Building A Kinetic Sand Art Table

Many of us have marveled at art installations that feature marbles quietly and ceaselessly tracing out beautiful patterns in sand. [DIY Machines] is here to show us that it’s entirely possible to build one yourself at home!

The basic mechanism is simple enough. The table uses a Cartesian motion platform to move a magnet underneath a table. On top of the table, a metal sphere attached to the magnet moves through craft sand to draw attractive patterns. An Arduino and Raspberry Pi work together to command the stepper motors to create various patterns in the sand.

Low-cost pine is used to build most of the table, with oak used for the attractive bare wooden top. RGB LEDs surround the sand surface in order to light the scene, with options for mad disco lighting or simple white light for a subtler look. Other nice touches include sitting the craft sand atop a layer of faux leather, so the ball moving through the sand doesn’t make annoying crunching sounds as the ball moves.

It’s a great build that focuses on the smaller details like noise that can make a big difference to the final experience. We’ve seen similar projects before, too. Video after the break.

10 thoughts on “Building A Kinetic Sand Art Table

  1. If you really want easy, use an off-the-shelf 3D printer controller board, corexy belt arrangement, and Sandify to generate gcode patterns. No programming is needed. The controller thinks the table is a 3D printer that has no fans, heaters, extruder, or Z-axis. Configuration is very simple.

    1. Baking soda is quieter than sand, captures more detail on the patterns, is cheaply available everywhere, doesn’t attract bugs, and doesn’t get lumpy.

      Oil is an interesting idea as long as the top cover is high above the sand/mica/whatever or you keep speed down. At high speeds the rotating of the ball will fling oil and if the top cover is too close you’ll have to clean it a lot.

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