Vol. 20: The Autophenakistoscope

Motorize a 19th-century parlor novelty, and keep its frames synched to an LED strobe by using a sensor and an Arduino microcontroller.

By Dan Rasmussen

Photos by Dan Rasmussen, Sam Murphy

Illustrations by Rob Nance

+ Downloads & Extras:

Sample disk image and templates (PDF)
Design your own image discs (web app)


  1. Browse to the image file for each animation frame
  2. Click the upload/resize image button (images will be uploaded, thumbnailed, and displayed - sometimes the images look messed up at this point; do not worry if that happens)
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "Create PDF" button.

It should then create and open a pdf of a disc suitable for mounting on your Autophenakistoscope.

Source code
Troubleshooting Guide
Rob Nance's CrocoChair disk (PDF)
Croco-Chair animated image

+ Video of Autophenakistoscope in Action:

+ Video of Autophenakistoscope in Action:

MAKE: AMENDS Errata for This Article


Correction for page 106
In Step 3d, the red wire should be soldered to the short leg of the IR sensor and the black wire should be soldered to the long leg. Also, the + and — signs were erroneously placed, as IR sensors do not have polarity.

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