Month: July 2011

Under the Hood…

You’d never be able to tell from the pictures but last night I basically took apart the entire sculpture and rebuilt it! Not only did I need to slow down the motors but 1) the bear wouldn’t pedal because of the rods in his legs and 2) the entire thing would have fallen apart if someone so much as sneezed.

The first thing I did was to yank apart the rod holding the beak & bike in place. After that, I opened up his leg to remove the bolts holding the metal plates in. Once those were out I sewed him back up. Next, I unscrewed the motors in the base and realigned / repositioned them. After reconnecting the main rod holding the bear, I cut some beams to better support the bike and remove the wobble. Again, not much to *look* at but massive leaps forward.

On the motor side, I finally got the right speed! This past Saturday I loaded up my project and drove out to the Radio Shack in Malibu to talk with Giovanni. He’s the MAN! We tested some additional motors and a whole series of resistors. At the end of the day we found a string of 1 Ohm resistors worked best. (We started at 100 Ohms and worked our way down) We lost the idea of the speed dial (the potentiometer) and I just bought a straight on/off switch. Last night I finally got to give it a whirl and now that it works my next session will hopefully be hooking it all up for real…

I still can’t wait to FINISH this thing so I can move onto a new one and start from scratch with everything I’ve learned. Getting closer!

Getting closer…

Last night was fun. Started off real quick by finishing up the pedals and feet. Since my pedals are all cockeyed the feet were shooting off every time it did a full rotation. I fixed that by soldering on these little buttons…

After that I spent the night working on the box. I knew I wanted it to feel like an old school, wooden circus car and I figured the best way to do that was with ‘planks’ of wood. When I sketched it out last week I knew I would layer a window over some popsicle sticks and here are a bunch of semi-chronological pics from the night…

And here’s a little video that Adrienne shot on her phone when she stopped in. YOu can see the longer I work on this the jankier the movements get and the wobblier the bike becomes. Oh well! I actually can’t wait to finish this and move onto a brand new one…

Some Nights are a Bust

So I went back into the studio last night all excited to build my voltage dimmer and finally put all the complicated science stuff behind me but… I had the wrong parts. I am powering my motors with a single 1.5 Volt AA battery and the thing moves like a rocket ship. I searched all over the interweb looking for small electronic dimmers and bought two units I thought would work. Turns out they each need a minimum of 12 Volts to run. That’s *8 times* my current voltage and might rip a hole through the space time continuum if I pump that much juice through my crappy little motor! Here’s a shot of the crazy ass circuit board I had to solder together…

After failing to get the dimmer working I decided to go back and sew on the little guy’s second boot. A slightly simpler and relatively unimpressive task which I knew I could bang out…

And earlier in the week I start planning how I will decorate the platform when the complicated stuff is behind me. This is just a first pass and still has a ways to go…

Oh well. Here’s to next Monday night!

PS – In case anyone actually reads these posts all the way to the bottom, even the failures are fun. It’s just a bear on a motorized bicycle. It’s not like I’m splitting the atom or something.

Coming Along…

Last night was another night of chipping away at this thing. My dimmers arrived and I was so excited to apply one but I had no idea what I was doing. When I tried to solder together 2 AAs and a 9 Volt battery they started sizzling and emitting this goopy, metallic substance so I stopped until I have time to read the directions. Here’s some of the scientific craziness that I need to learn..

I decided to move back to the box. First thing I did was measure, cut and insert a rim to the inside lip. This will give something for the floor boards to rest on…

Then I started measuring out the planks. At first I thought I would do this in 3 pieces but after I plopped these two down I realized that I could trim it back to 2 by just carving notches in the wider piece for the rubberbands to run through…

Next I shifted my attention to the pedals and legs. I bought these little couplings last time I was at the hobby store because one of the pedals was too short so I soldered them on first…

After that I had to make a creative design about what kind of footwear this bear would choose. Originally I thought it would be funny if this fancy bear was just wearing plain old sweat socks. Ya know, the kind with the red stripes at the top? But my wife thought he was WAY too classy for that and I happened to agree. Wherever I landed I knew he needed small feet because tiny feet on something so bulky and lumbering is just funny. After digging around my fabric piles I felt gold boots were fitting…

Once the boots were sewn on I attached a metal bar to the heel that would slide over the coupling so the feet could rotate as the pedals turn.

My last step for the night was to attach the hat (painted earlier in the evening) and the ears. I only got one boot done but the other can wait until next time…

And here he is in turnaround…