Tag Archives: Orbis

Orbis is a steampunk-inspired kinetic sculpture

Maker meshes wood and electronics to create an innovative piece of artwork.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a number of impressive installations that fused both traditional art and modern-day technology in pretty slick ways. Added to that growing list is Orbis, the brainchild of Long Island-based Maker Guido Bonelli, who many of you may recall from last year’s Kickstarter campaign for his Arduino debugging tool, Dr.Duino.


The concept for the wooden kinetic and lighting sculpture all began after Bonelli was commissioned by a client to find some truly unique artwork that would serve as the focal piece of their home. Upon conducting a search for a dynamic piece to adorn his own walls, the Maker realized that there wasn’t anything available today that truly met either his or his client’s needs. And so the idea of Orbis was conceived, coalescing a classic wooden look with electronics in a simple yet extremely imaginative manner.

The installation, which mounts to the wall like any other form of art, will surely capture the attention of anyone in the room as it spins to life and emits a series of bright, color-chaning lights. In addition, the client requested a separate control box that would allow visitors to interact with the kinetic sculpture themselves. The steampunk-like installation is powered through some custom firmware and a pair of independent Arduino Mega 2560 boards (ATmega2560) — one lies underneath Orbis itself, the other housed in the control box that communicates via a pair of Xbee modules. The device is also equipped with several potentiometers, which let a user do things like control its LEDs and the speed of the motor.


In order to create the unique kinetic sculpture and control box, custom 3D models were meticulously developed and tested. Once the client approved of the initial design, the relevant files were emailed to a laser wood cutting service, with each piece subsequently hand stained and carefully assembled.

Orbis is capable of displaying nearly 16 million various colors, and features six distinct control modes of operation which are selected via a rotary phone dial. Two of the operation modes enable the user to take direct control over the installation.

Fascinated? You’ll not only want to watch it in action below, but may want to head over to its official page here.