Paraffin Oil And Water Dot Matrix Display

In preparation for Makerfaire, [hwhardsoft] needed to throw together some demos. So they dug deep and produced this unique display.

The display uses two synchronized peristaltic pumps to push water and red paraffin through a tube that switches back over itself in a predictable fashion. As visible in the video after the break, the pumps go at it for a few minutes producing a seemingly random pattern. The pattern coalesces at the end into a short string of text. The text is unfortunately fairly hard to read, even on a contrasting background. Perhaps an application of UV dye could help?

Once the message has been displayed, the water and paraffin drop back into the holding tank as the next message is queued up. The oil and water separate just like expected and a pump at the level of each fluid feeds it back into the system.

We were deeply puzzled at what appeared to be an Arduino mounted on a DIN rail for use in industrial settings, but then discovered that this product is what [hwhardsoft] built the demo to sell. We can see some pretty cool variations on this technique for art displays.


17 thoughts on “Paraffin Oil And Water Dot Matrix Display

  1. Very clearer and creative! Could you just have one water pump for multiple lines and only modulate the oil input into each line? So 10 lines or vertical pixels only needs 11 pumps and valves to stop back flow?

  2. You can also purchase the rather poorly named “USA 10/4,6” clips from Phoenix Contact and laser cut / drill / have your circuit board created to mount these clips, turning nearly any project into a DIN rail mount.

    Your usual electronics supply house sells them, though they are extremely over priced for what they are.

  3. “We were deeply puzzled at what appeared to be an Arduino mounted on a DIN rail for use in industrial settings”
    There is the Industruino as well. It’s been on the net for a few years already.

  4. Pretty cool, but aesthetically unpleasing considering the hours I have spent fighting ink-jet printers with continuous ink flow systems that often had bubbles of air in long tubes for ink. This display reminds me of that pain. :-)

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