For my artifact, I want to continue the spacecore aesthetic I used for my upcycle project. I think it would be cool to have a set of decorative items from this class that share a similar aesthetic. My upcycle project was a sort of cardboard poster I keep on the wall in my house. I figured I should stray from wall decoration for this piece, so instead I’m making a desk ornament.
I feel particularly inspired by kinetic sculptures like Newton’s cradle, as I’m sure many engineers feel inspired. I also remember having one of those chandeliers over my crib as a baby that used hanging planets and spaceships and such. I did not know until now, but they’re called crib mobiles.
Newton’s Cradle Crib Mobile
For my project, I want it to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-12 inches in every dimension. I will have a circular base with a cylindrical shaft coming up from the center. At the top of the shaft, there will be a bead with eight strings of fishing line that are tied and pulled through it; four will be short and four will be long, all slightly varying lengths. There will be a bearing above it to keep the bead in place at the top of the rod. The fishing line will be tied around two metal rings about the center. The long lines will be attached to the large ring and vice versa. At the ends of the excess fishing line, there will be ping pong balls to serve as planets. Then I will paint the whole thing black except for the fishing line which I will leave unpainted and the planets which I will paint like planets.
Here is a basic sketch of the design. This sketch shows 12 strings, which may still happen, but considering the size of ping pong balls, I think eight will be plenty.
Perspective View Top View Planets
I want the planets to be able to freely orbit the shaft, hence the bearing. I want the planets to look realistic, or the whole thing will look like garbage. Ideally I want the planets to be different sizes, but that may be difficult to make them all roughly the same weight. I want the base and the shaft to be perfectly stationary with no wobbling. Lastly, I want the whole apparatus to be virtually silent, since it is a desk ornament.
This is my timeline graphic for the project though the rest of April:
About half of the materials I will be using are already in my possession, and the other half I have found online. In the next week I will be ordering the missing pieces such as the base, shaft, and the fastening hardware between the two.
Depending on when the orders are delivered, I’m hoping next week I can start making sure that everything is as it should be, and if not, I will return and reorder components, or I will modify them myself if I cannot return them.
The following week I will begin assembly. For the planets and fishing line, I will likely use hot glue. For the metal components, I plan on soldering them together. I don’t have a soldering iron of my own, but I know someone who will certainly let me borrow it.
Finally, once assembly is complete, I will paint the artifact as I described above. It should be fairly easy and quick, but I want to take the time to make sure it looks aesthetically pleasing and let my creativity flesh out.
Design Preview Presentation Video
This is a cool design and aesthetic, I noticed that the planets on the example mobile are needle felted, do you think you will pursue this path? Or find another way to decorate the planets?
I will probably just be painting the planets. I’ve received some suggestions about adding texture to the planets, but really when you look at a planet from far enough away, they are basically smooth spheres. At this point I think painting is as far as I will go. Thanks for commenting!
This is going to be really cool! I enjoyed your presentation today and I’m looking forward to the final result. I know it would be extra work but have you considered motorizing the project?
I think that is a great idea. I’m planning on making it without a motor to start, just to make sure I like how it looks aesthetically. Then if I like it and have extra time, I will try to include a motor. It is not my number one priority at this point though. Thanks for asking!