Kinetic Sand Art: Finale


It really is crazy how we began from nothing, just a mere idea. Slowly but surely, with the help of the teacher, Denver and I were putting the pieces together to figure out the next step for the sand art project. Because of this, we were able to come close to completion of a kinetic sand art table that is capable of drawing parametric shapes that are thrown at it. Clicking the image above will take you to a Google Site dedicated to the progress and showcase of our sand art table.

Concept Testing

After finally receiving the pulleys in the mail, we decided to set up a simple test to see if the project would bear any fruit. With the ball traveling down a simple ramp feeding into the pulleys, we powered the motors at 6 volts each and tested the contraption. The results weren’t spectacular(we didn’t expect them to be), but they were passable and consistent, which is good for troubleshooting in the future. For the actual cannon, the motors will be running at a much higher speed, and we will have better pulleys to more tightly grab the tennis ball, which should drastically improve our results.

Cannon Housing Design

Designing a wooden frame to hold the axles and the whole assembly for the cannon took several weeks to fully figure out. The first step was to draw out a basic design on paper and figuring out how to actually build the frame. After learning the basic principle of how we were going to build the housing, we next started to draw a 3D version of the pieces to be cut out on a CNC wood mill. After creating 3 versions of these wood pieces, we finally had the correct parts to start assembling our frame. We pressed the bearings into the wood and put the shafts in and all of the belts and pulley that go with it. Finally, we screwed the pieces together after assembling all the parts and added horizontal pieces of wood to add stability and keep the fly wheels the correct distance apart from each other.

Paper Design of the Basic Function of the Cannon
Digital Version of Top and Bottom of the Axle Housing


We settled on a wooden design to hold our moving parts together. This consisted of boxes formed by wooden planks. To securely hold these planks together, we decided to screw them into each other. To ensure that our project would work well, we took precautions such as pre-drilling holes at different depths, countersinking, and labeling planks to ensure correct assembly. Some of these holes were drilled by hand, and some were drilled with the drill press in the shop. Our efforts appear to have payed off, as the final construct is exceptionally sturdy and holds up to the stress of the flywheels/pulleys.

Running out of time: Kinetic Sand Art

So with time winding down in Anthony and I’s senior year, we often find ourselves struggling to have motivation. Luckily we had gotten enough done with the project the we can get a to pretty good point by the end of the year, along with the assistance of our wonderful teacher Mr. Bahn. We are now at the point where we have a little table constructed, along with our linear actuator and company. We can draw pictures in the sand fairly well and we are looking to making the code for our project better.

Here is our beautiful project

Motor Mount Mayhem

When designing the axle housing for our cannon, one of the big issues we ran into was figuring out how to secure the motors to the shafts while maintaining stability. Our solutions to this was to make two metal L brackets that screw into the wood frame of the cannon and position them so the motor is directly above the shafts. The motors would then bolt onto the bracket and then the whole bracket would be screwed into the wooden frame. After about a week and a half of manufacturing theses brackets, we attached and assembled the brackets to the cannon. The end result was satisfactory as the mounts provide good stability and allow the shafts and wheels to spin freely.

View of the Completed Brackets
Matthew Cutting Metal for the Brackets

Bearing Testing

A makeshift setup to test our bearings and couplers

As most of our parts had recently arrived, we decided to test them out to verify their quality. We rigged up a motor, used the couplers to connect it to the shaft, and had the other end supported around a bearing by some lab equipment. We were surprised with how well the shaft spun, even after the motor had been turned off. With these results, we then disassembled the components and are moving on towards building the housing.

Rough Assembly

This past week I worked out all of the kinks with the transmitter, Tyler and I were then able to attatch the reciver to the current chime setup and test it out. Due the the large knockback recived by the tubes as theey are struck we will need to set them farther back from the solenoid dinger. We will also hang them with their center leveled to the solenoids to mitagate this issue.

The chimes will also have to be tuned to be able to play the tune of the song properly, we might need to spend a little more time messing with the song delays after tuning if they would be too short or maybe too long. Next week I will either be soldering the parts for the transistor together or assisting Tyler with the hardware for the project.

Tennis Ball Cannon Taking Shape

As of Thursday, May 9th, we have assembled the housing for the tennis ball cannon. This is a culmination of weeks of work; ranging from waiting for parts, cutting wood and metal, and carefully putting it all together. It fits snugly and sturdily, and has held up to the strain of being tested several times with no issues. Our task now is to work on the feeding and tilt mechanisms.

5/10 Windchimes

This week we got the new circuit put together with the receiver built into the new system. We have been working towards the chimes functioning according to the software. We are still facing the problem of the striker making the chimes bounce off of it and fly back to create a second sound on the same chime. The next step to finalize and fix this issue is to make the distance between the chimes and the striker a greater distance.

The chimes are hanging and Michael is working on soldering together the transmitter circuit. The soldering process is taking a while but that is understandable because getting that right is very difficult. Hopefully we’ll be able to get everything working by the end of the class so we have something to show for our work.