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Archive for the 'Circus/Cyr Wheel' Category

LED Cyr Wheel History

I figure it might be interesting to share my knowledge of how LED cyr wheels came about and the history of them. I may have gotten some dates and people wrong, so please feel free to correct me if anything isn’t correct or I’m missing something. [email: corbin @ corbinstreehouse ]

As soon as I started doing cyr wheel I figured it would be awesome to make a fire cyr wheel and an LED cyr wheel. I never got into fire…but I did experiment with LEDs.  The first person I know of to have an LED cyr wheel is Sam Tribble of Spinnovation.  Sam has been an innovator in the cyr wheel arena, and he created a double hoop wheel:

Screen Shot 2016 04 08 at 10 47 41 PM

Here’s a video of Mikey in the wheel; screen grab comes from YouTube. This double wheel style works great at protecting the LEDs and making them serviceable. Years ago I had sketched up some pictures of a similar wheel like this, but with fire in the middle. I’m not exactly sure when Sam made his first LED wheel, but I’m sure it was one of the first ones — if not the first one.

I really wanted a single hoop LED wheel and I was starting to dabble more in electronics — particularly with Arduinos for controlling my electric car bits. I didn’t want to waste money on individually addressable LEDs, as I wasn’t sure my idea would work out, so I bought some single-color LEDs and hacked together my first LED wheel in July 2013. I rushed something together before burning man, and I just cut the PVC tubing and shoved some LEDs underneath. I held the tubing together with hot glue; and I was quite surprised that it actually worked. I got quite a bit of use out of that wheel, and I learned a lot in how I would want my next one to be. The LEDs would fail pretty quickly due to movement and pressure from my weight being on the inside of the wheel. Still, it actually worked and was a nice proof of concept. This wheel is probably the first single-wheel LED cyr that could be found on the internet.

I wasn’t very motivated to make another wheel until December 2013 when I saw Alexandre Lane’s new “roue vive” LED wheels on his YouTube page. I’m sure Alexandre had a working wheel before my first one, and seeing his beautiful wheels prompted me to want an individually addressable LED wheel. I started research in December 2013, and if you follow my blog you’ll see a lot of the ideas I went through. 

Eventually I came out with a pretty well designed LED Cyr Wheel v2:



Since my v2, I’ve seen a few more people play with LEDs in wheels. Here is what I’ve seen:

One guy is 3d printing cuffs that protect the LEDs and can go on an existing cyr wheel. Quite clever! 

Sarah Moser invested some time and ideas in making a wheel. She chatted with me a bit after I made my v2 wheel.

Srikanth Barefoot has an LED wheel — I believe he tapes or some how attaches the LEDs to his wheel, and they aren’t embedded. I haven’t directly talked to him about his wheel, but it looks like he does a lot of performing with it. 

Hugo Noel of Circus Concepts is now selling an LED Cyr Wheel. His wheels have the LEDs on the inside diameter, which illuminates mostly the performer instead of the wheel itself. They utilize DMX.

Jesse at Cyr Craft has been working on lots of prototypes. First drilled wheels, and now grooved wheels — they are looking good!

This Etsy shop Cyr Wheel has an LED cyr wheel for sale from Ukraine. It looks like they drilled a TON of holes and I wonder about strength and durability. I hesitated when I had to drill just two or three holes per section, as I know people have broken regular cyr wheels before without any holes at all! Still — they look pretty cool.

David Matz used some of my building techniques to make several LED cyr wheels in conjunction with Spin FX. He talked to me a bit about my techniques and also went with LEDs embedded in epoxy in a technique similar to mine. I thought we would spin too slowly to do POV, so I never invested time in it..but he proved that you can do it! So, this prompted me to make a 3rd LED cyr wheel…

 Now… I have my v3 wheel almost done! The first LED cyr wheel with Bluetooth and a companion desktop application to create pattern sequences. And it does awesome POV.





LED Cyr Wheel v3: Geometric Patterns


LED Cyr Wheel v3: More photos

Spinning cyr wheel with my buddy mario.


0.4s exposure, f/2.8, ISO 100, and a light focused on me:




1/8s exposure, f/2.8 ISO100:








LED Cyr Wheel v3: Text and Faces

Some more experimental pictures I took tonight with my new LED cyr wheel (version three!):


Original source image that I’m playing on the wheel:

Corbinstreehouse com

The wheel has 806 pixels on each side, and the bitmap is 300 pixels wide, which is less than half the width of the wheel. Now I realize I need to keep the image width way less than this to be able to read text really well.


The next one is quite simple, and I just think it is funny!


Source image:

Corbin is cool2


 I was curious about more detailed images. They are hard to see in person, but can be captured in photography:


That’s me!

Corbin small




LED Cyr Wheel v3: Test Video

Cyr Wheel App: Timeline improvements

Some improvements to the LED cyr wheel app! I am working on adding time codes to my timeline so I can more easily see the scale of things. Next will be at timeline marker, and then I need to figure out how to read some music formats and display the scale.

Screen Shot 2016 04 10 at 3 13 47 PM

LED Cyr Wheel v3: Initial photos

The LED Cyr Wheel v3 is alive! A few initial pictures that I took with the help of my friend Mark from down the road. I need to do some more work on the wheel, as the voltage regulator is dying. 












LED Cyr Wheel v3: Rolling in time lapse

I finally edited some footage I have of me rolling my LED cyr wheel. Here it is!

LED Cyr Wheel v3: Custom app to control the wheel

I needed a good way to control my new LED Cyr Wheel (v3). I previously had an app that would allow me to generate a pattern sequence. I’ve been expanding on it and created an updated look for it. 

Screen Shot 2016 04 02 at 8 48 34 AM

The app sort of works like any video editing app. You drag items from the table on the left to the timeline on the bottom. Items can easily be adjusted via drag and drop or dragging to resize an item. 

The compliment part to this is to dynamically control the wheel via Bluetooth LE. I can connect to the wheel and dynamically control the patterns that it is playing back. And see what it is doing at that moment. Awesome!Screen Shot 2016 04 02 at 8 51 36 AM



LED Cyr Wheel v3: Expoy

Okay…the wheel is coming along! I haven’t posted a while — my internet was working poorly, and last weekend I went to Sedona (more on that in another post).


Notes to myself:

Using the silicon 20 gauge wire for power, and 22 gauge wire for data/clock seem to work pretty well. Non-silicon melts the plastic covering when I solder, making it a pain in the ass to use. 

IMG 6064

Tap into the 5v power rail wires on the inside and pull out the wires through my hole:

IMG 6088\\\\

I need a better battery situation. My main battery has a pretty nice cradle, and works well, but it isn’t enough power. I like physical switches, and a second battery has to have its own 7.4v -> 5v DC -DC converter, and its own switch. This works..but means more holes, and I have to flip two switches on and two switches off. And I have to take the wheel apart in two locations to charge the battery. I guess 4 batteries spread throughout the wheel might be best…and I wish I had a clever way to have them all output 5v, and easily be chargeable all at the same time. That would be awesome.

IMG 6109\

Epoxy — don’t forget to heat up the room. Covering with tape still works well, but is a pain. Wiping with acetone makes it easy to clean off tape residue.

IMG 6117


I discovered a problem when I ran certain patterns. The LEDs furthest from the chip (the two left pieces) would get some wrong data. The only way I could fix this was to slow down the clock speed. 24Mhz doesn’t work at all; 12Mhz works well for a certain amount of LEDs, and I have to run it at 8-10Mhz.  At first I thought I had a bad LED and was going to have to crack apart the epoxy, but a bunch of careful testing made me realize it was the really long length of strips (804 LEDs is quite a bit).

IMG 6243

Still working on it…

(c) 2008-2015 Corbin Dunn

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