Making More Connections
With the arms and rotating base “completed” in the previous update, progress continued upward. The next step was to create the connections between the arms and the lifting crown.
Once I was happy with the shape, I duplicated it for all of the arms. The sides of the connectors are open and I was planning on closing them in later on in the final stages of the project but I’ve grown to like the look. I may just leave them as they are.
At this point, I realized I could store the project upside down while I wasn’t working on it to save some space. I had it sprawled out on the table before…
Finally! This is the first point in the project where electronics are being incorporated.
The PVC pipe will act as the piston, although I’m not really sure if that’s an accurate name anymore since there aren’t any hydraulic or pneumatic systems being involved here. I’m cheating a bit by sending wires through the pipe with a slip ring at the end which allows the connections to rotate at that point. To be realistic, the piston would have been a solid rod and the rotating electrical connections done through a rail inside of the hub, like a subway train’s third rail.
The slip ring is attached to the lifting crown which will allow the crown to spin while allowing the “piston” and the wires inside to remain stationary with the tower base. There will be a microcontroller in the base that will communicate with a second one within the lifting crown which will be in charge of the gondola motors. At least, that’s my theory.
The next step was to add in a motor to spin the tower. My plans for that quickly fell apart (literally) so it was back to the drawing board.
Once the arms were attached to the lifting crown, the project really started to resemble the actual ride.
After moving it around manually, I noticed issues with my poor homemade lazy susan and my makeshift linear bearings that guide the three rails/dowels. I searched around and ended up buying some parts to replaces these problematic pieces. You’ll get to see those in another update.
While waiting for the new parts to arrive, I decided to work on the gondola motors. They are servo motors which are very easy to control with Arduino (the microcontroller). The ones I had laying around were the typical ones that are limited to 180º in rotation. A mod to get them to spin continuously was relatively simple: Open them up, destroy a mechanical stop, and then solder in some resistors.
Now that the motors were ready, there was no excuse not to start thinking of the actual gondolas. There were a couple tries at getting the angles and thicknesses the way I like it but I eventually got something I’m satisfied with.