Jun 17, 2017 | By Julia

As you’ve probably noticed, fidget spinners are all the rage right now, with everyone from makers to startup CEOs to 3D printing enthusiasts jumping on the fidgeting bandwagon. It’s not hard to see why: these fun little handheld toys are thought to help users stay attentive, focused, and calm. An upgrade on more traditional models such as stress balls, tangles, or widgets, the increasingly trendy fidget spinner looks like it just got another serious upgrade.

San Francisco-based designer and maker Jonathan Odom has created a 3D printed fidget spinner that also doubles as a zoetrope. Users need only peer through the spinning circular toy to glimpse a tiny black cat running at full speed.

“It's already spinning, [so] why not add an animation? Now you can be distracted by a cat video while you get out that nervous energy,” explains Odom on his Instructables page.

Odom admits his design isn’t exactly a technological breakthrough. He says he was initially inspired by a similar project from Instructable user darlingtom, who noticed that the spinning motion of a fidget spinner opens the gadget up for the possibility of animation. Whereas darlingtom created a phenakistoscope (a similar pre-cinematic animation device, but one which requires the user to look through a mirror to get the full effect) out of his fidget spinner, Odom wanted something even simpler and more streamlined.

So for his Zoetrope Fidget Spinner, Odom decided to go back to the original zoetrope design that was patented in the US in 1867. “It's basically just a rotating drum with slits cut into it and sequential frames on the inside of the drum below and in line with the slits,” Odom says. “This arrangement ensures that the slit is directly in line with the picture, but it also means that the drum has to be tall enough for a slit and a picture stacked on top of each other.”

Since this version needs to be small enough to fit into a user’s hand, Odom adjusted the original modern design so that the slits would be in line with the frames. In essence, the gadget is a simple drum with 12 evenly spaced slots, two identical wheels on the top and bottom (each with holes cut out to let light in), and a couple caps and bearings. As such, the Zoetrope Fidget Spinner is actually a fairly simple 3D modeling project; Odom used Autodesk Fusion 360.

For the cat animation, Odom went with one of Eadweard Muybridge’s classic motion studies from the 19th century. This pre-motion picture pioneer was among the first to start thinking “cinematically,” and many of his photo sequences are still available in the public domain, which still make for great animation images. Odom saved each of Muybridge’s cat frames individually, brought the frames into Illustrator, then placed them in the proper positions between the slots.

The 3D printing process was even easier: the San Francisco-based designer created STLs from Fusion, which he then transferred into Simplify 3D and printed out on his Makerbot.

Et voilà: a simple yet effective do-it-yourself desk toy with endless entertainment embedded inside. Get the full Instructables guide here, and give this Zoetrope Fidget Spinner a go for yourself!



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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