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Building my first demo exhibit: week 5 of the Barbara Brink Internship

Hello everyone!

I started this week by finalizing all my research on what we could display in AMPED. I had prepared tons of ideas and lots of very cool demos, so it was just the right time to present it all to the curators and start designing.

On Tuesday morning, I had a meeting with a school teacher and Sandy about the links between school curriculum and AMPED. It went really well and it looks like AMPED will be a good fit for school visits. Later that day, I got the go-ahead to start building my first proof-of-concept demonstration for a Chladni Plate.

A Chladni Plate is a way to visually represent a sound wave using a metal plate, a granular material like salt and a sound source. I started by dismantling an old speaker cabinet we had lying around and seeing what parts I had to work with. I took one of the speakers and cut out the cone so that I can later attach a rod to the speaker driver.

The next day, I opened up the Bucket Radio exhibit we have in the Eureka! Gallery and took some notes on its operations. It uses a very similar design to what I’m trying to build, so those notes will come in handy. I needed to make my own solenoid, so I gathered the necessary materials.

To test the solenoid, I started by using a tone generator app on my phone to make controllable sine wave signals. These signals are then boosted by an amplifier and then go through a coil of wire (the solenoid). If I put a magnet near the solenoid, the magnet will move (actually, it will pulse back and forth at the same frequency as the tone). I built this for two reasons: first, it shows exactly how a speaker works; and second, if I attach the magnet to something and let them both vibrate it will also work like a Chladni Plate. With that working, I got the go ahead to submit a work order for our workshop to help fabricate a couple of the parts I’ll need to use when building a bigger, more robust version.

In other news, I was trained to work in the OMNIMAX® Theatre and got to spend some time in the projection room. That place is incredible! The film is so heavy that you need extended training and a special machine to help you move it. Part of the projection machine has its own elevator, so it can project the image in the right place and retract so the projectionists can change the film. We have an entire RACK of amplifiers to power the 28 speakers that you hear. I can’t get over how amazing the whole thing is.

Till next week!