Rotating Lithophane Box Turns with Time

If you wanted to make a rotating display box, what would you use to make it spin? A servo? A stepper motor? [ChrisN219] didn’t need his to move quickly by any means, and this opened up his options to something we probably wouldn’t have thought to use: a clock movement. Specifically, the hour minute part of the shaft.

Rotating lithophanes of your loved ones makes for a pretty cool project, and there isn’t a whole lot to this build to make it difficult. Much of it is 3D printed, including the tube in the center that the LED strip is wrapped around. The base is just big enough to hold the clock movement and the LED strip controller, so it would fit nicely on a desk or a mantel.

This is version two of [Chris]’ lithophane box, which gave him a chance to perfect the frame and design a thicker center post to withstand the heat from the LED strip. All the files are available if you want to print your own panels and take them for a spin. Since it’s so easy to change them out, you may end up with a big pile to choose from.

6 thoughts on “Rotating Lithophane Box Turns with Time

  1. I thought of using a clock movement for a recent project. It has very low power demands…an AA battery will run it for a year, and it is very accurate RPM wise. They are cheap to acquire and, I think as long as you do not get carried away with too much load on the motor, it will last for years and years. I have a battery powered clock in my kitchen that has been working well for over 14 years now. Great project.

  2. I’ve got a neat idea. Free to use as you see fit.

    Make 3 lithophanes, one each weighted to the R, G, and B intensities for a given fixture. Place them on three sides of a similar box. Spin the box (quickly), and strobe a red, green, or blue lamp inside for the proper vantage point.

    Pretty useless in actuality, but might look cool in practice.

  3. A lithophane has the term litho in it because it was made of thin porcelain.
    So I’ll jump the gun and say I think we should agree to not call plastic stuff, if you go that route, ‘litho’ anything
    It’s bad enough people now use ‘ecosystem’ for things that are entirely unrelated to anything alive.
    It’s not like we don’t have plenty of words, and have the ability to make our own using relevant references.

    Nice that there is a free site to make extruded images to make such displays though (which you could theoretically use to made it out of stone/porcelain, for instance through a mold that is 3D printed).
    Also nice that people make instructables to use the output of such 3D printing efforts.

    Personally I’m thinking the concept of those plates could be used in a more subtle and artful way though, but that’s personal taste. I’m thinking maybe use them as tiles with some white reflective stuff behind them that in certain light subtly shows an image maybe, or something like that, I’d have to ponder and experiment to see what would work for me.

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