Since 1907, the Times Square Ball has been an annual spectacle that signals in the New Year. Commonly referred to as the ball drop, this 12-ft diameter glowing geodesic sphere descends from a flagpole at 11:59pm and takes 60 seconds. The ball itself has been redesigned over the years to reflect the latest in lighting technology. 

DIY Ball Drop

This project is a scale replica of the Time Square Ball. It features a 180mm (7 inch) 3D printed geodesic sphere that is illuminated with NeoPixel LEDs. The ball is supported by a 2020 aluminum extrusion and suspended via a pulley and linear rail. A continuous servo turns and unwinds a rope tied to the ball allowing it to be lowered and raised. An on-board speaker at the base plays "Auld Lang Syne" synonymous as the New Years Eve Anthem. As the ball is lowered, a 10-sec countdown occurs followed by fireworks, crowd cheering and music playing.

When the device is triggered the neopixels cycle through colors illuminating the ball. The geodesic sphere can smoothly slide up and down the railing with the aid of precision ball bearings. 

The build is mostly comprised of 3D printed brackets, fixtures and adapters with some additional hardware and supplies.

Prerequisite Guides

If you're new to Adafruit Feather M4 Express, CircuitPython or soldering, take a moment to walk through the following guides to get you started.

Going Further

The circuit, code and mechanics of this project could be applied to different themes. It's basically a motorized lamp with sounds effects that can be triggered via some sort of input. Think of an On-Air sign or traffic signal that can announce audible alerts. Make it an IoT project by connecting online – Custom triggers for the motor, lights and sounds.

This guide was first published on Dec 29, 2018. It was last updated on Jun 16, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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