Behold the Giant Eye’s Orrery-Like Iris and Pupil Mechanism

This is an older project, but the electromechanical solution used to create this giant, staring eyeball is worth a peek. [Richard] and [Anton] needed a big, unblinking eyeball that could look in any direction and their solution even provides an adjustable pupil and iris size. Making the pupil dilate or contract on demand is a really nice feature, as well.

The huge fabric sphere is lit from the inside with a light bulb at the center, and the iris and pupil mechanism orbit the bulb like parts of an orrery. By keeping the bulb in the center and orbiting the blue gel (for the iris) and the opaque disk (for the pupil) around the bulb, the eye can appear to gaze in different directions. By adjusting the distance of the disks from the bulb, the size of the iris and pupil can be changed.

A camera system picks out objects (like people) and directs the eye to gaze at them. The system is clever, but the implementation is not perfect. As you can see in the short video embedded below, detection of a person walking by lags badly. Also, there are oscillations present in the motion of the iris and pupil. Still, as a mechanism it’s a beauty.

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Dance of the… (construction) cranes

Hacking is all about using parts and resources in an unconventional way. If stringing a pair of high-rise cranes with LED Christmas lights and making them move to a piece of classical music isn’t unconventional, then we don’t know what is. For nearly a quarter of every hour last night, 2 crane operators, along with two ‘choreographers’, swung and spun the cranes around in a coordinated fashion. The project was created by [Brandon Vickerd] as part of Nuit Blanche.  Its purpose was to showcase the technology that builds the cities we live in. A live video stream from various viewpoints was projected on site, below the cranes.