Manual Larson Scanner Invites You To Crank It


Hasselhoff make Larson Scanners famous. That’s the name for the scanning red lights on the front of KITT, the hero car from the popular 1980s TV series Knight Rider. Despite serving a solely aesthetic role, they remain a fun and popular LED project to this day. Putting a new twist on the old concept, [Pete Prodoehl] whipped up a Larson Scanner that you crank to operate.

Built out of LEGO, the project relies on a hand crank to work. The crank turns a drum, onto which is placed several strips of conductive Maker Tape – a steel/nylon material which we’ve looked at before. Strips of tape running side-by-side are bridge by segments of tape on the drum as it turns. The LEDs are switched on in the requisite pattern of a traditional Larson scanner.

The project has inspired further possibilities, such as using similar techniques to produce an electronic music box or player piano that will change tempo as the user changes the speed with the crank. [Pete] notes that turning the crank is an inherently enjoyable experience, and given the wonder inherent in hand-cranked musical projects like Marble Machine X, we can’t wait to see where this one goes next. Video after the break.

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