Circle of light

Combining my prototyping work with my tinkering, today I am going to share the process and the product of my latest project. This is the construction of a simple toy, a whirligig, with the slightly more complex addition of a red and blue light to make the toy more fun to play with!

Given a pattern for the whirligig, the first step was to build the mold (seen on the right in the photo). This was done fairly quickly using a scroll saw and disc sander. Mounting those to an MDF base-plate and preparing vacuum holes along all the base edges, I was ready to vacuum form the mold. This was the first time I had ever vacuum formed anything and I used cheap, white styrene (seen on the left in the photo). Thankfully, it’s quite forgiving and I was able to re-melt the styrene and reuse it, despite messing up the first vacuum forming attempt.

Once the molding was complete, it was time to shape the outer circles and build in the electronic guts. Inside you will see two basic LEDs, wiring, a battery pack, two resistors and a switch with added weights.

This is a super sensitive switch which just needs a slight touch to connect the leads. Adding weight to the switch and mounting it perpendicularly to the center of the whirligig allowed the switch to turn on whenever the device would spin. Packing and balancing the weight inside the device took some time, but eventually I had a simple plastic whirligig with LEDs activated by centrifugal force.

I had hoped that the high speed rotation and persistence of vision would allow the colors to blend visually into a purple, but as you can see the red and blue remain quite distinct. Still, it was a fun project and a fun toy to build!

Action and Reaction with Extended Reach

The tinkering continues. This time it’s about extended reach, sensation and signal, action and reaction.

The arms, inspired by Doctor Octopus, will continue to evolve with more complex inputs and outputs.

Thanks a simple 9V battery, we can take Arduino on the road now!

Thanks to Microsoft for including the perfect soundtrack as part of the Sample Music that comes with Windows

The sound of small steps

It is a very small step, but a first for me. The first time I’ve ever been made a program which made something happen outside the computer.

Watch the LEDs switch from green to red as I move my mouse across the gradient. And listen to the little piezo speaker sing with the change in position.

Sorry about the low quality video…not sure why it was out of focus.

Big things to come. Stay tuned.

No Trespassing!

Let me tell you about Abe, a skittish recluse, who gets nervous when you get close. As you approach, he tries to dissuade you from proceeding further by pretending he’s not home.

If you persist, however, and approach too close to the door, you’re soon greeted by a blaring alarm and flashing lights to attract the authorities and chase you away!