Introduction: IKEA Frame Hack > SLOMO (Slow Motion) Frame
When we first stumbled upon the Slow Dance Frame created by Jeff Lieberman, we were quite astounded to be able to view real-live objects move in what appears to be slow motion with our naked eyes. It is so surreal and mesmerizing.
For those who would like to know more about this magical frame that slows down time, you may visit the following link.
We understand that many people have attempted to replicate this magical frame and Cubic-Print had already put up an instructable to show how they made it. You may check out their instructable in the link below.
We have some pictures framed using one of IKEA's Ribba series frame around our place and they seems to be suitable for hacking them to replicate the SLOW Dance frame. It is smaller than the frames used for the Slow Dance and TimeFrame projects but we hope to work around this frame to replicate the project.
Here, we are also going to show how we hack our IKEA Ribba picture frame to replicate this awesome frame, aptly named as sLOMO (Slow Motion) frame. You may be wondering why yet another similar project.
Here are some of our reasons:
- The picture frame size used for Slow Dance and TimeFrame is quite huge. We prefer something a bit smaller which is good for light objects such as feathers up to around 17cm long.
- The exact picture frame should hopefully be easily available for hobbyists to replicate the project.
- The electro-magnet and LED strips shall be hidden from view as much as possible as we think it makes the frame look more elegant.
- The electro-magnet required for the project should be available for purchase. It may be quite daunting to hobbyists to hand wind the electro-magnet themselves. Moreover, it is also not cheap to build one.
- The LED strip light is not recessed to only focus light on the objects placed within the frame but also to light up the back of the frame. The bouncing of lights from a wall seems to accentuate the movements of the objects placed within the frame if it is placed near a light colored wall. Moreover, the back-lighting of the frame makes it a good wall light.
- LED strip light shall dim or brighten gradually when switching between modes of operation. It makes the frame look more elegant during operation.
We have created a basic JF sLOMO Frame DIY kit which will be available at our Tindie store soon if you are interested to replicate this project.
To build this project, basic electronics component soldering skill and some knowledge on using the Arduino is required.
You may like to view the following YouTube video to see what we are going to build for this project.
How does it Work?
The principle is simple but brilliantly implemented. It is a fusion of art, science and technology.
A device vibrates the objects placed within the frame at one frequency and strobes light on the objects at a slightly offset frequency. The difference between the frequencies called the beat frequency creates an optical illusion.
If the vibration rate is just a little bit faster or slower than the strobe light, then you will get a slow motion effect whose speed is proportional to the beat frequency.
If the objects vibrate at the same speed as the strobe light, then the objects will seem to be motionless.
If the beat frequency is high, you may get seemingly random jumping of the vibrating objects.
For our project, an Arduino Nano/compatible micro-controller is used to excite an electro-magnet to vibrate the objects placed within the frame. It is also used to pulse the LED strips to achieve the strobe light effect.
For a small percent of people with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures.
This project requires strobing of the LED strip lights at quite a high frequency which most people will not even realize the lights are flashing. However, if you experience discomfort looking at the lit objects or light from the LED strip, you should stop looking at them immediately.
Step 1: Building the Electronic Circuit Board
As with most of our projects, we will be using our favourite Arduino Nano board for this project due to its small form factor and ease of use.
The schematic diagram for our project can be found above. We have used the same Arduino pin assignments as the Cubic-Print TimeFrame project but we are using different components to build our circuit and there are some slight differences in the design.
As the size of the picture frame we are using is much smaller, you may not be able to use the Cubic-Print PCB for our project.
We have designed the electronics DIY kit for this project which is available at our Tindie store if you prefer something easier to work with or you may opt to wire everything up on perfboard yourself.
You may check out the following YouTube video on how to assemble the electronics components onto the PCB board we designed.
The following are to be observed during PCB assembly:
- Ensure the orientation of the capacitor, 2 MOSFETs and Arduino Nano is correct.
- Ensure all components are to be soldered onto the TOP side of the PCB except the two potentiometers, push button switch and capacitor which are to be soldered onto the BOTTOM side of the PCB.
Step 2: Electro-magnet Assembly
For the Slow Dance frame and the TimeFrame, they are using magnet wire wound on an iron core to form the electro-magnet. This kind of electro-magnet configuration will have opposite magnetic poles at the ends of the iron core. It is not easy to find such an electro-magnet for purchase which is suitable for our project. You may need to custom build this electro-magnet yourself.
However, it is quite daunting and time-consuming to wind the electro-magnet. As the electro-magnet is mounted in clear sight for Slow Dance frame and TimeFrame, the electro-magnet must look nice and presentable. It is also not cheap to build these electro-magnets.
For our project, we are using an electro-magnet which is available for purchase. This kind of electro-magnet configuration has both the magnetic poles at one end which is very effective for holding onto ferromagnetic objects. This kind of electro-magnet may not be the best choice for this project but we will be using them as it is available for purchase.
The Slow Dance frame’s electro-magnet has each end activating a spring steel form in which the light-weight object is attached to with O-rings.
For our project, we would also like to be able to attach objects to both ends. Here, we used a U-shaped spring steel form made from drawing board metal clip. Our drawing board metal clip thickness is around 0.5mm at the flat part. The metal clip is bent into an U-shape form and holes are drilled onto the clip to secure the electro-magnet and for mounting onto a support base. We secured one end of our electro-magnet to one side and placed suitable neodymium magnets at the other side of the U-shaped spring form. We are able to get both sides of the U-shaped spring form to vibrate in our project with this setup.
We are using an electro-magnet rated at 3kg for our project. The sLOMO electro-magnet assembly in kit form shall be made available at our Tindie store if there is demand. You may order them if you prefer to use the exact items we used for the project.
You may view the final sLOMO frame assembly YouTube video in Step 7 to see how this electro-magnet assembly module is installed onto the frame.
We have spotted a common mistake DIYers made. The nylon spacer is supposed to be installed between the electromagnet and the U-shaped form spring instead of between the spring and the securing screw. This will narrow the gap between the electromagnet and the neodymium magnets and produce a much stronger vibration of the spring. The visual effect shall be greatly enhanced with this simple correction.
Step 3: Build the Back Mount
At time of writing, the IKEA Group itself owns 277 stores in 21 countries. We used the IKEA Ribba picture frame which hopefully is easily available for anyone looking for it to replicate this project.
Below is some information on the Ribba picture frame from IKEA we used for our project.
black Article Number : 101.712.99
Picture without mount, width: 18 cm
Picture without mount, height: 24 cm
Picture with mount, width: 13 cm
Picture with mount, height: 18 cm
Mount opening, width: 12 cm
Mount opening, height: 17 cm
Frame width: 20 cm
Frame height: 26 cm
For those who may not be able to get hold of this exact picture frame, you will have to look for a similar suitable frame.
You may also look at other Ribba series of picture frame if you are looking for a different size frame to build this project.
You may use the drawings above to build the frame’s back mount for this project. Please note that the back mount dimensions are good for the Ribba frame we are using and may not suit yours if you are not using the exact Ribba picture frame.
If you do not have the equipment, time or skill to build the back mount yourself for the Ribba frame we are using, you may find it at our Tindie Store.
As we mentioned earlier, we wanted the LED strip light to be able to light up the wall behind the frame if it is placed near a wall. This way, the light can bounce on the wall and back onto the objects placed within the frame which accentuates the lighting of the objects. The frame can also act as a back-lit wall lamp if it is hung on the wall.
The back mount is made up of 3mm translucent acrylic sheets cut to size and glued together.
You may view the final sLOMO frame assembly YouTube video in Step 7 to see how the back mount is built.
Step 4: Install PCB Module to Back Mount
You may view the final sLOMO frame assembly YouTube video in Step 7 to see how the PCB module is installed onto the back mount.
Ensure the metal securing nuts for the two 50K ohms potentiometers are not in contact with any of the Arduino Nano header pins after securing them in place.
Step 5: Prepare the Picture Frame
You may check out the final sLOMO frame assembly YouTube video in Step 7 to see how the picture frame is prepared for this project.
We do not need the glass panel and the back mount that comes with the picture frame.
The main steps to prepare the frame are:
- Modify the cardboard front mount to raise the window opening.
- Drill one 2mm diameter hole inside the frame to secure the electro-magnet support base.
- Drill three 2mm diameter holes behind the frame for flange screws to hold the back mount in place.
- Line the sides and top of the inner frame with LED strip light.
The front cardboard mount needs to be modified to raise the window opening higher to hide the electro-magnet when viewing from the front. The bottom of the window opening needs to be 41mm from the base. This is achieved by cutting off the top to attach it to the bottom of the front mount using tape.
As our frame is made from MDF board, it is better to drill a smaller diameter pilot hole before we drive a self-tapping screw into it. You will need a hole for a self-tapping screw to secure the electro-magnet support base to the frame. Ensure that the U-shape spring steel form does not touch any surface when it is vibrating during operation.
We need another three pilot holes at the back of the frame for the flange self-tapping screws to hold the back mount in place.
We used warm white double row LED strip light DC 12V with SMD 5050 LEDs which has 120 LEDs per meter for our project. As our frame is not large, we only need a short LED strip of around 0.56 meters long. You may experiment with other LED strip lights you can get your hands on. In essence, use the brightest LED strip you can find at a price you are willing to pay for this project. The depth of our frame should be able to accommodate three rows of LEDs if you wanted brighter strobe lights which should make the slow motion illusion much better if you intend to place your frame under bright light.
Step 6: Program the Arduino Board
The Arduino code structure for our sLOMO frame is loosely based on the TimeFrame project.
The TimeFrame project uses the ATmega PWM registers directly to change the frequency and duty cycle of the PWM signals for control of the electro-magnet and LED strip light.
You may visit https://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/SecretsOfArdui... if you are interested to know how to use the ATmega PWM registers directly.
For our project, instead of using the ATmega PWM registers directly to change the frequency and duty cycle of the PWM signals, we will be using the Arduino PWM frequency library created by runnerup. For details on this library, please visit this thread at the Arduino forums: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,117425.0....
The Arduino sketch for our project can be downloaded in the link below:
Click here to download JF sLOMO Frame program
You also need to download and install the Arduino PWM frequency library from
https://code.google.com/archive/p/arduino-pwm-freq... for the sLOMO frame Arduino sketch to compile successfully.
Finally, upload the program to your Arduino Nano/compatible micro-controller board. We will not elaborate on how to upload the program into your micro-controller here as this information is easily available online.
Step 7: Final SLOMO Frame Assembly
Here, we will attempt to put everything together for the final assembly.
We will need to solder the wires from the electro-magnet to the holes on the PCB labelled as “EM”. We also need 2 wires (Red and Black) of around 22cm soldered to the terminals labelled as “Light” on the PCB.
View the following YouTube video to watch how to carry out the final assembly of all the parts.
Step 8: Be Mesmerized
We will need a 12V DC power adapter to power up our sLOMO frame. For our project, we used one which is rated for 12V DC, 1.5A. You will need to use a suitable power supply if you use different parts or components for the project.
Plug in the 12V DC adapter and power up the frame.
If everything is in place, sit back and be mesmerized by the surreal dance of the light weight objects placed within the frame.
We understand there are people who are concern about the humming sound produced as the electro-magnet is vibrating at around 80Hz. This humming sound do exists but is quite minimal and hardly audible if you are more than 3 feet away. For those who have replicated this project, this may be one of the areas you can look into for improvement to reduce the humming sound as much as possible if this is a concern to you.
We stuck a piece of non-slip rubber mat at the bottom of the frame for cushioning which cuts down the humming sound significantly with our sLOMO frame placed on a table.
If you are going to place your sLOMO frame on a flat surface, you may also need to build a larger base to be attached to your frame for better stability.
Hope you enjoy building the sLOMO frame and amaze your friends with the visual illusions.
It is a pity IKEA discontinued to sell the Ribba Frame of size 18cm x 24cm which we used for this project. We have since used the IKEA Ribba Frame of size 21cm x 30cm to build our JF sLOMO Frames which is bigger and we need to enlarge the front cardboard frame window to make it more aesthetically pleasing to our eyes. See the photos above for a comparison of the two IKEA Ribba frames we used for this project.
If you need the Back mount for the IKEA Ribba Frame of size 21cm x 30cm, it is available at
Participated in the
Explore Science Contest 2017
5 years ago
Can you hear the vibrations?
Reply 1 year ago
Yes - I removed the coil and tried a small speaker. It distorted the sound on the speaker unfortunately.
2 years ago
Awesome project got it plugged in but it seems to run for less tan a second before shutting off. Any thoughts? Everythinig seems to be soldered correctly.
Reply 2 years ago
Update the issue was my own. Used a power supply that was too strong. New power supply works great!
Reply 1 year ago
Same issue, except a 12v/1.5a does the same where it only stays on for a few seconds, then won't turn back on except after a long time... Can't figure out the issue, guessing something is fried.
1 year ago
Could you provide the PCB drawing (files)?
3 years ago
I added three switches to control a rgb strip led light.
3 years ago
I purchased the TINDLE add on kit 1 & 2 along with the add on parts and service. Everything assembled fine and worked as described. I did build my own frame. THE ONE PROBLEM IS THE HUM. I am wondering if you could tape a feather to a speaker and create the same effect
Tip 3 years ago
Laser cut files for US Ribba 8x10 frame: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1BKXtSpD1-Re0JbH8...
Magnet base from the kit should be lifted for ~3mm (laser cut MDF and glued it to the bottom of the original base).
Question 3 years ago
I have ordered the kits for this and plan to build it soon. My question is regarding winding my own electromagnet. I love the look of seeing the wound coil. Will this cause any issues instead of using the electromagnet that comes in the kit? This will be my first Arduino project so I am not familiar with how that may effect the programming or operation.
Question 3 years ago
Hi, Could somebody share laser cut files? (Especially for IKEA frames available in US)
Tip 3 years ago
Be sure to check out the link in the first post on: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,117425.0.h...
it contains a more up to date library for the arduino than the one linked here....
It should make it more reliable among other things :D
3 years ago
Just finished assembling this. Plugged it into the wall, and the nano seemed to flash then turn off, nothing seems to be functioning. Any idea? Used the parts provided on tindie.
4 years ago
Is there a need wattage (if thats the right term) for the potentiometers?
If I search for 50 kohm potentiometers I can choose between 100mW up to 2W. As the 2W item is 10x more expensive I'd like to be sure what to buy.
Unfortunately my knowledge is too limited and I can't figure it out by myself...
Hopefully you have time to help me :)
Reply 4 years ago
For this project, there is no need to get a potentiometer with high power rating as we are not expecting any high current going through it. A 100mW potentiometer will be good.
Reply 4 years ago
Awesome. Thanks a lot for your very quick answer.
Have a great day :)
4 years ago
all right i know this is an older projetct but it seems that my LED strip never goes from off (0V) to on (12V) it is always @ 12V so realy bright.
my components are working properly though. has anyone an idea?
Reply 4 years ago
i have got the same problem, did you solve it?
5 years ago
Anyone else have problems getting the arduino program to load? I keep getting the PWM library flagged as containing invalid ops - I've downloaded all 5 of the versions of the library that are on the link.
BTW, the RIBBA frame that's available in the U.S. isn't sized quite like what this was designed for even though the sizes are advertised by IKEA to be the same (or nearly so). I've created a cutfile for a laser to do in acrylic for those pieces. I also have a cut file for a piece I needed for the magnet assembly to sit on as the drafting/artist clips I got on Amazon must be shorter than the ones this one assumed and the assembly can't reach if it's mounted to the base of the frame. If anyone wants it just drop me a message and I'll toss you the SVG file.
5 years ago
Forgive the n00bness... i'm extremely interested in making this and trying out Arduino and DIY and everything....
However, I wanted to know if its possible to use an external battery as a source of power? If yes, then will the OP (or anyone else) show how that can be possible. Because personally I would prefer using an external battery as a power source rather than a power adapter.