And it begins: Light Show 6 experiments!

As I mentioned previously, the sixth version of the Light Show project will be a fountain show. Since this version is completely unique with the use of water pumps, there is a lot of experimenting to do before I can get to programming a show. I’ve already begun some testing and it looks like it may be a tough road before we hear any music.

IMG_20140814_115228I got the package today with the 5 water pumps and some resistors for the circuit with transistors that will drive the pumps (DC motors).IMG_20140814_120942I started preparing each motor by testing out that they work with the simple transistor circuit and Arduino. Some of them didn’t work so I thought it was something to do with their tiny wires. I immediately went to soldering them to some longer solid core wires.
IMG_20140814_125623When I was soldering up the board of LEDs for the last light show, I didn’t have a lighter to shrink the heat shrink tube to insulate the bare wires, the legs of the LEDs. I used a soldering iron that time. I used a candle this time which worked so much better than the iron. I have matches but it would be too smelly and messy using them to shrink all of the tubes.

After doing this process of soldering and shrink tubing the pump wires, I went to test them again.  A couple of them still didn’t work until I stuck a screw driver in it to push the turbine inside of the plastic casing to get it going. I think these pumps are used so it may have some residue or something keeping them from initially starting. Plugging them back in again, they work without any issues.IMG_20140814_142437Now this is where the tough part begins. The height of the water stream is not very tall with no tubing (I’m using a straw). In this photo, I used a clip to make the opening smaller which makes the stream taller. Obviously, I need to find a more permanent solution. I also found that the motor doesn’t react well when the stream is perfectly straight up and/or the water landing back in the pool is near the intake of the motor. I think the turbulence of the water as it’s hitting the surface messes it up. I can probably add something to shield that area.

On the bright side, the circuit and PWM from the Arduino works as I expect it to, modifying the height of the stream.

Once I find a proper nozzle, I want to do some current measurements to see how much the motor is drawing. The supplier says 0.4A which seems a bit much. I’ve searched around and other places say it’s 130-220mA. We’ll see who’s right. I’m using a 5V 2A power supply by the way, which I hope will be enough.

Waterproofing has always been a concern for me. The solder connections to the pump wires will hopefully not be submerged in the final stage but right now they are getting wet from the splashing. The shrink tube is a basic defense against a short from the water so I wrapped them in clear tape for more protection. That quickly disintegrated so I’m trying electrical tape now. I’ve always had issues with electric tape staying in place but it does seem to be holding up well. I’m using it to connect the straw to the outlet and am leaving it overnight to see if it’ll keep up for a long time.

Another thing I need to start worrying about is the final stage area. This basin is good with the high walls to contain the splash as I experiment but it’s not good for viewing the fountain. Once experimenting is over, the final stage will be built somewhere else. I don’t want to go out to buy a basin for this so I may end up improvising or compromising…

Thanks for visiting! Stay tuned for more!

Just add water!

With each Light Show version, I reach a point where I have no motivation to program a new show. After the usual flip flopping and throwing out songs, I’ve settled on concluding Light Show #5 and am moving on.

… And after more flip flopping, I’ve finally done this:

The Light Show project has been developing for years now and they’ve all been part of building up to this point. I felt like the time was right to get on to my main goal: A fountain show.

Now that I’ve made a move to start on a new show, the current Light Show stage will be coming down tomorrow.

Since water pumps are something new to me, I have a lot of concerns with these pumps. $30 doesn’t sound like a lot of money to many people but it is to me, so I’m really worried about it being a waste of money if it doesn’t work out at all. There will be lots of experimenting with them before I ever get to programming a show, if it even works out for that kind of thing. (I’d be satisfied with an “ambient” fountain display.) Stay tuned for that!