Being a neuroscience major, I'm fascinated by these sorts of things. I decided to make a real-life motorized LSD spiral that I could hang on my wall and enjoy whenever I wanted to. Here's what you'll need to make your own!
- Large sheet of cardboard/thin plywood (I was lucky enough to have a big tv box)
- Acrylic paints (black and white are probably best, but I'm sure other colors would work too)
- Photo-editing software (mspaint is fine!)
- A printer
- A good knife or box cutter
- Some k'nex, including a motor
- Clear plastic tubing (optional but recommended)
- A drill and some scrap wood
Here's a video of it in action!
Step 1: Prepare Your Circle
Decide how big you want your spiral to be. Keep in mind that the effect it gives is limited to the space it actually occupies in your visual field. The bigger it is, the larger the effect will be from any distance.
Cut out a circle (I used a string tacked to the center of the cardboard with a pencil tied to the end to mark it out) and paint it entirely white.
Step 2: Paint the Inner Spiral Arms
I took a screenshot of the video, then printed out the part of it that contained one full inner arm. I cut out the arm, and traced it onto a piece of stiff paper (I used some spam coupon). I then carefully cut out the shape with my trusty knife. The resulting stencil was stuck on the circle (I made sure to center it on that little hole made by the tack when I first drew it) and painted black.
It's crucial at this point to ensure that the arms will be equally spaced around the circle. I took a straightedge and measured from the center hole to the very outer edge of the arm, then made a mark that far away from the center exactly opposite. All I had to do was make sure that that dot was visible inside the stencil along with the center point, and I was set.
Once I had two spirals opposite eachother, I measured 90 degrees away from the line connecting their farthest points, and made a third point the same distance from the center. The fourth arm was made opposite that, and there you have it. The first set of arms complete!
Step 3: Paint the Middle Spiral Arms
The placement of the first of these arms is a little tricky, as it needs to be spot on but you can no longer easily use the center dot to help you. I found the point exactly between the ends of two adjacent center arms, and made sure to start the arm there. I also tried to position it so that it would be roughly one arm's thickness away from the beginning of the next arm by the time it got there.
Once you have the first arm done, you can use the same directly-across, ninety-degrees, directly-across method as you did for the first set.
Step 4: Paint the Outer Spiral Arms
I put a ruler along a radial, and measured the thickness and position of each middle arm that it crossed. I then scaled these measurements and marked them 90 degrees away on the outer part of the circle. Since the whole design is rotationally symmetrical, the same markings worked opposite and 90 degrees to either side of the first. I then made similar measurements 90 degrees away from the first spot I measured, and translated those to between the first four sets of markings. This resulted in 8 groups of markers which I could use to keep my arms on track as I drew them in. I drew the curves in by hand and used a small paint brush to carefully outline and fill in the arms.
That's probably not the best way to go about it, but that's how I did it. Below you can see the finished arms, and the edges of the k'nex system I rigged up that I'll explain later.
Step 5: Protect the Edges!
Step 6: Motorize It
Step 7: Build a Mount for It
I used a piece of scrap wood as the base, screwed the motor to it (taking advantage of the holes intended for k'nex to go through), and built a little support arch to ensure that the motor shaft wouldn't sag. I slid the battery pack onto some nails towards the bottom, securing it with a rubber band so it could be removed and refilled. This position also makes it accessible when the spiral is attached, as it controls the motor. I used two more screws to keep the wire organized. I first gathered up the wire and looped it, then pulled the whole bunch to the side with the battery pack attached to the base until it felt tight. I marked two spots inside the loops and that's where I put the screws. I also added a small spacer at the bottom to further encourage an upright posture and keep the battery pack from wanting to slide off.
Because of the innate bendyness of k'nex joints, I still had some problems with sagging at the joint between the shaft and the spiral sling. I ended up epoxying those together, and that seems to have finally settled the issue.