Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
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The 'Circus/Cyr Wheel' Category

LED Cyr Wheel: Longer video

Another slightly longer video from last weekend. I have about 3 or so hours on it, and it seems to be holding up well!

LED Cyr Wheel v2: Test Video

Some quick test footage from last week; I used the wheel for the first time last Friday for an event put on at the Exploratorium by Velocity Circus. It works AWESOME!   EDIT (2/24/15). Check out my longer LED Cyr Wheel video.       Some pattern tests:   Act synced to music:

How to build a Cyr wheel or roue cyr: materials needed

A lot of people email me asking what materials to use for building cyr wheels (also known as a roue cyr, rouè cyr, or simple wheel). I like “thick” wheels (also known as a “fat boy”), with 1 3/4″ to 1 7/8″ outer diameter. Your preference may vary. Length of materials may vary depending on your wheel circumference. Materials * Main tubing: 20′ of 6061 Aluminum Tubing, 1 1/2″ Outer Diameter (OD), 1/8″ sidewall thickness. I buy pieces from a local supplier, Gorilla Metals which used to be Metal Supermarkets. You can buy shorter pieces online; factor in the fact... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: on/off switch.

I’m using a 6amp 120V on/off switch. I might be running up to 16 amps through it. We’ll see if this works.. The switch is fished through with wire and fishing line.

LED Cyr wheel: casting…more info

I learned some more things about casting the EpoxaCast 690. On one of the last pieces it was really opaque: I called Smooth-On the next day and asked about it. They didn’t know, so I figured I needed some new stuff and ordered some. When I got home from work that day, I decided to microwave the Part A and this made it start to become clear again. So, apparently it is rather sensitive to temperature, and it being 50-55F in my garage wasn’t good for it. I warmed it up in front of my powder coating oven and the... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel notes: casting

Here’s some notes on casting…maying for myself when I go back to do this again and try to remember what I was doing. First, to get the curve, I would cut the LEDs every 6 and re-solder them together: All us techie programmer know a curve is an approximation of straight lines; and mine are 6-pixel straight lines. Next, casting: I had two materials to cast with (see Casting experiments). Smooth-on EpoxaCast 690, and some Polyester casting Resin. The resin is fairly cheap, and they sell it at my local Tap Plastics store (I discovered that after I ordered it... [read more]

LED Strip test and resin/epoxy

Each time I wire up a new piece I test it to make sure I didn’t mess something up. Here is a test of 4 pieces, rainbow pattern: I did one section covered in the smooth on didn’t work so well. It was to liquidy and probably need more catalyst than what it says in order to cure a small thickness. The test piece sort of felt rubbery, and I forgot to add more. Rubbery might actually be good. The other resin I got was rock solid hard, so I’m trying it on a second piece (so far, it... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: Wiring up the wheel

I have a 5 piece wheel, and I have a “top” side for reference, and the numbers go from one to five in a counter clockwise direction. This is piece 1 to 2, with the 1 insert on the right side. This right side is the location I will push the chips into. The insert can be used to push them in, and usually the insert bolts will only be removed on the right hand side. Below: The wires coming out the hole: red/black are 5v. They will be split to power each side of the wheel’s LEDs. The white... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel: v2: Chips etc

Here’s some of my progress and notes on making my new cyr wheel. This is partially so I can look back and remember what I did if I have to take it apart for some reason. The chips that will go in the wheel: Teensy 3.1 is the main processor (black). Pololu voltage regulator (converts the LiPo 7.4v to 5v for the LEDs and Teensy). Accelerometer/gyro combo (middle right), and SD card reader from the guy who sells the Teensy. I made a cradle out of acrylic from TAP Plastics. The circles are turned on the lathe and fit perfectly... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: WS2811 / WS2812 strip first pixel dying/burning out

I’m having trouble with the WS2811 / WS2812 strip and the first pixel dying or burning out. First off, I thought I ordered the WS2812B strips, which are supposed to be reverse voltage safe. However, I failed to take a close look at the strip I got, and it wasn’t what was in the picture from AliExpress. I have the WS2812 chips. It is too late to try to return it to China, as I took a month off to go on vacation before I came back to the project. Still, apparently people have the same problem with the WS2812B... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: designing patterns

I’ve had to re-remember a lot of old math that I haven’t used since probably sophomore year in high school; my jr year and beyond was all calculus…which is past what I’m doing here (so far). I ran across on Mac OS X. I haven’t seriously used it before, and usually use my TI85, but I gave it a shot. Oh my gosh; it is amazing! I kept having trouble with a simple x^2 fade in/out equation I was writing. It needed to vary the output value based on: time, number of LEDs per gradient, and the LED position... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel Pattern Editor

I’m still working on my LED cyr wheel. I’m creating a desktop application to edit patterns, and eventually simulate POV (persistence of vision). For now, it just runs the pattern in a mock-display. I simply re-wrote the LED graphics C++ class (AdaFruit_NeoPixel.h) that forwards to an associated NSView subclass on OS X. I did a lot of work on the code while in India, and had no way to test the hardware, so it was essential that I create a simple simulator. This also allows me to *way* more easily debug issues. I also created a wrapper for the “SD”... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel v2: LEDs arrived

I got my LEDs today! I did some basic testing, and they seem okay. That’s awesome..I saved like half the cost of buying them from a US supplier. The new wheel is bent; I used my Harbor Freight bender. Here are a few pictures of the setup. I have been using a fan to keep the hack/motor cool. It works extra hard when going in one direction. My first wheel I bent with it got quite a bit of spiral, and I thought it might be due to the dies not lining up quite perfectly. So this time, I used... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: Tests

Here’s my planned wire diagram (it will probably change a bit) It may only make sense to me. I’m wonder if the LEDs that are furthest from the power source will be equally bright. This is for a 5 piece cyr wheel. Based on the diagram, it is now clear to me that the segment furthest from the battery will have its power inlet at most 2/5 of the circumference away. A 5v power ring will run throughout the wheel to power each section, with an on/off switch close to the battery. My wheels have about a 34″ inner radius.... [read more]

Molex Micro Fit Connectors

I was going to use molex micro fix connectors; they can carry up to 5amps…but I think that isn’t enough, as the wheel could draw 10+ amps. So, I ordered some Molex Mini Jr connectors. However, I used some of the micro fit connectors to test stuff, and I literally spent 3 hours trying to crimp the pins on! They just were not “clicking” into there plastic housing. I destroyed several pins, tried the male side, the female side, and even ground them down to see how they work. I then looked at the molex diagram and realized what I... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel: power draw

In one of my last posts, I discussed power draw. In theory, 360 LEDs on each side of the wheel (720 total) might draw a ton of power (20+amps) based on the specification for the LEDs. UPDATE: Scratch what I have below. I wasn’t measuring full on, but only half! I have two 67 length strips (about 2/5ths of my wheel on one side), and it draw 5.56amps. So yeah, about 0.04149 amps per LED, and I will have: ~330 per side, ~660 total: 27amps. I’m going to probably have to software limit full brightness to never reach this high,... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel: battery

11.1v 1200mah Lipo battery compared to a 9.6v 1400mah NiMH 8-cell pack: And the rainbow pattern on my LEDs:

Turnigy Accucell 6 Charger: do not buy!

I bought the Turnigy Accucell 6 charger to charge LiPO cells for my LED cyr wheel. It has already failed! I charged one cell with it, and started discharging it. The display went to all squares like this: I emailed Hobby King to see if they will replace it. That was last night (no response so far). Shipping by Hobby King was also horribly slow (I’m used to Amazon). UPDATE: Hobby King is sending me a new one under warranty. Hopefully it lasts longer than one charge…

LED Cyr wheel: More LED Notes

Teensy/Hardware control LEDs! I got my Teensy 3.1 board and started playing with the digital LED strips I got. I was having a heck of a time getting any sample code to work. I finally cut off the first LED and soldered the leads to the second one; then things started to work! I must have killed it accidentally; probably with reverse voltage, or other thing. As noted in Notes on v2 WS2812B LEDs would be better to use, as they have reverse protection built in. What library to use? I am looking at using the AdaFruit NeoPixel library, or... [read more]

LED Cyr wheel jig completed, and casting

I completed the jig, centered it on the wheel and then screwed the jig to the wooden sliders: I took the jig off, and cut out the center hole to be bigger than 1/2″ (I think 5/8″) It slides pretty easily along the tubing: I stuck in a 1/2″ end mill (the width of the LEDs) and played around with it until I got the depth I wanted. The jig is fairly simple, and works pretty well! That is a nice clean, straight cut. Done in two passes. Now I’m playing around filling it with the SmoothOn EpoxCast. It is... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel: Jig for groove

First, I got my HH-66 Vinyl Cement mentioned in the adhesives post. I tested gluing a piece of wheel together, and it works somewhat..although it takes a long time to dry and doesn’t do any “gap filling” like I was hoping it would. But, the real test is the pull apart test…and I was hoping it would be impossible (or really hard) to pull apart. Unfortunately, it is probably just as difficult to pull apart as the hot glue, and the hot glue has the advantage of quickly curing, and being able to fill gaps. So, gluing together is really... [read more]

LED Roue Cyr – Jig to slot tubing

Here’s a sketch up design I did of a jig to cut a groove in the PVC tubing for the LEDs. A router will be attached in the center; it will (hopefully) be used to move over the horizontal wheel on the ground and rout out a groove for the LEDs. Sketchup file:(LED Cyr wheel jig (v2).skp)

LED Cyr Wheel v2 (Parts List – LED stuff)

Here is a running parts list of what I’m buying for my new LED Cyr Wheel v2: LEDs/Microprocessor: 10 – $3.20 – COM-08982 – Electrolytic Decoupling Capacitors – 1000uF/25V ($0.32 ea.) 2 – $39.90 – DEV-12646 – Teensy 3.1 ($19.95 ea.) only one is needed 1 – $119.95 – COM-12028 – LED RGB Strip – Addressable, Sealed (5M) 1 – $24.95 – COM-12027 – LED RGB Strip – Addressable, Sealed (1M) Total: $168 (plus shipping) Note: I spent about $190 here..ordering extra stuff not listed above (but I got 10% off) Connectors: (For connecting wire-to-wire from each wheel segment). I... [read more]

Metal for Cyr Wheels

I just ordered some metal from a local place to make another cyr wheel / roue cyr; it used to be Metal Supermarkets but now is Guerrilla Metals. I ordered 2 20′ pieces of 1.5″ OD (outer diameter) tubing with 1/8″ thick sidewall, 6061 aluminum tubing. And 12′ of 1 1/4″ OD by 3/16″ sidewall DOM (cold rolled steel). Enough for two cyr wheels, total price: $321.73. So, a bit over $160 per wheel for the metal alone. I ordered fasteners from Amazon: Flat Socket Head Screw 18-8 Stainless Steel – 5/16″-18 x 3/4″ Qty-25– $10 including shipping; I have... [read more]

Cyr Wheel Skinning: Not all tubing is the same!

I’ve ordered a few different types of skin for my cyr wheels. On one wheel, it has pieces from two different batches and kinds.This has shown me that one is much better! Both are 1.5″ x 1 7/8″ PVC tubing. This one, Canada K091008 wears much faster: This one, K120816 wears MUCH slower, and will last a lot longer: Both I got from I’m not sure which is which!! Darn it. Here’s the two I bought..and the site doesn’t have these numbers on it: PVC Cyr wheel Tubing – Kuri Tec® K050 Series All Purpose Non-Reinforced Clear Vinyl Tubing... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel v1 Problems

Some of the problems with my original LED cyr wheel: 1. LEDs are dying, from me stepping on them. I took one of the bad sections apart, and it seems to be because some solder connections break (such as for the resistor). I can solder them back together, but it is not worth the time to reskin/glue it. I need to figure out a better way to protect them. Here you can see a resistor that fell off when I removed the protective skin. I think some hard epoxy on plain bare LED strips might “cement” them in place really... [read more]

LED Notes / LED Cyr Wheel v2

I’m investigating LEDs for another LED cyr wheel (v2). Here is my first LED Cyr wheel and a video. I figure I’ll just make my notes on my blog for others to benefit. Goals: Individually addressable LEDs, so I can do cool patterns At least as many LEDs as my first wheel, but possibly twice as many (a strip on each side), which was my original plan Built in battery charger and batteries (Lithium ion) Easy to access way of reprogramming (i.e.: USB port) Extras: Accelerometer for basing patterns on speed Live touch strips, for dynamically changing the LEDs while... [read more]


I’m investigating adhesives, and ways I can bond the plastic PVC tubing on cyr wheels back together. I want to cut the plastic tubing, and embed LEDs under it for some cool effects. For my first LED cyr wheel, I used high temp hot glue gun glue; that worked “okay”, but it is fairly easy to pull apart. I also need a better way of protecting the LEDs, as some are dying. First I’m going to try RH Products “HH-66 vinyl cement“, which is easy to find from numerous resellers (including ebay). The website for it says it will bond... [read more]

Making the LED Cyr Wheel / Roue Cyr – version 1

Here are my rough notes about making my LED cyr wheel (version 1). A Video can be seen here. Edit: 12/28/2013: Here are some problems I am having with this  LED Cyr Wheel v1 I used a new technique for bending wheels; this time, I used a cheap Harbor Freight rolling bender with modifications from the 4×4 Forums that provide “weld on” wings, and the ability to make it motorized with a Harbor Freight pipe threading machine. I couldn’t roll the complete circle with it attached to my stand below: (the picture shows it fully rolled, but it was AFTER... [read more]

LED Cyr Wheel / Roue Cyr videos

Here are some videos of the LED Cyr wheel at Burning Man 2013 Spencer also put together a compilation of it here (with a Fire Cyr wheel and LED Unicycle!):

(c) 2008-2017 Corbin Dunn

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