Introduction: Hack Your Brain!
This is one of the strangest things I have ever done. Maybe I should put up some sort of a disclaimer here like if you're epileptic maybe this isn't the brightest thing you could do? But if you're an epileptic then you know more about that condition than I do!
In any event I found doing this to be completely harmless good clean fun. I think it can give anyone a greater appreciation for themselves and the world around them as well too. Not everything is as it seems!
Step 1: What Are You Talking About?
What I'm talking about is making a Hypno-disc. You know one of those spinning spirals like you may have seen on TV? They're for real. Maybe the guy in the graphic with the eyeball in his palm isn't but Hypno-discs are! Make one and see for yourself. The rest of this article describes how I made one, and how you can too.
Step 2: OK I'm In!
If you've come this far I assume you're on board. Making one of these really isn't too hard. I experimented with a few different styles of spirals, and color schemes myself. I'll share my findings but there are other patterns you could try too. I've found my favorites.
You can buy hypnodiscs on the net but they're usually not cheap, and from what I gathered experimenting with my own I question the effectiveness of the ones I've seen for sale.
I hand painted the first disc I ever made onto a piece of cardboard. For unknown reasons I hit upon the most effective pattern I've yet used too. I've since learned that there is a term for the pattern. Back then I had no idea, it isn't even important to know this, but I'll say what it is anyways.
My preferred design is called a logarithmic spiral. This all has to do with the Fibonacci Series and the Golden Ratio and what not. All cool stuff! Yeah well it is even cooler when you paint it bright colors and spin it around. My favorite color scheme is Red and Yellow, I've tried black and white too, and it works, but Red and Yellow are the devastators! Those are the pair of colors that does it for me.
Step 3: What's It Take?
To make this, not much really. A disc surface to paint the design on, paints, and a motor to spin it. A few other bits and pieces and that's about it.
One thing I've found is that getting driven to distraction can be a rather picky process. Little details can bother me, so I want my disc to be as perfect as possible, and my motor to be relatively quiet too.
My first rig was one sorry deal, like I said I hand painted it on cardboard, and I only had a junky toy motor that I speed controlled with a potentiometer. None of it was ideal. Halfway through the session the disc would fall off and that would be that.
I'm going to address all these design deficiencies with my new and improved model! I don't want anything getting in the way of the psychotic rift we're heading to.
OK I can see the comments already, but there is already computer software that does this. Trust me the real deal works better. I've tried those screen ones and they suck. I don't know what it is but somehow this stuff doesn't translate well onto a computer screen. Our brains aren't so easily fooled? Well they are, but they aren't.
If you really want to do this and get the full effect build this thing its worth it. Though there is some audio software that can enhance the experience and I'll talk about that later.
Step 4: The Motor
The best motor to get is something that came out of some home entertainment equipment. It doesn't have to be very powerful but it has to be smooth and quiet. Old cassette deck motors are great choices. They're what I've had the most success with. See if you can't score a nice little DC motor along those lines.
In the first image we also get a glimpse of the frame that holds all of the drive mechanism together. More details about that come at a later step. The second picture shows a candidate motor for this project.
Step 5: Pulley Shaft Assembly
Make this piece first because its dimensions dictate later aspects of the project. I made mine out of a wooden core from a hole saw. Then with the core partially removed from the hole saw and the piece spinning in a drill I cut a shallow grove into mine to help my belt track.
How you make your pulley and what you make your pulley out of will depend on what tools, machines, and materials you possess. Maybe you've a pulley or gear collection, or can steal one out of a toy building set. I don't know. What I do know is this part can be fabricated from a variety of objects, materials, etc.
As an example I will give the dimensions of mine, although these are by no means critical. I just offer them to give some idea of a basic size that works.
Pulley Diameter = 2-5/8" inches (67mm)
Pulley Thickness = 1-1/8" inches (28.6mm)
Shaft Diameter = 5/16" inches (8mm)
Shaft Length = 4" inches (100.6mm)
Those dimensions are all approximate just to give some sort scale idea. Believe me when I was throwing this thing together I did not have my micrometer set out!
I found a pair of bearings that fit onto my pulley shaft in my junk stash. It'd probably run in just a plain hole though.
Step 6: The Wood Frame
We're building a Hypnodisc not a fan so this thing has to run fairly slowly. My original one I just glued the disc to the motor shaft. Not such a good way to go. Motor shafts are often pretty small which doesn't give us a whole lot to glue to, and we can gear the motor down some because we want the disc running pretty slow anyways.
So going through the trouble to make this is worthwhile. It is more trouble if you don't.
A simple wooden frame is made so a fabricated metal motor bracket can be attached to it. The Pulley Assembly will also attach to the wooden frame as well. The metal motor bracket is made out of a small rectangle of sheet metal. Your motor may mount differently than mine did.
A belt allows the motor to drive the Pulley Shaft Assembly. I got my belt out of junk equipment, a rubber band should work too.
The easiest method of constructing this mechanism is to gather together a suitable motor, something for a belt, and the Pulley Shaft Assembly. These components together dictate your wooden frame dimensions. Lay your parts out, take some measurements, then calculate the size frame you will need to accommodate your parts.
I mounted my motor frame to a stick post so I could prop my hypnodisc up from it.
I probably should have taken a side shot of my frame too but it is really only two strips of wood laid over two blocks. Refer back to the image in Step 4 if you need more visual aids for this part of the build.
Step 7: The Spiral
The disc is the heart of the contraption. Get a piece of that foam poster board and make yours out of it. If I had to spec out a material to be custom made for the disc foam poster-board is pretty much exactly what I'd ask for. Other than the fact that the stuff doesn't grow on trees everywhere I can't think of any downside with it. So invest in a sheet. Bigger is better. My present disc is 2 feet (61cm) in diameter. Yeah its awesome! I made mine on a piece of Luan plywood and had troubles with the wood grain.
Now for the tricky part of the project. I hand painted my first spiral but I've always been pretty artistic. Even so I still didn't care for the brush strokes my hand painting left. My last disc I took the trouble to make a spray mask and spray painted my pattern. Maybe you can brush paint better than I can? I think spray painting is the best way to get a nice even pattern on the disc.
We don't want any brush strokes casting any shadows and distracting us while we're trying to get distracted do we? I know that didn't make any sense but hey we're making hypnodiscs so none of this makes any sense. That's why we're doing it!
To further remove any art barrier from this project I found a nice print out on the net of a logarithmic spiral and I used it as the center of the spiral. As the spiral gets bigger it is a lot easier to hand lay out. Do all of your spiral layout work on a scrap piece of paper with the print out taped to the middle, once it is fantastic then cut a template out and use it to spray the foam poster-board disc.
I'm going to include a couple files you can print. Because I'm not so sure how great my image editing is on them. You can do better.
To get the original image file of the second image bring the picture onto the page by clicking on it then click on the "i" in a box in the upper left hand side of the loaded image, that will bring you to a page where you can select "ORIGINAL" to get the full resolution picture.
Step 8: Making the Round Disc
Now I'm going to clue you in to one of the little gotchas of the project that seems to bite later on. Yeah anyone can cut a good circle out of a piece of foam poster-board but just try getting something right into the middle of your disc after you've cut it out! Trust me it isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.
Attach your pulley to the poster-board before you cut your circle out. Use the shaft of your pulley and a simple trammel jig to lay out your circle to cut. If you don't do it this way you'll drive yourself nuts trying to center your pulley onto your disc. Don't ask me how I know this :)
I use hot glue to attach my pulley to my disc. You can use whatever glue you think is right.
You're also going to have to center your pattern onto the disc so poke a pinhole clear through the center of the foam then guide your pulley shaft as best as you can dead center to that pin hole. We'll use the pin hole later on to align our stencil. I know it ruins the perfection a little but we need some kind of a guide. I made the pulley shaft of my disc assembly pointed, it helped.
In the second graphic I drew a setup for using a trammel to mark your disc. Study it for ideas of how you can accomplish this task. The tool labeled marker may be a craft knife if you feel capable of cutting your disc out in one step, or a pencil, marker etc. then cut the disc. Whatever you're comfortable with.
Nothing is worse than your pattern not ending right in the middle of the disc! Though the disc spinning off center is a pretty close second.
Step 9: Paint the Disc
Paint the whole disc yellow, let it dry, put on your stencil, then paint the red pattern. Alignment is critical. Spin the disc with the stencil on it before you paint to check your alignment. This is one of those do a good job spots. If your spiral is off center it will ruin the effect.
Step 10: A Word About Motor Speed Control
Like I said I used a potentiometer when I was a little kid. It sort of worked. Today I use an adjustable voltage power supply. Something along the lines of half of that circuit should suffice. It works much better than a trim pot does. You're going to want to adjust the speed of your disc. I like mine just fast enough I can't really focus on it too well. Disc speed is a very personal matter. I'm sure you'll fool with it until you find, "the speed". I don't know what, "the speed" is. I'm not sure if it is a measurable quantity.
So figure out some way you can adjust the speed of your motor. If all you can do is put a rheostat on it it'd work I guess. But you're going to have to decide what is available to you that you can do etc. But do something! It has to be infinitely knob adjustable. "the speed" needs to be dialed in.
Gozinta or Gozeouta?
A great debate rages on whether your spiral should go in or out. I like go in myself. I think it is one of those things that really doesn't matter though. If the disc works right on you it'll look like it changes directions from time to time anyways. Heck it'll do stuff that isn't even spinning!
Experiment, have fun, leave me a comment and vote for in or out.
Despite your best efforts your disc may be slightly out of balance. With the belt disconnected see if your disc settles to a low heavy side, if it does try gluing some weights to the back of the light top to balance it. I used some pennies to balance mine.
Step 11: Well?
So you've stared at yours now right? It's pretty freaky isn't it? Did the colors jump around for you? Or even the whole disc? Yeah it does that to a lot of people. It'll seem like it is spinning the other way, then it'll get really intensely colored, and pulse sort of, and but I said I wasn't going to discuss any of this didn't I? It does even worse stuff to you but what I would like to discuss now is how to enhance the experience.
I've found a room with subdued lighting and a spotlight on the disc works best. Sitting down is a good idea. Lying down isn't such a bad idea either.
If this isn't working for you here are some tips:
- Stare right at the center of the disc and try to let your eyes go out of focus a little.
- Give it some time it isn't instant.
What we're looking for out of the disc is it going just fast enough that you can't quite keep up with it, but not so fast that it is uncomfortable to watch. I told you that speed control was important.
When the disc seems to jump out at you and you feel like you're falling down it that is about the extent of the experience for me. Now quickly look away from it into your friends face and enjoy the whorl and pinch effect. heh pretty funny huh?
Step 12: Beam Me Up!
I said I'd say something about what computers can do in all of this and with that I'd like to add that monotonous droning or repetitive drum beats can add to the over all effect. There's software out there that can make your computer do all of that for you. Drum machine software, or possibly a synthesizer application are things that come to mind. I've used the Hydrogen drum machine with mine. Remember this whole deal works on fatigue.
I'd like to point out that this method is less effective on the fatigued. The more wide awake and alert you are the better this will hit you. I would imagine that any diminished capacity of the subject would translate to a diminished effect of this device on them. I have not experimented any along those lines personally myself so my thoughts on that matter are conjecture.
What I do know is that hypnodiscs are a trip! I'm pretty sure you won't fail a drug test for just discing either.
I hope anyone who tries this to walks away from the experience with the thought that not everything seen is how it really is, it is just how a mind is interpreting the world. Most folks reject this idea. But a Hypnodisc jumping all over the room is hard to argue with! So a little disc-ing may give you the mental stimulation to alter your perspective of your perspective.
Oh, and if doing this lands you in a straight jacket don't call me!