OMG Plastic!

Our HDPE arrived yesterday, and our first worknight building the cloud skin is going on at this very moment! We’ve finished assembling section “A”, and are building section “B” now (the final section is “H”).

And now, photos!

We’re constructing the voxels (“volumetric pixels”) using 1/16″ HDPE squares, held together with small nylon cable ties. After a lot of experimentation, this route presented the best balance of buildability and aesthetic appeal, while not interfering with the ability of the LEDs to make the cloud glow evenly.

(Lana, placing a large group of voxel faces)

We decided that to give each voxel a little more definition, we’d trace around the edges with a silver permanent marker. We chose silver because the metallic elements make it more colorfast in the sun, and because it makes for better puns.

(DJ applies the silver lining)

While Lee used a variety of tools to design the cloud, the final buildable model is maintained in Rhino. As we assemble the pieces, it’s someone’s job to keep the model up-to-date with which pieces have been finished and attached.

(Lyra keeps track of the CAD)

The voxel faces were cut by our supplier on a fast CNC plastic saw into 140mm squares. Each square is then placed in a custom jig in the laser cutter to have the fastener holes cut. We originally planned to cut the squares with the laser as well, but because the AMCP has more than 1500 voxel faces, it would have taken too long.

Once the cloud sections are fully assembled, they become somewhat floppy and unweildy. Later this week, we’ll transport them to our metal shop in Oakland to install rigid steel framing inside them. This frame will make them strong enough to resist the bouncing of the telehandler, and will provide solid attachment points for connecting them to the platform. It will also provide mount points for the LEDs.

(Audrey, tightening zipties inside the nearly-finished section “A”)

We’re really excited about how the project is coming along! With just a day-and-a-half left on the Kickstarter, we’re hoping we can really push and hit one of our stretch goals!

(Section “A”: voxels done, supported on a stand until we get the frame installed)

And now, back to the voxel mines!