3D printed zoetrope

Normally, 29 men walking around in an endless circle would be the stuff  of an [M.C. Escher] engraving. [Tobias] turned this into a reality with a little help from some LEDs and a 3D printer.

Like his earlier project, [Tobias] built himself a nice little strobing zoetrope that maintains the illusion of movement by flashing LEDs at precise intervals. Instead of a flat 2D image, [Tobias] went for a walking 3D figure that marches to the beat of a timer circuit. The figures themselves were printed via Shapeways.

The electronics were improved for this iteration. Formerly, [Tobias] used a 555 and a whole bunch of auxiliary components. The circuit was improved for this version to uses Schmitt triggers and an optical encoder. The easy-to-build-on-perfboard schematics and layouts are available, so feel free to build one for yourself.

[Tobias]‘ zoetrope isn’t much different from the gigantic Charon sculpture seen at last year’s Burning Man. Sure, it’s not 40 feet tall but it’s still a nice piece of work.


  1. nexekho says:

    I love it! The light artifacts on the camera are pretty cool too.

  2. Paul says:

    That’s badass.

  3. Ivan says:

    Cool stuff! Very neat!

  4. JB says:

    Wish I had a 3d printer. Cool project!

  5. Graham says:

    The link to the “gigantic Charon sculpture” is broken.

  6. noouch says:

    Haters gonna hate.

  7. Andy H says:

    I think the broken link should be…


    (do I win a free zeotrope?)

  8. Will says:

    Awesome! I totally need one of those for my front window next Halloween. Any chance of selling them (cheap) ?

  9. FoxTrot says:

    Looks cool, i love the way they walk. No go make a Terminator themed one, that would be awsome.

  10. HAD says:

    Normally, 29 men walking around in an endless circle would be the stuff of an [M.C. Escher] engraving.

    Or a porno.

  11. Mr-Midnight says:

    Awesome stuff. Would love to have one of these. Shouldn’t cost more than a few bucks if made in Hong Kong :D

    I had to laugh :)

  12. Alex Rossie says:

    This is amazing. WITCHCRAFT!

  13. Tobias says:

    thanks for the comments
    I aimed for easy and cheap reproduction with the drehkino design. It has a minimum of mechanics and electronics.

    The 3D printed disk is expensive though.

    You guys are declining: in last drehkino project, porn was already mentioned in the 3rd comment.

  14. Javi el largo says:

    I think it’s a very amazing project and animation, one of the best zootropes I’ve ever seen.

    Congratulations and greetings from sunny Spain.

  15. junkhacker says:

    to make this all the more awesome
    1.motorize it
    2.put the encoder on the backside
    3.put the flashing leds on the perimeter, so the it’s an 360 wheel of endlessly walking men
    4. put clock in the now unused middle
    5. ???
    6. profit

  16. Jack says:

    Very nice. You could make them walk forward AND backwards so it looks mor like dancing. Then play this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9MszVE7aR4

  17. DudeGuy says:


  18. Aristocratic says:

    Wow!! that is awesome

  19. FDP says:

    Seriously awesome project, but that was a lot of material! For those with a lower budget who might be interested in 3d printed zoetropes I would look into something like a 200mm case fan as a starting point for the rig. You could print the animation as new fan blades and the whole thing would spin when blown with air/could be run @ 3600rpm to achieve ~60fps. Remember, a zoetrope does not have to be in a vertical configuration!

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