about me
niklas roy
Hello! I'm Niklas Roy, an inventor of useless things. As you can find a lot of information about what I do on the left - I think I don't need to write too much about myself here.

If you want to get in touch with me, you can find my contact details here. In order to stay up to date, subscribe to my RSS feed. For realtime news, follow me on Twitter. Subscribe to my Youtube Channel or have a look at plenty of hires images in my Picasa albums.


Windmill-powered music box

Thursday October 19, 2017

A couple of months ago, I’ve built a little windmill that powers a music box. Then I set it up at the street in front of my where it was quite successfully entertaining my neighbors. One morning it was gone, though – someone obviously stole it. Now I’ve made many new ones, which will be shown as a large public art installation at KIKK Festival – and I made another one for my street.

This time, I filmed myself when I was making the windmill and the result is this how-to video:

There’s also a whole project page with materials list, plans, 3D files, etc. – in case you want to make your own music boy windmill!

New Workshop: Rocket Science

Monday August 7, 2017

Space, the final frontier, has fascinated humankind ever since we started to stare at the sky. Already half a century ago NASA’s Apollo program brought people to the Moon and the next generation rocket scientists are eager to make space flight mainstream. We also wanted to take part in the YouTube era space race where DIY rocketeers work in parallel with the big players, making their R&D with plastic bottles and hardware store materials.

[ Read more ]


Saturday June 24, 2017

Kati’s and my Public Painting Machine is part of the exhibition SMART FACTORY, which opened yesterday in Le Havre as part of the city’s 500th anniversary cultural program. Charles Carcopino curated this splendid show, which is all about machines that make art!

Our machine is a little bit different, though, as its main purpose is to produce artists:
The visitors are invited to create collaborative paintings by pulling on some strings. Those paintings become part of the exhibition and are finally sold in a glamorous auction on September the 3rd at Le Tetris. All participating artists which have contributed to the paintings will receive the money for their work directly in cash from the collectors that will buy the paintings. Starting bid is one Euro, so this is also a great opportunity to become a prestigious art collector while keeping the financial investment low!

The following artists also present works in the exhibition: Karina Smigla-Bobinski, Patrick Tresset, Véronique Béland, Kris Verdonck, So Kanno, and Grégory Chatonsky.

You can find more hires photos of the installation in this album.

Scientific Truth Proclaimers, Moscow

Monday June 5, 2017

Kati and me just returned from Moscow, where we gave a hardware hacking workshop in which we built self driving propaganda robots. The kind of “propaganda” which we spread with the autonomous vehicles in the famous Gorky Park was all about eternal scientific truths. Thus the title of the workshop.

Here’s the documentation and a video.

Vladimir presents the PI-recitor

Picture above:
Vladimir holds a robot, which recites the decimals of PI. It reminds me of the weird story of the Indiana Pi Bill.

Workshop at ÉCAL

Wednesday May 10, 2017

Recently, I’ve been giving a workshop at ÉCAL in Lausanne, Switzerland. I asked the students to come up with novel communication devices. Erika Marthins, Arthur Moscatelli, Pietro Alberti and Andrea Ramìrez Aburto built a color to smell translator which they called “Bouquet” within just one week!

The cone shaped device has an optical sensor built in its tip, with which it can recognize different colors. Inside the cone’s bottom is a stepper motor controlled disc, that turns pads with according scents directly under the nose of the operator. If you’d point it to a red color for example, the disc would turn a cotton pad, which is soaked with strawberry aroma, to the device’s smell opening.

The students found some great natural smells for the different colors. Representing blue turned out to be a bit of a challenge, though. At the end, they decided to translate it to the fresh artificial smell of a chemical “Blue Ocean” room fragrance, which was fitting very well.

To round up this brilliant work, they even designed a series of colorful posters with which everyone could try out their little synesthetic machine.

More photos of this workshop can be found here.

DIY Thermal Imaging

Sunday January 15, 2017

I recently made some thermal images with an IR thermometer, a webcam, two servos and an Arduino. Read here how I did it.

Complete scanning rig with 2 servos, Arduino and an action cam for the reference picture.

IR image of the shopfront

IR image of the front door

gDraw - free software for you!

Sunday December 18, 2016

gDraw Screenshot

I recently wrote a little piece of software – and I thought I should share it before Christmas. It is a 2D drawing program which creates a G-Code file that can be 3D printed. I just used it to make greeting cards and maybe you need a last minute gift and want to do the same.

Or you want to use it to make delicate window decoration, or sophisticated business cards, or you just need to keep your kids busy, or perhaps you have a much better idea for what this code can be used. In that case, drop me a line, because I’m curious to hear what you came up with!

Scroll down to find out how to download & to use gDraw.

2D greeting card printed with a 3D printer

2D greeting card printed with a 3D printer

2D greeting card printed with a 3D printer

Here’s how it works:

Download and installation:

First you need to download gDraw as .zip archive from my server – or you can find the code also on Github. gDraw is written in Processing, which you also have to download. Processing works with Windows, Mac OS X and Linux and you can get it here for free.

How to use:

Unzip the downloaded archive and place the folder “gDraw_V0_15” in Processing’s “Sketches” folder. Then run gCode from Processing.

You can draw in two modes, the free mode and the fixed mode. “Free” is nice for organic drawings, “fixed” is good for geometric drawings, as it creates always straight lines in a metric grid. You can toggle between the two modes either by pushing the button “F” on your keyboard or by hitting the free/fixed button in the menu on the left.

You can zoom in and out of the canvas with the mouse wheel.

Interrupt the line by hitting the space bar. The program displays the path of the printhead, when it just moves but does not print, as a thin line. Because the printhead might still squeeze out small amounts of plastic during those paths and therefore you might want to keep control over where the printhead moves exactly.

You can save drawings by hitting the save button and you can load them again by hitting the load button. As the current drawing will not be deleted when you load a path, you can merge drawings by loading one drawing after another.

Finally, in order to create printable G-Code, you hit the “save G-Code”-button. You have to give your file the extension “.gcode” otherwise your printer might not recognize it as a valid G-Code file.

How it works:

G-Code is the “language” that a 3D printer understands. It is a text file, with a list of coordinates for X, Y and Z axis, and also for E (the extrusion motor). The printer reads this file, moves from coordinate to coordinate and squeezes out plastic as indicated in the value for E.

gDraw is a simple vector drawing program that turns your drawings into G-Code so you can print your drawings as lines of plastic.


I have an Ultimaker 2, so I wrote the program in such way that it works with my printer. If you have a different printer, you might have to adapt the G-Code header in order to make it work for you. Have a look in the lines 486-511 of my code. This is where the G-Code header for the Ultimaker 2 is written.

Post-Factual Science Experiments

Friday November 11, 2016

Lately, I’m having some fun with building a post-factual science laboratory. Here are some pictures of cosmic energy receivers. These are early prototypes. Let’s see where that research goes ;)

Music Construction Machine

Wednesday July 6, 2016

The documentation of my large scale, generative music box is now online! With videos and sound recordings. You can find it here.

Remote Controlled Beer Crate

Monday June 6, 2016

“If you want to be successful on YouTube, you should build things like remote-controlled beer crates.“, Kati once said to me. Besides the tempting promise of viral online fame, I found that quite a funny idea! So last Saturday, I built one. Let’s see if Kati was right with her thesis!

Here’s the video (Caution: I also put “heavy metal” music on it, because I think that helps to support her postulation):

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