Introduction: Eye of Agamotto With Arduino

About: tinkerer, teacher, developer, dreamer... follow me @echundotcom on twitter, instagram to see my other creations

Was admiring a number of items out there regarding Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamotto (the Time Stone), and didn't see anything that was animated like it was in the movies... so the seed was planted in my head with regards to coming up with a way to do that.

I thought about multiple layers, that each rotated from the starting position to an ending position that would reveal the eye, and looking at a number of animations and the movies again, and upon further investigation, found out that the rotation of the rings/layers can't be done with static objects... at least not to the level of what the movie effects showcase... so came up with this design.

Once I figured out the start and end positions and figured out how much it would be required to be rotated (clockwise or counter clockwise), I created ratios. These ratios were then the test bed for creating gears... I found a great tool online that provides real time rotational information, and at a very reasonable price at that (it took quite a few trials and errors when actually cutting out the materials, and finding out that I actually really needed a central hub on each gear - this was actually quite educational to say the least)

GearGenerator (including the gear set that is used here)

the SVG of the gear set is included here

With the SVG downloaded, I was able to import it in to Adobe Illustrator


  • laser cutter
  • hard board
  • card stock
  • 6-32 x 2" machine screws (x6)
  • 6-32 x 3/4" machine screws (x5)
  • 6-32 machine screw nuts (x6)
  • glue (wood glue works great on hardboard)
  • paint
  • Arduino (nano preferred)
  • 9V battery + plus battery clip
  • NeoPixel strip
  • stepper motor (28BYJ-48 was used here)
  • push buttons (x4)
  • wire
  • soldering iron + solder

Step 1: Laser Cut the Items

Using Adobe Illustrator, I placed the gearset SVG, and then using the Layers menu, distributed the gears by build to different layers... once that was done, I was able to outline an outer shell, and add the individual arms for each internal layer. I placed each required gears in to their separate layers, and split them up so that I can laser cut each layer on to hardboard. Take note of the gears that span two layers, and how they are different in size. There's an image included that shows you which gears are to be glued together.

Adobe Illustrator is being used, as that's the tool that is attached to the laser cutter that I have access to (Trotec 300). You should be able to import this in to any number of applications that will cut the various shapes.

Step 2: Assemble the Items (glue Gears Together)

Assemble the pieces in the correct order, ensuring that the proper gears are glued together (see the image included)

Used the stepper motor to mount the two main gears together

Sanded the cut areas to remove any glue like residue from the hard board and the laser cutting, so that the gears would move smoothly within their confines

I found that having the pieces too tight causes some additional friction, so sanding down the moving parts just a little bit helps. I tried using some kind of lubricant grease, and that just gummed up the whole thing and made the pieces not move at all... so stay away from grease/oil on hardboard... it might work with acrylic or some other type of plastic (something to try in my next attempt).

Ensure that the space pieces are cut out of card stock, and place in between layers 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, which gives the gears a little more play with the movement... don't over tighten the layers together.

Step 3: Add the Electronics and Program

Add the stepper motor (28BYJ-48 is being used here)

Add the NeoPixel (or white LED)... made a quick acrylic cut out with some etchings, and wrapped the 5 RGB LED strip around it.

Wire up to Arduino (please see the included Arduino sketch to see which pins are being used for the Stepper motor, which one is used for the RGB lighting, and another four used for the buttons)

Program the Arduino

- used the CheapStepper library for the 28BYJ-48 (please search for this library in Arduino to download it)

Download the program (stepper motor and lighting the NeoPixel)

The stepper motor works great in that this cheap motor has some torque, and works well, but is rather slow. The other thing I've noticed is that the stepper motor takes in a lot of energy, and drains batteries pretty quickly, and on top of that, it can get rather warm after excessive use. Might look in to use of another type of motor or servo, and maybe have sensors that tell when the aperture is fully opened/closed.

Secured everything down with a hot glue gun (making sure the wires don't move around too much, as well as keeping the Arduino in one location as well as the stepper motor board.

Add the buttons to the board, so that one opens up the aperture, another closes it, and the two remaining will take steps in either direction for as long as the button is held down.

Step 4: Final Touches

Lightly spray painted with gold paint.

Things left to do:

  • Make a stand or a necklace (I just used paracord for the time being)
  • Add additional detail to the outside to match the movie
  • Add additional glowing animations of the LEDs

It's time to show it off (pun intended...roll back some time, and then do it again)

Hope you were inspired by this to try it out yourself... please share how you might have modified it even moreso... I am looking in to other materials and build process with the same gear set, as I'm finding that the rings in the middle aren't as stable and sometimes causes skipped gears (which will probably happen over time as well). Plastic gears? 3D printed? laser cut in acrylic?... so many options. Your thoughts? Share them here.

Have fun, time and time again!

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