Over the last few years, we’ve had our hand in museum exhibits throughout the United States. Here are a few of our favorites!
Let us know if you have an exhibit you want a hand with!
LED Ferris Wheel
One of the projects we really liked was the Ferris Wheel for a museum in Galesburg, IL. You might not be able to tell from the photo, but this exhibit is huge! Kids can use the control panel to wireless control the LEDs on the spokes and rim of a moving Ferris Wheel. There’s a microcontroller in the middle of the spoke that controls the LEDs, and it communicates wirelessly to the control panel. There are a handful of effects, and each effect has a few parameters controlled by sliders on the control panel.
This project used a Teensy 3, two Xbees, and an Arduino–as well as a lot of LEDs! The firmware was written in Arduino/C, but the data files for the effects was generated with the help of some Python scripts we whipped up.
We helped create a combine simulator using a real combine cab. You can step inside, sit down, and turn on the combine. You hear the engine start, and see a corn field in front of you on the large monitor. You adjust the throttle and steer with the real controls, and after you harvest the corn, you drive to the bin, extend the arm, and dump the corn into it.
To do this, we adapted a Blender program, wrote some scripts to integrate it with a small Linux system, and modified the Blender program to get input from the real controls. We used a microcontroller simulating a joystick to get those controls to the PC, with firmware written in Arduino/C.
We helped create an interactive exhibit that shows some of the facts behind power generation and the power grid. The exhibit takes you through a day, and you and a few of your friends have to balance power generation from a variety of power sources (wind, coal, solar, water behind a dam) with changing power demand from businesses and individuals throughout the day. As the day heats up, so does power demand from people trying to stay cool!
This exhibit was mostly done with an Arduino with a few custom circuits to drive all the inputs and outputs.
The other lets you select a turbine height, and shows how much of Minnesota has adequate wind at that height, and it blows the fan in proportion to how fast the wind usually is at that height.
These exhibits were displayed at the Minnesota State Fair in 2013!
Let us know if you have any exhibits that need a little something extra!