Making the Zoetrope.

About: Learn electronics and Arduino with Tinkercad Circuits!

The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

Return to Previous Lesson: Writing the Code

Lesson Overview:

Now we'll actually build the zoetrope!

Step 1: Assemble the Moving Picture

In order to build your zoetrope, you'll need the pinwheel you used in Motorized Pinwheel and the paper zoetrope cutouts that come with your kit. Make sure the motor is detached from the circuit while you are assembling the project! You can enlarge the picture below to use it as a guide.

  1. Secure the CD onto the wooden base. You can add more glue, if needed.

  2. Use the tabs to close the slotted cutout, forming a circle.

  3. Insert the four tabs into the base of the zoetrope.

  4. Insert the strip of paper with images inside the ring.

  5. Continue to the next step.

Step 2: Try It!

Once the CD is securely attached to the shaft of the motor, plug everything back in.

  1. Hold your project up, so you can look through the slits (but make sure the CD is secured to the motor, and don’t get too close to it). You should see the sequence of still images “move”! If it is going too fast or too slow, turn the knob of the potentiometer to adjust the speed of the animation.

  2. Try pressing the direction switch to see what the animation looks like when played backwards.

  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 3: Customize It!

The zoetrope and images provided in the kit are only your starting point: try experimenting with your own animations, using the cutout as a reference.

  1. To do this, start with a basic image. Identify one fixed point in it, and make small changes to the rest in each frame. Try to gradually return to the original image so that you can play the animation in a continuous loop.

  2. You can also make a base to support the motor. A small cardboard box with a hole cut in it could work as a base, leaving your hands free to play with the switches and knob. This will make it easier to show off your work to everyone!

  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 4: Think About It...

How could you make your zoetrope work in low light conditions? We made some suggestions below!

  1. Try hooking up an LED and resistor to one of your free digital output pins. Position it so it shines on the images.

  2. Also add a second potentiometer, and connect it to an analog input. Using the analog input to time the flashes of the LED, try and time it so the light flashes when the slit is in front of your eyes. This could take some fiddling with the knobs, but the resulting effect is really spectacular!

  3. Continue to the next step.

Step 5: More About the Zoetrope

Congratulations on completing your zoetrope project!

Zoetropes work because of a phenomena called “persistence of vision”, sometimes abbreviated to POV. POV describes the illusion of motion that is created when our eyes observe still images with minor variations in rapid succession. If you search online for “POV display”, you’ll find many projects made by people that leverage this effect, often with LEDs and an Arduino!

Check out other great projects here.



    • Planter Challenge

      Planter Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • DIY Summer Camp Contest

      DIY Summer Camp Contest

    2 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Can you give me the whole code with the flickering LED please

    Kind Regards


    2 years ago

    Your are very productive, it almost looks like spam, maybe you can spread it a bit so it stays nice to view instructables. I stopped counting after 50 in a few days but maybe my tablet shows it double, if so forget my comment.