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Watch the video to see waves of beautiful colors blending and sliding into a colorful vortex (first 2 minutes). The remainder of the video explains how to build one.

With just 2 CDs and a flashlight, you can create beautiful mesmerizing rainbow patterns. I saw a demonstration that used a single CD and I absolutely loved it. I then added a second CD and it blew my mind. It felt like I was being pulled into a vortex of color. I've never seen anything like it. I originally designed this contraption to create psychedelic Alice in Wonderland cat eyes for Halloween, but my kids would rather mask out the bottom of the eyes to create a more spooky face instead. It's also great for parties and festivals.

The device makes it easy to swap CDs for quick experimentation. A written CD looks different than a blank. And even different blank CDs will vary. The mesmerizing patterns are created by simply sliding the light and CDs on the rails. The build uses cheap hardware store materials, but is still robust and precise.

Step 1: Festival Reactions


I wasn't thinking about festivals when I designed it, but it's a perfect fit! It easily draws a large crowd of people that want to see the effects, but also laugh at the expressions of people experiencing the rainbow vortex. To make it easy to wander around with, I added a piece of 3/4" wood and handle that allows me to rest it on my shoulder and aim it like a rainbow bazooka towards anyone that wants to see it. This also left my one hand free to slide the middle CD back and forth creating those mesmerizing patterns.

I probably showed it to 300+ people and everybody enjoyed it. See the video for some fun reactions. My friends were sleeping so people filmed their friends. I'll capture more HQ reactions at Halloween.

curiosity361 month ago
I tried different colors of LED with unsatisfactory results. The sensational refraction needs white light. I put together a similar contraption based on your 'ible. I had intended to use the motorized drawer from an optical but stumbled on a short sled left over from a previous project so I started there. I also mounted only one skinless disk. Just hand held the 2nd disk to observe changes in patterns. Also tride various bits of glass and plastic in front of the LED. It was fun to see the changes. Nothing is permanent in my set up, tale & hot glue, so I still may try the motorized drive drawer, or a longer sled at a later date. Thought about housing it all in a traditional oat meal container in order to block out ambient light. We'll see.Thanks for the fun.
afraser-kruck (author)  curiosity361 month ago
Thanks for sharing your results! I do like the idea of housing it in a container of some kind. One day I'm going to try housing it in 5" air ducting, but it will require a complete redesign. Not sure if you saw the video of me taking it to a festival, but it's good for some laughs:
Yes, I did see the video. Looked like everyone was amused and having a good time with Mesmer-Eyes. I did add a black background with just the single LED sticking thru. The background eliminated a lot of interfering light.
AussieAlf2 months ago
Hey afraser-kruck, that is sooo cool, fantastic visual effects there.
Good luck with the comp.. I recon you have it in the bag.
afraser-kruck (author)  AussieAlf2 months ago
I won a nice mug prize pack and received a lot of positive feedback :) The Instructable went viral and hackaday liked it saying "It’s a build of a kind we haven’t seen before". In any case, I think you might enjoy seeing the device in action at a music festival: some really funny reactions. Cheers!
Geez is that all...i recon you got short changed there. I would have given it to you by a long shot.
BTW, they are good quality mugs. I use mine all the time, perfect size for a big bloke like myself.
afraser-kruck (author)  AussieAlf2 months ago
Thanks for the kind words. Glad you like it!
afraser-kruck (author)  jagmeet_hanspal2 months ago
Thanks! I added a video of it in use at a festival. See step 1. It's pretty fun :)
that video with original reactions is even more awesome!
krispa2 months ago
DigitalDaveG2 months ago
Excellent project and excellent clear video!
afraser-kruck (author)  DigitalDaveG2 months ago
Thanks! I added a video of it in use at a festival. See step 1. It's pretty fun :)
afraser-kruck (author) 2 months ago
I got some great suggestions at the festival:

1) we should try using LaserDiscs as they are like huge record sized CDs and should have the same amazing effects only bigger.
2) one person suggested adding a small water gun to the bottom of the Rainbow Vortex Slider near the front so that you can give people a gentle squirt of water in the face while they are mesmerized. Kinda like that "smell my rose" prank, or some 3D movies. This could be really really fun :)
steveturri2 months ago
How big of a projection does it make at max range where the effect is still good quality? As you mentioned for a halloween prop, I was curious how big it could get.
afraser-kruck (author)  steveturri2 months ago
Just to clarify, it does project some, but you get the crazy effects when looking directly into it. You can see the crazy patterns at least 20 feet away if you are lined up. Projecting through it might be possible with some modifications, but you'd need a very powerful light source & battery to project anything of a significant size. Something like a standard video projector. I've added a video to step 1 showing it in operation at a festival. I'm still planning to use it for Halloween. I'll probably aim it at people because it's great fun to interact, but I might have it slowly panning back and forth or have a "stand here" sign.
afraser-kruck (author)  steveturri2 months ago
I'm out at a festival right now. I'll do some detailed measurements when I'm back and I'll post here.
curiosity362 months ago
Very clever. Cool effect. Next step? Motorize the slide, drive with Arduino. Focused RBG?
Your little project stirs the juices. Thanks for posting.
afraser-kruck (author)  curiosity362 months ago
I agree!!! I'm actually really excited to try an RGB light with this. Combining a color shifting light with a motorized slide... it has to happen. I did try it with a pure red light and I only saw the red part of the rainbow during all the sliding. I think you'll be able to choose which ring or rings of color you want to see. I just got some neopixels. Do you think they would work? Our did you mean a quad lead RGB LED?
Same thing went straight into my head. I have the arduinos, steppers, drivers, 2x2 and 4x4 WS2812B sitting around. It is school holidays now so I think the lego technic will be coming out and I'll do a proof of concept with the kids (or without the kids)
afraser-kruck (author)  RussellRohde2 months ago
Please post pics/videos when you do! I'm still recovering from the festival. Me and the kids had an amazing time, but we've still got to unpack and stuff. It will be a week or two before I get to play with RGB light sources, but I'm crazy curious!!!
You must try them both.
RussellRohde2 months ago
G'day fella. That looks cool AF. Does it project or do you need to look directly at the CDs? In the build vid it looks like it projects but in the festival video it looks more like everyone is staring straight down the barrel of it.
afraser-kruck (author)  RussellRohde2 months ago
I was working on ways to make it project, but found that it is really fun having to look down the barrel. Lining up correctly is easier 5' or father away as the light spreads out, but it will work right up to the CD. And if you think about it, it also makes a lot of sense from an energy point of view. With the current build, you get bright vibrant focused colors with a tiny flashlight. If we were projecting onto a wall, you'd need a super powerful light and big battery/fan like other projectors.
Great stuff! Also, can I get the name of the song you used in your video? Thanks in advance!
afraser-kruck (author)  jordan.hawley112 months ago
I'm at a music festival until Monday so I can't check for sure, but I think it was "Float". Search here
david.p12 months ago
Great job on the Rainbow Vortex Slider! Looks like a fun an easy way to get hypnotized. Good luck on the competition!
afraser-kruck (author)  david.p12 months ago