Dual Channel POV Display Also Has Nixie Tubes

What’s a tachyscope? According to [Daniel Ross], it is an animated display from an alternate timeline circa 1880. The real ones, of course, didn’t have LEDs and microcontrollers. The control unit looks like an old-timey radio, complete with Nixie tubes. The spinning part has blue and white LEDs, each accepting data from one of two serial ports. You can select to see data from one port, the other, or both. You can see the amazing contraption in the video below.

The LEDs are surface mounted and placed inside a glass test tube. Each display has its own processor. The project appears to have a PCB, but it is just a piece of fiberglass with a color print on top of it and holes drilled with a rotary tool. The board has no actual conductors — everything is point-to-point wiring. The base of the unit is old cookware. The slip ring is pretty interesting, too. It uses an old video tape head, D-cell batteries cut up, and contacts from a relay.

You might remember [Daniel] from his steampunk Victorian computer project, including a punk teletype and a magic eye tube. If you want some theory on these kinds of displays, we can help. If you just want a simple display, it doesn’t have to cost much.

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$1 POV Display Goes Round And Round

You don’t need much to do a persistence of vision display. A few LEDs and a processor is all it really takes. [B45i] made a simple PC board with five LEDs and an ATtiny CPU. There’s a battery and it connects to a fan to spin around.

While the project is pretty simple, we liked two aspects of it. First, he provides very detailed explanations about how to use an Arduino to program the Tiny using the Arduino IDE.

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A New Spin On 360 Degree Displays

Back in 2018, [Salah] created a prototype display that seems to defy logic using little more than a Pringles can and a fast motor. While not volumetric, this hack does show the same 2D image from any vantage point in 360 degrees around it.

How can cardboard create this effect? Somewhat like a zoetrope uses slits to create a shutter effect, this display uses a thin slit to limit the view of the image within to one narrow vertical slice at a time. When moving fast enough, Persistence of Vision kicks in to assemble these slices into a complete image. What we think is so cool about this hack is that the effect is the same from any angle and by multiple viewers simultaneously.

The project page and video demonstration after the break are light on details, though the idea is so simple as to not require additional explanation. We assume the bright LED seen in the video below was added to overcome the relatively dim appearance of the image when viewed through the narrow slit and isn’t strictly required.

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The Basics Of Persistence Of Vision Projects

Persistence of Vision (POV) is a curious part of the human visual system. It’s the effect by which the perception of an image lingers after light has stopped entering the eye. It’s why a spinning propeller appears as a disc, and why a burning sparkler appears to leave a trail in the air. It’s also commonly used as a display technology, where a series of flashing LEDs can be used to create messages that appear to float in the air. POV displays are a popular microcontroller project, and today, we’ll explore the basic techniques and skills required in such builds.

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A Multi-Layered Spin On Persistence Of Vision

By taking advantage of persistence in human vision, we can use modest bits of hardware to create an illusion of a far larger display. We’ve featured many POV projects here, but they are almost always an exploration in two dimensions. [Jamal-Ra-Davis] extends that into the third dimension with his Volumetric POV Display.

Having already built a 6x6x6 LED cube, [Jamal] wanted to make it bigger, but was not a fan of the amount of work it would take to grow the size of a three-dimensional array. To sidestep the exponential increase in effort required, he switched to using persistence of vision by spinning the light source and thereby multiplying its effect.

The current version has six arms stacked vertically, each of which presents eight individually addressable APA102 LEDs. When spinning, those 48 LEDs create a 3D display with an effective resolution of 60x8x6.

We saw an earlier iteration of this project a little over a year ago at Bay Area Maker Faire 2018. (A demo video from that evening can be found below.) It was set aside for a while but has now returned to active development as an entry to Hackaday Prize 2019. [Jamal-Ra-Davis] would like to evolve his prototype into something that can be sold as a kit, and all information has been made public so others can build upon this work.

We’ve seen two-dimensional spinning POV LED display in a toy top, and we’ve also seen some POV projects taking steps into the third dimension. We like where this trend is going.

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After The Sun Set On San Mateo, LED Takes Over Hackaday’s BAMF Meetup

After this Spring’s Bay Area Maker Faire closed down for Saturday night and kicked everybody out, the fun moved on to O’Neill’s Irish Pub where Hackaday and Tindie held our fifth annual meetup for fellow Maker Faire attendees. How do we find like-minded hackers in a crowded bar? It’s easy: look for tables lit by LEDs and say hello. It was impossible to see everything people had brought, but here are a few interesting samples.

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Spellcasting Gun Uses POV Display, Not Magic

Persistence of Vision, or POV, displays are ever popular around these parts. Spin a few LEDs and you can make images appear in almost-thin air – just don’t stick your finger in the way. [FriskP] found a great application for this hardware – creating an anime-styled spellcasting gun.

The basic gun is built around a Nerf blaster, which is common in a lot of this type of steampunk and anime build. A Phantom3D POV display is then bolted on to the front along with some 3D printed components for style. The ensemble is then painted in a suitably awesome fashion.

We’re not sure on the software used, but [FriskP] has the gun displaying some amazing spell-type graphics that appear to hover in the air when the user pulls the trigger. The artwork is stunning, showing off some of the best graphics we’ve seen in the POV arena.

Overall, it’s a highly aesthetically pleasing build that any cosplayer would be more than proud to wield. It relies on the builder’s strong finishing and integration abilities more than raw electronic skill, but the end result is truly impressive.

We’ve seen plenty of POV displays around here before – you can get started with something as simply as a PC fan! Video after the break.

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