:02 PM on March 5, 2005

Gyan, thanks for the link to that book. Much appreciated.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:21 PM on March 5, 2005

They look better on oscilloscopes. And in pen: the pen table ones are awesome.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on March 6, 2005

When I was a child (many moons ago) I received a present that I'd love to have kept: a plastic Harmonograph.

It attached to a table with suction cups, and the weights were small plastic bags which one filled with water. Several plastic poles were held together with small metal pins, and it all went together to create wonderful designs exactly like those described in the article.

If any one has a clue what this toy was called, I'd love to see if it was still available.
posted by mooncrow at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2005

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