Todays project concept was to create an innovative switch that activates when a ball passes by it. This idea was originally inspired by the following video, which incentivised me to create an electronic musical ball slide, which would activate when the ball would hit the step, causing the step to light up.
The initial project sketches for the musical slide are shown below and involved a series of components which would act as support for the slide. LED strips would be placed in a smaller inner piece, which would be activated via Arduino when the infrared sensors would be triggered. This inner piece was split into two parts to ensure that it could be supported by the inner structure. Additionally, the components that would hold this inner piece would include a small hole at the bottom of the frame, to allow the wires to go through, with the intention of cloaking the majority of the design.
The components were then designed in Illustrator to the measurements from the sketches and were laser cut to ensure maximum accuracy. The results of this process is shown below !
The next stage of the process was the most challenging of all. How would I bend the plastic to ensure that it would match the laser cut curve ? Although I admit that I should have first bent the plastic and then laser cut the curve, I must say that this experience was extremely rewarding and satisfying. The process shown below demonstrates how the curve was achieved and is the result of four attempts !
The ‘centerpiece’ was place between a jig in such a way that the curve start point would match the edge of the jig. The piece was duct taped to the jig to ensure that little movement would occur.
The pipe was the attached to the jig and was placed in such a way that the centreline matches the line drawn of on the on the centrepiece. The piece was then heated up until it began to bend and was then adjusted very slowly, applying pressure from ‘centreline’-up to ensure a perfect bend.
For those attempting to replicate this process, please be patient. One must heat up and cool down the component various times to ensure a perfect curve. The result of this process is shown below.
And as promised, the curves matches the bend !
It was at this point that I had to redesign the slide as the initial components would not allow the infrared components to sit at the right points. So I decided to scrap the inner components and go for a hollow design. Additionally, due to budget issues I decided to use big LEDs instead of LED strips as they would not require an alternate 12 V power source and could run of my computer power. Finally, due to losing my code in the last second I could not include the musical effect when the lights were triggered.
The next step involved putting all the pieces together. This was done using a duct tape to hold the piece at the right place and a glue gun to stick the parts together.
The components were then soldered to wires and were taped onto the holes to ensure that I could reuse the components at a later date. The LEDs where then also soldered onto wires and taped on off the sensors to allow them to hang off in the air, in the middle of the design, allowing maximum illumination.
Here is the final result!