Week 6: Zoetrope

For the last assignment you will be mounting a motor/servo/stepper (one or more) to something as well as mounting something to that motor/servo/stepper.  It can be completely DIY, or off-the-shelf components, or a combination of the two.

Photography history inspired this week's project. DIY zoetropes are all over the internets with the standard galloping horse but I was curious to animate images from Eadweard Muybridge's many other motion studies. I delight in seeing them on gallery walls but also find them tedious and frustrating to read, precisely because they are presented all at once in the same frame. I simultaneously want to study each one in meticulous detail and loop all the actions together. (For a wonderful biography of Muybridge and how he famously engineered his photographic investigation of horse locomotion, see Rebecca Solnit's River of Shadows.) 

Materials & Tools
Round Box 7" Diameter
DC Toy/Hobby Motor 130 Size
1 Robot Wheel DC Motor Compatible 
9 Volt Battery
9 Volt Battery Holder with Wires
1 Panel Mount Toggle Switch
Stranded Core Wire
Soldering Iron
Heat Shrink Tubing
Heat Gun
White Card Stock (for prototyping)
Rubber Band (for prototyping)
Double-Sided Tape (for prototyping)
Black or White Poster Board
Craft Ply "Nominal" 1/8" (3mm) x 12" x 24"
Black Acrylic Paint
Paint Brush
Utility Knife
Digital Caliper
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Photoshop
Laser Cutter
Liquid Nails
1" x 3" x 3" Wood (from the scrap pile)
Band Saw
1 Two Hole Strap 1/2"
2 Corner Braces 1-1/2"
6 Screws (packaged with corner braces)
4 Machine Screws & Nuts #8-32 x 5/8"
Automatic Spring Loaded Center Punch
5/64" & 7/32" drill bits


Yes, the motor spins way to too fast, and I didn't include a mechanism to control it's rate. But otherwise I'm pleased with the final fabrication, especially because in the end I created a tool to explore my interests in visual perception. I noticed during the filming for the final video (see the beginning of this post) that altering the speed slightly by resting my finger against the zoetrope sometimes reversed the direction of animation. (It reminds me of riding the subway next to another train in a tunnel; if the trains are not in sync it can start to feel as if your train is suddenly moving backwards.) I don't know why that is, but now I have even more questions to chase after. In addition to motor speed, I would also play more with aperture size as well as the size and number of images (especially in relation to the number of aperture openings). Oh, and I found this on Buzzfeed after the fact. Haha!

Thanks for a great class, Ben! I learned so much and am looking forward to improving my new skills in future projects.

Image Credits
Eadweard J. Muybridge
Elephant from Animal Locomotion. An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements. Commenced 1872 - Completed 1885. Volume XI, Wild Animals and Birds

Eadweard J. Muybridge
Cockatoo Flying: Plate 762 from Animal Locomotion