Surfing Diorama Makes For A Neat Desk Toy

In 1994, Weezer famously said that “you take your car to work, I’ll take my board”. Obviously, for the office-bound, surfing is simply out of the question during the working day.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with a desk toy inspired by the waves.

The crux of the build is a watery diorama, which interacts with a faux-surfboard. The diorama consists of a tank constructed out of plexiglas, sealed together to be watertight. It’s then filled with blue-dyed water, and topped off with baby oil. The tank is then mounted on a cam controlled by a servo, which rocks the tank back and forth to create waves. This is controlled by the motion of the rider on the plywood surfboard, which can be rocked to and fro on the floor thanks to its curved bottom. An Arduino built into the board monitors a three-axis accelerometer, and sends this information to the Arduino controlling the tank.

By riding the board, the user can shake the tank. Get the motion just right, and smooth rolling waves are your reward. Jerk around with no real rhythm, and you’ll just get messy surf. We reckon it would be even better with a little surfer floating in the tank, too. It’s a fun build, and one that might help stave off the negative health effects of sitting at a desk all day. You might prefer a more shocking desk toy, however. Video after the break.

7 thoughts on “Surfing Diorama Makes For A Neat Desk Toy

  1. “An Arduino built into the board monitors a three-axis accelerometer, and sends this information to the Arduino controlling the tank.”

    Here I can’t help to think how excessively overkill that solution would be when viewed through the eyes of the 80’s.
    Like using 2 extremely high end microcontrollers? And a 3 axis accelerometer?! Just to control a servo….

    Truly this all could have been done with an op amp or two some passive components and a potentiometer!

    Now, we aren’t in the early 80’s no more, so using a micro and an off the shelf accelerometer is simpler then twiddling with an analog circuit. Actually rather amazing how times has changed during the last 40 or so years.

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