After a two year absence from Kickstarter, Joe Freedman is back with another way to make drawing (and math) easier. While his previous Cycloid Drawing Machine was more for professionals and art fans who wanted their drawings as intricate as the inside of a kaleidoscope, it wasn’t exactly cheap. Since he did all the laser cutting, sanding, and gluing himself using high-end materials, a single machine cost $695.


His newest project, the Hypnograph, aims to be the exact opposite of its predecessor, at least in terms of pricing. Though a collaboration with educational game company ThinkFun, Joe was able to create a plastic drawing machine which costs roughly $30. This makes it a heck of a lot easier for kids and beginners to get into drawing machines without having to take out a second mortgage.

Even though it’s made from plastic, the Hypnograph retains its identity as a drawing machine. It has 13 interchangeable gears and a specially-designed pen holder which lets you make an infinite number of squiggles and swirls.

Hypnograph Hypnograph Hypnograph

You can use the detailed instruction booklet to get an idea of what pattern you’ll be creating with certain gears, but ask anyone who’s used a Spirograph before and they’ll tell you it’s better to just slap on a piece of paper, throw in some random gears, and enjoy turning the crank.

Hypnograph Hypnograph

It isn’t all just mindless fun, either. The gears themselves come with prime numbers which help you decipher the resulting number of curves. Likewise, the turntable has 60 teeth which factors into computing for the greatest common factor (GCF) in a set of gears. The resulting drawings will have different outcomes based on the gears used and the position of the writing instrument. Think of it like visual math, only instead of just numbers; you’ll be seeing shapes as well.

Sadly, there is a downside. Since the Hypnograph is made from plastic, it isn’t as accurate or as sturdy as its brethren. The plastic gears will get worn at some point, and interchanging them regularly could result in the gears getting loose when fitted onto the turntable.

Cheap plastic aside, this looks like a great way to teach your kids certain math concepts (or at least hypnotize them into going to bed early). The Hypnograph project currently has accomplished $1,854 of its $10,000 goal. You can find out more about this alluring machine over on its Kickstarter page.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.