Hey! This thing is still a Work in Progress. Files, instructions, and other stuff might change!

Customizable Zoetrope

by SamM, published

Customizable Zoetrope by SamM Mar 7, 2013

Featured Thing!


Now you can recreate 19th century motion picture technology with your 21st century printer!

Alright, so technically the first zoetrope was invented in 180 AD, but they didn't really take off until the 19th century.

Essentially a Zoetrope (wheel of life) is a spinning wheel with an short animation on the inside. There is a slit for each frame that acts like a shutter, once the wheel is spun it creates an illusion of the frames playing sequentially, bringing the animation to life.

Here is a GIF of a Zoetrope playing a GIF

Recent Comments

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Printed...Worked out rather nice..
Just the pictures are so tiny.
Seems they get smaller when you run the animation!
Keep the pictures simple!

Printed on my Afinia, with a 5" x 5" bed!
Thanks, Sam!

Thanks, Sam...

No worries, I may have to steal that name :)

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Each frame is designed to hold a small piece of paper. You can draw your own, or print out your favorite short animation or animated GIF.

This is a vertical zoetrope that lets you set the size and number of frames in the animation, how far back the frames are pushed to create the shutter slits, and how large of a stand. The wheel and stand are interchangeable, so you can also select which parts you wish to print and easily swap out animations.

A few important notes:

1) The outside of the wheel should either be printed with black filament, or painted black later. Having a wheel that's colored or brighter than the inside image can make the animation very hard to see.

2) The larger the frames the easier it is to see the animation. As printer platforms continue to increase in size, the larger and longer these animations can become.

3) While the parts can be snapped together in some cases, you will always get the best results by gluing together the + connectors in the handlebar.

4) There is a 2mm "clip" on the top and bottom of each frame to help keep the paper in place. Given that most printers produce "spillover" this becomes more like 1-1.5mm. Make sure to plan your frame sizes accordingly.

5) If the size of the shutter slits are too large the animation becomes blurry. To small and it becomes dim. Right now you will have to experiment to find the best result for your animation.


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Greasetattoo on Mar 13, 2013 said:

Printed...Worked out rather nice..
Just the pictures are so tiny.
Seems they get smaller when you run the animation!
Keep the pictures simple!

Printed on my Afinia, with a 5" x 5" bed!
Thanks, Sam!

Greasetattoo on Mar 8, 2013 said:

Wow, great project!
I think I may have to print this.
But, I will have to dismantle the outside wheel, though.
My print bed is only 5" x 5".
Keep up the good work, and thanks!

SamM on Mar 8, 2013 said:

Hi Greasetattoo,

You can also use the customizer and reduce the number of frames or the size of the frames to reduce the size of the outside wheel. There is also an option to scale the wheel to a desired size while not scaling the stand or hub attachment.

Greasetattoo on Mar 8, 2013 said:

Yes, a .stl file would help!

Gav on Mar 8, 2013 said:

Very nice model!

Can you post the STL as well please? It's pretty painful having to go through openscad or the customiser just to get the default one to print

SamM on Mar 8, 2013 said:

Thanks Gav!

My only hesitation is that the customizer challenge mentions that you can't include model files with your entry, but I will upload some presets once the contest is over.

In the mean time, Masierellias has created a version with the "default" settings here: http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...


dutchmogul on Mar 7, 2013 said:

Haha, I love it! This is a great way to utilize cutting edge technology. Now I'm considering 3D printing an abacus... Let the Neo-Antiquity Tech Revolution begin!

Alpha_Pi_Rho on Mar 7, 2013 said:

Cool! So it's basically a ye olde gif!

Alpha_Pi_Rho on Mar 7, 2013 said:

Oops, I didn't read all the way through. You already mentioned it played a gif. I though I was being kind of funny... fail.