A kinetic art installation with many metal parts

Kinetic Art Installation Brings All The World’s Lightning To One Place

Lightning is a force to be reckoned with: ever since ancient times, humans have been in awe of the lethal power of lightning strikes and the deafening roar of thunder. Quite reasonably, they ascribed these events to acts of angry gods; today, modern science provides a more down-to-earth explanation of the physics involved, and a world-wide network of sensors generates a real-time record of lightning strikes around the globe.

[Dmitry Morozov]’s latest kinetic art installation called Adad is driven by this stream of data. Named after a Mesopotamian god of thunder, it consists of a set of arms that suddenly jerk upwards when a lightning strike is detected anywhere in the world. When an arm falls down again, it strikes a piezo crystal, which generates an electric charge that triggers a bright flash of light as well as a sound effect. Those crystals are pieces of potassium sodium tartrate (also known as Rochelle salt) and were grown specifically for this project. They are housed in plexiglass holders which also provide electrical connections.

Adad‘s spider-like design, its eerie sounds as well as the sudden pops and flashes make this a rather unsettling yet beautiful display of Nature’s violence. And it’s a piece of beauty from an engineering point of view as well: sleek aluminium tubes, servo-driven motion and those transparent crystal holders, all controlled by an Arduino that receives live lightning data through an internet connection.

We’ve seen several types of lightning detectors, usually based on a standard radio receiver or a specialized chip. If you’re interested in growing your own piezo crystals, we’ve covered that too. Continue reading “Kinetic Art Installation Brings All The World’s Lightning To One Place”

Building A Kinetic Sand Art Table

Many of us have marveled at art installations that feature marbles quietly and ceaselessly tracing out beautiful patterns in sand. [DIY Machines] is here to show us that it’s entirely possible to build one yourself at home!

The basic mechanism is simple enough. The table uses a Cartesian motion platform to move a magnet underneath a table. On top of the table, a metal sphere attached to the magnet moves through craft sand to draw attractive patterns. An Arduino and Raspberry Pi work together to command the stepper motors to create various patterns in the sand.

Low-cost pine is used to build most of the table, with oak used for the attractive bare wooden top. RGB LEDs surround the sand surface in order to light the scene, with options for mad disco lighting or simple white light for a subtler look. Other nice touches include sitting the craft sand atop a layer of faux leather, so the ball moving through the sand doesn’t make annoying crunching sounds as the ball moves.

It’s a great build that focuses on the smaller details like noise that can make a big difference to the final experience. We’ve seen similar projects before, too. Video after the break.
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Lego Tardis Spins Through The Void

Using LEGO Technic gears and rods seems like a great way of bringing animation to your regular LEGO creation. Using gears and crank shafts you can animate models from your favorite TV show or movie like LEGO kinetic sculpture maker, [Josh DaVid] has done when he created a spinning TARDIS.  Crank the handle and the sculpture spins through space and time.

The large gear stays in place. The hidden gears, turned by the crank, rotate a shaft from below that goes through the large gear making the TARDIS rotate around the main axis. Connected to the TARDIS model is a smaller gear, at an angle, that meshes with the larger, stationary, gear. This smaller gear is what causes the TARDIS to rotate around its own axis while the whole thing rotates around the main axis. If your hand gets too tired, you can substitute a LEGO motor.

It’s a neat effect, and you can get the plans [Josh]’s Etsy page. The best part, however, is that you can get a set with all the parts as well! The TARDIS is a popular item here and we’ve had plenty of projects with it as the focus: Everything from a tree topper to sub-woofers. The only question we have, of course, is, ‘Is it bigger on the inside?’

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Orbit Kinetic Sculpture

A Motor, An Arduino And A Whole Bunch Of Laser Cutting

[Guido] was recently commissioned to build a kinetic sculpture for a client who wanted something unique. What he came up with is really awesome.

It’s called ORBIS: The Wooden Kinetic & Lighting Sculpture. It mounts to the wall and provides a focal point for the room – a bright flashy spinning one at that! Does it just stay there and do random things? Nope, of course not! [Guido] built it with a unique control box, two Arduino 2560’s and an Xbee to communicate between them.

Orbit Kinetic Sculpture

He was told to design it using old and new technologies so he’s got a rotary phone dial on the side of the box which allows the user to change through the different modes.

Switches on top also let you change the color of the sculpture and the speed at which it moves around. Since it’s wireless it can be easily set on the coffee table and become an instant conversation starter.

See it in action after the break.

Continue reading “A Motor, An Arduino And A Whole Bunch Of Laser Cutting”

Whatever A Phobia Of Fingers Is Called, This Is It.

Touched is a project by [Rebecca Strauss] that integrates servos, strings, and felt into a horrifying kinetic sculpture made up of a dozen mechanical fingers straight from a Boschian nightmare.

The fingers are made up of segments of wood articulated with the help of a small string. Each pair of fingers is controlled by a single servo, and the tips of each pair of fingers is controlled by a second servo.

After covering them in felt, [Rebecca] wrapped conductive thread around each of the fingers. When some of the fingers are touched, they all recoil as if controlled by a demon living just under a mountain of felt.

[Rebecca] brought in another kinetic sculpture using her servo controlled fingers; in the video up at the top and after the break, you can see the inner workings of this floor-mounted version. When the IR proximity sensor goes off, the fingers recoil but can be coaxed out again by gently stroking one of the phalanges.

Continue reading “Whatever A Phobia Of Fingers Is Called, This Is It.”