Lucid Dreamachine

Introduction: Lucid Dreamachine

This instructable is an inexpensive re-make of Brion Gysin's Dreamachine. This lucid dream machine is simply a cylinder with holes punched in it so, when spun, creates a flickering light pattern across your closed eyelids. This flickering is supposed to cause a state of lucid dreaming. This means that you are unconscious and dreaming, but are aware of what is happening and able to control your dream.
More about them here
Try an online version * here

*CAUTION!!! The lucid dreamachine has a strobing effect that MAY cause epileptic seizures in certain persons. If you try the online version or decide to build one yourself, you do so at your own risk! So, if you have had seizures in the past, just play it safe and don't try it.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather Materials

There is a LOT more than needed for this project than I first expected. Some items can be replaced or substituted for others, but here is a rough list.

1 Old turn table capable of 12" records and 78 RPM
1 12" concrete forming tube (Home Depot)
1 18-24" Fluorescent tube (I use 21" ultra thin)
1 Unused 12" record
Sturdy cardboard (for a template)
Scrap Wood

Utility knife
Flexible ruler
Drill & drill bits
2" Finishing nails
Spray paint

Step 2: Cutting Cylinder to Length

The easiest way I found to do this was take a flexible tape measure and measure out 30" from one edge on a couple of points from around the cylinder. Then, using these points, wrap around the tape measure on the marks and tape it in place. Then, I used a felt-tip marker and marked a line all the way around the tube. Using the utility knife, CAREFULLY cut this line to make a 30" tall tube. Easy!

Step 3: Creating the Cylinder

This step is crucial to having your Dreamachine function properly. You must punch holes strategically in the cardboard cylinder so, when it spins, it has the correct strobe frequency, between 8 and 12Hz. For the cylinder I bought, it wasn't quite 12", but I did the math as if it was. For 12 HZ it worked out to be 3.99898" apart (4" was close enough for me).
Do the math yourself, it's simple enough, just do this:
1) Find the circumference ( pi * Diameter )
2) Take this number * 1.3Hz (this gives you your "inches per second", so to say)
3) This number is then divided by 13Hz

Although 13Hz is higher than the "lucid frequency zone", the turntable is slowed down a bit due to the excess weight. All of my calculations were done for 12Hz, but that's why I did it first; so you don't do it wrong.

Once you have this number (for me it was about 4") draw lines lengthwise down the tube in that increment. You should end up where you started, if not, tweak it so you do. ( I had to re-mark it twice so don't worry). This will be your guide for placement of the holes.

From here on, the rules for building get somewhat lax. My template for the cutouts was fairly simple. A rectangle 2" by 5.5" with rounded corners. be creative here, these just need to allow light to pass through, so experiment with different shapes. try to keep about the same dimensions though; mainly the 2" wide.

After your template is made and on the sturdy cardboard, trace it onto the tube on the markings you made earlier. i spaced mine apart by 1" vertically. Once you have all (37 for me) to-be holes marked. it's time to start cutting them out with your box-cutter.

This can be a difficult task, seeing how it's pretty thick cardboard. I found it was easier if i drilled holes at the two corners of the cutout. And now the fun begins. It took me a good hour or so to cut all 37 out, plus my hand cramped up a LOT. Please be extremely careful during this step if you are using a box cutter. By all means, if you have a hand-held jigsaw, USE IT!

Step 4: Finishing the Cylinder

To make it easier to center on the turntable, I simply took an old 12" record and glued it to the bottom of the cylinder. I used PL200 Construction adhesive (if it's strong enough for plaster, its strong enough for this).

Apply a generous bead along the "factory cut" edge of the tube. Place the record on top and use your best judgment making sure the lip is about the same all the way around. I placed a weight on top of the record and pressed the bead of glue into the crevasse.

While waiting for the glue to dry, apply a couple of coats of spray paint. you can get fancy here too. Make sure to spray the inside of the tube black to prevent the light bouncing around on the inside.

Step 5: The Base

One of the last things you need to do is make a frame to hold the light in the middle of the cylinder. Again, this can be done in any number of ways (hanging from the ceiling, hook on the wall, etc.) but for me, the easiest solution was to build a frame that the record player would sit on. Dimensions are not exact here, and they will vary depending on the turntable you have.

Cut a base out of 1" scrap wood. i made the dimensions just slightly larger than the turntable. Use a square to make sure you have 90 degree angles for aesthetics. For the arms of the frame, I used some more 1"x.5" scrap wood. For my setup, It was 42" tall; 4" taller than the base + turntable + cylinder.

I then made two triangular braces for stability of the arms. I nailed those to the base first, then screwed the arms into that. Use a square to make sure it will sit straight vertically. For the top piece, I used a spare piece of plexiglass I had laying around. You could use wood too, but I figured i might as well use it since i had it.

Cut a notch in the middle of the top piece so the cord will not slide from side-to-side. Dangle the light from the top arm so it sits about 6 to 8 inches from the bottom. Tie it down here. I also used wire-ties to keep it secure to the plexi. Then run the power cord along one of the arms so it is out of the way.

Step 6: Using the Dreamachine

Congratulations, you should now have a working lucid dream machine. I painted the rest of it flat black, just so it all matched and looked okay. To use your new toy, make sure you are relaxed. Set it on a level surface ( I set mine on my bedroom floor) and sit next to it. Prepare some soft and relaxing music. Turn the machine on and lean in towards it, keeping your nose about four inches away from the cylinder. Keep your eyes closed and just relax. It takes about fifteen minutes or so, on average, to begin your lucid dream. Also, don't get discouraged if it doesn't work the first few times you try it. Lucid dreaming is a fun experience and it can be quite mind-altering. There are many different reasons why people make an attempt to have them, but it is quite cool to show off to your friends!

Thank you for reading and enjoy!

***This is my first ible, please be constructive in your criticism***

Be the First to Share


    • Trash to Treasure Contest

      Trash to Treasure Contest
    • Wearables Contest

      Wearables Contest
    • Fix It Contest

      Fix It Contest

    9 Discussions


    did anyone come across a computer software that can do the same on LCD screen ?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    HELP PLEASE: In your instructions, you say use used a 13 hz fluorescent light bulb, but I haven't been able to find one with that low of light frequency.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm using a T4 16W light, which is marketed as an under cabinet light.
    I chose this light, mainly, for it's length. It is long enough and bright enough to light up the entire inside of the tube.
    In reality, any light will work, so long as it is bright.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Outstanding! very nice job and detailed nicely. It gave me an idea too. thanks for this. I like your resourcefulness too. Im impressed


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Also reminds me of a light I use to have on listening to


    by Iron Butterfly...

    OH WOW... This is so cool man...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    this is cool .. but in my opinion it would make more sense to have this thing on a timer or something so that it spins when you are most likely to be your long periods of rem sleep like in the morning while it is still dark out. and have it shut off after a couple minutes. but def a great little light _


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, this is supposed to be used intermittently once or twice during the day as a meditation helper. They train your brain so, when you are dreaming, you have lucid dreams. It is not meant to be used while you are sleeping; just for about 20 min. while listening to relaxing music.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    you could just plug it into one of those timer sockets....