I started this project by wanting to create a moving cat toy for my kitten, Juno. She’s home by herself most of the day and gets quite bored. This would be a way to keep her entertained, as well as healthy. I failed to see the flaws in my plan, however: 1. cats are afraid of loud noises, and 2. they’re more interested in playing with wires than the toy.

Juno, ruining her chances of a new toy

I changed direction and decided to create a toy for myself from my childhood: a pinwheel. I’m quite a fan of origami, so I welcomed the exercise. I created the pinwheel from a large piece of orange construction paper (a tribute to the Giants who just lost the series), used a ceramic straw to form a sturdy base, and two LEDs on either side to create a fun, multi-colored spiral effect. I also added a piece of cork to keep the pinwheel from flying off the motor. Finally, the potentiometer controls how quickly the pinwheel spins.

Watch the video!


  • 1 Arduino
  • 1 Breadboard
  • 1 Resistor (1kΩ)
  • 1 potentiometer
  • 1 DC motor
  • 1 Transistor
  • 1 Diode
  • Several jumper cables
  • Tape
  • 1 Ceramic straw
  • 1 Piece of cork from a wine bottle
  • 1 Piece of orange construction paper (and 1 paper cut)
  • 2 LED lights
  • 2 Cell batteries

View the set-up


 * one pot fades one motor
 * modified version of AnalogInput
 * by DojoDave <http://www.0j0.org>
 * http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/AnalogInput 
 * Modified again by dave

int potPin = 0; // select the input pin for the potentiometer
int motorPin = 9; // select the pin for the Motor
int val = 0; // variable to store the value coming from the sensor
void setup() {
void loop() {
 val = analogRead(potPin); // read the value from the sensor, between 0 - 1024
 analogWrite(motorPin, val/4); // analogWrite can be between 0-255

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