LED Cyr Wheel History

Circus/Cyr Wheel

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.





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