Monthly Archives: December 2010

Juggling Snowman Update…

I’ve put in a fair amount of time working on the snowman and have made some good progress, though weekends are now a bust since last weekend and next weekend are full of ski instructor training.

Getting all the EL wire segments fabricated was a bit of a challenge – there are 48 of them, each with either the EL wire or the attached wire a specific length. I had some of the wire go bad on me (arc between the corona wire and the middle wire) so I had to re-order some of the stuff – I think its possible that it got over-driven by the inverter I’m using, so I switched over to using my tiny AA powered one to test out segments. I also make a long section of white that will be the pilot segment – the inverters don’t like running without a load.

Thanks to somebody with burning man experience, I found out a good way to finish off the wires. Before you put the heatshrink tubing over the wire, put some hot glue around it and then put the tubing on and shrink it while the glue is still hot. This fills in the area around the corona wires and gives you a generally more robust connection. I did the same at the far end, and the act of doing it seems to prevent arcs as well (hot glue is a better insulator than air.

Then it was a whole lot of hot-gluing. The circles and head go on first, followed by 8 arm segments on each side, followed by the 24 ball segments. Sometimes they are on top of other segments. The result looks like this:


Yes, it’s very, very messy, with all 48 circuits visible.

Yesterday I spent the evening running outside every 20 minutes to add another coat of spray paint (krylon plastic-specific paint). I suggest wearing a good respirator even if you are outside – I didn’t when I was younger and now get an intense headache if I don’t wear one.

Tonight I drilled holes and routed all of the wires through the the back and then fixed a few segments of wire that needed a bit more glue. I may add more glue to all of them to make it more secure. I tested all 48 segments and am happy to report that they all work. Here’s what it looks like now:

Next up will be to group the arm and ball segments together. Each frame has 5 segments – 2 for the arms and 3 for the balls in the air. When they are grouped together I will have 8 frames and 8 other segments. Then it will be off to do fabrication of the controller.

AFAIK I have all of the parts for that now. I had originally planned to go with raw triacs (and had even ordered some) but decided that since I was dealing with a fair amount of voltage I’d use something with isolation. I ended up using the same Panasonic AQH2223 SSR relays that I used in my last project – there are some cheaper options now but I had a couple extra of the AQH2223s in my parts box and I could verify that they will work for this application. They are designed to be driven from 5V so that will work out just fine.

I’ll also get started on the animation software. The offspring has giving me a few ideas for things to do.