Wheel with a rotating rim

Hello Folks,

I need to build a rotating wheel, where sections around the circumference of the wheel are also rotating along the axis of the circumference-line. I’m not sure if that’s clear, so to put it another way, I sometimes need the peripheral sections to rotate in an “up” direction on the inside of the rim and “down” on the outside of the rim.

I need to be able to turn on and off the rotation in both axes (ie: the axis of the wheel, and the axis of the rim sections). For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that the rim is itself composed of a cylinder bent into a circle and chopped up into sections, where every other section is capable of rotation along the axis of the rim.

What would be the best way to model the object so that I could control the whole wheel with one control, and all the moving sections of the rim with a second control? Should I be using armatures, and if so how would you make it so that all the armatures controlling the rim sections worked in unison?

Thanks for your help,


Do you mean something like this?

Yes, very similar. The main difference would be every other element is not spinning. Also, I need a way to control the spin of those elements dynamicallly, but I think that would be hard to show in a video.

Could you share what was involved in the production of that animation, please?


You can download the blend file here.
For the video above I did the following:

  1. Created the base element and used an Array modifier (along Z axis) to replicate it couple of times. Then applied the modifier.
  2. Created Bezier Circle and used it as Curve Modifier for the “array” object. Scaled the curve to form a wheel from the array.
  3. Parrented the “array” to the curve!
  4. Animated rotation of the “array” around Z axis
  5. Animated rotation of the curve.
    That’s it! I hope the explanation was clear :slight_smile: Examine the file for better understanding!

If you want to animate only the half elements just create two objects and delete the unnescessary parts. Then parent both to the curve and animate only one of them.

If you have a concept drawing that may help more.