Digital zoetrope uses 18 LCD displays

[Jasper] sent in a project he, [Quinten], and [Mr. Stock] have been working on for a while. It’s called the Pristitrope and brings the classic 19th centrury paper-based animation device into the 21st century with 18 LCD displays.

The lazy suzan portion of the build was fabricated out of plywood cut on a CNC router and fastened together with the help of a slip ring to transfer power between the stationary and spinning portions of the device. For the electronic part of the build, eighteen LCD displays were connected together on a data bus with each display independently addressable by a microcontroller.

One really interesting feature of the Pristitrope is its ability to detect if it is currently rotating clockwise or counterclockwise. While [Quinten]‘s video doesn’t show off the full possibilities of this feature, the spin sensor makes it possible to always have an animation played in the right direction regardless of how the Pristitrope is spun.


  1. afex says:

    1) this is awesome
    2) i wish he had a BOM, i’d love to know what LCD module that is – i’m assuming it was cheap since he had to get 18, and a cheap RGB module is always good to have on hand!

  2. &e7 says:

    I’ve never said a disparaging word on this site in my life, but for once, I’m compelled to ask “WHY!?”
    IMHO, it’s ‘kinda’ cool, but it really doesn’t seem to work very well…

    maybe it’s just me. Sorry :(

  3. This is awesome … Completely pointless … Yet that probably is the charm of this thing …

    Nice work on the fabrication though.

  4. dude says:

    You do know that 1 of these screens can handle all of the “animation” by itself, right? This is like a rube goldberg device. you should have made it start by swinging an old boot that kicks a bowling ball down a slide and in to a bucket on a string that flips the switch. cool? yes. useless? yes. Seems like a shame to be wasting all of those screens on this. maybe you could make it actually print to small rolls of thermal paper super fast. Now that would be cool.

  5. Robot says:

    This is a great. . . and absurd. Just my kind of art / project.

  6. Galane says:

    It’d be better with the screens facing out and a mask with a viewport to look through.

    With such a setup it could do full speed animation using screens with a slow refresh rate.

    A similar concept has been proposed to display shows and advertisements in long train tunnels, with the screens synchronized to the train speed so when passengers look out a window it appears as if the moving image is traveling with the train.

  7. markS says:

    If you view through a pinhole instead of a slit and you arrange the displays in a grid – you can get a 3d display.
    PDF warning (

    Originally saw it at Siggraph 2007 Emerging Tech display using Nipkow disk for mechanical TV. You can use rotating mirrors instead of a Nipkow disk but geometry obviously different. YAY for NBTV.

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