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Old 26th April 2009, 03:52 AM   #1
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Default Ferris Wheel Project

I want to build a model ferris wheel for my girlfriend, as kind of an art piece. I want to basically make it out of coat hanger wire, twisting and bending pieces into the shape I want. Heres my design in sketchup:

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Since ferris wheels are always nicely lit up, I want to run LEDs up the arms and around the loop of it. This is where I want some ideas on how I should maybe do this. Should I make strings of SMT LEDs and run them along the spokes, or should I just do a few 3mm LEDs on each spoke and a dozen or so around the wheel? Does anyone have any more clever ideas? I'd love some input on my ideas. Thanks for reading.
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Old 26th April 2009, 05:17 AM   #2
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Sounds fun. How big are you thinking?
Could you use different materials? . . . . What about building it using a heavy buss wire structure which would also act as the conductor for the LED supply. Maybe one side of the wheel V+, the other side V- (or ground). The cross members would all have to be a non-conductor but it would save having to run wire all over the place. . . . . . or maybe do it so that alternate spokes of each wheel be alternate polarities so you could just stretch out LEDs between them. Covering the LED leads with various colours of heat shrink would also dress it up (maybe?) . . . . . .

Depending on the size and number of LED's to be powered you may want to cover the structural conductors with a paint or lacquer to prevent an accidental shock. Maybe the coat hanger wire would be a good idea here after all . I wonder how good a conductor it is. . . . . . . . .

Could be very fun project. Please post a pic when you're done ! (of whatever you decide to do.)
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Old 26th April 2009, 05:42 AM   #3
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Wheel diameter will be around 8 inches, give or take depending on how I like it when I get started.


Yeah, I thought about using the whole thing as a big electrical conduit, maybe that would work for the ground side but I don't think I could get the V+ to play nice and still make it simple and attractive. The LEDs are going to be a real problem since the wires won't be pretty, but the end result will be gorgeous with lights if I can pull it off cleanly.

Maybe painting it with UV paints and putting UV LEDs around the base to make it flourese?
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Old 26th April 2009, 06:19 AM   #4
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Still thinking. . . . . . how about 1.8mm axial LEDs in series, strung through coloured straw size hard plastic tube . . . . . . . .

yah yah I know, but I AM thinking about it. . . . . .

By the way, do you plan on having it rotate ? If so, manual or motor power ?
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Old 26th April 2009, 06:32 AM   #5
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Yes, it will rotate. I'll find a small DC motor, put a tiny wheel on it, and that will run against the outside edge of the wheel so that it rotates at a relatively slow rate. If need be I'll put in a gear to slow it down some more.

The LEDs would be powered by wires running up to the axle, and the bare wire looped around the axle. On the axle will be a metal piece (insulated from the rest of the axle) that will be connected to the LEDs. As the wheel turns the wire will touch this rotating piece of metal on the axle and power the LEDs. Its all very unscientific, but I think it will work fine. Thats mostly a do-it-when-i-do-it thing.

Axial LEDs look perfect, too. Either those or some good ol' 3mm coloured ones. I have a billion of those already, and their low-tech look will add to the theme.
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Old 26th April 2009, 07:10 AM   #6
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Addition: Maybe string those up with black wire, and cut a notch in black heatshrink, and poke the LED through the hole, then shrink it around the metal spoke.
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Old 26th April 2009, 08:57 AM   #7
Spax is offline Spax  United Kingdom
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Another option for illumination could be to construct parts from solid clear acrylic rod.
Click the image to open in full size.
Frosting the rod and lighting with LED's mounted in the hub would allow large scale illumination with few LEDs in a centrally mounted position using a light guide principal.
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Old 26th April 2009, 09:34 AM   #8
Magura is offline Magura  Denmark
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How do you frost acrylic ?


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Old 26th April 2009, 09:57 AM   #9
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Just by sanding with fine paper. Works like a charm.
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Old 26th April 2009, 09:59 AM   #10
Magura is offline Magura  Denmark
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Thanks, never tried that.



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