So the big question is, what is a Phenakistoscope and is it going to hurt me? I found some good information from Wikipedia:

The phenakistoscope (also spelled phenakistiscope) was an early animation device, the predecessor of the zoetrope. It was invented in 1831 simultaneously by the Belgian Joseph Plateau and the Austrian Simon von Stampfer. The word “phenakistoscope” comes from Greek roots meaning “to cheat”, as it deceives the eye by making the pictures look like an animation.

And no, it isn’t going to hurt you! Not even in the wallet! Best of all, it takes about 15 – 20 minutes to build. Let’s get started.

Watch a sample video on YouTube

YouTube player

Project Steps

Print out the dial template and glue it to some heavy weight black paper. It doesn’t have to be black, but a darker color works best. The dial I printed has a 3D MAKE logo that spins around. You can draw whatever animation you want in the empty boxes provided on the template.

Cut out the circle with scissors. Simple!

Next, using an X-Acto knife carefully cut out all the rectangular “viewing slots” on the dial. Finally cut an “X” in the middle of the dial as it is marked on the template.

Find a spinning lollipop. You can usually pick them for $1 – $2 at any store that sells candy.

MAKE Labs Note: We had trouble finding a lollipop spinner, so we decided to use a DC motor. We drilled a small hole in the center of one end of the lollipop stick so we could fit the end of the motor into the stick. We first connected a 9V battery to the motor, but found out that the motor spun the stick/wheel too fast. So, we decided to connect a potentiometer to the system and use 1 AA battery instead of a 9V batter. Once we had the system connected correctly we adjusted the potentiometer to the proper speed.

You might not have to do anything to your spinner except eat the lollipop.

If you are really opposed to sugar, just cut the pop off the stick. Mine tasted awful, so it got the scissor treatment.

If you need to modify your spinner, go ahead and take it apart and remove all the extra parts that you don’t like. I removed Belle because she got in the way and moved back-and-forth when you pressed the button.

Now I have just the spinning mechanism. Again, look for one you don’t have to modify. Most of them will work fine untouched.

Just stick the lollipop stick through the “X” you cut in the template and you are ready to try it out.

Go find a mirror and enjoy the show. You need to point the disc towards the mirror and look through the slots you cut in the disc to see the animation. If you don’t look through the slots, the animation will appear as a blur.

Watch a sample video on YouTube —…