Sneak Peak: Mechanical Flower

For my 3D printing class final project, I decided to try to make a mechanical flower. The prompt was objects in time, and I thought it would be interesting to create a flower circadian clock. Circadian rhythms are our bodies’ internal “clocks” that are synced by sunlight. It’s what indicates when it’s time to go to sleep and wake up. However, the harsh light produced by computer screens right before bedtime contrasts natural light in the evening, preventing our body from producing melatonin, which tells our body to get ready to sleep.

Take these facts with a grain of salt. It’s what I understand on the subject, and I’m no expert. The petals of the flower furl and unfurl to indicate the time of day (closed means midnight, open means noon). I programmed the light based on the little literature on what temperature of light we receive from the sun at different times of the day (e.g. the temperature of light at noon is going to be different than when the sun is setting at it gets all red and orange).

The timescale is sped up because otherwise you’d not notice the time changing, but the idea is that it could be time-correct to remind your body what type of light it should be exposed to versus what it is exposed to from artificial lighting.

The entire beast is 3D printed (each petal took 2 hours), and the light is produced by a 16 RGB LED NeoPixel Ring. I use a servo motor to control the petals, and the whole thing is run with an Arduino. This is truly a prototype. Building it has taught me how wrong my initial design was and how to make it better. The center of the flower looks “dirty” because I tried to paint it whiter than it was, and when you shine a light through something translucent that was painted…you see all the brush strokes.

This is a work in progress. I still need to produce my high quality documentation for the project which will include a much nicer video and two photos. In the meantime, enjoy!!!


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