When my youngest daughter's godmother was giving a big garden party, I threw a workshop for the kids. To contribute to the decoration in an original way, we made a 25 m long gondola lift with 18 Joule thief party lights. We had a great time and the result looked really festive. It is hard to photograph small moving lights at night, but this video gives an impression:

At the party the lift was hung between two trees and served till the next morning. After the party, the children were allowed to take their gondola lights home (always important for kids). Back home we hung the lift between my oldest daughter's bedroom window and her tree-house in the garden. Some of her friends came over, bringing their light gondolas from the party, and attached them again, making the fun last even longer.

There seem to be not many instructables on gondola lifts or cable cars. A nice one is http://www.instructables.com/id/Miniature-Moving-Gondola/. However, in this instructable I show how you can make simple and cheap pulley wheels out of plastic dinner plates, that allow for an easy, yet stable attachment of the gondolas. I illustrate the gondolas we made with a kind of joule thief flashlights shining down on reflective aluminium foil shapes, but of course you can make your own. You can use led throwies as even simpler party lights or go for gondolas transporting messages, small toys or modelled after the real thing. The gondolas we made weighed a good 50g each, but I guess the construction is suitable for gondola's up to about 100g or more, depending on the number of gondolas and the span of the lift.

Step 1: What you need:

Of course you will need two safely accessible endpoints for your lift, in a clear line of sight from each other.

This the parts list for the gondola lift:
- a windscreen wiper motor salvaged from a car (or a similar very low rpm geared motor, around 50 rpm)
- a power source suitable for the motor, either battery or a power supply (I found a 12 V switching power supply rating 1200mA just coping with the motor at its lowest speed).
- two matching pairs of plastic camping dinner plates (not the high end hard plastic types, but the cheap, slightly flexible ones. I tried both dinner plates and deep soup plates, but the deep plates do not work on the motor side, as their high rim touches the motor).
- some small screws
- hot melt glue (or a lot more small screws)
- a “side wheel” (see picture, I used 35 mm diameter pvc furniture wheel)
- a couple of washers large enough to fit over the axle of the drive shaft
- a nail 2-2,5 mm diameter
- tie wraps or an alternative to attach the motor to a support
- some scrap wood and larger screws to make two supports (this will depend on what you want to attach the lift to)
- some rope, two times the length the lift has to span, + some extra to make the knot (I used kite rope, about 2 mm in diameter)
- 1 to 2 mm steel wire, I used about 50 cm length for each gondola
- some sturdy tape (e.g. duct tape)

To this you add the materials of your choice for the gondola’s (see last step for inspiration).

Of course, you will need some tools:
- a hot melt glue gun
- a drill and drill bits for steel (diameter 2,5, 4 mm and 10 mm)
- screwdrivers for the screws used
- scissors

How nice ! <br>The kids must have been happy ! &hellip;&nbsp;
You are Very Talented.
Wow, this is a really cool idea! I think I'm going to build one for my garden too.
so easy, yet so very very cool... +5

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Bio: Send me a message if you're interested in Technology or Science Workshops in Flanders, Brussels or the Southern of the Netherlands. I have over ... More »
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