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A few weeks ago I received a last minute invite to participate in a PhabLabs Hackathon at Science Centre Delft in the Netherlands. For an enthusiastic hobbyist like me, who can normally spend only a limited amount of time on tinkering, I saw this as a great opportunity to schedule some dedicated time to turn one of my many ideas, within the scope of the Hackathon: Photonics, into an actual project. And with the great facilities in the Makerspace at Science Centre Delft it was just impossible to turn down this invite.
One of the ideas I already had for a while related to photonics was that I wanted to do something with Persistence of Vision (POV). There are already tons of examples available online of how to build a basic POV display using some basic components: microcontroller, old fan/hard disk/motor and one string of leds connected perpendicular to the axis of the rotating device. With a relatively simple setup you can already create an impressive 2 dimensional image, e.g.:
Another variation of POV displays connects a string of leds parallel to the axis of the rotating device. This will result in a 3 dimensional cylindrical POV display, e.g.:…
Instead of connecting the string of leds parallel to the axis of the rotating device you can also arc the string of leds. This will result in a spherical (globe) POV display, e.g.:… The next level is to build several layers of led strings to create a volumetric 3D display.

As the makers of the examples above provided very useful information, it made a lot of sense to remix parts of their projects. But as a Hackathon is supposed to be challenging, I also decided to build a different type of volumetric 3D POV display. Some of them were using rotors and lots of hot glue to keep the components from flying around. Others created custom PCB’s for their project. After reviewing some of the other 3D POV projects I saw room for some “innovation” or introduce some challenges for myself:

With no prior experience of creating customised PCB’s and due to the time constraint of the Hackathon I choose to follow a more basic prototype approach. But instead of creating actual rotors I was curious about how such a volumetric 3D POV display would look like when using a cylinder build out of layers of acrylic plastic.
No use or else minimum use of hot glue to make the device less dangerous”

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