Electric Hourglass Update, 4/8

David Holliman: Electric Hourglass Update, 4/08


The most notable update for this week is that the scope of my project has been reduced due to physical limitations. After speaking with Tim May about the intended “electric hourglass” design, we determined that implementing plasma globes into the hourglass would prove too difficult. In order to make that design work, the hourglass environment would have to sustain noble gases in a vacuum. Next, I proposed that a visible electric current be generated through a high voltage arc between wires. Mr. May informed me that a large voltage and minimal space between wires would be necessary in order for this to work. He suggested researching spark gap generators; however, this mechanism requires a small gap whose aesthetic would be unimpressive given my initial vision.

Given these restrictions, my current design intent is to incorporate lights into the hourglass structure and have that light captured within a central part. I envision this part using reflective properties to capture the light and “glow” in a manner that still executes my design’s aspirations.
The next week, I will begin constructing the hourglass structure from wood material purchased at McGuckin’s. Also, the glass portion of the hourglass will be acquired. In parallel to these activities, I will begin to gather information and components needed for the lighting portion of my design.

With this altered scope, my project should converge without difficulty while still achieving the “electric hourglass” aesthetic!

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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Thomas Brunsgaard
    April 10, 2016 10:04 pm

    It looks like it is actually fairly dangerous to create an arc generator! You may take a look at Marx generator videos. Some of them show people creating a 2 inch arc with a single AA battery (1.5V). It is quite fascinating, but I am not sure if the lightning flash effect will meet the aesthetic that you are going for.

    Since it is so difficult to implement the plasma lamp, I was trying to think of ways to achieve warm lighting without too much technical difficulty. I am still reverting back to the idea we talked about earlier with the LED copper string lights. Take a look at this google image search: https://www.google.com/search?q=led+wire&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=595&site=webhp&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBvfX62IXMAhUkkYMKHebJDoAQ_AUIBygC#tbm=isch&q=led+copper+wire+string+lights+glass

    You may also be able to get your aesthetic using Edison light bulbs, since they give a soft and ancient sort of characteristic that would nicely match an ornate wood base. You could control the dimming between two oppositely faced bulbs to mimic the sand transitioning from the top to bottom.

  • Jason Mcgrath
    April 10, 2016 5:01 am

    The plasma globe seems to be a more sophisticated product than most give it credit for. I doubt most mall rats give much thought to noble gases in a vacuum while perusing the dim lit Spencer’s Gifts shop for that special something.

    Have you looked into neon lights as an option? Again, perhaps complicating things beyond the scope of this project, but I know that neon signs can be made locally. I think neon signs are interesting in the context of your project for another reason. They were once at the forefront of electric marketing material, and the more neon a city had, seemed to indicate how advanced the place was. Nowadays the very sight of a neon sign shows the passing of time, emitting an aura of nostalgia rather more than anything else. With cheap and durable LEDs now common, neon sign fabrication is a dying art. But glass blowing (required to make a sign) produces art that stands the test of time.

    When looking for lights to incorporate, what characteristics of lights are you going for?


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