Bigger on the Inside

Tardis team! Eliot, Pinguino, Craig

A couple months ago Pinguino let me know that she was going to be in a Doctor Who themed art show and really really wanted to build a Tardis (The main character’s time/space traveling phone booth) of her own. The Tardis is known for being larger on the inside so we thought about how to make that happen. I’ve wanted to do an infinity mirror project for a while and we decided that would be the best approach.

Craig drafted plans and kicked off construction. The internal walls are approximately 2 feet wide and 4 feet high.

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Pinguino sourced all the mirrors and electronics. The back mirror piece is mirror plexi, and the front is acrylic with privacy film applied to it.

table

The LEDs are NeoPixel strips from Adafruit. They’re controlled by an Arduino and powered by two 5V 10A power supplies. I assembled a custom shield and put keyed connectors on the strips to make it straight forward to set up. Each mirror has 32 pixels on each side and 16 pixels on the top and the bottom. To program the lights, I taped an equivalent amount to my coffee table. Because of all of the reflected images, I wanted to make sure my light patterns were symmetric.

tardis

I sketched out the different ways I wanted to be able to display patterns while guaranteeing they were symmetric. I then programmed the Arduino so that it could take an arbitrary group of colors and display it on the LED strip in those patterns.

Pinguino did all of the painting and signage on the Tardis. It’s now on display at Meltdown Comics in Hollywood until November 23rd.

Bigger on the Inside

Below is a video of the Tardis running its final pattern for the show. You can see the same pattern being repeated but across smaller and smaller sets of mirrored pixels.

Some thoughts on infinity mirrors:

  • The edges of the mirror are interesting since the light source is there. If you have a large empty plane it’ll just be black and boring, or worse, reflect other sources of light which would diminish the infinity effect.
  • The most interesting part of the piece, as seen in the video, is the corner where you get interference from adjacent mirrors. I think there’s great potential for mounting multiple infinity mirrors at less than 90 degrees to each other.
  • The brighter the light the better: I tried running a sine wave fading color pattern around the strip but it didn’t have much impact because the brightness change was to smooth and just managed to weaken the infinity effect.
  • One dimensional patterns become two: This is what I love about the final design. The single pixel chase really stands out because in the mirror it becomes a long line.

Bonus: Since my goggles use the same pixels, I was able to use the exact same code on them for the show.

2 Responses to “Bigger on the Inside”

  1. Ted says:

    That looks great! Wish I was on the west coast so I could experience it live.

  2. Alan Parekh says:

    The visuals look amazing! Sure takes a lot of juice to run.

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