Moire Effect Spinning Lamp





Introduction: Moire Effect Spinning Lamp

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instr...
I had originally wanted to make myself a spinning picture lamp.  Though I realized that these lamps use the heat from incandescent lamps to cause them to spin.  I wasn't really thrilled about the idea of using incandescent bulbs and I no longer had any of them around.  I did however have a computer fan with LEDs. 

The fan, unfortunately, spins much to quickly to be used for pictures.  I tried using with patterns of strips and spirals and discovered that it created an interesting Moiré effect.  Hence the name, though I was also considering calling it the "Hypno Lamp".

The lamp consists of two cylinders the pattern on the outside cylinder is printed on a transparency sheet and the spinning cylinder on the inside is printed on regular white printer paper.  Both of these can be switched up, so you can try out different patterns. 

Step 1: What You Will Need

  • PC Cooling Fan with LEDs (80mm diameter) -I bought mine here
  • 1.5-12v Ac adapter ( my adapter can switch between 1.5-12 v)
  • Glass vase ( mine is 6inch high and 11 inches in circumference - I bought it at a dollar store
  • Transparency sheets
  •  Regular white printer paper
  • Computer and colour printer
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Pliers to strip ends of wires
  • 2 twist on wire connectors
  • Optional -Sugru

Step 2: Print

For the lamp I needed to print out a pattern on transparency sheet to fit around the outside of the glass, the dimensions required where 11x6 inches.  I also needed a pattern that rotates with the fan, I printed this out on regular white printer paper that is 9.375x6 inches. (The width needs to be precise since it has to fit over the fan blades but not be too loose that it slides down.)

I tried out a few different patterns in different colours to use with my lamp with varying effect.   This site gives some interactive examples on how different Moiré patterns are created.  Looking at the images above you can see the Moiré effect caused by your computer screen.

Step 3: Outer Cylinder

Trim off the non printed area of the transparency sheet at the top and bottom (but leave the sides -the diameter of my vase is 11 inches but I couldn't convince my printer to print beyond the margins so there is a bit of a gap.)  Tape the ends together forming a cylinder with clear tape.  This should fit snugly around the glass, but you can still slide it on and off.

Step 4: Inner Cylinder

Trim off the non printed area .  Put tape along the bottom edge of the rectangle, this is to prevent it from tearing as you place it over the fan blades. Tape the ends together forming a cylinder with clear tape, there should be a small 1/8th inch overlap of the edges.  This should fit snugly around the blades of the fan, if it is too loose it will slide down impeding the spin of the blades.  It is a bit tricky getting it over the blades, you may need to worry them over, especially the last blade, since it is a tight fit.

Step 5: Power Source

The computer fan runs at 12v and has a 3 pin connector.  I have an AC adapter that has an adjustable voltage between 1.5v and 12v,  this is great since I can reduce the voltage and slow down the spin of the fan (unfortunately though, it also dims the LEDS).  I remove the connectors from both the adapter and fan cables (mark which wires are positive and which are negative/ground first), then connect them using two of those twist-on wire connector caps.

Step 6: Bumpers

To ensure the glass vase stays centred on the fan I screwed the screws that came with the fan onto the corners. I then covered them with Sugru, to form bumpers.

Step 7: Other Ideas

While working on this lamp I was wondering if there are other things I can do with it.  There are many other patterns that I could try out.  Perhaps I can create a Zoetrope.  Or try something like this (if I can figure out how he does it.)

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions.

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    16 Discussions

    Pretty cool . Interesting if it could be adapted to the william borroughs' waking lucid dream machine.

    3 replies

    Hi, that dream machine is an interesting device, the point of it is to create a strobe light, I think a rather small led strobe light would would make similar effect and would be much simpler, simpler than that theres strobe programs for pc screen, thanks for an interesting read :)

    Hi, that dream machine is an interesting device, the point of it is to create a strobe light, I think a rather small led strobe light would would make similar effect and would be much simpler, simpler than that theres strobe programs for pc screen, thanks for an interesting read :)

    Really nice! I know you can get quiet, slow turning gear boxes from old things like microwaves and those disco ball turners incase you wanted to make a spinning one :D

    I also built a spinning lamp years ago, and I added a little fan to make the cylinder spinning since the halogen little bulb was not hot enough. But the fan was too much powerful, so maybe I'll add a voltage regulator to it.

    7 replies

    I'm not sure that voltage change is the best option for speed control, but one could use an arduino to generate PWM for speed control of the fan. In such a mode, the speed could be as low as desired, perhaps low enough for the picture lamp mentioned at the beginning. An added benefit is that your construction is already completed and adding the arduino would involve only the connection to the fan.

    Nicely done instructable.

    Thanks for the link, I've never actually used an Arduino before but I think it is about time I did.

    I'm far from an electronics genius and only recently have begun to explore arduino. The simple experimenter package includes various projects, one of which includes dimming an LED using PWM. A dim LED is the equivalent of a slow spinning computer fan, so the tutorial project will be right in line with your instructable, I think. The LEDs on the fan may require a separate circuit, I'd think, as you'd want them to remain full brightness while the fan speed changes. All of your possible modifications, including the zoetrope may become more easily accomplished with the arduino. The link I sent is likely to be more complex information than it is useful. After additional reading, I left more confused than I began, while the tutorial project in the beginner package is quite simple and easily understood.

    I can see you have much greater skill and understanding than I do. I do not have enough to modify your circuit for non-thermal speed control. I think you have an easy answer to perhaps replace the thermal speed control with a potentiometer. I suggested an arduino because it substitutes a micro controller with more smarts than I have!

    I have a bunch of unused fans. Some are from when Hunter Fan made them for electric typewriters. I could flatten the pitch of the aluminum blades for low flow, I suppose. The only one I use is venting my bathroom! Others: available!

    nice lamp