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Draw phosphorescent light trails with a machine designed and built completely from scratch!

The story: In between studying breaks during midterm week, my friend Brett and I designed and built this machine that utilizes a laser and mirror system to draw luminescent light trails, controllable via a 3D printed joystick. The main goal was to use drawing techniques and materials people wouldn’t typically associate with drawing while instilling a sense of intrigue in the user.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we had fun designing and building it!

We’re two broke students so we largely turned to finding scrap pieces and discarded wood around our school and all tools were from our school’s makerspace. We also didn’t have access to many metal materials (gears, rack and pinion, dowel, etc.) so we made them ourselves from laser cut wood. For the pieces we couldn’t find, we bought them on amazon for a total of $19.50.

Note: this project requires a laser, remember not to look at it directly in the eyes!


1/4 in Plywood (x2)
1/8 in Plywood (x1)
Wood Glue (thin layer)
1/2 in Wooden Dowel (x1)
1/2 in Mirror (x1)
1/4 in diameter 2 in long Brass pipe (x1)
1/4 in diameter 2 in long Copper pipe (x2)
1/4 in diameter 1.5 in long Brass pipe (x3)
1/2 in O.D. 1/4 in I.D. Ball Bearings (x6)
405 nm 30 mW laser Diode (x1)
Arduino (x1)
24 AWG 6ft wire (x1)
Phosphorescent powder (x1)
Power Jack 120 VAC to 9 V power adapter (x1)
Rubber band (x1)
Joystick 2-axis analog (x1)
L298N Motor Driver (x1)
2.5 mm DC Jack (x1)

Laser cutter
Hot Glue Gun
Dead Blow Hammer
Soldering Iron
3D Printer

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