:: spoke n' light ::

overview | sketches | prototype-I | prototype-II | prototype-III

A thin strip of LEDs mounted on a bicycle wheel creates a semi-transparent screen on which various images and animations can be displayed. The complete circuit (LEDs, microprocessor, battery etc.) is placed on the rotating wheel. A magnetic switch "ticks" the microprocessor every time the wheel has completed a circle, so that the rotation speed (and "zero" location) can be determined.

LED Super-resolution. By using two LED strings shifted by 1/2 the diameter of an LED, the dark areas between two adjacent LEDs can be filled.

Persistence of Vision. This installation uses a phenomenon known as "Persistence of Vision" to create the illusion of a stationary image. "Persistence of Vision" is the ability of the eye to perceive a series of rapid still images as a single moving image by retaining each impression on the retina for about one-tenth of a second.

By changing the state of the LEDs over 1000 times per second and synchronizing this modulation with the speed of rotation of the wheel, the illusion of a stationary or animated image is created.

Cheesy but effective. I tested two animations on my latest set of software and hardware. Results were pretty good... She said "yes" :-)

Facelifting. For display at the "ITP Winter Show", I wanted to mount the bike in a way that will safely allow the visitors to spin the wheel. At first, I thought of a complete Duchamp-like mount, but hand-spinning turned out to be too slow, so I had to leave the chain and paddle.

I ended up completely taking apart the bicycle, cutting off the front wheel, removing unnecessary parts (brakes, gears), sanding the frame and finally mounting it on a black stand.

Final Result. The project was on display at the "ITP Winter Show". Some visitors liked it, and it even got a bit of "media" coverage (e.g. here, here, here, and here. And a couple of articles in Italian and German.)

Read detailed project description >>