Upcycle Project: Zoetrope

I have spent sometime thinking of what I wanted to make for my upcycle project. What I knew was that I wanted something which involved something I learned here as a mechanical engineer. I remembered seeing a toy which had a small circular platform, had evenly spaced slits on it’s top with still images of a butterfly wrapped around the inside wall. There was a crank under the small platform, when I cranked it the platform started to spin and accelerated quickly. While the platform was spinning I looked through the slits and saw the butterfly flapping it’s wings. This toy is called a Zoetrope. I learned why this effect happened here in CU, and it’s basically due to our eyes’ limitation of seeing something if it’s happening fast enough. A good example is lights everywhere around us which turn on and off 60 times per second (60 Hz), but we only perceive them is to be continuously on. This toy uses this same limitation we have to make it look like the still images inside are moving. This toy isn’t anything recent either, there was a patent for it since 1867. Most tools and materials I will be using in my upcycle project I found in the ITLL and at my residence.

Patent for Zoetrope: W.E. Lincoln’s U.S. Patent No. 6,4117 of Apr. 23, 1867

Zoetrope image: Photograph © Andrew Dunn, 5 November 2004.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Joseph Coulombe
    February 3, 2019 11:49 pm

    I think a good material to use could be coffee cans. It would be big enough and fairly easy to put in the slits and it would make attaching bearings and the base structure a little easier as well.

  • Abdulaziz Alrashed
    February 3, 2019 3:18 pm

    The idea is definitely fascinating and the project looks cool. I am curious what type of materials you are going to do and animated images will you use. You might need to use wood or any strong material for the base and use card board for the top part where you just need to laser cut the openings to get a precise cuts that will line up with the images. one concern I have is the bearing you will use. how are you going to attach it if you are going to use weak materials like card boards.


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