Electric Hourglass: Constraints

The following list highlights the top five constraints associated with my project:

  1. Wood Frame for Hourglass– The framework around the glass form will need to be milled or CNC’ed.  Since the frame will have multiple sides, some critical thought needs to go into this process.
  2. Hour(glass)– It is necessary to find the right glass form to work with.  The glass must have an hourglass shape while also having open access at the ends to install the electronics.
  3. Plasma Globes– If decided to use plasma globes as my electronic installment, a few challenges must be faced.  First, I need to figure out if the plasma globes will operate as normal if introduced to the new hourglass environment.  Since plasma globes require noble gases and a vacuum environment, my design might fail unless treaded carefully.
  4. Fire/Voltage Hazard– To be safe, I will consult an electronics expert so that my design can be guaranteed fire-proof.
  5. Visible Electric Current– In order for my aesthetic to be accomplished, a visible electric current needs to occur.  This element is the main critical design constraint.  Testing and research will take place to ensure this aesthetic.
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3 Comments. Leave new

  • I agree with Thomas on the fabrication of the base. It will be quite difficult to convince one of the machinist at CU to let you CNC wood. This is due to when you cut wood at a high rate, resin builds up on the quill and stiffens up the feed. Mark and I found this out experimentally on one of his mills… was not the best of days haha

    Also you might try calling the manufacturers of the plasma globes, they might be willing to give you some insight in how they introduce the argon gas (i think) into the globe and sealing it.

    Reply
  • David Holliman
    Jason Mcgrath
    March 14, 2016 7:00 am

    The plasma globe approach seems to have the biggest unknowns, both in technical feasibility and safety. It could be good to pin down the major constraints of some of your safer alternatives such as the LED approach. If the plasma globe works, it’s going to look awesome.

    Reply
  • David Holliman
    Thomas Brunsgaard
    March 11, 2016 12:22 am

    I was thinking that you could simplify the fabrication of your wooden base by etching in images rather than trying to machine topographic designs. The BTU lab has a rotary chuck that allows you to spin cylindrical parts in the laser cutter so that it can etch it all the way around (they look something like this: http://www.rosegraphix.com/store/p41/Rotary_Attachment_Chuck_for_Laser_Machines.html). You could also make a crude version with a couple of block, and manual rotate it in the ITLL laser cutter. Have you been able to find any resources online about the dis-assembly and modifying of plasma balls? I imagine that other people have tried to customize them in the past, and you may be able to get a better idea on how feasible it is without going too far down the rabbit hole. Have you thought more about if you are hoping to find a piece of glass already shaped like an hour glass, or if you will construct it yourself? I would be glad to help you with the electronics, and ensure that there isn’t anything dangerous exposed.

    Reply

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