Video: A phenakistoscope with an Arduino twist

The phenakistoscope (also spelled phenakistiscope or phenakitiscope) can probably best be described as an early animation device that relied on the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.

According to Wikipedia, the phenakistoscope used a spinning disc vertically attached to a handle. Arrayed around the disc’s center was a series of drawings showing phases of the animation, with a series of equally spaced radial slits cut around it. 

The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the disc’s reflection in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images kept them from blurring together. Meaning, the user would see a rapid succession of images that appeared to be a single moving picture.

Recently, the Barcelona-based Playmodes crew decided to kick off a modern-day DIY electronic remake of the stalwart ‘scope.

The team obtained a recycled stepper motor from an old printer as the motion source and attached a CD clip to rotate discs with phenakistoscope patterns at a stable velocity.

“By synchronizing the strobe frequency of a white led stripe with the motor rotation, we accomplish the image-in-motion effect on the eye,” the team explained on the project’s official page. “We used an [Atmel-based] Arduino Nano (ATmega328) for the overall control of the pots, the motor [and] LEDs.”

Interested in learning more about the Arduino-powered DIY phenakistoscope? You can check out the project’s official page here and download the full code here.

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