Digital Zoetrope Powered By Pi

A zoetrope is a charming piece of Victoriana, a device that gives the sensation of a moving image by exposing its successive frames through slits in a rotating drum. [Brian Corteil] however is not content with a mere 19th century parlour amusement, he’s connected twelve OLED displays to a Raspberry Pi and mounted them on a circular platform with a rotary encoder to make a fully digital zoetrope.

Connecting 12 SPI devices to the Pi was always going to be something of a challenge, because only two CS lines are provided. [Brian] has a rather elegant solution to this problem, he’s daisy-chained his displays to form a shift register in which each image is passed to the next display on a rotational increment.

His resulting zoetrope sits on a laser-cut frame which rotates over an encoder disc which looks to be made from printed paper. It is still something of a work in progress, but he has plans to record video on the Pi camera for immediate playback on his creation. You can take a look at his code for the zoetrope on GitHub.

This isn’t the first zoetrope we’ve covered here at Hackaday, or even the first digital one. We’ve seen a couple of 3d-printed ones, and one featuring laser-cut images captured with a Kinect. But it’s a good piece of work, and has the promise of more to come if his camera plans come to fruition.

Here follows a video of [Brian]’s zoetrope in action, at the Raspberry Pi 4th birthday party. With apologies for the quality of a roving Hackaday writer’s camera phone, we hope it gives a flavour of what the device can do.

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