Computer Controlled Water, Light and Music Entertainment System

Technologies used:

  • PIC Microcontrollers
  • Computer-Aided Design and Manufacture
  • Mechatronics

Skills demonstrated:

  • Product Design
  • 3D Modelling
  • Electronic System Design
  • Programming
  • Project Management

The Concept

A popular attraction in afflent destinations like Las Vegas or Dubai are large water fountains programmed to move in time to changing light pattens and music. For my final A-Level project, I opted to creare a tabletop version to be displayed in public places - leisure centres, shopping malls and the like - to bring these pleasing displays to a wider audience.

Design

I based the design of the product on a water, light and music production I once enjoyed on the Isle of Wight. This theatre show consists of multiple, mechanically actuated water fountains that can be activated in various combinations. Coloured lights above the display illuminate the jets of water as they appear to dance to popular music in a variety of themed shows. From this, I designed several mechanical and static fountains and developed subsystems for playing music and shining coloured light onto the scene below.

From these ideas I used Solidworks to create detailed designs of the many components that I would need to manufacture. Many of these models would be used directly in 3D printing or laser cutting, but several parts needed to be manufactured by hand and I also used these models to generate schematic drawings of these parts. The electronic subsystems were designed as separate modules before being integrated and tested on a breadboard.

Manufacture

The mechanical components were manufactured primarily from laser cut acrylic and 3D printed ABS. I also laser cut a wooden enclosure, the panels for which were coated in clear vinyl to keep water off. The fountain jets were machined on a CNC lathe from aluminium and were connected to fittings that were either 3D printed or handmade in aluminium. The lighting fixtures were 3D printed cases and laser cut coloured filters, with light being directed onto the performance by vacuum formed reflectors.

The electronic design, once thoroughly tested, was transferred onto a single PCB which was etched and assembled. The firmware developed for the prototype was transferred to the microcontroller and subprocessors. The various sub systems were then assembled into a final product, with a variety of programmes choreographed for selection on the included control panel.

Interface

A challenge in designing a product this complex is designing a user interface capable of controling the many features that can be implemented with what little remiains of the budget. My interface uses an OLED display, two switches and a potentiometer to allow the user to select, return and navigate easily and intuitivley through long lists of options.