Much Needed help for final year project.

Hi there,

I'm about to enter my final year of university doing product design.

I've got this idea to build a lamp with a silicon ball as a lamp shade which would contract and expand as air is blown in and out. The brightness would also possibly dim and brighten in sync with the Balloon.

I've just finished building a 3D printer but my knowledge of electronics still remains rather basic. So I'm looking for more information as to how I can achieve this and what components might be good for the job.

Could a Arduino board be any good? Would the programming be too much for someone with no experience?

It would also need to be as silent and small as possible.

Any advice is much is much appreciated but please take it easy on the lexical side.

Many thanks

Charles

Could a Arduino board be any good?

Yeah, you can use Arduino to control the lights and the balloon mechanism.

Would the programming be too much for someone with no experience?

No, given that you understand how to control some lights using PWM, controlling stuff like motors and using the Arduino with processing if you want to make it a bit more interactive.

So I'm looking for more information as to how I can achieve this and what components might be good for the job.

You can use the motor + water mechanism as shown in the Liquid Lifebar Arduino Project. You can check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywfZsYApj_M

You can also use some sort of pump to contract and expand and contract your balloon.

Good Luck. . and keep updating your progress on the forum.

To know if the Arduino is something for you, download the software, buy an Arduino Uno, and try to make a led blink. When you can make the led blink faster or slower, and consider that as fun, then the Arduino is for you. Arduino is the easiest microcontroller development and prototyping environment.

The Arduino Uno is not small, so you can use a smaller board later, once you have it working on the Arduino Uno.

Some air pumps are 12V, others use the mains voltage (115V or 230V). Air pumps that use vibration (using the 50Hz/60Hz of the mains) are more silent than air pumps that use rotation. For example small aquarium pumps use vibration.

Do you have an indication how much air pressure is needed ? and with how much air flow ? If the air pump stops, is it allowed to leak air ?

I suggest you stick to low voltage DC bulbs for the lamp since they will be much simpler and safer to drive.

If the lamp is going to be enclosed in a balloon then heat build-up might be an issue. LEDs would have much lower heat output than conventional incandescent bulbs.

@ Abhik Have you got any experience working with pumps, will they suck the air out as well as it blows it out? Or would it be a case of leaving a small hole so the air escapes when the pump stops? Or have a valve controlled by the Arduino?

Yeah I've messed around on the Arduino tweaking the firmware for my 3D printer so I'm fairly confident I can manage with a little advice from you guys.

@Caltao For the pressure, after having checked out a few party balloon pumps the average seems to be around 2psi so I'll make it 3 just to be safe. As for the airflow I'm trying to imitate the breathing of a human so it would be pretty low.

So I think I'll get started with a Arduino Uno will I be able to wire the pump and light straight to the assigned pins or will I need to consider adding some components in the way like resistors or capacitors?

Thanks for help!

CharlesDesign: pumps, will they suck the air out as well as it blows it out? Or would it be a case of leaving a small hole so the air escapes when the pump stops? Or have a valve controlled by the Arduino?

The pumps are one-way - an inlet and an outlet. You would need a changeover valve (or two) to fully switch over. Consider the animated Christmas displays now sold, using an air pump to push Santa up, and the leakage when switched off lets him back down again.

CharlesDesign: For the pressure, after having checked out a few party balloon pumps the average seems to be around 2psi so I'll make it 3 just to be safe. As for the airflow I'm trying to imitate the breathing of a human so it would be pretty low.

Sounds noisy. Emulating breathing would require quite a fast action.

CharlesDesign: So I think I'll get started with a Arduino Uno will I be able to wire the pump and light straight to the assigned pins or will I need to consider adding some components in the way like resistors or capacitors?

If you have built a 3D printer, you will know that you require driver circuits to interface each motor with the Arduino.

3 psi = 0.2 bar That is low pressure. Perhaps good aquarium pumps can do that. But to simulate breathing, I think aquarium pumps produce not enough air flow.

Some air pumps have inlets and outlets. Others have only outlets (if the inlet is hidden inside the case). That depends on the pump. To make a pump go both ways, you probably need a normal air pump and 4 valves. To let it deflate by its own, perhaps only 1 valve will do.

It is very likely that you need a few valves. These are used valves taken from defective coffee maker machines : http://www.neuhold-elektronik.at/catshop/product_info.php?products_id=4707 http://www.neuhold-elektronik.at/catshop/product_info.php?products_id=4131

Just a quick thought on an idea for what you mentioned in your first post;

would contract and expand as air is blown

THe idea of a small bellow pump, where you use a atandard servo motor to control the bellow action. The bellow has an inlet valve as per normal and you simply attach an air bladder to the output end to get your contraction and expansion action. you can use another small servo at the junction of the bellows to air bladder to control air release. This system will give you an air sound quite similar to human breathing if that is what you are after. Using a bellow type pump will avoid the noise of any standard air pump, whether displacement or rotational fan. You might well be able to construct the bellows your self to a shape and size to fit your project.


Paul

@ Abhik Have you got any experience working with pumps, will they suck the air out as well as it blows it out?

No, I have never worked with pumps. But, I have seen many projects around the web that use pumps, some online research might help you.

So I think I'll get started with a Arduino Uno will I be able to wire the pump and light straight to the assigned pins or will I need to consider adding some components in the way like resistors or capacitors?

You can connect the LED directly to your Arduino. But you will have to use some sort of driver circuit to power the pump. The Arduino CAN NOT supply enough current to drive motors and pumps.

I WANT A 3D PRINTER TOO!!!! HOW! that would be cool as heck :D

looked it up once but looked expensive. perhaps i could use your services!!! hehe

a small computer fan might work as well, being DC, you could get one to move forward and reverse.

you should e able to make that breath life into your project in a few hours.

should be fairly simple, here is where my expertise comes in. if you use a cpr practice dummy as an example youll see that when you breath in with the head tilted back the chest will rise if not notheing happens. also you can look up indy mogul on youtube. they have a video where they replicated a scene from iron man. they show how the pros did it.

just stick with a one way pump and use a servo to kink the "neck" momentarily. that way you have less complex ways of doing it. also i recomend using fiber optics for your lighting. it will make it 100% easier to get to small parts incase something goes wrong.

if you want to you can also use a heart monitor input and have the breathing change depending on the person using the monitor.