The challenge, how does one present 50's synchronized swimming, or water works like the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, without water. Pushing string with a motor is not a new idea. Adding servo motors and a microcontroller to create automated and interactive installation is what I was looking to do during my residency at Autodesk's new facility on Pier 9.

This Instructable goes through the assembly of one of my 1/4 scale string fountains. The second image above is 6 string fountains arraigned in a circle moving string though the air.


Step 1: The Parts

Here they are all laid out. Always be knolling, or so they say.

I've attached a .zip file with all the STL files. I printed all the parts except for the base on an Objet Conex 500. The base plate was laser cut out of 1/8" acrylic.

McMaster Carr parts.

16pcs - 94150A305 - M2 Stainless Steel Nuts

4pcs - 90116A009 - M2 X 5mm Philips Head Machine Screw

6pcs - 90116A010 - M2 X 6mm Philips Head Machine Screw

10pcs - 90116A015 - M2 X 8mm Philips Head Machine Screw

3pcs - 90116A113 - M2.5 X 10mm Philips Head Machine Screw

4pcs - 90116A114 - M2.5 X 12mm Philips Head Machine Screw

3pcs - 90116A1531 - M3 X 8mm Philips Head Machine Screw

1pc - 90263A1165 - Shoulder Screw, 3mm Diameter X 8mm Long Shoulder, M2 Thread

1pc - 1265K311 - Metric Miniature Type 316 Ss Drive Shaft, 3 Mm Od, 200 Mm Length

3pcs - 7804K1249 - 3M X 6M X 2.5M Stainless Steel Bearing

3pcs - 7804K1269 - 3M X 8M X 4M Stainless Steel Bearing

36pcs - 96415K693 - 316 Stainless Steel Precision Ball, 3/32" Diameter

Tower Hobbies

1pc - LXXJW4 - Great Planes Rimfire 250 Outrunner Brushless Motor

1pc - LXKSY2 - Great Planes Silver Series 8A Brushless ESC 5V/1A BEC

1pc - HMXE7625 - Heli-Max Pro Linkage Set MX400

2pc - LXLGJ5 - Hitec HS-65MG Mighty Metal Gear Feather Micro Servo

<p>This project is amazing. Lovely to watch, brilliantly created - your mind is a marvel, and I love reading about your process.</p>
<p>in progress of making it - simplified version with help of paolo!</p><p>the 3d printing is very rough and the motor underpowered but you can see it&acute;s starting to go in the right direction</p><p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BDGiMRgGKoy/?taken-by=jandornig" rel="nofollow">https://www.instagram.com/p/BDGiMRgGKoy/?taken-by=...</a></p>
<p>Great work</p>
<p>Great display ..Really good work</p>
<p>Wooowwwww....Amazing Creativity!!!</p>
<p>Really nice!!</p>
<p>Can you help with a base measurement I should be following when sending the STL files to the 3d printer?</p>
All the parts were modeled in inches.
<p>Do you think there is any way to reduce the noise?</p>
<p>Yes, but for ~10x the cost. The RC motors with controllers cost ~$90 each. Maxon motor and controller cost ~$1500 each.</p>
why not try cheap china made motors and esc's?
<p>I wonder if you could propel the string with compressed air, eliminating motor, bearings and wheels, and maybe even the noise (with a remote compressor). </p>
<p>I thought about that. It's nosier and you have a condensation problem, the nozzle cools as the air exits and water condenses on it.</p>
<p>amazing job and creativity.....</p>
<p>I am looking to make a mini version of the dancing but not as complicated as the bellagio fountain and what I am interested is that the materials you've used, are they the same as they do not appear waterproof? </p>
<p>Chamburn, that's a different project. I designed the string fountain to create a fountain like effect without water. </p>
Ohh okay, But I really like the way that the servo is used to control movement and hopefully I can use it to control the movement of the pump and lights for the added effects....
<p>Awesome, great job!</p>
<p>Very nice. I like the colours you introduced in the string and the tilting movement. We made something similar some years ago. Have a look at this one , slightly scaled up ;-) </p><p>http://www.troika.uk.com/project/persistent-illusion/</p>
<p>You can see it running here: http://vimeo.com/93604406</p>
<p>So beautiful and trippy!!!</p>
<p>One of my most treasured childhood memories is of going to a NYC MOMA exibit in the 60's of kinetic sculptures. I believe they were the work of <a href="https://www.google.com/search?q=Jean+Tinguely&spell=1&sa=X&ei=_3G9VJnOHMKjgwSX8YLgAg&ved=0CBwQvwUoAA" rel="nofollow">Jean <strong><em>Tinguely</em></strong></a> a Swiss artist. One of them was a string fountain that used a ribbon loop that was at least 30ft long and it was very dramatic as not only did the loop rise and fall but the machine rotated on the vertical axis so that it swept a giant circle in the air as the ribbon writhed like a living thing. There was also a giant noisy machine that tossed soccer balls across the gallery and caught them and routed them back to the throwing end.</p>
<p>mcrumpton, How lucky you are. I would have loved to see that show. I have the show catalog and it's beautiful. I saw the ribbon piece a few years ago at the <a href="http://www.tinguely.ch/en/museum_sammlung/jean_tinguely.html" rel="nofollow" style="">Museum Tinguley</a> in Basel. It's an amazing piece. I've always wanted to see Rotozaza No. 1 in person. </p>
<p>Video Request!!!</p>
<p>+7 (or animated gif would do nicely too!)</p>
<p>I've added an animated gif as the first image, thank you for the suggestion. Video next.</p>
<p>Thanks for the gif and video.</p><p>Great effect, that's impressive!</p>
<p>hey jan, you can find a clip in the pier 9 promotional video..</p>
<p>Yes please!</p>
<p>I like this, and as an rc enthusiast, I already have a lot of the stuff to make one. I'll just modify it a little bit to work with my transmitter/receiver because I like things to be a little more interactive. Thanks for this!</p>
<p>ShrickSon, I'm indebted to the RC world, the size and pricing of servos and brushless motors made this project possible. If I had to do this with Maxon motors and controllers it would have been an order of magnitude more expensive. </p>
Woo...impresive.<br>How did you craft the plastic pieces? Maybe another instructable for that? Congratulations
Madvic, I used CAD software to model the parts and then printed them on a 3d printer. An instructable on my design intent might be interesting, where as an instructable on how to use CAD would be book sized.
<p>So what's the price of all these parts? Like what's the total cost of all you have to buy?</p>
<p>hello sir, I was really impressed by your 'string fountain' the very first time I saw it in the pier 9 promotional video. To find it I first searched each and every name in the credits, then I searched each person on the internet, then after a time I found your page on instructables. Then I searched for 'string fountain' but it was no where to be found. There was only a servo instructables. I got sad and sat down to make my own with the speed of the feed of the string I thought it to be a brushless... started to design a case to fit all the stuff with drive gear... then got busy into some other stuff and suddenly in today's instructable newsletter I found the woderful 'string fountain'. I thank you sir for this instructable and promise to inform you the time I'll upload my version. :)</p>
<p>hunter9t9, keep me posted. If you get stuck ping me and I'll help where a can. </p>
<p>That was very impressive. The engineering you did to get all the components to be as small, light, and functional as could be was incredible. I love your attention to detail. Awesome project! Awesome instructable!</p>
<p>That looks very cool. Thank you</p>
<p>Cool effect and very well documented, thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Super inspirational work Paolo! +infinity </p>
<p>Hi, cool project. Have you seen the exhibit I made in 1999 just next door to you at the Exploratorium? You must have seen the bicycle Rope Squirters outside? Some details are here including the toy version that uses the same string...</p><p><a href="http://www.hawkwan.com/CS_workingHTML/04exhibition.htm" rel="nofollow">http://www.hawkwan.com/CS_workingHTML/04exhibition...</a></p><p><a href="http://explorepdx.com/stringthing.html" rel="nofollow">http://explorepdx.com/stringthing.html</a></p><p>also a fun video of Nobel Prize physicist Leon Letterman trying to explain it in 2001 here </p><p><a href="https://www.exploratorium.edu/media/index.php?project=42&program=00000381" rel="nofollow">https://www.exploratorium.edu/media/index.php?proj...</a></p><p>Original inspiration was from Clifford Wagner and Norm Tuck's Lariat Chain that is also on display here at the Explo.</p><p>Bruce Shapiro (http://taomc.com/) made a stepper actuated computer controlled device like yours sometime back in 2004 or so but I cannot find anything online about it. Just FYI.</p><p></p>
<p>Charles, your 1999 exhibit is the inspiration for this work. I first saw it in the early '00 at the old exploratorium. The bicycle rope squirters, while good at wearing out kids, don't hit me the same way your 1999 piece does. By the way the earliest example I've found of this work is in the Art &amp; Metier museum in Paris, ca.1860's.<br> <br>I'd love to know more about the Shapiro piece as that's where I'm going with this work and it's always nice to know the terrain.<br><br>I have a half dozen of these 1/4 scale String Fountains up and running. I've been playing with routines from 50 synchronized swimming and automated water fountain routines a la the Bellagio.<br><br>I also have a version what shoots a 3/4&quot; rope 16' into the air that's where I'd like to take this work. Out of the 'toy' 'science' space into the architectural space. Love to talk more but the 'about' section of your website doesn't go anywhere.</p>

About This Instructable




Bio: I am organic computer running poetic software. Interested in overlaps and antipodes. Fascinated by how metaphors shape our thoughts and objects. I've been wondering ... More »
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