coolcat's dream machine plan

i made this as an alternative to making a dream machine that requires a turntable. since i couldn't get a turntable, i made a d. machine with a fan motor. i have recently modified it so the cylinder is suspended, see version 2 at the bottom of the page.

for version 1 you need :

    finished version of fan dreamachine
  • 1 small (about 8-10" diam. of blades) fan
  • a bucket somewhat smaller than fan, plastic
  • 1 sheet very thick cardboard
  • 1 sheet thinner cardboard
  • clamps
  • masking tape
  • duct tape
  • black spraypaint (optional)
  • ruler
  • tape measure
  • x-acto or utility knife
  • t-square
  • compass
  • scissors or wire cutters
  • 1 free-hanging light socket or small desk lamp
  • 100 watt bulb

take apart the fan. remove the front and back, and detach the motor. use the scissors or wire cutters, or anything you think will work, to take off the blades of the fan.

Now, use the bucket, fan casing, or both to make a platform on which the motor can stand. the part the blades were attached to must be elevated.

use the compass to draw a circle on the thick cardboard, about the diameter of the fan. if there is a knob/pin-type thing coming out of the part the blades were attached to on the fan, cut a hole in the center of the cardboard the same size. Push the cardboard on, and you have a makeshift turntable. tape it securely in place. If there is no knob, locate the center of the piece, and glue, tape, somehow attach the disk onto the fan.

layout before you get to the actual dream machine part, you should make your base as sturdy as possible. use duct tape (or something of that nature) to attach all the pieces. make sure the plug comes out in a convenient place. you may want to spraypaint the whole lot black, it looks better that way.

now the harder part. calculate the circumference of the circle, and measure out that much of the thinner cardboard. (thin means thinner than the thick cardboard. it should still be very opaque.) Add about an inch or so for overlap. this is the length of your cardboard, you can cut off the rest. the height is up to you. i made mine about a foot (30.48 cm) high.

draw lines parellel to the length about an inch and a half down from the top, and up from the bottom. this will be the parts with no holes, for stability. now, divide the rest (horizontally) into five equal parts.

the rest is very much like brion gysin's plans.i have reduced the number of holes because the fan motor will spin much faster than the record player. this is just an example, i encourage anyone trying this to experiment. the top row, divide vertically into six equal segments. these will be in the middle of the holes you put in that row.

finished cylinder divide the second row from the top into five equal segments, the third row down into four segments and so on: fourth row: three segments; fifth (bottom) row: two segments.

now you must mark the holes on the cardboard. mine are about 1/2 inch wide x 1 inch tall, but you may want to change them depending on the size of your machine. for each of the vertical marks on each row, you will draw one of these rectangles. then add one rectangle to the end part of the third and bottom rows, on the overlap part. you will also have to put a half-rectangle at the beginning of these rows, for them to fit over one another.

once you are happy with the size and placement of the rectangles, cut them out with the knife.

fold the whole piece of cardboard into a cylinder shape, the extra holes should overlap. now use strong glue to stick them together, and clamp the edges for an hour or so.

you may want to run a thin piece of tape along the seams now. now spraypaint the cylinder black, if it wasn't black already.

using thin tape or strong glue, attach the (dried) cylinder to the thick cardboard disk.

find some way to suspend a light socket or small desk lamp (100 watt bulb) in the middle of the cylinder. make sure the base is steady, and on a flat surface (such as a tabletop).

now plug in the fan motor and the bulb. switch the other lights in the room off, and sit with your face lose to the machine. make sure the fan motor is running on the lowest speed. close your eyes and watch the machine.

one could experiment with different sizes, shapes, and or amounts of holes to make many interchangeable cylinders for the machine.

this is a VERY rough dream machine, i welcome all feedback and suggestions for improvement. i would also love to hear about anyone's experiments or experiences with this or any other dream machine. i can be reached at

Modified Dreamachine (version 2)

additional materials:

  • four dowel rods
  • lots of duct tape
  • metal ring for making wreaths, available at craft stores (or similar round thing)
  • extension cord
  • light socket
  • small box

after having some trouble with it wobbling, i modified the above dreamachine. the cylinder is now suspended over a stationary base, where the light is. This way, you don't have to bother with hanging the light, and everything is plugged into an internal extension cord so there is only one plug.

first, follow the directions above to modify the fan. then, attach the motor to the cylinder as stated above. instead of attaching this to the base, attach it upside down to the wreath-thing. use copious amounts of duct tape to hold it securely. make the base like the one above. but make the top part open, so the light bulb can stick up from the base.

use the box to make a stand for the light socket. plug the socket into the extension cord. now you must cut four holes in the edges of the base. my fan base had holes where the screws were, which worked well to stick the dowel rods in. i used 3/4 inch dowel rods. glue these in securely, then duct tape the whole mess.

now you must similarly attach the dowel rods to the wreath thing. make sure that the cylinder, when suspended, spins freely and does not touch the rods. securely tape it with more duct tape.

now, take the cord from the motor and tape it so it goes down a dowel rod toward the base. cover this in tape. the cord should go inside the base so you can plug it into the extension cord inside.

the bottom of the base should be easily removebale, i used a circle of cardboard taped to the bottom. this is so you can take it apart to change the bulb. otherwise you can tape the ting up, paint it and try to make it look nice, leaving only the one extension cord plug to plug in. my on/off switch ended up on the top of the machine, which worked nicely.

any questions/comments, email me.

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