Picture of Zolterno: An Animatronic, Fire Based Fortune Teller
Nearly everyone who has lived for any period of time understands the pop culture references from the Tom Hanks classic: Big. In order to avoid bullying, a young child finds a mystical fortune teller ("Zoltar"), and wishes to grow up. Much to his surprise, his wish comes true. I wanted to recreate Zoltar in a way only Sheet Metal Alchemist could be proud of - made out of metal, and spewing fire :-). This instructable covers the creation of the stainless steel skeleton plumbed for fire effects. Other instructables cover the electronics programming, and the creation of the "streamline" style enclosure from the 1920s.

Zolterno was made as part of my residency at Instructables. So. Much. Fun. He's already been to Maker Faire Bay Area 2013, and will be hanging out for the next couple of years mostly on Pier 9 on the Embarcadero, so if you're in the Bay Area, swing by and say hello!
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Step 1: Designing for fire effects

Picture of Designing for fire effects
Zolterno's entire body can be engulfed in flames. However, Zolterno also needs the ability to flex and move to be a realistic fortune teller. Traditionally, using propane rated flexible hoses was the only way to carry propane through a movable propane structure. This would not work for my application, as all LP rated hoses are made out of rubber or other elastomers which would burn or degrade in the presence of fire. 

A key component to designing Zolterno was the creation of a flexible propane carrying system which would not degrade in contact with fire. Check out the images for a description for an overview of the basic joint, and how they assemble to make mobile, propane-leaking, fire-proof connections!

The basic joint is a set of loose fitting spheres made from half-spheres which are held together by a nifty system of washers and welds (more to be described on later slides)
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bennyj12111 months ago
What are the actual propane orfices? Is it in the tolerances of the ball joints themselves? How about the electric ignition? What did you use for spark?
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  bennyj1215 months ago

Hey Benny! Sorry for the very long delay on getting back to you. Yes, the tolerance in the ball joints acts both to give the piece movement, and also to "leak" propane for ignition. Ignition itself is done with a hot surface igniter - not a spark. Spark igniters generate lots of HF noise in my experience and can really mess with microcontrollers if they are not properly shielded. Hope that helps.

spylock11 months ago
Great job,alot of work,but it paid off.One of the best that I have ever seen on instructables.
ksykes11 months ago
I love your project concept and write up. Thanks for sharing your awesome project!
shizumadrive11 months ago
It could be from the next Bioshock Infinite
nerd1211 months ago
Does he take your soul as payment for telling your future? Seriously, I think that if this was there in 'Big', then the entire plot would have ended with the kid screaming and running before his wish came true. Freaking epic!
mikeasaurus11 months ago
The intro picture with the skull in flames is amazing. I could look at it for hours.
Orngrimm11 months ago
One single day and you already reached the MAINPAGE with your project: It is now one of the backgrounds! Nicely done! :)
Mr. Noack11 months ago
Wow! Speechless.......
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  Mr. Noack11 months ago
Thank you sir!
19freemans2 months ago
Ghost rider,zoltar,ghost rider,zoltar, im pretty sure its ghost rider in a box
clockworkfish5 months ago

that is so many levels of badass

blueangelical5 months ago
;-) its always the ones with no instructables who dis the ones who have. Bloody brilliant buddy, looks great. Well done.
gmh576011 months ago
All that work and no video of it functioning?
nerd747311 months ago
that is cool I never got into fire or anything like that
tim_n11 months ago
fabulously dangerous. I love it.
order9911 months ago
That is the most awesome thing I have seen on Instructables in a Looooong time, even by the amazing standards of the site!

One question though-did you drill the tubing in order to direct the flames, or is there a tiny bit of acceptable leakage from each pressurized joint?
Awesome! Does he also peer into the souls of the guilty to make them feel every pain they ever inflicted with his Penance Stare? ;P
That was a reference to Ghostrider. Your Zolterno looks pretty similar when up in flames.
Hom3rSimpson11 months ago
Err.. video?
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  Hom3rSimpson11 months ago
Patience my friend - it is on its way in about a week.
Well, you made an epic looking instructable with no video of the awesome fire-y-ness. Of course people will demand a video! :P
JohnathanStein11 months ago
What! No movie! Are you KIDDING me! ARRRGGGHHHH!
fde wolfe11 months ago
Fabulous! We want one! Can't wait for the video.
awesome!, do you have any video of it in operation? this is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.
IKR Wheres the video..
chemicalvamp11 months ago
Something this cool, should have had a video embedded! :)
RedWagon11 months ago
Inferno Cop!
sniffydogs11 months ago
M.C. Langer11 months ago
Absolutely FANTASTIC! And video will be awesome!
mckeephoto11 months ago
Unbelievably gorgeous! I need to take a trip to the other coast and get my fortune read...

andrea biffi11 months ago
wow! that should be terrific! could you post a video too?
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  andrea biffi11 months ago
Thank you! and yes, its on its way!
canida11 months ago
Wow, the fire pictures are FANTASTIC. This is amazingly awesome. :D
Agreed, video would be lovely.
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  canida11 months ago
Audrey is a freaking wizard with a camera :-D. He's got a TV shoot today, so there should be some video soon!
AndyGadget11 months ago

Incredible piece of work - Love it.

sheetmetalalchemist (author)  AndyGadget11 months ago
Thank you - and yes, video is coming :-D.
poofrabbit11 months ago
sheetmetalalchemist (author)  poofrabbit11 months ago
Nah, your user name is WONDERFUL :). Thank you.
Video please! Nice work! Keep an eye out for my work. once the fire season dies down I have some crazy flamethrower stuff to film and you may want to borrow ideas from what you see. I'm sure you will have had an influence on my work. That joint system is awesome!
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