AYAB Interface

Knitting Machine Control Board
No longer in production

AYAB — All Yarns Are Beautiful — is an open source hardware and software project that provides an alternative way to control the widely-loved Brother KH-9xx range of knitting machines using a computer. There are other hacks (such as Img2Track, Knitic and electro-knit) which work with certain machines in certain conditions. The AYAB interface works with all Brother KH-9xx machines except the KH-970.

Historically, the KH-910 was programmed with semi-transparent picture cards which were scanned by the machine line by line. Using this information, the machine sets the needles accordingly to knit the picture shown by the card with 60 pixel width. The later models did the same thing using built-in electronics. If you wanted to enter a pattern of your own on these models it involved lots of tedious button-pressing, or some models had an add-on gadget that connected to your vintage TV.

With the AYAB interface, you can provide an image of up to a 200 pixel (or needle) size from your computer. The control of the needles and the needed identification of the position and direction of movement of the knitting carriage are supplied by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board. Most Windows, Linux, and Mac computers work well. (Chrome OS and locked versions of Windows 10 S are not supported.)

This new implementation of the AYAB interface, designed by Evil Mad Scientist working in cooperation with the AYAB team, replaces both the controller board and power supply from your knitting machine. Thus, while your needle solenoids need to be working, you do not need a functioning vintage controller board or power supply. (If your machine does have a working power supply, just leave it unplugged.) The board connects to your computer via the included USB cable to send the the image and line data to your knitting machine.

The board comes with a pair of plastic electrical shields to prevent any accidental contact between the connectors on the circuit board and the metal elements on your knitting machine. This implementation encompasses the role of an Arduino plus a shield on the prior AYAB interface. No soldering is required.

The board replacement is non-destructive and fully reversible. That is, if you want to go back to the original Brother technology again, simply remove the hardware, reconnect the Brother controller and everything is back to its original state, just like in the 1980's!

The included regulated 9 V power supply accepts worldwide 100 V - 240 V input, and has a US/Canada style plug. For other regions, an inexpensive plug shape adapter will be needed.

Machine compatibility

Brother model name(s) Also known as Interface type Status
KH-900 Knitking CompuKnit ST KH-900 Tested
KH-910 CompuKnit II KH-910/950 Tested
KH-930 CompuKnit III KH-930/940 Tested
KH-940 CompuKnit IV KH-930/940 Tested
KH-950,i KH-910/950 Tested
KH-965,i CompuKnit V, Vcx KH-965 Tested
KH-970 CompuKnit 5 Star - Not currently supported
KH-270 CompuKnit Bulky - Future support planned
CK-35 KH-900 Experimental

1. If your machine model number has an "e" (as in KH-950e), that refers to color only.
2. Models ending in "i" (the 950i and 965i) have an additional socket that allows you some extra choices of which hack to use. All 930s, 940s and 970s also have this port.

What's different between the models?
The difference between the versions of our AYAB interface is that the KH-965 requires one additional connector and the KH-900 requires three additional connectors on the board. Additionally, the electrical shields are laser-cut with cutouts exposing only the necessary set of connectors for the selected model to prevent accidental short circuits when contacting the internal surfaces of your knitting machine.

In addition to the documentation provided by the AYAB team, we have assembled a list of resources on our documentation wiki, including installation instructions for this AYAB interface and links to various support resources.

A special note on skill level
While the AYAB interface automates pattern selection for machine knitting, it still requires you to have one of the supported knitting machines and to know how to operate it. While we are working on providing easier software tools, please note that software installation is currently cumbersome, especially on the Mac. This is an ongoing open-source project and we appreciate both your patience and bug reports.