Sledgehammer Model Build


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!

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.


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


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.


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.



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.


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


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


… 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.


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…


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!


Wastebin Project – Ghetto Mountain (PS. I Love Adafruit)

This is another Wastebin Project (electronics experiment). It’s a cardboard cutout of Wonder Mountain at Canada’s Wonderland, with some LEDs pointed at it. It’s inspired by their 3D projection mapping show, Starlight Spectacular.
IMG_1010The original plan was to have different layers of the mountain separated far enough to put LEDs in between the layers to light up each layer. It didn’t look very good so I ended up just gluing all of the layers together which still left me with a pretty nifty cardboard cutout of the mountain. I still wanted to try lighting it up so I just put some RGB LEDs on a breadboard and bent them to try and light up sections of the mountain. The clear lens RGB LEDs would have been perfect for that but each color doesn’t shine at the same position so that didn’t work. At least I got to try my new diffused RGB LEDs.

It was fun to have a go at this, actually funny that I posted that video about half an hour before discovering my light show projects were featured on the Adafruit blog for Arduino Day. It really means a lot to me. Thank you Adafruit!

PS. I really need to fix up the Featured Project pages. Some of them may be (and have been) transferred to their own separate site. It’s been done for EERef and the Arduino Temperature/Humidity Monitor.

Website Tour: Canada’s Wonderland Facts

Canada’s Wonderland Facts was my most recent website. The purpose of the site was to create a resource full of information about the park. No rumors. No forums. Just facts. I wanted some interaction so I had plans for things like quizzes and a rating system. This was another case of being too ambitious and giving up when it became too much. It was online for only about a month but it’s probably the project I’d go back to if I were to get back into building websites.

1As you’ve seen in my past posts in the website tour, it’s usually a hit or miss when it comes to the visual appearance of my sites. With the combination of the CSS tricks I learned in recent years and experimenting with jQuery effects, I thought I came out with a really clean look. I was happy that it didn’t take a redesign to do that like in my past sites.

Just like with More Than Starlight, the database didn’t have enough content on it. Other parts of the site was alright. The timeline is complete up to 2012. The random facts database isn’t too bad either. I occasionally go back in, by running the site locally, and add new facts and things to the timeline. I really would love to revisit this site one day or at least throw it back online for fun, but I’d really need to get the plan for the site in order before I do. If and when that day comes, at least it wouldn’t be too outdated.

So those are my websites. To see the entire tour, click the Web Design category on the sidebar. Thanks for reading!

Canada’s Wonderland sign

Modelling things in Solidworks has become sort of a hobby. With every new attempt, I’m learning about more features and how to accomplish things in other ways. Earlier this week, I wanted to try modeling a building but that didn’t turn out so well. Today, I tried modeling something I’m very familiar with: the “old” sign from Canada’s Wonderland. It went through many changes over the years until it was finally removed last year. Here’s a picture I used for reference, taken with my crappy camera phone in 2011:


It began very well. I learned how to do arcs (for the Cedar Fair coaster logo) and how to use a picture to sketch something (the logo text). I ran into a lot of errors doing the text that I almost gave up at that point. I tried working around it, and eventually just turned off the warnings altogether.

cwsolidworks I also learned a lot about appearances in this model. Not only did I take coloring a little more seriously this time around (remember observation deck USA?), but I also used images on this model like the stone on the pillar and the Cedar Fair coaster. This is the final sketch with shading and borders:solidworks_final_sketch

And here are the “photoshoot” photos. They’re rendered at the maximum setting, which my computer did not like at all.final_front final_upwardfinal_dimetric

PLC 101

Even though I haven’t shown it here yet, I’m a coaster enthusiast. The interest really grew in 2003, the year this thing opened:

Sledgehammer at Canada’s Wonderland was a new ride from HUSS Rides of Germany. It’s still the only Jump Squared in the world, and is still going 10 years later. As an obsessive enthusiast of the park, I read the press release for it over and over. I remember it describing its control system as the “most sophisticated computer in the park”. Ending up on the HUSS Rides website, I picked up the acronym “PLC”, Programmable Logic Controller. Fast forward 9 years, I had opportunities to learn a little more about them.

In May 2012, I took the George Brown College Programmable Logic Controllers program. Having learned other programming languages, it wasn’t too hard to pick up compared to what a fresh programmer may feel. After that summer, I had a couple PLC courses in my Seneca College program, though it wasn’t nearly as detailed as what I learned that summer. And even with all of this training, there is still a lot for me to learn. I think I have a good basic foundation, though I definitely need to challenge myself when I practice.

Anyways, finishing the George Brown program early in the summer, I decided to work on my own PLC trainer for the rest of the summer. There were pre-built trainers for sale, but I challenged myself to build one for the experience and to see if I could beat the price. They varied in price and features, most of them at least a couple hundred dollars. Long story short, I went over budget by $100, with a grand total of $300…

I learned how to use a really old version of Autosketch back in high school. It’s what I used to design the layout of the panel to get it drilled and built:


The next part is a little embarrassing. I bought all of the components from Automation Direct. Once I received them, the next part was wiring it up. I was used to wiring the Arduino, expecting power to flow through the pin to ground. Why weren’t my lights working? Because I didn’t know what I was doing.

After some reading up, I realized what I was doing wrong, so I corrected it. On to problem #2: Broken Output. This is what a failed lamp test looks like:


I purchased another CPU (the Click PLC CPUs have some I/O pins on it). That set me back $70. I also had to buy some more wire because:

20120629_151054So that about ends the story for the first generation of my PLC trainer. There’s still some more work I did on it to show off. I also picked up a few more parts today to do a minor upgrade. Fair warning: I still probably don’t know what I’m doing. Thanks for reading.