Tilt sensor toy is simple and mesmerizing

[Eiki] found himself in need of a project for his “simple machines” class. Another project had brought him in contact with some relatively cheap MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes.  He had the idea to create a simple tilt sensor based circuit that would light whatever LED was at the bottom.

He’s using an Analog Devices ADXL202E accelerometer chip to sense tilt and an  LM3914 bar-graph driver to light the displays. He’s taking the voltage-proportional-to-accelleration output of the accelerometer, filtering it through a capacitor, then feeding it to the bar-graph driver. It may not be the most technically difficult project, but the result is mesmerizing and elegant.

10 thoughts on “Tilt sensor toy is simple and mesmerizing

  1. Beautiful trinket :D. I keep asking myself what will happen if the thing is turned upside down. Which led will light? I guess the LM3914 will just go out of range?

    Would be nice and mesmerizing to use this effect on of those led balls from a hackaday post a while back. Don’t know how well they roll around on their own leds though. Nothing some lasercut circles with led slots would not fix though.

  2. Its a nice hack but I think it would have been cooler if it was made using 10 tiny mercury switches (Hey, mercury is cool!) Have you thought of installing v2 of this in a bowling ball, now that would rock (within in the range bowling can rock of course.)

    1. Would love to see a schematic of the finished circuit, unless I’ve somehow missed it on your website. And what a cool little device.

  3. I have some mercury switches and relays here, they are staying in the drawer in triple plastic bags for obvious reasons.

    Nice project, I’d have used colour changing LEDs and made them fade depending on the Z axis as well.

    Also, you can salvage a nice accelerometer from many old smartphones including the Tocco.
    The really ancient Apple Macbooks also have these, as do Ipod Touch/Iphones.

    Pick older equipment as they use an analogue output which is easier to use..

  4. I would like to have seen the thing come to a full rest, and handheld moves (square wave) motion.
    Two of these would make a great non micro tilt sensor. I would be interested in using one as a musical synth modulation input.

  5. Improvement: make it cover all 360° and roll it in a dark room… cool!

    Hm, actually, one should built this into a hoola hoop,… oh, I think I mit just do that … Stay tuned :-)

  6. yay no arduino! coo project!
    LM3914 LM2915 LM3916 iirc if you stare at the datasheets long enough you will notive the subtle differences

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