Introduction: Transforming Chandelier

About: Jung Soo Park Design

In this tutorial I will go over how to make a transforming chandelier.

This project will be heavily CAD oriented (Solidworks and Illustrator), made by laser cutting/engraving acrylic sheets, and a little bit of Arduino coding and soldering. 

Step 1: Choosing Materials.

All the pieces for the chandelier will be made out of flat materials, so I decided to use plexiglass since it comes in different colors and is strong.

Before designing the gears and how they work together, visit this link to help yourself understand how gears and mechanical joints could work in the structure.

Step 2: Design.

Start by sketching out the basic shape you want. Its form will change into different configurations depending on how much the motor spins.

Sketching can be done very roughly as the form is likely to change later while designing it in computer.

My sketches were done in Adobe Illustrator in order to move around the shape modules to create different forms and see how it looks. Although this helps a little bit, going too deep into it isn't recommended as the shape is most likely to change as the structures are built in 3D CAD.

I decided to go with somewhat traditional form of what chandeliers looked like, but you can always customize your own piece by cutting your own design and puting it together with the gears and the frame.

Step 3: CAD.

In a computer, draw out your parts (gears and the chandelier shapes you want) in a CAD program, such as Solidworks, Rhino, or Sketchup. Solidworks is a great tool to use in this case because it gives you the ability to assemble the complete form and test out how the gears move and interact with each shape.

Since each shape isn’t going to be completely 2 dimensional, remember to design small parts to lay on top of the materials to make hinges.

Because this phase is very important and complicated, I've uploaded my file on Thingiverse for you to reference or use in your making project. Feel free to grab the CAD file to look at, or take the illustrator file.

Thingiverse link: Here

Step 4: LASER!

After all the designing and tweaking is completed, it’s time to cut out the pieces.

I bought several plexiglass sheets to be laser cut. This tool allows me to cut all the pieces precisely as I designed them in the CAD program.

Because gears will be sandwiched between two pieces, make sure to cut the gears in thinner plexiglass.

Step 5: Double Check!

Once you have all the parts you needed, it's time to assemble them.

Before completely fixing the parts together, final check if all the parts work in the way you want.

If not, go back and fix your parts by re-cutting plexiglass with modified drawings with the laser cutter.

Please DO remember to slow down when assembling and glueing as hurrying will make you make mistakes in the process that requires you to be very precise. 

Step 6: Motor.

There are different types of motors available for precise movements. I decided to use a full rotation servo as it's smaller and lighter than stepper motors.

Because the full rotation stepper motors don't have a potentiometer built in, and thus can't get feed back from where to stop, you have to mention it in your code to direct the motor. 90 is a default starting point for most cases, so any number below 90 will make the motor to turn one way, and above 90 will make it turn the other way.

The motor is wired to an Arduino, and a simple sweep code was used:

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo;  // create servo object to control a servo
int pos = 0;    // variable to store the servo position
void setup()
  myservo.attach(9);  // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object
void loop()
  myservo.write(0); // rotate to 0
  myservo.write(180); //rotate to 180

Test if the motor works with your Arduino.

Step 7: Motor Housing.

The motor will have to be connected to the gears. It's a good idea to make a small housing that can store and hide the Arduino and the motor from the view, which will work as a way of mounting the chandelier on a wall.

The illustrator file of the box can also be found in the files on Thingiverse.

Put together the box with plastic glue and place the Arduino and the motor inside.

Step 8: Final Step!

Attach the box with the motor to the main gear, which will control the whole movement of the chandelier.

Before completely bonding the box to the chandelier, make sure to test the motor to see if it's spinning the gears in the right manner.

Step 9: Done!

Put 4 screws in a wall to hang the piece, and enjoy!

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