Manual Larson Scanner Invites You To Crank It

Hasselhoff make Larson Scanners famous. That’s the name for the scanning red lights on the front of KITT, the hero car from the popular 1980s TV series Knight Rider. Despite serving a solely aesthetic role, they remain a fun and popular LED project to this day. Putting a new twist on the old concept, [Pete Prodoehl] whipped up a Larson Scanner that you crank to operate.

Built out of LEGO, the project relies on a hand crank to work. The crank turns a drum, onto which is placed several strips of conductive Maker Tape – a steel/nylon material which we’ve looked at before. Strips of tape running side-by-side are bridge by segments of tape on the drum as it turns. The LEDs are switched on in the requisite pattern of a traditional Larson scanner.

The project has inspired further possibilities, such as using similar techniques to produce an electronic music box or player piano that will change tempo as the user changes the speed with the crank. [Pete] notes that turning the crank is an inherently enjoyable experience, and given the wonder inherent in hand-cranked musical projects like Marble Machine X, we can’t wait to see where this one goes next. Video after the break.

12 thoughts on “Manual Larson Scanner Invites You To Crank It

  1. There was an earlier show, in the late 70s, the original Battlestar Galactica (with Lorne Greene) that featured the same moving LED thing as the eyes of the cylons. I think Larsen might actually have been involved with that show.

    1. It is already far too late, the course was set and in motion long ago. Once ugg the caveman rolled that very first rock, instead of pushing it your fate was sealed. The glaciers are flowing into place and you are trying to stop them with talk. No, this is the time for action, a committee needs to be formed, there is absolutely no time for dawdling.

      1. Yes! A committee! Our first meeting shall delegate a subcommittee to fix the time of our first meeting which deals with action items.

        Shall we use Robert’s Rules of Order, revised?

        We will need bylaws to determine eligibility for membership too, and perhaps another subcommittee to write a mission statement, list our core competencies, and identity a small group of priority items.

        No robots allowed! This is for real action, not just talk!

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