HOW TO – Make a Spinner

Spinner

An Arkanoid spinner made with recycled parts . See here also for a detailed guide on how to build a startrek like pushbutton. Link.

26 thoughts on “HOW TO – Make a Spinner

  1. And please be patient if the connection is slow, it’s because there are right now more than 300 users and my server is connected to a slow (256kbit) connection. :-)

  2. >Do you mean a paddle?
    The original video game Arkanoid had a heavy (high moment of inertia) rotary knob that you turned left or right to move your… Vaus.

  3. Yeah, this isn’t a paddle; paddles (like on the Apple II and Atari 2600) were potentiometers with limits to how far it would turn in either direction. This can be spun indefinitely in either direction. It’s more like a trackball for moving in one dimension.

    A bunch of games used to use them, including Arkanoid and Tempest. Didn’t Discs of Tron also use a spinner, too?

  4. The electronics term for this is rotary encoder. I think this example is an optical encoder but I haven’t looked at the example.

    Anyway the electronic device (encoder or pot) is separate from the application (video game paddle or volume knob).

  5. It’s an optical quadrature encoder; it uses the guts of a mouse with the disc’s encoding pattern laser-printed on a transparent sheet. Pretty clever, really…

  6. @Stokes: Yes, it’s an optical quadrature encoder. And yes, Discs of Tron console had a spinner for the left hand and a joystick for the right hand.

    @Oracle1729: Stokes is right. It’s not a paddle. a paddle knob has a mechanically limited rotation range, a spinner knob rotates indefinitely. Moreover, this type of control is called “spinner” exactly by the companies who sell it.

    @Windell_Oskay: Right. Arkanoid’s spinner is actually “harder” than this one because of a gear train that makes the flywheel/sensor rotate much faster than the knob.

    @inkyblue2: Yeah … sure!! You can use this thing as a volume knob. Just find an amplifier that can increase indefinitely the volume :-)

  7. @Stokes: Yes, it’s an optical quadrature encoder. And yes, Discs of Tron console had a spinner for the left hand and a joystick for the right hand.

    @Oracle1729: Stokes is right. It’s not a paddle. a paddle knob has a mechanically limited rotation range, a spinner knob rotates indefinitely. Moreover, this type of control is called “spinner” exactly by the companies who sell it.

    @Windell_Oskay: Right. Arkanoid’s spinner is actually “harder” than this one because of a gear train that makes the flywheel/sensor rotate much faster than the knob.

    @inkyblue2: Yeah … sure!! You can use this thing as a volume knob. Just find an amplifier that can increase indefinitely the volume :-)

  8. How’s the backspin on this thing?
    By that I mean, if you spin it really fast, like in Tempest, does the object in the game start going backwards?
    I know some spinners built from a computer harddrive motor can do that, but they use a much smaller encoder wheel usually.
    If your works better, I might give that a try.

    Good job.

  9. @Zeppo: It never happened to me. But I play Arkanoid, and not Tempest :-)
    Anyway, the “backspin” problem occurs when the sensor (or the microcontroller) can’t cope with the frequency of the “notches” that trigger the sensor. The issue could be avoided simply by printing a bigger disc and/or less “notches”. My optical wheel is much bigger than the original mouse wheel and this problem shouldn’t exists.

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