Flipping dots … gently

A project log for Dot flippers

or "flip dotters" if you want. Let's just talk about flip-dot/flip-disc displays and projects using them :-)

muthMuth 11/13/2021 at 15:265 Comments

The ultimate goal of the flipdot project presented in the previous log was to flip each discs in a controlled manner. I secretly hopped to control the position of the discs by applying a pulse width modulated signal – maybe like micro-stepping for a stepping motor. And then control at which speed the discs are flipping. I could make a quiet display, avoiding the clicking noise when refreshing can takes time.

However, these dots are well engineered and the discs have two stable positions. The behavior in between, is unpredictable and different for each dots.

The positive outcome of making a custom driving system is a quite fast refresh-rate matrix display, but I didn’t give up the idea of a slow moving flip-dot display.

Here comes a rather dirty solution. Put everything in a fluid with a higher viscosity than air. It should have high insulation properties and be fully transparent. I choose vaseline oil as it is cheap and non toxic.

The display is connected to the SPI port of an ESP32, which is getting the time via WiFi.

See the result below !

Copy of the blog post here


sjm4306 wrote 11/18/2021 at 19:29 point

Great idea, probably will even self lubricate all the little joints for longer lifetime! I also like how it sort of looks magnified and three dimensional at certain angles.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Yann Guidon / YGDES wrote 11/18/2021 at 09:00 point

Now, that's what I call hacking :-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muth wrote 11/18/2021 at 16:02 point

Thanks Yann!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Raphael Schaaf wrote 11/18/2021 at 08:37 point

Wow that's a great idea! Love the slow turning of the dots, and them being slightly staggered when turning, is that intentional randomness coded in or is it because the dots are all slightly different?

I'm still playing with the idea of a DIY flipdot in my head, and I would probably add a small piece of felt to the endstop to make it more quiet.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Muth wrote 11/18/2021 at 16:01 point

Thanks ! You're right, the time each disc makes to flip is slightly different physically. The only delay I intentionally programmed is when the screen goes completely yellow or black, and it is a line by line delay. Otherwise, for the numbers, they are refreshed simultaneously.

  Are you sure? yes | no