Making an Electronic Phenakistoscope Pt 2

When I last left off I had just received the hardware and ordered my laser cut pieces. The next set if components I needed were the electronics. For this I headed over to I picked up a Trinket 5v microcontroller, and a 4-pack of the RGB Neopixels. The Trinket uses the Arduino IDE and runs most Arduino code. The Neopixels only use one GPIO pin, and then they chain together, so one pin can control entire chains of LEDS. 

I'm still going back and forth with how many LEDs I'll be using, but since it's a hand crank device, I want to use some sort of color coding with the LEDs to indicate the ideal speed for rotation. so maybe green lights meaning speed up, then white when it's in the sweet spot and the images look best, and maybe red if you are cranking it too fast? we'll see. thankfully it's super easy to modify with the Trinket. 

I also am using a sparkfun photo interrupter. I'll be using this to calculate the rotational speed of the artwork, and calibrating the lights. 

You can see here a mock-up of an encoder disk and the photo interrupter sensor. I have it working here to indicate a flashing color based on the speed of rotation. I am still playing with the encoder disk pattern, and getting that all worked out.

I've never worked with Arduino sketches, or Arduino at all for that matter. Most of my programming experience is in Python, Processing and C#, but so far it's been fairly straight forward. Any issue or question gets a fast answer in a google search :)

You can see a sneak peak of the laser cut base in the encoder image above, but here is the full set of pieces I received back.

The white pieces all came from but the two plexiglass discs came from They specialize in plastics and have a large selection of disks in various sizes. 

My artwork is 8" in diameter, and they happen to have a 1/4" thick disk in this size. I'm hoping the larger/thicker disk will act as a bit of a flywheel and let the disk get up to speed and continue spinning fairly easy.

So going forward I have my work cut out. It looks like I have all my hardware, and really everything I need to finish up this project. Next up I'm going to focus on mocking up all of the parts, and checking the fit. I did some test fitting with the bearings into the holes I had cut, and it was a surprisingly perfect fit, so hopefully that's a good sign that things will work out!

More to come. Like I mentioned in the first post about this project, I'll be posting a video on my YouTube channel, so make sure to head over there as well. I'd really appreciate if you subscribe if you're interested in the content.