A zoetrope is a type of animation machine. It relies on the principle of persistence of vision -- just like turning the pages rapidly of a simple flip book or watching an animated film go by 24 frames per second on a projector — persistence of vision is an illusion that fools our brains into interpreting rapid changing images as animated motion.

You can build one that is purely mechanical, where small slits in a rotating disc cause our eyes to see rapidly blinking images, or you can use quickly blinking (stroboscopic) light instead.

In this project we will use the Circuit Playground Express and its NeoPixels to very rapidly blink light. We'll use the Cricket to spin a motor to drive a disk onto which our animated objects are attached.

You will use the buttons on the Circuit Playground Express to increase and decrease the speed of the blinking and of the motor in order to get the stroboscopic effect to synchronize.


1 x Adafruit CRICKIT
for Circuit Playground Express
1 x Circuit Playground Express
Round, Awesome Microcontroller Board
1 x TT Motor DC Gearbox
200 RPM 3 to 6VDC
1 x TT Motor Pulley
36mm Diameter
1 x Male DC Power adapter
2.1mm plug to screw terminal block
1 x USB Cable
A/MicroB - 3ft
1 x 3 x AA Battery Holder
with 2.1mm Plug

Materials & Tools

You'll just need a few common materials and tools to build the zoetrope disc, stand, and animated faces:

  • 6x ping pong balls
  • Marker or paint pen
  • Thin, stiff cardboard (chipboard) for the spinning disk
  • Small cardboard box to mount the motor, Crickit, and battery pack
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Compass
  • Hobby knife
  • Hot glue and hot glue gun
  • Small philips screwdriver

This guide was first published on Jul 10, 2018. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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

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