Awesome Illuminated Arcade Spinner

Illuminated arcade spinners

[Tinker_on_Steroids] made some awesome looking spinners that not only light up when spun but are a really professional looking build on their own. Before we’d watched his assembly video we were sure he’d just added on to something he’d bought, but it turned out it’s all custom designed and made.

In case you’ve never played the old arcade games, a spinner is an input device for games such as Tempest or Breakout where you rotate a knob in either direction to tell the game which way and how fast to move something. In Tempest you rotate something around the middle of the screen whereas in Breakout you move a paddle back and forth across the bottom of the playing field.

He even detects rotation with a home-made quadrature encoder. For each spinner, he uses two ITR9608 (PDF) optical switches, or opto-interrupters. Each one is U-shaped with an LED in one leg of the U facing a phototransistor in the other leg. When something passes between the two legs, the light is temporarily blocked and the phototransistor detects it i.e. the switch turns off. When the thing moves away, the light is unblocked and it turns on again. The direction of movement is done by having the thing pass between two ITR9608’s, one after the other. The “things” that pass between are the teeth of a 3D printed encoder wheel.

To give it an extra awesome appearance he installed 4 NeoPixel LEDs in each spinner so that they glow blue when not spinning and then go from pink to red when spun up.

All the STL files for 3D printing it are on his Thingiverse project page, along with a BOM and links to where to buy parts. The brains for both spinners is an Arduino Pro Micro attached to one of the spinners using a custom-made shield. He also supplies the source and the hex code for the Arduino that makes the spinners appear as a USB mouse device when connected to a computer, unless of course you write your on code for them.

[Tinker_on_Steroids] did a very nice job designing all the 3D printed parts to make a professional looking spinner and if only for seeing a well designed DIY object, you should check out the first video after the break. The other two videos are demonstrations of it in action.

Long-time Hackday readers may remember these other DIY spinners, one of which uses an RC car tire for the knob and an optical encoder from a mouse. Some of the old photos are missing but the details are all there.

Thanks to [EVR] for the tip.

2 thoughts on “Awesome Illuminated Arcade Spinner

    1. Yeah, it needs more mass. Thats what’s fun about spinners. Easy enough to fix, put a chunk of steel or something dense (tungsten? depleted uranium?) on the backside behind the panel. Or you could even make the knob out of glass. Bead blast it for a frosty finish.

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