Magic Designer Emulator

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Fun artistic tool set for producing mathematically inspired designs.

Allows you to produce an almost infinite number of spectacular designs. Simply enjoy, or use Magic Designs for rad T-shirt transfers, cool CD/DVD labels, vivid transparencies, glam greeting cards, boffo biz logos, or even as patterns for unique tattoos.

The emulator is based on a 1929 invention by Howard B. Jones of Chicago, Illinois. Originally called Hoot Nanny, the Magic Designer was marketed for about 50 years by the Northern Signal Co. of Saukville, Wisconsin. Its 6 inch diameter Center Gear meshed with two 1-inch Planetary Gears, each with a circling Peg. The Pen Arms were placed on these Gear Pegs or on fixed Stud Pegs at either side. The Left Gear was moved in a 60 degree arc by the Shift Lever. By selecting holes in the arms and a setting on the shift lever, brilliant designs could be cranked out on rotating paper discs.

Before writing an Android app, I wrote the emulator for Windows PC and as a web based application. The emulator is based upon solving mathematical formulas to calculate the point at which the arms meet given all of the current settings and an incremental turning of the Center gear. These series of points are connected in a smooth curve. And this constitutes one design. Using the emulator to save many designs together is what makes the result so beautiful.

This app is meant to be used on tablets, since the more screen area available, the more that can be done. However, it is also a fun diversion on an android phone.

The usage is simple with one menu and two buttons (one to show the menu and the other to OK the design). The screen serves both as a canvas to show the designs, and as the touch device to use to alter the active design. Selecting a mode from the menu tells the emulator what to do with the design when you touch (tap or move) the screen. The app starts out with a large clover design (CC60) to be moved (placed or dragged).

There are generally two types of design suites one would make. One would be a series of closely packed varied designs. This is known as a morph. You make the first and last design, and tell the emulator to calculate and draw the intermediate designs. The second type is drawing a few designs and painting (coloring in) the overlapping symmetrical shapes. One can save the results to either PDF (Adobe scalable form) file or Image (PNG) file. One can also load and save custom text design specification files (MGS). The files can be shared with either other users of the app, or with other implementations of the emulator like on a PC.

My website explains in detail the mechanics of the magic designer device, the mathematics behind it, and coding details. So, this app can also be considered an education app in addition to an artistic one.

The emulator is an extension of the capabilities of the original device. The physical crank sometimes interferes with some drawings. This does not happen on the computer. The clipping is turned off by default, thus drawing off the paper. A design can be discontinuous, meaning that parts of it are impossible to draw. This can be done with the device, but it is very difficult and can damage it. Placement of designs, which is like having multiple papers on one screen. Mathematical alterations such as zooming and warping. More color choices. Various changes in configurations. For example, values for arms and shift which are either in between or out of range of the device. Changing the gear sizes, the distance and angles of the pegs. And do not forget the ability to erase mistakes is easier on a computer.
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Additional Information

February 16, 2014
Current Version
Requires Android
2.3 and up
Content Rating
Offered By
Andrew S Katz
38 Park Street #24B Florham Park NJ 07932 USA
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