How To Make A Kinetic Sand Table – Bruce Shapiro (before) uses sculpting tools to create tables, using CNC machines to find beautiful patterns in thin layers of sand. Shapiro has named this kinetic art project Sisyphus, which is an apt title because the metal balls moving on each sand table rotate and form patterns, just like in Greek mythology.
Shapiro has been producing Sisyphus sculptures for almost 20 years and has permanent installations of his work in Switzerland, Germany and Australia. Wanting to work in private homes as well, they created a Kickstarter to begin production on three different types of small tables, the Domestic: Back Table, Three-Foot Metal Coffee Table, and Four-Foot Hardwood Coffee Table.
How To Make A Kinetic Sand Table
Shapiro said, “Over time I came to see Sisyphus as more than a kinetic piece of art: it's a tool.” “Like an instrument that plays music, Sisyphus plays the road. My goal with this Kickstarter is to bring Sisyphus into homes to enjoy furniture and art, but also to encourage the musician community to write ‘music' “
Sisyphus Table: Where Art And Technology Merge
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I made a sand table for the questions and answers here: http://forums/forum/diy-sand-table/ – I find it easier to read than the short comment section in the post.
I forget how, but while browsing the internet one day I came across the Kickstarter for the Sisyphus Table. It was the first time I saw something so attractive and I wanted one immediately. Checking their site, I was underwhelmed by the prices for solid wood coffee tables, but I still considered. I decided to try and see if anyone made a DIY version of this table so I could pick it up myself before I drop thousands of dollars.
Sand Sensory Play
Eventually I stumbled upon Rob Dobson's personal blog page called UK Engineer. He made a smaller version with the same mechanism. It's a promise. I noticed that he designed all the bots and mechanisms into a new SCARA type robot. With them having a 3D model and all the stl files ready for 3D printing, I decided to start my table building journey from these plans.
Side note – during my research I learned about all the CoreXY tables that have been doing the same thing for years. I also stumbled upon an excellent sandify tool that creates zygote patterns. I've been entertaining the idea of the CoreXY Table, but after seeing the beautiful Sisyphus Table I've thought about setting it up on a round coffee table, so the XY machine doesn't suit my needs.
Rob's blog gives a good idea of how to put it together, so I'll cover the differences here.
Water Sensory Table Activities
I don't have a laser cutter – I decided to 3D print everything, not just 3D printed parts.
I think the easiest thing to do here is to link my build album as it shows the progress of the build. I wanted to make real furniture for this table, to sit in our living room, it had to be beautiful.
Round table is hard to make! I used 2.5mm plywood underlayment cut into strips to form a circular structure around my table frame. Using the ratchet strap, I was able to hold the wood tight enough to make a good structure. I decided to glue maple veneer to the outside of the finished table. it was a nightmare. Because the veneer is so thin, trying to use ratchet straps on the veneer created a whole new set of problems with bubbling. It's not very noticeable, but on the end table, bubbles appear in the veneer. This is good.
Sisyphus Kinetic Art Coffee Table
I tried different materials for the “sand”. After searching for a while, I couldn't find any specific links for anything I could buy. Some recommended shuffleboard wax.. some said baking powder.. I tried them all. Finally I sat down in the sand to give the hamster a bath. This is the best sand you can find, although it still maintains the ridges needed for good reflection.
I can ask Rob to add support for the .thr file (Theta Rho) which is the base file for the Sisyphus table, so now we can use this pattern using the hard work of Sisyphus Pattern Designer. This selection table. There are a few more patches with support, but most of the files work and look great! The Sisyphus subreddit is a great place to find custom files.
Rob and I worked hard on this, and in the end the only thing we could actually use was the Feather Wing Adlogger with SD cards. We tried reading external cards (wired to one of the PCBs), but nothing was reliable. Even with Feather Wings, I have a serious problem with the microSD card being recognized. It took me about 5 tries before I got a 1GB microSD card. Prior to success, I used the official SD Card Formatter application in Windows and various filesystems. I think SD card support is a must for interesting schedules. Without it you can only store a few small thr files, however many parameters you can fit the pattern.
App For Kinetic Sand Table
In the original post, I forgot a few things to get the SD card to work with the PCB and the configuration of the robot. By default, the chip select (SDCS) pin is connected to pin 33 on the addlogger wing. In my build, the small jumper had to be removed, and the cable jumper soldered to pin 21.
When I said I can only get one SD card, this is the card I work with. This is a 1GB Kingston microSD card formatted in FAT with an official SD card formatter.
When Rob's PCB – I was very confused at first. It's designed for more than one use, so I thought I'd make a single-purpose PCB just for running the sand table. Schematics can be found at Easy EDA, and PCBs can be ordered through JLCPCB. My version has everything needed for a sand table that works in 1.5 and allows RGB (signal +/-) LED control or white LED dimming control (- PWM). I used only (and the firmware only supports) white dimmable LEDs. The board has a socket for the light sensor, which at some point will automatically dim the LED. I do not like the implementation of the dimming algorithm, so automatic dimming is not supported in the firmware at the moment.
Sisyphus Tables Create Shifting Mathematical Sand Patterns
Here's a custom PCB with everything except the driver and processor. I've also included the path for inspection and debugging if needed.
Since the pinout of my PCB is different from Rob's, the configuration of Robo will be different. This is the robot configuration that I used for my setup.
I get a lot of questions about how to get software on a robot for the first time. I've compiled a picture of all the steps needed to run the firmware on the Huzzah32 (I'm not sure if it will work with other micro processors)
Kinetic Sand Sandcastle Table Set
While it is still under construction (probably forever…) I have created an Android app that can interface with Sandbot to control the robot and preview files on the robot. You cannot create or upload a pattern yet, and sequence creation/editing is not enabled. Feel free to make an upgrade/pull request! https://github.com/grammesm/SandBot-Android
After running a 3D printed robot for over a year, I can say that it is very slow. Homing is inconsistent, and the patterns don't seem to end anywhere. Thankfully, when he returns Rob has sent me some laser cut acrylic top and bottom plates so I can build another robot to tighter tolerances. This is the main improvement I thought I needed.
I have uploaded all my 3D models to Github for printing. The SandTableScara model is a direct import of Rob's original model so I can spread my arms.
Metal Side Table
When the tensioning system designed by Rob works, I don't like the tension on either belt. I don't think the shielded motor is strong enough to put enough tension on the drive belt. I believe it is because