Ferris Wheel Vitamin Dispenser

Introduction: Ferris Wheel Vitamin Dispenser

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement of the Makecourse at the University of South Florida (www.makecourse.com). As you can see there are many components to this project but the purpose of this instructable is to lay out its design and explain it in a way the can be replicated. I hope you enjoy!

Step 1: Supplies You Will Need

  • Vitamins
  • Copper wire
  • LED's (18 - preferably different colors)
  • Arduino
  • Breadboard
  • IR Sensor
  • Remote
  • Charging port to power the arduino
  • Charging port cord
  • 220 ohm resistor (6)
  • 10K resistor
  • black circuit box
  • 3 ft x 3 ft sheet of aluminum
  • Aluminum cutters
  • Metal file
  • 1/2 inch PVC pipe
  • PVC pipe elbow (2)
  • PVC cutters
  • Plastic cylinder (water bottle works)
  • 9V batteries (4)
  • 9V battery snap connectors (4)
  • 1/2 in. spacers (made out of wood)
  • Epoxy
  • Small nails (4)
  • Hammer
  • Long neck phillips screw driver
  • 360 continuous servo
  • Plank of wood to make legs with
  • Electric saw
  • Drill
  • Sharpie
  • Metal poker tool
  • Soldering iron (w/ solder)
  • Ruler
  • Electrical tape
  • Silver metallic spray paint
  • Black spray paint
  • Silicone
  • 2 screws
  • 1 meter thin metal rod
  • 3D printed buckets (8)
  • Silver ribbon
  • Hot glue gun (w/ hot glue)

Step 2: Cutting the Aluminum

Using the 3 ft by 3 ft sheet of aluminum, use the aluminum cutters to cut out 4 even circles, each with a circumference of 10 and a half inches (The easiest way to do this is to find a plate this size and trace around it with a sharpie). Then after the 4 circles are all cut out, use the ruler to find the center of the circle and mark this point on each aluminum circle. Measure one inch away from the center point in 4 directions to get the 1/4th of a circle cut out in four different places (As seen in the picture above).

At this point you should have four circles of aluminum with 4 pizza cuts out of each one. The next step is to cut out the center hole where the PVC pipe will go to connect the walls of the Ferris wheel. Cut a small piece of the PVC pipe off with the PVC cutters and use it to trace a circle at the center point of each of the four circles of aluminum. Use the aluminum cutters to cut out each of these circles on all 4 of the aluminum circles.

The last cuts you will have to make in the aluminum are not necessarily cuts but rather holes for the LEDs. However, you will only be poking these holes into two of the aluminum circles, not into all 4. First measure around the outside of the aluminum circle, 8 points that are of equal distance to each other and mark these points with a sharpie. Then use the metal poker tool to stab through the sheet of aluminum at the point that was marked in all 8 different places, but only wide enough for the led to fit. Repeat this for the second circle of aluminum. Lastly file down any parts of the aluminum that seem sharp with the metal file.

Step 3: Wiring the Lights

Now that all four of the aluminum circles have the proper cuts make sure to first spray paint them with the silver metallic spray paint before wiring them. Then once the spray paint has dried it is time to wire the LEDs. This step only requires 2 of the 4 circles cut. First begin with lining the side of both aluminum circles (the side that will not be showing and that the LED legs will be sticking out on) with electrical tape. This is important because aluminum carries a current of electricity through it and we want our current to stay solely running through the copper wires. Then turn on your soldering gun and measure the length between each LED hole because that is how long the pieces of wire are going to be cut. In the end 12 wires per aluminum circle will be cut approximately the same length, so 24 in total.

Inside of the walls there will be two 9V batteries. Each 9V battery will be responsible for powering 4 LED's (considering that each LED takes about 2V to power it). The LEDs need to be soldered to the wire that connects it to another LED. The LEDs will run in series, meaning that the negative end of one LED will be connected to the positive end of another using the wire to add extra length. Using 6 wires, one 220 ohm resistor, and the 9V battery, 4 LEDs can easily be lit up. First put a snap connector on the top of the 9V battery and solder the negative wire to the negative end of one LED. Then solder the positive end of that same LED to one of the wires that was cut which will then be soldered to the negative end of a different LED. Repeat this 3 times to have a series of 4 LEDs. Then on the end of this series solder a 220 ohm resistor that will run back into the positive side of this battery. However do not solder the end of the resistor to the positive side of the battery because it needs to be able to be disconnected and reconnected whenever the Ferris wheel is turned on. (If soldering these LEDs in series is confusing reference the diagram above).

This needs to be repeated 3 more times using two batteries per Ferris wheel wall. When all of the wires are soldered to the LEDs and connected to the batteries, epoxy down the two batteries on the aluminum circle with the LED holes and push the LEDs through the holes and epoxy those in as well. Then repeat this for the other aluminum circle. When finished you should have 16 LEDs that light up, 8 for each Ferris wheel wall.

Step 4: Building the Walls

In order to put the walls of the Ferris wheel together, lay the aluminum circle with the LED wires on its back with the battery facing up. Then find one of the aluminum circles that has no wiring on it which will be placed on top of this to create one Ferris wheel wall. Epoxy down a few 1/2 inch spacers on the aluminum side with the wires so when the top sheet of aluminum is connected they are even all the way around the circle/Ferris wheel wall. Then finally put epoxy on the top of the spacers and on top of the batteries and lay the aluminum circle with no wiring on top of this so that the pie shapes line up and the walls look like one from the eagle eye perspective. Put a book on top of these two sandwiched aluminum circles to seal the epoxy. Leave this sit for about 30 minutes to guarantee they will not come apart later.

Once the epoxy has sealed, stand the walls up and turn on the hot glue gun. Measure the length around the two circles of aluminum in ribbon and cut what is needed off. Then wrap the ribbon around the wheel living excess on both sides so that you can hot glue the ribbon onto the aluminum. The point of the ribbon is to cover up all of the wiring on the inside of the two sheets of aluminum and to give it the illusion of just one.

Repeat all of these steps for the second Ferris wheel wall.

Step 5: Preparing the Base

In order for the Ferris wheel to stand up and rotate it needs something holding it up. To do this take the plank of wood and measure from the center of the wheel to where it will be standing up on top of the black circuit box. Then using the saw, cut out a v-shape which will serve as one leg of the Ferris wheel. Then cut out an identical leg for the opposite side of the Ferris wheel. In one of these legs saw out a u-shape at the top of the leg where the PVC pipe holding up the wheel will lay in. On the other leg, saw out the rectangular shape of the motor so it has something to sit in while rotating the wheel. After finishing up all of the cuts on the legs, spray paint both of the legs with the silver metallic spray paint and let them dry. Reference the final product pictures if you are unsure how the legs need to be cut.

Before the legs can be fastened onto the black circuit box, a few holes need to be made for the functionality of the project. Since it is run via a remote, their needs to be a hole in the circuit box for the IR sensor. So using a drill, make a small hole in the circuit box, the size of the IR sensor. This hole needs to be on the side of the circuit box that is chosen to be the front of the project. There are also LED's on the top of the box at the base of the Ferris wheel which indicate whether the device is going forwards or backwards.Cut these holes right next to each other in the center, half an inch away from the edge of the circuit box. Put these LED holes on the same side as the IR sensor because they want to be located on the front of the project, not the back.

Since the legs are cut out and soon to be mounted on the black circuit box which has the correct holes in it, cut out two more planks of wood. They should be the size of the side of the black circuit box to add extra surface area on the box. Use the black spray paint to paint these planks of wood the same color as the circuit box. Then using the drill and screws, fasten the planks of wood to the side of the black circuit box that is NOT the front (so not the side with the hole for the IR sensor; Reference the picture if there is confusion where these planks of wood go).

Lastly to finish up the base of the project, there needs to be a hole in the back of the circuit box for the charging port. To do this, drill a square the size of the charging port through the two planks of wood and the back of the black box near the bottom left hand corner. Make sure the charging port can easily slide in and out of the hole so the device can be plugged in and turned on. There also needs to be a hole in the center of the back of the box where the PVC pipe will carry the wire that is attached to the servo. After this hole is drilled through the two planks of wood and the circuit box, make sure the servo wires can be run through it smoothly. Then epoxy on one of the PVC elbows around the hole that was just drilled with the elbow opening facing up. However before you epoxy on the elbow spray paint it with the silver metallic spray paint. To save time spray paint the other elbow as well.

Step 6: Wiring the Arduino

Before the lid of the black box can be fastened on and the legs mounted on top, the arduino has to be wired correctly and set inside of the black box. To begin wiring the arduino, first grab all of the materials needed: the arduino itself, wires, 2 220 ohm resistor, 1 10K resistor, the IR sensor, the 360 continuous servo, a breadboard, the charging port cord, and a red and green LED. The set up is pretty basic and there is a picture above of what it should look like, however this picture does not include the hook up of the two LEDs or the extra length of the IR sensor.

At this point you're going to need to turn on the soldering iron again to create extra distance for the servo, the IR sensor, and the LEDs. First start by wiring the servo. Connect the positive and negative wires to the positive and negative rows on the breadboard, and the third wire, which in the picture is orange, to pin 9 on the arduino. Then for the setup of the IR sensor, cut three wires of equal length a few inches long, and solder them to each peg of the IR sensor (this is because the IR sensor has to reach the hole on the side of the black circuit box). Then when the IR sensor has extra wire, put the ends of these wires into the breadboard in a row of three. Looking from the front of the IR sensor, the very left prong should be in the same column as the 10K resistor. The 10K resistor's other end should be wired into the positive row of the breadboard. Then another wire should be put into the same column as the sensor and the resistor, that is attached to pin 11 of the arduino. This left prong of the IR sensor should be one of three wires in that column of the breadboard. The other two prongs of the IR sensor need to be connected into a positive and negative row on the breadboard. Then lastly a negative wire needs to run into the ground pin on the arduino from the breadboard and a positive wire from the breadboard to the 5V on the arduino.

Then to get the LEDs working properly, solder some extra wire onto the ends of both of the LEDs so they can reach the top of the black box. Put the positive end of the LED into the center of the breadboard and the negative end of the LED into the negative row of the breadboard. Then put a 220 ohm resistor in the same column as the positive end of the LED and run the other side of the resistor into the positive row on the breadboard. Do the same thing for the other LED.

Set the arduino with all of the correct wiring into the black circuit box. Then put the IR sensor up to the hole that was drilled and using electrical tape, tape it to the hole so that it will not move and the sensor can be seen from the outside of the box. Then put the green and red LEDs through the holes on the lid of the box that were previously drilled and epoxy them in so they do not move. Then run the wires for the servo through the hole in the back of the circuit box and out of the PVC elbow. After the epoxy for the LEDs has dried, plug in the charging cord for the power bank into the arduino and stick the other end of the cord (that goes into the power bank) out of the hole that was drilled for the power bank (do not plug it in yet to the power source). Then you can finally put the lid onto the black circuit box and screw on the screws. All you should see is the two LEDs on the lid (no wires should be showing), the charging cord out of the back of the box and the wires for the servo coming out of the PVC elbow also on the back of the box.

Above is a picture of the circuit schematic and the arduino code that makes the Ferris wheel function the was it should.

Step 7: Finalizing the Structure

To begin finalizing the structure of the project make sure all of the pieces with epoxy are sealed and will not fall apart. First spray paint the PVC pipe that will connect the two Ferris wheel walls. Then once it has dried stick the PVC pipe through the center of one Ferris wheel wall and then through the center of the second leaving space for the buckets that will dangle in the middle. Do not run the PVC pipe all the way through the second Ferris wheel wall because the servo propeller will go there, there should also be some PVC pipe sticking out on the opposite side for it to rest on the leg with the U shape cut out of it. Once the PVC pipe is through the Ferris wheel walls correctly, epoxy them there so they don't move. Let the epoxy dry and then you should have the Ferris wheel connected.

In order to get the servo on top of the leg with all of the wires properly hidden, measure how long a piece of PVC will need to be to run from the bottom PVC elbow up to where the top PVC elbow will be (which is right next to where the servo is going to be put) and cut it with the PVC cutters. Then spray paint this piece of PVC and give it time to dry. Before you attach the servo to the leg it is helpful to epoxy down the leg that will have the motor on it. Put epoxy on the bottom of the leg and make sure it is centered on the edge of the wood planks off the back of the black box and stick it down. give the epoxy time to dry so that the leg will not fall over and will be supportive for the Ferris wheel. After the paint on the PVC pipe is dry, stick it in the bottom elbow attached to the base and run the wire up through it then connect the other elbow (which should be already painted) and run the wire through that as well. There shouldn't be much wire left before the start of the servo, which you should rest on the leg that has a space cut out for it.

The next step is to hot glue the servo in place so that it does not move while the Ferris wheel is in motion. Once the hot glue has dried, which doesn't take very long, it is finally time to secure the other leg to the black box. Put epoxy on the bottom of the leg with the U shape and stick it to the very edge of the black box on the side that is designated as the front. This should be centered above the LEDs on the lid of the black circuit box (Reference the picture if confused on where the LEDs and the leg should go in respect to each other). Then let the epoxy sit for at least 30 minutes so that it is sealed.

While waiting for the epoxy holding the legs up to dry, unscrew the propeller off of the servo. The propeller needs to then be epoxied in the center of the Ferris wheel wall that does not have the PVC pipe sticking out of it. Once the epoxy for that has dried, use 4 little nails and hammer them through the small holes on the propeller through the aluminum so that the propeller does not come unattached from the Ferris wheel while in motion. Once the propeller is firmly on the Ferris wheel wall and the epoxy for the legs has dried, lay the PVC pipe part of the Ferris wheel on top of the U shaped leg and reattach the propeller to the servo. You will need to stick the screw driver and screw through the PVC pipe to reach the propeller on the other side and reattach it. You should now have the Ferris wheel resting on the legs, connected to the servo, and standing by itself.

Step 8: Finishing Touches

The last part to the structure is putting in the 3D printed buckets. These 3D buckets will hold the vitamins before they are dispensed. Take the metal rod and measure the distance between the two Ferris wheel walls. Then cut 8 of these metals rods out of the big metal rod all the same size. After that, find the 8 3D printed buckets, which are shown in the picture above. These buckets were designed in Autodesk Inventor, the height is 33.42 mm, the length is 25.4 mm, the width is 15.24 mm, and the sides of the buckets to be 1.27 mm, printed in a navy blue. In order to reprint the same buckets that I have for my project there is an STL file connected to this step. Stick each metal rod through each of the buckets, then once each bucket is on its respective metal rod turn on the hot glue gun again. Pick up each metal rod with the bucket on them and hot glue both ends of the metal rod on each wall of the Ferris wheel so that the bucket hangs down from the rod. They should be glued inside the Ferris wheel walls where the LEDs are on the outside of the Ferris wheel walls. Repeat this for each of the 8 metal rods. These rods also act as spacers so that the Ferris wheel wall is evenly spaced all the way around the aluminum circle.

Then as the last step to finishing the structure cut one last piece of PVC that will be laid down underneath the Ferris wheel to serve as a peg to dump out the buckets. Because you don't want to be able to see through this PVC pipe, silicone both ends of the pipe closed and then spray paint it silver metallic. You will also need to fill the PVC pipe that connects the Ferris wheel walls with silicone so that you cannot look through it and see the propeller on the other side. After the spray painted PVC pipe is dry, epoxy it underneath the Ferris wheel and let it dry. So now when the Ferris wheel is turned on, the buckets will hit the PVC pipe and be forced to tip over and dump put the vitamins.

The vitamins will be dumped out into a plastic container that will be laying on opposite sides of the PVC pipe that serves as a peg. Cut the plastic cylinder with the aluminum cutters so they are even halves and just long enough that they are flush with the side of the black circuit box. Then spray paint the plastic halves silver metallic and epoxy them down so that they can catch the vitamins as they fall. This completes the structure of the Ferris wheel!

Now all that's left to do is re-spray paint parts of the Ferris wheel that look like they need to be touched up and to test out the contraption. Take the power bank and plug it into the cord that is sticking out of the back of the black box and then shove the whole power bank in the hole so that the on switch is the only thing showing (Should be flush with the back of the box). Then turn on the power bank and turn the contraption around so you can point the remote at the hole where the IR sensor should be. The arduino has been programmed so that when the plus sign of the button is pushed the wheel rotates clockwise/forward, and when the negative button is pushed it rotates counterclockwise/backwards. Once you are sure the servo is functioning correctly and it goes in the direction the remote is telling it to, fill the buckets with vitamins and test that the PVC pipe dumps them out. After you're sure all the components work and the LEDs are turning on when the servo moves the wheel you're done! Happy building!

Step 9: Final Product

You can see the back and the front of the finished project and then finally the whole device in motion!

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    4 years ago

    Hahaha great way to make taking vitamins fun!