Introduction: Antimatter Excavator/Alarm Clock/Movie Prop
Okay, it's not really antimatter, but most people that dare to think for themselves are probably on somebody's watch list, and I don't want to attract attention from any Three-Letter Agencies... And everybody knows there's no such thing as antimatter, right? Right?...
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for your actions. I will not be held liable if you do something stupid with this, including, but not limited to, hurting yourself, taking this model into an airport, Government building, or other public place and causing an incident, being tackled and wrestled to the ground, and/or getting arrested and sent to Gitmo.
This model of a mining/excavating atomic device is based on Nootropic Design's fabulous Defusable Clock, which is:
- Arduino based, using the ATmega 328 chip, and thus eminently hackable, and
- A fully functional alarm clock, and
- Reasonably priced, and
- Looks Dangerous by itself, and we're going to make it look Really Dangerous!
This gives a whole new meaning to "Atomic Clock!"
This is a guide only, and should not be followed verbatim, because you will probably not have access to the exact same parts I did, and besides, you want it to be your own artistic creation!
The circuitry described here can be used as-is or modified to taste. You will be able to find parts for the electronics, but probably not the exact same greebles (The things that make it look cooler but don't actually do anything). Some might be hard/impossible to find. Use what you've got in your junk box! I will give sources if I know them for some of the parts.
If you need a cool movie prop, Halloween decoration, or just an alarm(ing?) clock that will command more attention than any other, read on.
Step 1: Press Release
July 16, 2035
235 Perro Caliente Ave.
Los Alamos, NM
For Immediate Release:
Nexatomic, Inc. announces the AV-1, the world's first completely clean, safe, adjustable nuclear explosive for mining and heavy earth-moving operations. Mining, dredging, and canal building just moved into the 21st Century!
Project Plowshare, as it was called in development, aims to put the power of the Atom into the hands of industrial excavating operations everywhere. It has been extensively tested at both our Lunar and Terrestrial testing facilities, with zero failures. For the very affordable price of just $1999, every AV-1 has the following features:
- Completely free of Beta, Gamma, and Neutron Radiation, thanks to our Patent Pending Positron-Neutron Venturi Technology.
- No annoying fallout. Can re-occupy area as soon as it cools. (May take several days in hard rock.)
- Selectable detonation delay up to 99 minutes.
- Advanced biometric security features prevent unauthorized use.
- Yield selectable from 1 to 15 Kilotons using handy front panel switches.
- One tenth the cost per kiloton of conventional explosives.
- Small, lightweight, and durable.
Uses of the AV-1 include:
- Mining, both underground and open pit.
- Artificial lakes and reservoirs
- Asteroid propulsion
Bulk pricing is available. Buy 10, get the 11th one free!
Step 2: Raid the Junk Box: the Bill of Materials
As mentioned earlier, I don't expect you to make this exactly as I did, although I will provide patterns and sources if I know them. This project will take some "McGyvering," so be prepared. You will need some basic electronic knowledge and soldering ability to build it as I have. You can, however, do something very similar without any of that knowledge if you buy the pre-assembled clock kit and forgo the mods. I've probably left things out of this list, and if I have I apologize. Hopefully things will be clear.
The heart: The Defusable Clock
The most important thing you need is the Defusable Clock from Nootropic Design. This Arduino based (ATMEGA 328) gadget sells for $32.95 in kit form or $45.95 assembled. It does not include a 9 Volt power adapter or FTDI board for custom programming. If you don't plan to alter the stock firmware, you won't need the FTDI board or any programming knowledge, because it comes pre-programmed. In addition to the clock kit itself, I added these mods:
- A 6-AA battery pack for portable operation.
I removed the DC jack from the board and added a 3-terminal DC jack for AC operation. The wiring is such that on AC it functions as a clock, but on batteries it only shows the countdown.
I replaced all but the "Det" LED with super-Bright white 3MM LEDs, (eBay).
- I added a wire to the board at the processor's pin 23 for an additional output. Rev 2 of the board won't need this, it has an output pad for pin 23.
- I also installed the Rev 2 firmware, which is compatible with the Rev 1 board. (Available at Nootropic's website.)
- I added wires at the "Detonate" switch and speaker terminals so I could have an external speaker and detonate switch.
The basic structure
This is what you'll need to make the chassis of the device.
The laser-cut parts are designed in Inkscape, a free vector-editing program. The .svg files can be opened with Inkscape, Adobe illustrator, or any web browser. The file has several alternate parts on it; use what you like.
- One or two pieces of 3" ABS sewer pipe, 8 to 12" long. It'll have an O.D. of about 3 1/2". You can also use 3 1/2" pipe if you want the unit bigger. (Home improvement store)
- You probably won't be able to find a venturi like this unless you are very well connected, so just use longer or more pipe, or find some sort of tubing. One of my original ideas was to slice up one of those aluminum water bottles.
- The 4 structural supports are made of 1/8" laser-cut acrylic and painted. If you choose to make this larger, you may need 1/4" acrylic. The size I used is hexagonal, about 6" across the flats.The shapes can be cut with a saw if you don't have access to a laser.
- 3 pieces of 1/4"-20 "all-thread" (threaded rod) longer than the overall length of the project. (Home improvement store)
- Several feet of aluminum or brass tubing with a 1/4" inside diameter. These will slip over the threaded rods as spacers. (Hobby shop or good hardware store)
- An assortment of 1/4"-20 nuts and washers. I used some threaded aluminum knobs (source unknown) on the end with the battery pack to make replacing batteries easier, and because they look cool! I also used acorn nuts on the other end. (eBay)
- Assorted greebles. This is the really fun part! Gather up all your spare parts that have a "Technical" look to them. Good examples are toroids, small heat sinks, spare parts from models, relays, anything that looks cool. I bought some small heat sinks intended for memory chips and the like on eBay for about a dollar, and found a toroid in a spare parts bin. I have no idea where the venturi came from, I found it in a junk pile. It looks like an old aircraft part.
Step 3: The Junk Box Strikes Back: Parts II, the Sequel
The Neomorphic Implosion Unit
- A "Shock Ball" toy. This is a little pricey, and I used only the shell, but I got mine at a thrift store for $1. An alternative is a clear plastic fillable Christmas ball. If you don't want 12, they sell individually on eBay. Placing the holes is up to you.
- Brass rivets to hold the wires into the holes. Again, use what you have. Pop rivets are a possibility.
- Wire for the holes in the sphere. These aren't connected to anything, they are only for looks. I used the inner wires from a Cat 5 cable.
- 2- 1/8" Acrylic disks, about 4" diameter. I laser cut mine, they can be saw cut as well. The holes in the center were sized to conceal the battery door in my shock ball. There is a stack of smaller disks cemented in the center of the one that attaches to the pipe.
- 3 lengths of 6-32 threaded rod. Length may vary depending on your sphere and your hardware.
- 3 pieces of 3/16" OD aluminum tubing, sized to fit over the threaded rods.
- 6-32 washers and nuts. I used acorn nuts, but any will do.
The Control Panel (Monophasic Chronometer)
- Inner panel, outer panel, and spacers cut from 1/8" Acrylic, then painted silver.I cut mine with a laser, but they can be machined by hand, also. Attached is a faceplate pattern the way I made it, plus a faceplate cutting guide for just the clock, with all openings for buttons and lights
- A "Gasket" cut from craft foam (Optional).
- 3 Super-Bright white 3mm LEDs, to replace the red LEDs on the clock.
- One 4-terminal DIP switch. This does nothing; a friend of mine likes DIP switches, so I added them.
- A 1" diameter lighted SPDT arcade button. For my design, it had to be a Normally Closed push button.(eBay)
- A toggle switch with safety cover, AKA a "Missile Switch" (Radio Shack, much cheaper on eBay).
- A white high-power LED. I used a 10 watt LED wired through a relay, with no series resistor. It only flashes for 1/20 of a second, so it's not going to overheat. This simulates the brilliant flash of a nuclear explosion. The relay is wired to pin 23 of the ATMEGA on the clock board. (eBay)
- Some means of mounting the panel to the cutout in the pipe. I used brass threaded inserts epoxied inside the cutout, with acrylic bulkheads backing them up.
- 4-40 screws, nuts and washers to mount the clock to the panel, and the panel to the pipe. I'm using allen head screws 'cause they look more "technical." Trimcraft Aviation is a great source for small hardware like this, at a very fair price.
Step 4: Return of the Junk Box: Parts III
The rest of the electronics
- The Geiger counter simulator from my other instructable. This creates quiet clicking sounds, plus a semi-random flashing blue glow from the implosion sphere.
- About 4 blue LEDs for the above circuit.(eBay)
- An LED flasher circuit based on a 555 timer, such as this one. This flashes the LED in the arcade button.
- A "breathing LED circuit. I bought one on eBay for under $2 rather than build one. I removed the blue LEDs it came with, and wired some amber LEDs on leads.
- An external speaker for greater volume. I used an old high-impedance speaker, any small speaker will probably work.
- A miniature relay with a low-current 5-volt coil to control the high power LED that simulates a detonation. Yeah, I coulda used a MOSFET, I just didn't feel like breadboarding anything else. (Radio Shack or better yet, eBay)
- Zip ties
- Miscellaneous wires...
And in a supporting role... (Tools, etc.)
- A laser cutter if you have access to one, otherwise a saw and drill wil work too...
- Paint... Lots of it. Silver, gold, and flat clear Krylon. I clear-coated the metallic painted parts because metallic seems to show fingerprints badly. Rustoleum hammertone paint for the body.
- Acrylic cement. I use the thin solvent cement, such as Ambroid, which will cement ABS, Acrylic, and Styrene.
- Flex-I-File Touch-n-Flow liquid cement applicator. This thing has got to be the greatest invention since liquid cement!
- Various hand tools: Screwdrivers, nutdrivers, wrenches, allen wrenches, sandpaper, tubing cutter, pliers, cutters, wire strippers.
- Soldering tools and soldering know-how.
- Drill and various drill bits
- Dremel tool to speed things up, but not necessary.
I'm sure I've forgotten something... But I think you've got the idea. This doesn't take a lot of tools.
Step 5: Critical Mass: the Assembly Building
I first assembled the implosion unit. I cut 18 lengths of network cable twisted pairs and placed one in each of the 18 holes in the sphere, holding them in with some brass rivets I had. The rivets are not "set," just glued in. Placing the blue LEDs and the piezo speaker from the Geiger counter simulator inside the gutted shock ball, I closed up the shock ball and sandwiched it between the two acrylic disks, screwing it all together with the 6-32 threaded rods and the aluminum tubing. No dimensions are given for the threaded rods and spacers, you just have to "cut to fit." The tubing spacers are important; Otherwise, you'd probably crack the acrylic by putting too much stress on it as you tighten the nuts. The wires were neatly routed and bundled with zip ties and a clamp.
Next up is the control panel.I cut a section out of the pipe to match the size of the control panel (3 1/4" X 6 1/2"). The best way I've found to do this is measure a "chord" 3.25" wide on one end of the pipe, then use a section of angle aluminum or a door frame to draw straight lines down the length of the pipe. This gives you the position of the long cuts. Measure along the length of the pipe to get the position of the end cuts. The pipe is fairly easy to cut with a hacksaw. The long cuts were done with a Harbor Freight "Oscillating Power Tool" with a roundish blade, but it can also be done by drilling holes in the corners and using a saber saw. The faceplate file has 2 pieces that are half moon shaped to close the ends of the cutout.
I laser cut all the pieces for the faceplate out of black acrylic and cemented them together to make a shallow box. The back plate isn't strictly necessary, but I needed a little more depth for that arcade button, and I wanted a flat back I could glue the rest of the circuitry to. There is also a place to mount the high power LED on the back plate.
I assembled the clock and switches to the front panel, trapping the small acrylic buttons between the panel and clock.
Step 6: Firing Circuits: Electronic Assembly
All the lighting circuits are independent of each other, so they are all just wired to the power bus. According to the schematic, when on battery power, the Arm switch must be turned on in order to power the circuit, and since this grounds the "det" pin on the clock, it functions only in countdown mode. When external power is connected, it breaks the normally closed connection on the power jack, and the unit then functions as a clock. It can still be triggered by pressing the red button.
The "Breathing" lights and power jack are placed in the venturi, and a 4-pin Molex cable scrounged from a computer power supply is used to connect the venturi to the main unit.
Step 7: Greeble This: Final Assembly
I mounted the Implosion Unit to the chassis with 6 6-32 screws around the perimeter of the ABS pipe, then mounted the control panel in it's cutout. The two venturi parts are mounted to the end caps with 4-40 hardware.
I screwed the 1/4"-20 acorn nuts to one end of my threaded rods, then placed the end cap with the large venturi part on the rods and added a set of washers and nuts. I test fitted the main assembly with the control panel and sphere onto this, measured, and cut the aluminum tubing to length. I the added another set of nuts and washers. I continued this with the 2 middle parts (The centering rings), then test fitted the end cap with the small venturi, cutting off the excess all-thread.
Important Note: Do not overtighten the nuts holding the acrylic panels. Acrylic cracks easily. Snug is good enough.
The battery holder is mounted underneath the solid end cap (The left as viewed from the front), and the three threaded aluminum knobs make removal easy for battery changes.
The 2 halves of the Molex connector are now connected together, and the various greebles are added, mostly just glued on. Wiring (Most of it fake) is dressed out with black zip ties as needed.
Step 8: Minimum Safe Distance: Finishing Touches
I printed an assortment of labels on clear and silver inkjet label material to add some realism (And a couple of inside jokes). These were also made in Inkscape.
I also tweaked the Arduino code a bit, having it beep only during the last 10 seconds, plus outputting to pin 23 for .05 seconds (For the detonation effect), and another version for demos that recycles the countdown after detonation and a pause. The code is well commented, with "new code" commented where I altered the stock firmware. The only difference between the two is one recycles the countdown after a 60 second pause, and the other does not.
It's done! Now I just have to be very careful where I display it...