The purpose of our project is to capture the essence of lava in the form of a light fixture. To do this, we created a hexagonal fixture with moving parts that are triggered to show the juxtaposition between the solid rocks that lava creates and the free-flowing movement of hot lava. We accomplished this by making eight moving arms for our light fixture that create a hexagon shape when turned off but move freely and randomly when turned on.
Natural phenomena can be beautiful. Yet, many people don't have the chance to experience rare occurrences in real life. By making a light fixture that mimics some of the aspects of lava, we're attempting to make a fairly inaccessible phenomenon more accessible. By using the colors of lava and mimicking the slow flowing movement, we hope to artistically represent some of the most beautiful aspects of lava. When the light fixture is off, it rests in a hexagonal shape, representing the harsh solid shapes of cooled lava. But when the fixture is turned on, it lights up in orange begins slowly moving the arms randomly. The arms move in different directions: up/down and side to side, creating uncertainty in the movement they will produce.
Our project began with the idea of creating a geometric base with colored tubes running through it to represent the interesting curved patterns that lava flow creates. However, we eventually decided that the tubes would clutter the project and that we could actually represent the flow of lava with the original base we had designed. After making this decision, we focused on the mechanical movements of the base "arms" and how this movement could mimic the slow flow of lava.
The problems we ran into throughout this project revolved around the mechanical movement we wanted to achieve. While working on the mechanisms we ran into problems with creating the shape we wanted to achieve with the correct angles. Since the basic code we wrote made the servos spin freely, we had some trouble figuring out how to design the mechanism to stop at the correct angle when the light fixture was turned off. This is still an issue we're working through that probably can be fixed in the code.
Another issue we ran into was diffusing the light in a simple way that could mimic lava. We initially thought it would be interesting to use acrylic, but ended up running some tests with wax paper and normal printer paper as well. We eventually decided that printer paper was the easiest to use while still giving us the light effect we were looking for. This decision was primarily based on our time constraints. However, we still think that using acrylic in some way could make the light fixture look more professional.
Throughout the whole project, we went through a couple design iterations, two of which are shown in the slideshow above. The first iteration shown was our second prototype after we decided we wanted to focus on the base shape rather than include winding tubes. After finalizing this prototype, we could feedback from the coaches that we needed to simulate the movement we were envisioning in the final project. So, we then took apart the prototype and began the next iteration where all the arm pieces could be moved. The movement aspects were done using screws and bending cardboard, creating a rudimentary simulation of what our mechanisms would do. After completing this iteration, we mostly focused on the individual arm mechanisms, prototyping those over and over again. In the end, we spent most of our time working on the movement aspect of our project and not changing the original design shown in the second iteration.