littleBits Projects: DIY 3D-Printed Zoetrope

This is part of an on-going series of posts about littleBits projects. littleBits is available in the Adafruit store – Starter Kit,Extended KitDeluxe Kit, and Synth Kit.

A zoetrope is a device that produces the illusion of motion by rapidly spinning a series of static images. It is a classic invention with ancient roots and has gone through many iterations over the years. We thought we would put our own “spin” on the zoetrope using littleBits and 3d printed parts.

zoetrope gif

For this project, our circuit was relatively simple. It has a DC motor and three bright LEDs controlled by a pulse. We also used a button in combination with a latch in order to be able to turn it off and on.


The DC motor sits in a custom 3d-printed vertical mount so that it can stand up on its side. We made this vertical mount by modifying a file from our friend rbrodie. A large chipboard disc with 30 3d-printed figures sits on top of the DC motor via another 3d-printed connector. To make our animated figures we used 30 frames from a 3d animation file we found on Blender’s tutorial page. The whole contraption sits inside a dark box that has two small holes for viewing. The figures come to life with the DC motor and the addition of three fast pulsing bright LEDS.

IMG_9963 IMG_9962 (1)

If you don’t have a 3d-printer, but would still like to be able to use these parts, you can 3d-print our files via Shapeways. Shapeways is a 3d-printing marketplace and community. If you don’t want to go the 3d-printing route, try creating figures using Lego or clay.

You can also find all the 3d files for this project on Thingiverse.


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  1. Can’t download thingiverse files;
    “This thing is not yet public.”

  2. The Thingiverse files for the zoetrope are now public. Sorry for the inconvenience!!! Enjoy

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