Yes fellow Instructablers, the Homemade Cotton Candy Machine is finally here!
This is the first how-to posted on the entire interweb that teaches the reader (you lucky guys) how to build a FULL-SIZED Cotton Candy Machine!!!
This instructable assumes you know how to use a lathe, tap and various other instruments prior to engaging construction. Even though I figured out how to operate the lathe at my school by myself, it might be more difficult for others.
http://www.mini-lathe.com/Default.htm is a pretty good source for basic lathing tutorials
The entire CAD assembly file is included on the intro, materials, and final steps (just for reference)
This is defined by my searching abilities. Considering that dragonx151 and I have searched the web for cotton candy plans (personally about 1 month's worth of hours), I'm pretty sure that this is the first.
Step 1: Materials / Necessities
Okay, so here's what you're going to need to make your own cotton candy machine!
1- standard electric motor (preferably 1/4" motor shaft)
1- 3.25" X 6+" Aluminum extruded round bar (3.25" diameter)
2 - 1/2" bolts of any size diameter (smaller = better, but you need the tap for it)
2 - 1" bolts of any size diameter (need the tap for the right size)
1 - average toaster heating element
? - .25" diameter copper pipe (or crimping connectors for wiring)
1 - radio-controller "floppy" antenna
? - lots of miscellaneous screws, nuts, and bolts
1- 3" (dia) X .125" piece of wood
1- Light Switch Dimmer or Adjustable power supply ( needs to be able to handle high voltage and amperage output)
A large, plastic or metal, circular object (if you don't have one, make one)
Some wire mesh (usually used as gutter covering)
A Few Sheets of paper
Some heavy gauge wire
A small bit of fast drying concrete
Band/Hack saw (if using copper pipe)
Drill press (and the smallest drill bit you can find, at least 1/16" or smaller)
metal working clamps
Alibre Design Express (free at www.alibre.com)
Step 2: Turning the Aluminum
Okay, so now that you have all of those materials (or just the lathe and the Aluminum Round Bar), you're going to want to start your "center piece."
The center piece can be defined by the part on your machine that spins around really fast, while emitting tasty, fluffy, cotton candy.
The Aluminum Stock does not come perfectly round (which is why you bought 3.25" dia instead of 3"
In order to make sure that the whole center piece is perfectly round, you're going to need to turn the aluminum round bar until it has a diameter of 3".
For instructions on turning, follow http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_lathe/Operation/Turning/turning.htm
Step 3: Making the Funnel
Now that you've turned your stock to a 3" dia. cylinder, you're ready to start the funnel top-piece.
Follow the specs provided by the attached .AR_PRT file (Alibre Design Express Part file)
You're going to want to lathe the "inner" portion of the funnel piece (highlighted in the picture) first, then do the top portion of the funnel piece later.
You may need to change the direction of the bit that you're using on occasion.
For the center hole, use a large (1/2 in dia?) drill bit.
Finally, part the Funnel from the aluminum stock using a parting operation. (http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_lathe/Operation/Parting/parting.htm for help)
Step 4: Making the Melting Chamber
Now that you've cut off the funnel piece, start on the melting chamber.
Once again, follow the Alibre Design Express file that's included.
For this piece, you're going to want to start with its outside (carving out 1/8" from it's diameter), and then go to its inside and carve out the entire melting cavity.
You will finish the other half of the melter (the 1/4" groove that will fit around the heating element) after you remove the large stock from the chuck (after you're done with the baseplate).
Step 5: Making the Base Plate / Finishing the Prior Parts
Once again, follow the specs on the included CAD file.
You're going to want to make the bottom part of this piece first (the part with the small cylinder sticking out), then finish the rest of it after.
In order to drill out the shaft hole, use a drill bit the exact same size as your motor shaft (mine was 1/4")
Part the base plate from the rest of the stock at the appropriate length (according to the file)
Since we're done with making new parts, you can take the stock out of the chuck.
Flip the Base Plate over and put it into the chuck as straight as possible.
Carve out the 1/4" diameter groove for the heating element, test to make sure that the heating element fits, then remove the base plate and insert the melting chamber so you can finish the bottom part of it. DO NOT tighten the chuck too much, or else you will bend the delicate walls on the melting chamber.
Carve out the groove for the melting chamber so that it'll match up with the other groove in the base plate. You should also SLIGHTLY remove some of the center portion of the melter's underside (so there's no problems later on.
Take the melting chamber out and insert the top part of the funnel. For the funnel, all you need to do is make the little slope, which is pretty easy. DO NOT clamp the funnel in too hard, you will bend its small, thin, delicate walls.
Step 6: Tapping
Now that all of your pieces are lathed, you need to tap some holes to make them all stay together while they're spinning at 1000+ RPM's
Mark two spots on exact opposite sides of the funnel piece, then fit the melting piece inside of the funnel piece.
Clamp the two pieces in a metal working vise and take it to the drill press.
Drill one of the holes with the appropriate drill bit, then tap with the appropriate tap, and bolt together with the appropriate bolt. YOU CANNOT RIVET THIS, because you will need to clean out your machine at one point or another.
Next, drill the other hole on the other side, tap it and screw it. Now the melter and funnel pieces should be fixed together, and you can start to fix the baseplate onto the rest of the center piece.
Clamp the base plate and melting piece together. make two dots on exact opposite sides of the base plate about .625" from the center. Drill both of them while the two pieces are still clamped together, making sure not to go through the melting piece, then take off the base plate.
Remove the base plate and tap the melting piece. Then, using a larger drill bit, drill out the base plate so that the bolts can easily slide through it, and will thread into the melting piece.
Step 7: Drilling Everything Else
You're going to need to put a ton of holes in the two walls of the melting and funnel pieces.
Find the smallest drill bit you can find that's suitable for drilling metal and put it in the press.
Connect the melting and funnel pieces together using the holes we just tapped and some bolts, then clamp it in a metal working vise.
Basically, you're going to just drill a vertical strip of 3 holes every 5mm or so. The holes should be about 2-3 mm apart.
Look at the pictures for a better understanding of what I'm trying to convey.
Then, take only the base plate and drill two 1/4" holes about 1/4" away from each other so that they go through the groove for the heating element, this will be where the wire will feed to the heating element.
Step 8: Prepping the Heating Element
The heating element that you have is probably too big for our machine, so you're going to need to cut it.
Leave one of the ends intact, it's going to be easier to work with if you do so. You're going to need to use a hacksaw to cut off a piece of heating element about 4.6" long
Make sure that when you hack it off, you rotate the element so that you only cut the metal casing and don't cut off the nichrome wire that's coiled up inside the metal casing.
Bend the cut element so that it fits inside the groove you made for it in the base plate.
Once you have that, use electrical wiring connectors to connect a piece or wire to each end of the heating element (one on the lead that you left alone and the other on the excess nichrome wire from the rest of the heating element that you cut off).
Wrap the two connectors with Teflon tape, so that no metal is in contact with the aluminum parts.
Feed the two wires through their holes and let the element sit in its resting place.
Step 9: Making the "Brushes"
At this point, you're going to need to attach the circular piece of wood to the underside of the base plate by drilling the two holes for the screws to go through, but you're also going to need to drill the other two holes for the wires to go through.
Once this is done, you need to use fiberglass tape to coat the small cylinder that stick out from the bottom, take one of the wires coming from the heating element and tape it over the fiberglass tape using conductive tape. Make sure you go all the way around the little "stub" multiple times so that it will not wear off.
Now, take the other wire coming off of the heating element and tape it in the middle of the piece of wood using more conductive tape. You will now need to make a circle of conductive tape over the bottom edge of the piece of wood, and then tape from the circle of conductive tape to wherever you taped the wire to the wood.
Now you have your "wire pads" that the brushes will touch when the center piece is spinning.
Step 10: Cement!
Take a small bit of cement and insulate the piece of nichrome wire that is sticking out of the heating element from the rest of the aluminum center piece.
Check to make sure that it's insulated with a multi meter.
Step 11: Make the "Bowl"
Take your large plastic/metal circular object and cut a hole big enough for the motor shaft to pass through in the center of the circular object. (I went overboard, and paid dearly for it)
Then screw it into the motor so that the motor and circular object are fixed together.
Drill two other holes near the center of the large circular object, one for
+ and one for -.
Step 12: Wiring / Brushes
Using wiring connectors, connect the large gauge wire to the remote control "floppy" antenna wire. This wire is springy, so it will keep against the conductive pads we made two steps ago.
Try and use as little springy wire as possible (I later found out the it gets really hot, which is a bad thing).
Use nuts and washers to keep the wires off of the plastic and prevent it from melting. If you're using a metal bowl, I suppose you could use plastic shielded wire connectors to prevent a short.
Route the springy wire so that one of them brushes up against the conductive pad on the edge of the wood and the other brushes up against the conductive pad on the "nub" where the motor shaft goes.
Screw the whole center piece together and press it onto the motor shaft. Make sure that the springy wires are touching their conductive pads.
See Pictures if you're still unsure about the placement of the springy wires.
Step 13: Cotton Candy Catcher
Use the mesh screen to create a "cage" around the whole machine. Fix it in place some how (I used tape) I'm sure you'll be able to figure out a way to do so.
Then, tape a bunch of sheets of paper together and tape them around the wire mesh so that they are behind the mesh, and won't let any cotton candy to fly past the mesh.
Secure the sheets of paper to the mesh via some method (I used tape, again).
Step 14: Power Supply
Attach one of the wires coming from the machine to the + on the power supply / dimmer and the other to the - on the power supply / dimmer.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'RE DONE!
Operation will be described in the next step.
Step 15: Operation: COTTON CANDY!
Here's how it's going to work.
Since this isn't exactly a real cotton candy machine, there are still some bugs I'm working out.
Turn on the power supply/dimmer to max output and put in a pinch of sugar. Wait for sugar to melt, then add more. When a decent amount of sugar is in there, plug in the motor. Allow sugar to shoot out of the little holes and turn into yummy cotton candy.
I know, it should be continuous and needs more work, but next year I'm going to make a MUCH better one. STAY TUNED!
Remember, this is the first documented homemade "industrial" cotton candy machine on the internet, ever. It's really not that bad of a start, considering I came up with these plans from scratch.