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Vortical Filament

Check out this art project

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Today we have a project that is maybe not so high on the electronics quotient but is high on the "that's neat looking" factor. Today is a perfect example of such a project. In fact, if you have an Arduino, a motor, and know a bit about pulse-width modulation, you could create this in your own home. Maybe you should! Check it out: Vortical Filament.

This project from Patrick Harrop is pretty simple but creates some stunning visuals. Patrick attached pieces of string to a motor that is controlled via an Arduino. Using PWM, Patrick varies the speed the string spins and creates some cool "electro-art." The video seen above was taken at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. While this project certainly isn't heavy on the electronics, there is definitely something to be said for the fusion of electronics and art. We dig it. Nice work, Patrick!

Comments 30 comments

  • Don't know if I would want string like that to be dancing around on my ceiling makin' that much noise. Plus, if you have a cat, you're in trouble...

    • Trouble, what trouble? Just replace the string with the cat's tail :D

      (ok, just kidding, don't want everybody flaming me! - Actually, Robert started it with "Kill the puppies", now it's "Twirl the cat" on the menu)

  • This might look really awesome if that string was EL wire and the lights were turned out.

    • Make it happen!

      • I wouldn't trust putting EL Wire on a spinning motor. Mainly because you can run into the issue of the wire getting tangled up, unless you run it via a battery, but that would cause issues with the motor... So...

        • Either put all of the elctronics (including battery) on the rotating part, and control it wirelessly, or use a slip ring to pass signals. Ladyada did a slip ring tutorial/teardown video not long ago.

        • Yeah, valid points. But I'm also sure it's not impossible.

  • "Vortical" is just so much fun to say.

  • Wow, spinning string... Not sure on the noise either...

  • "Arduino, just for blog cred"


    It doesn't have to actually do anything. Just put it in your circuit somewhere and you'll get a lot of free publicity.

  • This inspired me to make one for my boys. Thanks!

    I just finished and they are having all kinds of fun experimenting with rotation speed. I added a strobe to it, so they've been playing with the strobe speed and the rotation speed for nifty effects.

    Its really cool - and educational.

    • Just saw this comment now, but awesome! This is precisely why I posted this project - in hopes of inspiring someone, even just one person. Great work!

  • Similar in some ways to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=s2uY-CVyuX8#t=64s . My dad has been involved in making some of Len Lye's other works.

  • Hey, that's my local art gallery!

  • Sweet!

  • Seems like you could vary the motors to create music pretty easily.

    • You might be able to use the Arduino's tone function, I think... None of it would be in tune, but it would all just be relative to the other motors.

      • I never though about using tone for motors, that'd be pretty cool. I think I'm going to have to try that.

  • I have a feeling that the noise is coming from the fact that he is using stepper motors. If you were to use a regular motor and just vary the current to it you could achieve the same effects, although not as controllably.

  • I like it, would be interesting to add some strobes.

  • :) Nice installation, although the noise is indeed a bit loud.

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