Beginnings The Plinth Control Panels Instrumentation Time Rotor Wiring Software

My Ceiling

Romana at the sensor panel
The collar is a hexagon of plywood with a round hole cut in it with a jigsaw. I cut six small sections for the angled collar and adjusted the angles on the table saw until I got a good fit. The collar is held together with wood glue Ė I couldnít see any way to secure it with screws or nails. Fortunately itís not load bearing.

The time rotor cover was a puzzle for a long time. I thought about getting some acrylic sheet and bending it into a tube, then somehow attaching an acrylic disk to the top. I couldnít find any suitable material, though, and had little faith that Iíd get a good result, so I had the cover custom cast by a plastics company at considerable expense. It was worth it. It cost as much as the computer inside the console, but looks great Ė itís such a focus of attention for the console that I think it was worth putting resources into that part.

My Ceiling

Time Rotor
The three time elements (actually four Ė thereís one down the middle too) inside the timerotor are an acrylic mailing tube cut to size, and lined with tinted plastic separators from 3-ring binders. I bought those in an office supply shop. There are three 18-inch x 1-inch fluorescent tubes mounted in the mailing tubes, with the mountings removed from under-counter fittings.

The black base for the time elements is a plywood disk, covered with a bathroom board disk with wood separators, another plywood disk, a bathroom board ring to fit around the outside and aluminium flashing for roof construction cut in a strip around the edge. The flashing was spray-painted matt black before being attached. It was cut with tin snips while wearing strong working gloves so I didnít cut myself on the edges.

The starters for the fluorescent lights are hidden in the black base. The top for the time elements is a sheet of acrylic cut to a triangle with rounded corners. The diffractors between the columns which hide the core are lighting diffuser plastic for overhead suspended ceiling lighting enclosures. I cut these into strips on a table saw. The diffractors are held in place with reinforced tape. Power for the tops of the fluorescent tubes comes up pairs of thin steel rods (thick steel wire) through small holes in the base. These are not insulated, but are well separated. They are held in place by small notches in the top of the mailing tubes, which they sit in after a 90 degree bend.

Making the timerotor go up and down

crank case

crank case
It was clearly fairly important for the timerotor to rise and fall as it does on the show. I arranged for it to be supported on a piece of PVC tubing that slots into a hole in the base of the timerotor itself. There are two 2x4 wood struts that go across the inside of the pillar, with the PVC tube going through a hole in each (cut with a hole saw). The lower strut is a foot off the ground. The upper strut supports pulleys with sash cords that balance the weight of the timerotor with weights on either side. Smaller holes near the edge of the pillar guide a ľ inch metal rod that prevents the timerotor from rotating. Two wheels and a crank in an enclosure with a washing-machine belt and an overhead fan motor provide the motion.

Unfortunately, the belt slips so Iím going to have to find a way to tighten it. Currently the motor is controlled by an X10 home automation switch and a serial port X10 computer interface. The neon tubes in the time elements are controlled the same way. You need to use the type with a relay Ė appliance controllers Ė as the thyristor-based ones canít control a motor or fluorescent light.

At time of writing I've actually given up on the mechanism and have removed it. I'm expecting in due course to be building a better mechanism involving a bicycle chain for the last stage of the gearing. The hold-up at the moment is finding a suitable motor...