Romana at the sensor panel
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
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.
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
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
Making the timerotor go up and down
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
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...