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Past Work - Mirror Wave

  automaton wave motion Completed project, although it's not quite that simple.

I created this version and took a video of it:

Then I decided to see whether I could turn the whole thing through 90 degrees so that the person winding the handle would see his or herself in the mirrors, with the wave motion distorting that view.

This turned out to be difficult - see later for details - so in the end I "rolled back" to this original horizontal version, with some minor modifications.

  automaton wave motion The germ of the idea for this project was planted in 2020 when I participated in a "30/30" challenge to make a new work of art in each day of April.
I made a caterpillar from a lot of discs of plywood on Day 27 and then converted them into the wave generator pictured left on Day 28.
  automaton wave motion This project was a development of the above - 2 axles rather than one.

I bought 60 plywood discs, drilled an off-centre hole in each one and then threaded them onto axles with 5-mm of spacers and washers between each one. 
I made some plywood gears so that winding a handle turned both axles.

  automaton wave motion
 The wave itself is formed from 30 strips of wood  with strips of 5mm-square mirror tiles on the top edges.

They are kept in position by sections of old spokes (from a decrepit mountain bike on its way to the dump).  They're  glued into holes in the strips of wood and pass through holes in the board underneath.
  automaton wave motion This is my attempt at turning it 90 degrees so the mirrors reflect the viewer.

I wanted to be able to "roll back" to the horizontal version if it didn't work so I kept the gear wheels on the axles and just replaced the middle gear wheel with a worm gear, to turn the handle to face the viewer.  It slowed down the wave motion as well, which I wasn't so keen about.
  automata wave motion
 The really tricky bit turned out to be replacing gravity.

I tried to do this using small lengths of spring steel as shown in this view of the underside of my contraption (with the base removed).

It was handy that I'd used recycled bike spokes to hold the beams in place because I used the recycled nipples to attach the spring steel to them.

However, it didn't work. The rigid joint between each beam and spoke meant that the beam didn't always sit on both discs so it didn't rock back and forth to create the wave motion that I wanted.

Here's a video of it:

I spent some time devising solutions.  The best one was to hold down each beam with a tension spring.  But that meant buying 30 springs, quite expensive, and I wasn't sure whether I could remove the spokes and attach the springs without damaging the wood.  It also meant revising a lot of the structure to anchor the springs and remove obstructions.  On top of that,  I'd come around to the view that the wave motion looked better when it was like the sea, horizontal.

By this time the video of the horizontal version had received more than 100 "likes" on the automata page of Facebook.  I toyed with making 2 versions - a horizontal and vertical one - but decided it would be better to reinstate the horizontal version and move on to a new project.

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