Motor-Driven Movement Modernizes POV Toy

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Just as we are driven today to watch gifs that get better with every loop, people 100+ years ago entertained themselves with various persistence of vision toys that used the power of optical illusions to make still images come to life. [jollifactory] recently recreated one of the first POV devices — the phenakistoscope — into a toy for our times.

The original phenakistoscopes were simple, but the effect they achieved was utterly amazing. Essentially a picture disk with a handle, the user would hold the handle with one hand and spin the disk with the other while looking in a mirror through slits in the disk. Unlike the phenakistoscopes of yore that could only be viewed by one person at a time, this one allows for group watching.

Here’s how it works: an Arduino Nano spins a BLDC motor from an old CD-ROM drive, and two strips of strobing LEDs provide the shutter effect needed to make the pictures look like a moving image.The motor speed is both variable and reversible so the animations can run in both directions.

To make the disks themselves, [jollifactory] printed some original phenakistiscopic artwork and adhered each one to a CD that conveniently snaps onto the motor spindle. Not all of the artwork looks good with a big hole in the middle, so [jollifactory] created a reusable base disk with an anti-slip mat on top to spin those.

If you just want to watch the thing in action, check out the first video below that is all demonstration. There be strobing lights ahead, so consider yourself warned. The second and third videos show [jollifactory] soldering up the custom PCB and building the acrylic stand.

There are plenty of modern ways to build old-fashioned POV toys, from all-digital to all-printable.

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