Hobbyist creates ‘mechanical GIF’ with old cockpit indicators

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A British hobbyist known online as Hack Modular got his hands on “three position indicators” from the cockpit of a 1960s RAF aircraft. What can you do with those screens? He thought of making a mechanical animated GIF.

The gif are three frames from the well-known primal video of the moving horse by Eadweard Muybridge from 1887. The ‘gif’ can be played at various speeds, so that it seems that the horse can walk or gallop at various speeds. Nice detail: the indicators make noise when changing frames, which sounds a bit like the steps a horse takes.

The indicators work with magnets to switch frames. Hack Modular made a system with several electromagnetic relays to make them change frames in a loop. Hack Modular already used it on a previous project. It allows a small current to flow through a coil, which generates a magnetic field and pulls the switch. The three relays in a row switch each other on and off. Hack Modular has put the whole thing in a plastic housing.

Hack Modular has posted tutorials on Patreon, but recreating it obviously requires the part from the 1960s. He bought them himself via eBay, but it is unclear how well they are still available.

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