Balloon Clock

Introduction: Balloon Clock

The balloon clock is an experiment that explores a different way to tell time.  The clock inflates a balloon when you want to take a break or snooze. In about ten minutes the balloon fully inflates and pops.  This project is still in experiment mode, and needs to be tweak to get it working properly, but it is a fun project to play with. 

Balloon Clock

Step One: Sourcing Material:

Stepper Motor
Check Valves (valves that allow only outflow or inflow)
Connectors for Check Valves (tubes that connect to valve allowing the air to flow into balloon in out)
Tubing to connect check valves
12V battery
MDF(or another material you want to use to make the body of the clock)
Acrylic sheet (I used ⅛”)
Acrylic cylinder
Thin foam sheet

Step Two: Getting your stepper motor to work

Stepper motors have 2 sets of coils that allow the motor to 'step' thru a rotation at specific degree angles
Here is a link that I used to check which coils are compatible with each other.

Step 3: The clock

For the clock I used a store bought clock, and took it apart. Adafruit has some real-time clocks and 7segement displays that you can use for your clock face.

Step 4: Cutting out your parts

Here is a file that I used to laser cut my parts. It is a simple housing, to put together.
I used 1/8th plexi, if you want to use another material, you might want adjust the file so all the pieces fit each other.

Side Note: creating a shelf with some type of noise reducer (sheets of foam) for your stepper motor will be a great thing for your stepper motor to rest on. Also you might want to keep the back open so you can get inside.

Step 4: The Cylinder and Tube

In the cutting parts file there is a file for the gear and the ladder to go with it, also the files for the top and bottom of the cylinder.  The cylinder needs to be enclosed with sealant on the top and bottom opening.  The piston is the ladder and two acrylic pieces that sandwich a foam disk. 

Cut a hole towards the bottom of the cylinder. Connect your check valves to the tube and cylinder.  Make sure your check valves are going the correct way (the arrow needs to be pointing outwards of the tube).

Step 5: Putting it Together

When your housing is built, you need to measure the placement of the balloon and stepper motor plus gears.  Connect the second check valve to the balloon and make sure it is air-tight. 

Done…..I think, the tubing works for this project but my stepper motor was not strong enough to push the gear down. I need a regular DC motor to do this, and this is the next step to evolving this project.

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    2 Discussions


    6 years ago

    balloons don't always pop at the same place though.. maybe have a fixed needle so that it absolutely pops at a certain point