Introduction: Flip-Bits

About: A retired software developer, living in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, who appreciates having the time to make whatever the heck he damn well feels like!

I needed an 8-bit binary display for a recent project. For aesthetic reasons I wanted the display to be retro looking and analog. This got me thinking about the old Flip-Dot displays that were often used for large outdoor signs. Then it struck me, not Flip-Dots but Flip-Bits.

Pictured above is a single Flip-Bit module. It's powered by an inexpensive SG90 Micro 9g Servo. Everything else is 3D printed.

So lets go ahead and make one.


In addition to the 3D printed parts you will need:

  • 1 Servo - From Amazon - SG90 Micro 9g Servo For RC Airplane Car Boat Genuine.

Step 1: Print the Parts

I printed the parts with the following settings:

Print Resolution: .2 mm

Perimeters: 2

Infill: 20%

Filament: AMZ3D PLA

Notes: No supports. Print the parts in their default orientation.

To make a Flip-Bit you will need the following:

  • 1 Display Digit Cradle
  • 1 Display Digit One
  • 1 Display Digit Zero

Step 2: Assemble the Parts

It's pretty easy to put together a Flip-Bit once the parts are printed. Using the photos above as a guide:

  1. Glue the 1 and 0 pieces together. Use the pegs to help align the two pieces.
  2. Make sure the servo is in it's 0 position. I hooked mine up to an Arduino and wrote a small program to do this (see next step). Attach the horn parallel to the long axis of the servo as shown above.
  3. Slide the 0/1 flipper piece loosely into the base.
  4. Insert the servo into the base then push the flipper onto the horn.
  5. Finally snap the c shaped spacer onto the flipper shaft to hold everything in place.

Step 3: Test the Flip-Bit

You can use the attached Arduino Sketch to test your Flip-Bit. I found that I had to tweak the min and max values for the servo attach() method to get the flipper to line up horizontally.

Here is a short video of the Flip-Bit in action.

Step 4: Make a Flip-Byte (Optional)

As I mentioned my project required an 8-bit binary display. So I designed a base to hold 8 Flip-Bits and I'm calling the assembly a Flip-Byte.

Just follow the instructions for constructing a Flip-Bit eight times, and you'll end up with something like the Flip-Byte pictured above.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, the Flip-Byte assembly is part of a much larger project which can be seen as a sneak preview pictured above. I'll be posting an Instructable for it in the near future.

I felt though that the Flip-Bit deserved it's own Instructable. You may never need a binary 0/1 flip display, but what about a Yes/No display or a Stop/Go display. As always I hope that someone will find this idea useful in their own projects.

Make it Move Contest 2020

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest 2020