December 14th, 2021—
At the intersection of embedded electronics and art lies a balance in which works of creativity can be brought to life through the use of motors, lighting, and much more. This concept is especially apparent in Lincoln Stein’s animated diorama, which utilizes a combination of microcontrollers, LEDs, and a DC motor to create a scene of a boat bobbing across rough waves in the ocean. Stein was inspired to build this project from a sudden email sent by his dad that reminisced about a “magic painting” that used to light up and move once every hour, so the pair set about replicating it.
After receiving a wooden boat cutout from his father, Stein connected one end of the ship to a DC motor that causes a cyclical bobbing motion. Next, the attached real-time clock module lets the Arduino Nano know when to wake up and begin playing out the scene given by an array of events. These events could include a flash from the LED strip to simulate lightning or to start playing a sound file off an SD card.
You can read about this shadowbox in greater detail here in Stein’s Hackster write-up or watch his demonstration video below.