A Dry Christmas (Light Show 8 Update)

In the first update for my next Arduino Light Show, I went through some of my experiments with my fountains. After some thought, I had planned on scaling it back but, in the end, I decided to scrap the fountains all together from the next light show. Despite the loss of the fountains, there are still new things to see!

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OK, so this is not really new. I made this weird Christmas tree last year. It was rather last minute so I didn’t do much with it. The plan now is to incorporate it into a new Light Show. Actually, it’s going to be the main feature.

I did a little bit of cleaning up. I cut the base into a circle and painted it black, trying hard to avoid painting over the LEDs.

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Here’s something new… well, again, sort of. I’ve done LED “spotlights” before by strapping 5mm LEDs to a servo motor. What’s new this time is that I’m using two servo motors per spotlight to make it pan and tilt. I’m also using WS2812B LED modules like on the tree. More movement and color should make the spotlights more interesting than before.

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After testing out the concept, I made an army of four.

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Some LED tests.

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I painted the spotlights all black as much as I could so that they’ll blend into the darkness.

So that’s the current state of the next Arduino Light Show. I had some other ideas in mind but I wanted to leave lots of time to get what I have here ready and programmed. We’ll see how the next little while goes. Thanks for reading!

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A weekend in Ottawa… (Maker Faire Ottawa)

Parliament Hill

I traveled to Ottawa specifically for Maker Faire but I wanted to take a walk around Parliament Hill. In hindsight, I should have centered the trip around Parliament but I suppose Ottawa isn’t too far to do that in the future.

I spotted the projectors for the Northern Lights show which is a 3D projection show on Parliament Hill. Unfortunately it ended for the year last month so I didn’t get to see it.

To the side of Parliament is the Ottawa Locks. The whole area around it is so pleasant, especially with the leaves changing color for the fall.

Continuing my walk across the Locks and up a hill, I got this great view.

The OC Transpo Incident

With a Maker Faire ticket, the local transit agency, OC Transpo, was free. Naturally, I tried to take advantage.

Going from Parliament Hill to Maker Faire, the bus I was travelling on hit a pedestrian. Thankfully I did not directly witness it as I’d probably be more traumatized by it than I already am. Even more thankfully, I believe the pedestrian will be OK as I saw him helped up onto a stretcher by the paramedics as I looked on waiting at the next bus stop down the street.

At this point, I felt like ditching the rest of the day and camping out in the hotel room. But that wasn’t going to happen.

Maker Faire Ottawa

So after what unfolded just 20 minutes ago, I was eager to get myself inside the Aberdeen Pavilion to take my mind off of what happened.

These guys from Montreal are doing great things with 3D printers! They had a prize draw for a 3D printer or filament. All you had to do was add a piece to a 3D printer they were building.

I love LEDs so I was drawn to the Inventors Dads booth. They had this neat game with a sea-saw thing that would control the horizontal LED strip above.

More LEDs! These were reacting to the music that was playing.

One of the many impressive Lego creations on display at one booth.

I remember some of the sculptures from these guys on display here in Toronto but it seems like they had even more here. Very cool looking stuff!

Robotgrrl was driving around the robot from her Robot Missions project, one of the handful of mobile robots roaming around the Pavilion this weekend.

They set up a food court outside that consisted of three food trucks.

Summing things up

If I’m going to be honest, I found that Maker Festival in Toronto (which was formerly a mini-Maker Faire) to be grander than Maker Faire Ottawa, which is surprising considering this was a full-fledged Maker Faire. But that’s not to take away from the awesome things on display. I’m inspired by the creative and intelligent minds at the Faire, and that gives me inspiration to work on my own things. That’s something I always look to take away from these events.

More pictures

You can view all of my pictures from the weekend on the photo gallery.

Website update! (It’s mostly all back!)

The downtime on all of my sites is pretty much over. While putting things back up, I found a few things I’d like to address. But with most of the sites back online, I think it’s an appropriate time to share the news.

  • The www.mwhprojects.com main website is back up.
  • Smaller external project websites linked from the Projects page are up. I have some additional websites that I didn’t list for whatever reason. They’ll be added soon.
  • My online Photo Gallery is back up at mwhprojects.com/gallery.
  • The www.coastercircuits.com blog is back up. Something new is the CoasterCircuits blog now appears separate from MWHProjects, meaning that it isn’t just a redirect to mwhprojects.com/coastercircuits as it was before.
  • I’ve also moved my Canada’s Wonderland Source website to CoasterCircuits that I plan to continue working on through the off-season.

Thanks for your patience if you were looking for something while the sites were down.

 

Sledgehammer Model Build

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Sledgehammer has been my favorite ride at Canada’s Wonderland ever since it debuted in 2003. It’s a fun ride, but, for me, it’s an extremely interesting piece of machinery and engineering that I enjoy just watching and listening to.

One evening, I decided to dive into my small stockpile of foam core boards and try to build me my own miniature model of the ride. It’s the first time I’ve done a model, or this much work with foam core.

Use the photo above as reference as you go through the build photos!
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There wasn’t much planning with this project. Most of the parts cut out were simply sketched out directly on the foam core, then duplicated by tracing the first part cut out.

After some cuts, I got the arms and their central piece together.

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My plan was to make the model posable. At this point, it was with the help of pins.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t stay as cooperative as the build continued. Eventually, I gave up on making it poseable and glued it into this position. At this point, I had cut out and put together the entire top half of the ride. I used wooden dowels as the guide columns and hydraulic piston.

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To make the tower, I took a piece of foam core and made even slits down it which allowed me to bend it into a circular shape.

 

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The gondolas were the trickiest part of building the model. Each one is made up of several small parts that had to be duplicated for all six gondolas.

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After a while, they started coming together pretty good. I made a small support stand to keep things together as I glued the pieces.

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Once I got them into place, the ride took shape…

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… And once some color was added, it really started to look good.

For my next model, I will definitely paint the parts before they’re put together, even if I may have to go over them with a second coat since there will probably be some scrapes and visible unpainted glue in the process. It was difficult to paint this model, especially when trying to navigate a paintbrush between the dowels in a tight space.

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Even with the difficulties painting the top half, it was about as hard trying to figure out how to paint the lower half of the model since it doesn’t have such a straight forward paint job there. I don’t consider myself to be very talented when it comes to painting so I needed some time to figure it out. You can see the checkered red and white pattern covered up by the yellow paint…

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In the end, I used a marker to draw out the outline of where I wanted the paint, and then broke up a sponge paint brush so I could have finer control over the painting. From afar, it looks great, but it gets a bit more cartoony and rough as you look closer. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the way this project came out and am looking forward to doing another one again!

Field Trip: Rotblott’s Discount Warehouse

Ever since the closing of Active Surplus on Queen, I never really know where to go for certain things. There are always big-box hardware stores like Lowe’s and Canadian Tire but the selection and variety can’t come anywhere close. It was a rainy day in the beautiful city of Toronto, but I was determined to check out Rotblott’s Discount Warehouse, a hardware store I found while searching Google Maps.

Just west of Spadina on Adelaide, you’ll find this brightly colored place. Appropriately colored because I felt like I hit a goldmine for certain things I could use.

With the project I’m currently drafting up, I was happy to see that I just found myself a supplier for wheels! There are a few different types and many sizes. I ended up walking away with a few small ones to get started with.

I was on the look out for are swivel ball-bearing joints. (Not sure what the actual technical name is.) These higher quality wheels had some swivel bases with excellent ball bearings but I’m looking for just the base without the wheel. If anything, I’ll probably edit my original plans so that I won’t need that since I don’t really want to shop for something like that online. I want to be able to handle and test it out in person.

They have tubing which I can use for my fountains, whenever I get back to that project.

They’ve got a nice selection of metal hardware, including pulley wheels which I will need for my project. The scale of the project is still up in the air, but with some of those wheels in hand, I hope to get some plans worked out so I can figure out what size of pulleys, among other things, that I’ll need.

Some rope to go along with those pulleys.

Since I was in the area, I decided to check out Lee Valley which I also saw on Google Maps. I didn’t find anything in there for me since they seem to mostly do with actual home and garden projects and didn’t carry any materials that I could use. It seems like a very high quality place though!

I left the city happy with my new discovery of Rotblott’s. I also left realizing that I don’t care much for Pokemon Go anymore, considering where this photo was taken is Toronto’s goldmine for PokeStops and I didn’t bother taking advantage…

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed taking this virtual field trip with me.

Project Updates – August 13 2016

20160723_122152I’ve been thinking about the next little while and where I want to dedicate my time to. I did have some time to get some work done on the next Arduino Fountain Show, but it hasn’t been touched for weeks now. I completed a few minor projects but the big ones are always on my mind. To get myself organized, I thought I’d write a post to work things out.

CoasterCircuits.com

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At the beginning of August, I launched the CoasterCircuits.com blog, a blog about Canada’s Wonderland and other amusement parks. Along with it, I made a few improvements at my main website, MWHProjects.com. It’s been a fun process and I hope to continue with the blog at least through to the end of the season in October. I’ll see where things leave me then in terms of motivation and inspiration to write during the off-season.

The next Arduino Fountain Light Show

You know the stuff you saw in my last post about the show? Well, it’s just been sitting there since. I’ve gone back to the drawing board and have figured out a few things I want to try. However, as I will get to shortly, I have another big project in mind. After some thinking, I’ve decided to effectively put this show on hold. The workbench where everything is will be cleared off as I will need it for what’s coming next.

So what’s the other project?

SkySeeker? WindHawk? Two rides that I enjoy at Canada’s Wonderland are Windseeker and SkyHawk. They’re both tower rides that spin riders around but they’re built quite differently. Basically what I’d like to do is to make a miniature model of a hybrid of both. I’ve already started sketching out details that I hope to continue to develop and improve well enough to share on the blog soon. I’m also trying to source parts and figure out what kind of materials would work best, be cost-efficient, and be the easiest to handle with the tools and space I have at home.

Since this project is taking the spotlight from the Arduino Light Show Project… well, actually, in reality, it’s not. 😉 Again, more details on this soon.

Thanks for visiting!

I hope I can start being more consistent with my posts on the blog. Thanks a ton for reading. Happy making! 🙂