Much Needed help for final year project.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by CharlesDesign, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. CharlesDesign

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 31, 2014
    Hi there,

    I'm about to enter my final year of university doing product design.

    I've got this idea to build a lamp with a silicon ball as a lamp shade which would contract and expand as air is blown in and out. The brightness would also possibly dim and brighten in sync with the Balloon.

    I've just finished building a 3D printer but my knowledge of electronics still remains rather basic. So I'm looking for more information as to how I can achieve this and what components might be good for the job.

    Could a Arduino board be any good?

    It would also need to be as silent and small as possible.

    Any advice is much is much appreciated but please take it easy on the lexical side.

    Many thanks

  2. Sensacell


    Jun 19, 2012
    Sounds cool, your biggest problem is going to be the mechanics of inflating the balloon.
    Any air pump capable of inflating a balloon will be neither small nor quiet.
  3. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    I have no idea what this means. Do you mean a silicone balloon? Silicon is a hard crystalline material - it's not elastic.
  4. Alec_t

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 17, 2013
    Will the lamp be inside the balloon?
  5. CharlesDesign

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 31, 2014
    @Sensacell After a little research I found that vibration pumps are quieter than rotation, so I guess I'll go with that.

    @Waynen Should of been more precise, I'd be looking to use a high quality latex "party balloon" style.

    @Alex_t Indeed the lamp would be inside the balloon.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  6. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    You might consider a supply of compressed air as outside the scope of the project, I mean as something you can simply supply externally just as you are supplying electricity. Then all you need is valves.
  7. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    An arduino could easily do the job and is a great place to start learning about micros.. Of course it could be done without a micro too.. It can easily control relays/solenoid valves,etc.. to turn on/off pumps/open valves,etc...

    You might want to check out "aquarium air pumps" as they are cheap/quite and easy to come by.

    Fading an LED with the arduino is simple
    or use a Triac or similar for a line powered incandescent.
    Google has hundreds of tutorials on that..

    Now you need to define the specifics/details.. Because there are hundreds of ways this could be accomplished and pros/cons for each implementation.
    Bladder fill/deflate speeds?
    Air source?
    Light source and its power requirements? (led or incandescent,etc..)
  8. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    If it's inside a latex balloon, you also need to consider the heat generated. Large LEDs or incandescent lamps may not work.
  9. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    Well, that explains why my girlfriend's im....never mind.
    GopherT likes this.
  10. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    Good point, I agree. But, suppose you had a reservoir of compressed air.

    I'm thinking, when you dissect a clown's weenie dog made of long balloons, you end up with something that has pockets of air, followed by a slender tube, followed by more pockets of air. You can shuttle the pockets up and down the tube fairly easily.

    Maybe, if there were a second balloon connected to the first via a tube, out of sight, perhaps under the table, all that would be needed to move the air from one balloon to the other would be a small fan between them.

    This sounds counter intuitive, and it might be stupid, but I think it might have a chance. It seems like the two balloons would seek equilibrium, and they probably would, but it might not take as much to overcome the equilibrium as you might think. It's been a while since I inflated a balloon by mouth, but IIRC it does not get much harder to inflate the balloon, the more you inflate it. I remember there being a "hump" at the very beginning, and then smooth sailing up until you pop the balloon. I suspect that, as the ballon stretches, the rubber becomes harder to stretch, but at the same time, as it increases it's surface area, there is more area for the inflation force to push against, therefore cancelling out the increasing tension.
  11. djsfantasi

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 11, 2010
    Regarding the second balloon idea, unless there is a check valve, the system would achieve equilibrium between the two reservoirs (balloons) and there would be no inflation of the lighted ballon.

    Then, how does the system reverse itself?

    How about the lighted balloon connected to a pressurized reservoir (a soda bottle? Or compressor?). Two valves would be controlled by a μC. The first would open to allow the compressed air to inflate the balloon. The second would exhaust some air to deflate it. You would need a regulator to control the amount of pressure allowed into the balloon.