Fun with POV and Lissajous figures

Craft & Design Science Technology
Fun with POV and Lissajous figures

This week, EMS Labs has a nifty piece on Lissajous figures which Windell was able to generate using an LED display on one of the EMS Labs’ breakout board business cards suspended from an oscillation rig built from a file folder frame, wooden dowels, and BBQ skewers.

Lissajous figures are interesting curves that occur in systems where oscillation happens in more than one direction, for example when a pendulum hanging from a string moves in its plane. The “standard” way to play with Lissajous figures is on an oscilloscope, and the easy way is of course in a web app, but there is also something to be said for a demo that you can hold in your hands. In what follows, we build a simple apparatus that takes a persistence of vision approach to displaying Lissajous figures.

A simple persistence of vision approach to Lissajous figures

4 thoughts on “Fun with POV and Lissajous figures

  1. Aud1073cH says:

    Interesting technique combining electronic oscillations (x) with physical oscillations (y) to get the Lissajous patterns.

    a 2 way physical Lissajous could be made with a simple throwie on a string, swung along both directions. anyone try it with a long-exposure photo?

  2. The Oracle says:

    I spent hours playing with Lissajous patterns on a scope when I was a kid (and at univerity really confused my TAs who’d never seen them in the electronics lab).

    It’s interesting to see them done this way.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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