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4-Mation: A 3D-Zoetrope Kit with an ESP8266 Brain

Reporting from Shanghai, China
Mar 5, 2018

4-Mation is an ESP8266-controlled device that creates the illusion of motion through a sequence of objects partaking in the progressive phases of that motion.

How the zoetrope kit works

RGB strobe lights and a motor are controlled by a customized board with an ESP8266, which gets connected to mobile apps (currently only Android) for control over color, brightness and  turntable speed. There is also a capacitive touch button at the front, which allows for some functionality besides “start” and “stop” by using “long touch” and “double tap”. The strobes are timed by ESP8266 reading the motor’s encoder output signals and triggering a strobe every 18 degrees (20 frames of animation) of turntable rotation. Currently, there are two finished animations: “Jumping Frogs”, a video of which you can view here, and “Fish eating Fish”, which you can watch here.

Jumping Frogs

4-Mation Competition

The team behind the 4-Mation project is trying to build a community of people designing and sharing their own animations. To this end, they are organizing a competition which will run at the 4-Mation Forum. Those who are interested in taking part should sign up at 4-mation.co.uk first, watch more videos on YouTube for some inspiration and keep an eye on the project’s Facebook page for all relevant news and announcements.

How the competition works


All shortlisted ideas will go into a poll, where votes at the 4-Mation Forum will help the judging committee select a winner. There are two machines to be won, one for the winning idea, and another for simply participating in the voting procedure. The latter prize will be given after a draw. As ideas are submitted, the contest organisers will monitor the whole process, providing guidance and feedback to participants. It is envisioned that other members of the forum will also be able to provide feedback, if they want to.

To find out about the full terms and conditions of the contest, please, click on here.

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