Thursday, July 22, 2010


We started with the concept of an oculus that would open and close in response to some kind of human interaction. In researching precedents we found an expanding Jupe table by craftsman Theodore Alexander that expanded as it rotates. As we further developed the design we came up with a system that translates rotation into oscillation. This system can be seen as an example of the Coriolis Effect, a natural phenomenon that creates outward forces as a result of rotation. The most familiar examples being hurricanes, typhoons, or even the draining of a bath tub. By mounting the system on a track we are able to control the outward forces created by this phenomenon.

Using 8 wooden spades connected to a central track system, we were able to tie into a hub assembly using 8 radial arms cut out of ¼” plywood. The Radial arms are connected to the wooden spades using ¼” wood dowels allowing for pinned connections at either end, so, as the central hub assembly rotates, spun by a servo motor and chain drive, the spades move along the track system. The spade pieces were first laser cut out of 1/4" MDF to be used as a template. This template was then used to cut the spade out of the red oak using a bench router. Once all the spades were cut we gave them a finish sanding and sealed them with finishing wax.

After designing the oculus we decided that there needed to be more happening in the background so we scoured the web and found an interesting double cam wave machine that was manually operated using two handles

Using this precedent we developed a single cam system that was connected to a modified servo motor which would run when the oculus was opened. The wave machine itself is a relatively simple construct. It is composed of 24 1”x2”x18” wood members (alternating red oak and pine) which are connected using a threaded rod that acts as a fulcrum. Groves are then cut into the bottom of each member to allow for the cam shaft to move smoothly. At the top of each member a rubber band is fitted in place so that each individual member will snap back into place once the cam lobe has passed it.

In order to make the project more interactive it needed to respond to the presence of the viewer so by installing an infrared proximity sensor we could detect if anyone was standing directly in front of it. We decided it would be fun to mess with people so the project was designed to be operating if no one was directly in front of it but once someone comes in for a closer look, the oculus would close and all motion would cease.

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