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Chris SilichCreative Technologist

Mechan­ical Zen Garden

Client: Me?

Arduino, motors, magnets, 3d prints

It’s a coffee table. It’s a zen garden. It’s actually the most zen zen-garden coffee table ever, because it rakes itself.


  • Arduino
  • 2 x 12vdc 18rpm Worm Gear Motor
  • 8 shiny push buttons
  • RGBW LED strips
  • ~ 100 hours of 3d printed parts
  • Wood, glass, paint, glue


A one-meter diameter octagonal glass-top coffee table with sand under the glass. Turn it on and a 1/2″ ball bearing starts moving through the sand making beautiful radial patterns. Press the buttons to adjust the speed of the two internal motors to make a unique pattern.

There have, of course, been other projects like this already (look at the price, ouch). Aside from enjoying the challenge of designing, building, and coding my own, I also aimed to make mine unique. The pros have a precision coordinate system with a computer carefully positioning the ball, while mine is more analogue like a Spirograph, where the speed of the wheels defines the unique radial pattern you generate.

Sexy Slow Motion Video

With soothing, royalty-free music!

Explanation Video

In case you want to build your own weird furniture that your spouse doesn’t approve of.