New to me AVL

I have been looking for a large, multi shaft loom with a mechanical or computer dobby for some time.  I really didn't want to pay for shipping on another large loom, so I have been looking locally.  Out of the blue,   a boat friend came up to me last summer and said that she heard that I wove, and wanted to know if I was interested in buying an older 60" AVL, with two beams, four box fly shuttle and dobby.  It is a 1984 PDL with mechanical and Compudobby I.  She said that she only used it as a mechanical dobby, but I  tend to work with favorite patterns, and after seeing some posts about the advantage of a computer dobby for being able to save and reuse patterns, I think I will learn the Compudobby.  I have been building a room for it in the barn ( I wanted to be able to use my large warping reel in the winter, so I wanted to increase the insulated space anyway).   I was supposed to have brought my new baby home last Sunday.  Unfortunately, I have broken my foot.  I have a large plastic boot on one foot until mid December (hopefully).  Is there anyone out there who works with a Compudobby I?  Can I workwith this on a Windows 7 machine with a virtual PC running Windows XP?  I use this virutal PC to run older cameras and printers that won't work with W 7.  I am really looking forward to working with this loom!


Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 14:17

The key to getting the CompuDobby I to work is updating the cables so that you can use a newer computer - not even my ancient XP machine has a serial port. AVL has detailed directions on their website on what needs to be done. I found the Keyspan 9 pin to UBS much cheaper on Amazon. You will need to setup the Keyspan software and make sure it connects to a communications port that your software can recognize.

There is no need to use XP unless your software is very old and will only run on that. I use a fairly recent version of Fiberworks which can easily run on anything from XP upwards to Windows 8. and drive the dobby.






Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 19:12

Thanks for the info.  I have a keyspan that I use to connect a nav instrument to an Apple laptop, so I am familiar with that.   My software is new, so I shouldn't need to use a virtual machine, which is a nusiance, for the AVL.  Nice to know.

Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 20:37

CompuDobby I Drivers: 
Fiberworks - 
Proweave - 
WeaveIt - 
WeaveMaker - 

I have 2 CompuDobby I units - one purchased new in 1995 and another (marked 1986) purchased used.  They both work great.  CompuDobby I does have one quirk - the sensors that detect "arm up" and "arm down" are optical sensors and they can get confused in bright sunlight.  The CompuDobby II got away from that problem by replacing the optical sensors with (I think) magnetic sensors.  I refer to my original CompuDobby as "the vampire" and throw a pillow case over the dobby arm when the western sun shines directly on the sensors.

I have no experience with the USB-to-Serial conversion tehnology.  My PC has 2 serial ports and it is still possible to purchase serial cards for PCs.


Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 01:40

Are you talking about a serial port card that can be slid into the sd card slot on a laptop?

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 02:00

Only older laptops have the required serial ports - I have run my compudobby on a pc with windows 7 & now 8, on both a full pc and notebook, I have also used the mac with Pixeloom and also use fiberworks on the pc  - the Keyspan serial to USB adaptor works well, allowing you to use the USB as a serial port.  The only issue I have is occassionally the computer will say it cannot locate the serial port or will drop the port when switching between designs.  The "serial" port no longer physically exists on the new computers but via USB the loom and computer can talk to one another using the USB to communicate as a port.  

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 02:13

I think I actually mean a parallel port which needs a parallel to serial cable which is then connected to the Keyspan device.  I would go the AVL recommended route using the Keyspan adaptor which gives you a lot more flexibility long term or if you need to swap out computers.


Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 12:25

You can open your desktop PC (not laptop) and insert a serial card.  Look through for 1 or 2 port PCI RS232 Serial cards.  Your Compudobby I (CD1) may come with an AVL-supplied cable that has a DB25 female connection for the dobby and both DB9 and DB25 male connections at the other end.  The purchased serial cards generally supply a DB9 connection.

Dawn - I am under the impression (from their website) that Pixieloom provides drivers for CD2 and CD3 without cartridge support and that CD1 is not supported.  I also get the impression that you have experience with multiple AVLs.  Does Pixieloom offer unadvertised driver support for CD1?

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 15:05

 Nancy - I use CD II so I cannot verify that it would work with CD I - call PixeLoom, they are extremely helpful.  On the PixeLoom Dobby screen it has CD II, III, Louet, and 2 Leclerc.  I really like the program and can read where I am when weaving a little more clearly than Fiberworks, just my personal preference!  I'm not even sure AVL still supports the cartridge any more - I have an older one that I cannot get to work and was unable to get any info of the AVL site.  I know in Fiberworks it doesn't seem to matter if the Loom selection is set to CD I or II, I have been able to weave on either one, wonder if this driver is similar enough for it to work in PixeLoom?

Posted on Wed, 12/03/2014 - 21:23

Thank You Dawn!  CD1 and CD2 both communicate via serial port.  It never ocurred to me that it might be possible to drive a CD1 with a software driver for CD2.  It would make for an interesting "science experiment."

Posted on Thu, 12/04/2014 - 14:54

That is correct - only CD II and above - however we were wondering how radically different the drivers are between I and II in general 


Posted on Sat, 12/06/2014 - 18:58

The CompuDobby device drivers are the intellectual property of AVL.  PixieLoom seems not to have the paperwork in place to distribute CD1 drivers.  The CD1 driver is likely 1984 vintage while the CD2 came out around 1995.  There were certainly big changes in communications within the CD.  CD1 uses optical sensors to detect dobby arm up/down while CD2 uses magnetic sensors.  CD2 is split into 2 units while CD1 is in one box.   There was likely little need to change the CD-to/from-Computer communications, so much of the computer interface protocol could have stayed constant.  It seems some weaving s/w with both licenses does not distinguish between CD1 & CD2.  I am speculating the differences may be small but will continue to use CD1 drivers to control my CD1 units.  FYI - my role at work for quite a few years was to design interfaces and write device drivers.  For that reason I am also using a serial interface (instead of the USB conversion), and the PC that drives my looms is dedicated to that job (no email, very limited web browsing).