Approximately 8×12 feet size, this mural depicts a few of the sculptures that Gizmo Art Production has built and installed in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Other fun stuff scattered throughout: a playful jab at the CEO’s music habit, Janis Joplin’s house, Miss Doubtfire’s house, 3 bikes, moustaches, a very prominent paintbrush, and grafitti by Barry McGee.
Medium: India Ink
Take a stack of exhibit ideas dreamt up by the Education staff, and turn them into an exhibit in one year, on a tight budget. The exhibit must be movable so that the exhibit hall can be used for large rental events.
Science & Main is one of the most popular exhibits at the Museum, and was achieved at a fraction of the cost of most other exhibits in the museum. See the captioned photos below for details and process photos…
The Explora-inspired marble wall is adapted for MSC's needs: large plastic balls instead of marbles, and more durable components.
A photo of the marble wall shortly after opening. I added rubber edge-protectors and replaced the wooden pegs with plastic.
The bicycle gearing activity allowing visitors to compare the differences in gear ratios.
Instructions for the paper airplane launcher
We prototyped and tested the paper airplane launcher to determine the best layout for the paper airplane activity.
A view of the airport control tower with launchers in the background
The 'Food fight' catapult. The device is quite precise: if you determine the correct variable to hit a given target, you will hit it reliably with those variables.
Some visitor creations
More visitor creations
A view of the bike gearing activity and the bike shop facade.
Initial concept rendering
Revised concept rendering, after construction methods and components were refined, Science & Main.
Styling detail, which informed the construction methods.
Logos, desiged by intern Qian Zeng
Setting up the facades with the help of a budget-friendly gantry crane. The yellow scaffolding was later used as part of the backdrop of the construction site.
Oops, sorry George...
Guts of the paper airplane launcher
The marble wall pieces were built using this setup. A pin-router attachment was used for the curved pieces.
Cole demonstrating some of the high-tech tools we used
It turns out handwheels with revolving handles are not MSC-kid-proof, so we added keyways to fixed-handle handwheels. In this photo: enlarging the bore with a boring bar.
Adding a keyway with the lathe, since we did not have an arbor press.
We initially used an off-the-shelf pulley as the drive wheel in the paper airplane launcher, but it was quickly shredded. In this photo, machining a new wheel, which held up well.
View these projects in more detail:
The Drop Tower enables visitors to repeatably drop a racquetball 20 feet onto an angled surface. The angle and material of the surface can be changed, enabling users to experiment with the 2 variables and discover how they affect the trajectory and bounce height of the ball. The targets provide a goal for visitors to aim for, though many simply experiment on their own.
We built and tested several prototypes to determine whether or not our plans were visitor-friendly, the reliability of the ‘dropper’ mechanism, and the feasibility of the chain conveyor. See images below for more details…
- Reliability was a serious concern since some of the working parts are 20 feet in the air, and difficult to access.
- The height of the design was difficult since the museum lacks an appropriate lift or convenient ceiling lift points. The shop ceiling is not much over 8 feet, and the freight elevator is very small, so the components were built in sub-assemblies, test-fit and finished in the shop, and fully assembled on the exhibit floor
- Gear reduction and a rotary damper prevents visitors from spinning the Prism in an uncontrolled fashion
- Controls for steps 1,2, and 3 (Load, Adjust, Drop) are arranged in sequential order for intuitive operation
- An angle indicator makes the experiment replicable
Detail of bounce-height scale
Detail of prism rotation indicator
Detail of top module and electrical boxes
Detail of user controls
Our first prototype was designed to test some of the mechanical elements, and see how visitors would interact with the component. We found that having 3 different ball types was too much for most visitors, so we eliminated the wiffel ball and golf ball, and kept the racquetball.
Testing to determine the trajectory of dropped balls
2nd prototype to determine reliability of top module mechanism. The testing revealed some reliability issues that we were able to solve before the Drop Tower was installed.
Testing the 2nd prototype at full height to determine how the chain would act. Thankfully, we found no problems!
I completed the final Overall design in Rhino at the same time Cole was completing the Top Module design in Solidworks. I then combined our designs and completed final construction drawings in Solidworks.
Fabrication in the shop
We had to set up during off-hours, since the museum was open 7 days a week
Karl helping with final electrical hookups before final assembly
Below are examples of construction drawings I created with Solidworks. They were given to a commercial welding company, who fabricated and delivered the pieces.
Build a kid-proof pipe organ with exposed inner workings. As far as I know, this is the only pipe organ in the world that is available for public use.
- Kid-proof keyboard with 1-piece plastic keys
- ‘Drop the bass’ button for the big zinc pipe
- All mechanisms visible
Detail of the pipes, donated by David Storey
The moving valves are visible from the player's perspective as she presses the keys
Detail of regulator, blower, and electronics
Detail of kid-proof keyboard
Illustrator rendering of the design, before I handed design and fabrication responsibilities to Cole.
Design and build portable activities that demonstrate hydraulics in action
- Challenge: Facilitators can set up a challenge, such as saving a metal toy dinosaur from a vat of acid, and the user moves the magnet to complete the challenge
- Durability: I wanted to make the activities out of everyday materials, but it still had to be durable enough to withstand being disassembled and packed for school visits. The devices didn’t need to be bombproof because a staff facilitator mediated the activity at all times.
- Service: I used shoulder screws, bushings, and threaded inserts (tee-nuts) to make service as easy as possible. The syringes are held by a press-fit collar and can be removed without tools.
This dinosaur exhibit refurbishment consisted mainly of graphic work, with the exception of a fossil-replacement project.
The documentation on the 12-year-old exhibit was sparse, and the original builder would not return our calls, so we had to conduct experiments to determine the concrete formulas that would best match the existing concrete.
The structures could not be moved, so we built a dust containment structure and worked on the concrete in the gallery.
We cut out the old pieces using a large angle grinder, hammer drill, reciprocating saw, hammer, and cold chisel.
We supported the new pieces with concrete, and made future replacement easier by adding a layer of plastic between the new fossil and the concrete below. The fossils are secured by the concrete around the perimeter.
Above: a new fossil, ready for exploration
Replace an aging maintenance nightmare in the MSC Kids Room with a touchwall inspired by the deep sea.
Take a pile of electronics that used to be an exhibit, and give them a second life.
The company that originally built the interactive would not return e-mails or calls, so I had to decode configuration files and wade through extraneous hardware to get things working
I exposed the electronics in an acrylic-faced cabinet so visitors could get a sense of how the motion-sensing technology worked.
Hardware and software testing in the shop
I helped scientist Rohan Maddamsetti create a Muller Plot and supporting diagrams for his paper on E. coli evolution. Rohan provided the raw data and we worked together to merge it together into the final diagram using Adobe Illustrator.
The paper was awarded the “1st Centennial Award For Population And Evolutionary Genetics.” More info from the Genetics Society of America.
The full scientific article: Adaptation, Clonal Interference, and Frequency-Dependent Interactions in a Long-Term Evolution Experiment with Escherichia coli