As I mentioned to Jeff a couple classes back, I’m really inspired by Peter Vogel’s free-form circuit sound sculptures lately. I’ve always loved the aesthetic of electronic components.Vogel found a way to elevate them to be beautiful, yet functional. Here’s a video that brings you through some of his sound sculptures. Definitely worth a watch!
I had a lot of fun with the solar bot project as an introduction to BEAM circuits. I believe we used the FLED Solar Engine and now I want to explore a couple others using a similar free-form approach to Vogel. After researching a bit, the Easter Solar Engine is the one I think would be the best fit for what I want to do. It seems to be reliable and what’s cool is that it uses all discrete components (i.e. only resistors, transistors, diodes ect). There are no voltage detectors but you are still able to achieve the same voltage trigger effect. What’s nice about it is that it gives me the most possible components to ornament my free-form sculpture.
For my sculpture, there will be a means for user input. Vogel uses a photocell and mentions that the photocell is a common approach in these sort of projects. I may as well but would like to explore other means for input to control the voltage that will be traveling through the circuit. Whatever that “switch” may be that ultimately closes my circuit, I want to create several Easter Solar Engines that trigger at different voltages. Therefore, if the user only interacts with it a little bit, then it will only trigger one element but the more they engage with the switch, the more layered the object’s feedback to the user will be. While Vogel uses sound as feedback, I want to look at using light, motors or sound.
Here’s an image of the Easter Solar Engine.
I probably am going to need to modify the circuit a bit as I’m going to be using the Voltaic battery pac that will provide a steady source of power. The battery will charge using solar but the amount of voltage coming from the solar panel will no longer be the determining factor for triggering the circuit. Instead, it will be the amount of time that the user keeps the “switch” open.
I’m building a free-form circuit sculpture using several instances of the Easter Solar Engine to trigger a variety of different loads, wether they be sound, motors or light.
Bill of materials
- I will need to use a conductive material that will serve as the power and ground rails that are slightly more robust than typical wire. Maybe I can just use a thicker gauge wire but would like to find something a bit more sturdy, like iron which is listed as a good conductor with relatively low resistance.
- stripped wire or resistor leads for all the various soldered connections.
- Not sure how many Easter SE circuits I will have but each will require:
- Two 470K resistors
- One 3.3K resistor
- Two 100k resistors
- Two PNP23906 Transistors
- One NPN23904 Transistor
- Storage capacitor
- 3 diodes (two normal, one LED) – this can change based on how high I want the voltage trigger to be
- Solar Cell to charge Voltaic batter pack
- Voltaic battery pack
- Need to fabricate base to support sculpture (maybe just wood, maybe wood and acrylic)