Digital Fabrication Final Project Documentation


Visualone allows you to project visuals by just using your phone’s flashlight.

Project Statement

Recently, in my Realtime Audiovisual Performing Systems course, we have seen many examples of artists working with light and projections of abstract shapes in order to make short films and animations. This is something which interests me very much, so my purpose for this assignment is to create my own little visual ‘machine’ by only using my phone’s flashlight and the materials that I will laser cut.

The purpose of my project is pure entertainment and visual stimulation. Visualone does not necessarily resolve an everyday-life problem. However, I have been wanting to buy a projector for this specific use for quite a long time, and since I still have not bought one yet, I think this is a great opportunity to make something similar to a projector.



Marry Ellen Bute is the main artists that inspired my for my project. Marry Ellen Bute’s main artworks are about visual music. She created an oscilloscope that could be played like an instrument and that is how she created her visual music. In my project, I will only concentrate on creating the visual aspect of it, as this is the aspect which interests me the most. My project will not be nearly as complicated as Bute’s oscilloscope, but I am very interested in using light and laser-cut templates to create my visual machine. Below, you can see one of Mary Ellen Bute’s artworks.

Another of the works that inspired me was this 3D printing system, where Trussfab creates joints which are then attached to plastic bottles in order to create large-scale structures. Although I will not be creating large structures, the reason why this was inspiring for me is because by creating very tiny connections, you can actually connected larger objects together. Thus, I want to create joints that are easy to attach to the templates, so that numerous templates can be placed on top of each other, while at the same time allowing them to rotate manually.

(In the final version of my design, I did not end up 3D printing a joint like this, but only because I found an easier way of placing the templates.)

My own iteration of this project will be an improvement mainly because I am making it so that I can use it with my iPhone’s flash light. Thus it’ll be relatively  easy to use and to produce. Furthermore, if I get ‘bored’ of the templates I have, I can design new ones and use them.


Project Design and Production

My original idea for the design of this project was to place the phone downwards with the flashlight facing the top face of the box. And the templates would be placed one on top of the other. Here is a representation of what that would have looked like:

However, I realized this was probably not the best way to design Visualone, I decided to change my design for the box and the mechanism to rotate the templates. Now, the phone would be placed sideways, the the flashlight still facing the hole in the box for the templates, but the templates were going to be on a side of the box instead of on its top. And instead of having 3D printed joints to rotate the templates, I decided to simply give the templates a gear shape and to place them on top of round platforms which would allow them to rotate manually. Thus, after rethinking the project, I created a very simple prototype made out of cardboard, where the main structure of the object looks like a box. To make this prototype, I simply cut measured pieces of cardboard and hot-glued them together. My end product looks pretty much the same, except I fixed a couple of things. Bellow you can see my cardboard prototype.

Once I had this, I started making the Illustrator files. The first thing I created was the box for the main structure. I used MakerCase to create the outline of the box because I figured it would save me a lot of time. Once I had the layout of the box, I created the hole for the light and the templates. At the bottom of these pictures, you can see the template holders which are 5mm wood, and above that, you can see the ‘walls’ between each of the templates, which were made out of 3mm wood. The templates were made with 3mm acrylic.


To make the templates,  I created gears in Illustrator by using the star shape tool and gave it many sides. Then, I created two ellipses and with the pathfinder tools, I was able to create a gear shape. Once I had the gear, I added the shapes that would later be laser-cut. I do not want concrete figures for the visuals, so that is why most of the shapes are either patterns or other shapes. For now, I only have four templates, but I will probably design more in the future. Once I had my templates ready, I laser-cut them. However, the first time I laser-cut the gears, I had calculates the measurements wrong. The center of the gears was smaller than the hole in the box. Furthermore, the main reason why I wanted gears to be the shape of the templates is so that I could rotate them by pushing the gear’s teeth. But unfortunately, in this first try, I made the teeth too small as well, so I could not grab the teeth from the top of the box. Thus, I redesign the gear and fixed them. The second time I laser-cut them I got the right result.


Once I finished laser-cutting, I put the pieces together with hot glue. This is the final result:


And here are some of the visuals it creates:


Overall, I ended up changing my design quite a bit because I realized the original design I had thought of was not very effective for the result I was trying to have. In order to create Visualone I used Illustrator as the main software for my project, as well MakerCase, which is an online resource to make boxes. Once I had my files ready, I laser-cut 3mm wood (for the box and the template walls), 5mm wood (for the template holders), and 3mm acrylic (for the templates).

I am pretty happy with the result, but I would probably like to use a stronger light so that the visuals look nicer, and maybe even make the box and the templates a little bit bigger.

Leave a Reply