I designed and built a split-flap display in my free time over the last 2.5 years. Watch the video above with sound (for the full flapping, clattering glory) here: https://youtu.be/04el3LYiOaI
I’ve always loved these electro-mechanical displays, but you can’t buy them for a reasonable price, so I figured I’d try making them myself (plus it’s more fun that way!). Ultimately I wanted to design a split-flap display that can be built at home in small/single quantities and can be customized and put together by an intermediate hobbyist for not too much money.
The design I settled on uses PVC ID badge cards for the flaps, store-bought vinyl stickers for the letters, and is driven by a cheap 28BYJ-48 stepper motor. The enclosure and moving parts are all made from laser-cut MDF, which can be easily ordered online. To control them, I designed a driver board that can be hand-soldered and plugs into an Arduino like a shield.
Everything I’ve built here is open source. The 3d model is designed in OpenSCAD, the driver electronics board is designed in KiCad, and the driver firmware is written using Arduino. https://github.com/scottbez1/splitflap
I’m certainly not the first person to build a split-flap display, so I need to give credit to some awesome resources: I got a lot of ideas and inspiration from the Beach Lab (sadly their detailed post seems to have been lost to a site redesign, but this archive is still available: http://web.archive.org/web/20150802041313/http://beachlab.org/flip-flap), as well as Tom Lynch (unknowndomain.co.uk), and many others.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
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