"Purple Rain Drop" Kinetic Art From Bicycle Rims




Introduction: "Purple Rain Drop" Kinetic Art From Bicycle Rims

About: Hmmm...I was just trying out the name to check the availability :( ahh well...they're cool guys! I'm a teacher/tinkerer/outdoor kinda guy. Bamboo is the most incredible renewable construction materi…

     Reuben Margolin creates kinetic art that has been installed in museums throughout the US.   http://www.ted.com/speakers/reuben_margolin.html  He bases many of his designs on natural sine waves. One of his creations is a round wave made from wood.  http://reubenmargolin.com/waves/Round/roundWaveVideo.html  This was our inspiration!

      As a teacher in a private residential treatment facility, I use project-based learning activities to engage my students.  Interactive kinetic art placed around our campus is very motivating as well as aesthetically pleasing. In order to participate in Instructables contests, we designed and constructed a "Purple Rain Drop" from discarded bicycle rims suspended from a wooden frame using 'Dyneema' cord. Budget and safety issues require us to use picture hangers screwed to the frame for direction change however pulleys would be much more effective! We hope you enjoy!

Step 1:

This was a learning project in many ways. Trial and error resulted in some waste but future projects will benefit from what we learned to NOT do.  2X2 framing is light but NOT sturdy enough. An 'X” support was tried but turned out to be unstable. Purple cord was tried first but wasn't strong enough and created too much friction.

Step 2:

Nylon cord was tried second but stretched too much and was the wrong color as well as creating too much friction.

Step 3:

Dyneema fishing line is strong and doesn't stretch and is also nearly invisible. It works great!

Step 4:

Bicycle rims were sanded to remove loose paint and rust and then spray painted purple.

Step 5:

The final frame was constructed from scrap 2X6, 2X8 and 4X4 lumber for stability.

Step 6:

Rims are suspended from 4 points with picture hanger line guides offset to reduce friction and interference with other lines.

Step 7:

Central ring guides should be spaced evenly around the circle.

Step 8:

Beginning with the center rim, thread the lines through their corresponding guides. By the time we finished, we had great empathy for spiders. Each concentric rim's suspension lines should be passed through the next consecutive guide ring on the central guide rim. All of the lines should be joined in the direct center of the central guide rim. We used a 1/2” washer as a center ring along with a bolt 'handle' to ease manipulation of the art.

Step 9:

The finished project will be installed at the playground for the youth to enjoy. We are considering installing a wind-driven turbine to make the project work independently.



The Contest Purple

Participated in the
The Contest Purple

Bike Contest

Participated in the
Bike Contest

Epilog Challenge V

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Epilog Challenge V

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    9 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice!
    have you considered adding a wind turbine blade or water wheel to turn it instead of by hand?
    And maybe you could embed the videos from youtube instead of posting a like
    But very nice work


    7 years ago on Step 9

    Nice design and great effect. If you are going to install a wind turbine to make the project work independently, I suspect as it is, there will be a lot of energy losses. However, you could make the mechanism work easier by using levers at the top which are counter-balanced to support the rims or make your design have two "purple rain drops" either side, with each equivalent rim going to a high lever pivoted in the centre, like a pair of scales. As a consequence, it would take less energy to move the rims up and down and therefore a smaller turbine, with the two rain drops 180 degrees out of phase..


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    it's a circular wave...called Purple Rain Drop to fit with the purple contest and the fact that it's SUPPOSED to look like a water droplet.

    Cool project, great visuals. I am not completely certain regarding the wiring, but I might just try to make a smaller version of this one myself - eventually. Thanks for sharing!


    7 years ago

    nice job! the video of your sculpture in action came out good. I hope to see more instructables from you in the future.