Cameron Mayer

Original Idea

Our first step was to work on the prototype for our project. Originally, our idea was to almost recreate a kickstarter in which 2D images were sketched into acrylic and then lit up in order to appear 3D. In order to do this, we designed a sphere in Rhino and flattened it so the 2D ball would really seem 3D. Then, we cut our design on clear acrylic and lit up the design with a powerful flashlight -- and it worked: when the acrylic was lit up, the 2D design of a ball looked 3D!

Problem #1

After we had completed the first prototype, we realized that we had simply copied an idea that someone else had already thought of so it was time to think of a way to put a spin on the idea in order to create a unique project. On second day, we started off trying to create other designs on Rhino. However, neither of us was proficient in using Rhino and after we didn't have anything to show for a half an hour of work, we realized we would have to move on to plan B.

Solution #1

The inspiration for our solution was the Moore pattern. A Moore design is a pattern that spins against the same pattern but mirrored. The illusion comes in when the two patterns spin against each other: to the viewer, when the patterns are spinning in opposite directions, it seems as though the lines are continuous. We started experimenting with Moore patterns by designing them and printing them out on transparency paper in order to test them. By the end of the day, we had gone through three different versions of one pattern and were pleased with the results. However, after we finished printing the patterns, we realized that we had forgotten to incorporate our original idea from the first day: making an 2D image appear 3D. In order to solve this problem, we placed the original sphere we worked on during the first day day into the center of the pattern. Our plan was to eventually light up the designs which we hoped would have an interesting affect on the pattern since we planned to cut our pattern out on acrylic.

We spent all of day three cutting out our designs out on the laser cutter. At the beginning of the day, we cut the design we had completed on the second day. For the first two circles, we used clear acrylic. However, as soon as we looked at the laser cut piece, we realized we had made a huge mistake in measuring:the circles in our design weren't centered! We went back into Rhino and carefully measured each part of the design to ensure we wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. After lunch, we went back into the tool shop to cut again, this time using a thinner acrylic as we had used up the last of the clear acrylic material. When printing the second version of the pattern, we made another mistake: we forgot to account for the thickness of the acrylic now that it was so much thinner and as a result, on one of the patterns, the laser cutter almost cut through the material as opposed to just etching.

Problem #2

In the middle of the work week, we realized that our project wasn’t working: we were trying to combine two different illusions in hopes of creating an interesting product, but in reality, we were just making both illusions weaker than they started out. Additionally, we realized that our project was essentially an exact replication of the way Jeff Lieberman had used a Moore pattern. After thinking this through, it was clear we needed a new plan.

Solution #2

In order to create a product that looked both interesting and was technically correct, we needed to create a clearer and more aesthetically pleasing design. Then, we need to take out the solid ball from the center because it was ruining the illusion. Then we had to think of a way to make our final design even more different than either of the examples. Our solution: make the two plates rotate without an axle in the center! In order to make this idea possible, we would need to create a box around the moore pattern which will hold the gears. By doing this, we will have taken an interesting design and making it even more unique by creating a centerless circle that rotates with a pattern as well as making the illusion portable instead of having to be stuck on a wall!


Since we were essentially restarting the project, we needed to rethink the way the patterns would spin. In our new design we had the patterns placed inside of a box. There would be two gears attached to motors which would make the two plates spin. Additionally, four gears on each corner of the box would help stabilize the plates to ensure they would not slip off the gear attached to the motor. We constructed a 3D model of our design on Rhino where the box, and basic gear mechanisms were represented. After the 3D model was complete, we made a template for the laser cutter, laying out all the pieces we would need cut in order to put together our prototype.

Final Project Week

We chose to take this project further during the final project period of time.  We worked really hard on finishing it and making sure that it would always work.  We started by fixing the gear system and how that it spun.  Originally there were wood gears and wood circle that was holding everything in place.  This had to be changed because we could not tighten the box without creating large amounts of friction preventing the design from spinning.  We decided to put ball bearings inside of the gears.  This would allow us to put pressure on the ball bearing without adding friction to the gears.  Also to fit the ball bearings we 3D printed the gears and a ring to hold the big gear in place.  This new gear system helped the rotation tremendously.  

We also redesigned our design for the middle.  We made the design so that it looked like it was creating a continuous curve at when it spun at certain interference points.  The new design makes the whole project look a lot cleaner and makes the illusion stronger.  

Originally we  were powering it using batteries, but it seemed that every couple days our batteries died.  This made us change our mind and power it using an outlet.   Even though this makes it less portable it will allow it to run and last much longer.