Most carpentry I do is to accommodate an interactive electro-mechanical design.  A simple box will rarely do for these devices, so I am frequently afforded the opportunity to engage in complex cabinetry. Other projects are pretty much just straight-forward carpentry.  Here you will see both.

Pacific Gunner

Project: Pacific Gunner: another zero-dollar project. We had an old computer with an old video game program that had until recently occupied an old cabinet. Someone decided it would be a good idea to get it back on the floor and so asked me to refurbish the cabinet and spruce up the game. Well, the cabinet was past the point of refurbishment and the game would brook little sprucing. Fortunately, someone had (long before I arrived) purchased large stick-on graphics for the sides.

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The Shed


The Shed is basically a free-standing set piece constructed as a “maker space”. I was given a floor plan from the Education Department and asked to design a space that evoked the feel of a workshop. Originally, we were going to simply put some workbenches, etc., in a recently available space, but then we decided to go all out and build a simulated work shop.

The Shed is the result.

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Project: In Cahners Computer Place, there is 1/3 (cut lengthwise) of an automobile against the wall, around which is a Plexiglas barrier, behind which is a mural of a civic emergency.   Hidden in this car is a faux improvised explosive device (IED).  Within this small corral is a MARCbot.  The MARCbot is a small, wheeled robot with a camera at the end of an articulated boom designed and built specifically to inspect potential IEDs.  It is operated with a remote control unit called an Operator Control Unit (OCU).  This is where I came in.  Even though OCU was designed for combat situations, it was nowhere near robust enough to withstand the museum-going public.  (The preceding sentence is in no way a joke.)  I was asked to design and construct a kiosk that would house the OCU, make it more accessible for people with varying manual dexterity, and to add one final feature, to be explained below. For a sneak preview, see the video below.

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Cause and Effect: New and Improved!

This entry concerns an extensive refurb on an exhibit I designed and built years ago. The original exhibit can be seen here.

For this refurb, the manager of the Children’s Discovery Center obtained grant money to 1) update the display’s mechanics, 2) utilize the area behind the display to incorporate a 3D underwater scene, 3) to build a splash wall to separate the Cause and Effect area from the water-table area behind it. Further, an infant’s mobile and a graphics display explaining experiments that parents can perform using the mobile were added to the area. A discussion of each sub-project can be found at the links below.

Improved mechanics

Underwater scene

Splash wall

Infant’s mobile

Yellow Submarine

SS Discovery

Project:  A boat – complete with a Plexiglas sea – for all the little tots in the Children’s Discovery Center.  This little display is intended to be a junior marine research station with lots of samples for the kids to enjoy.

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Mars Rover Landscape and Mission Control

Project:   The manager of Cahners Computer Place obtained the use of a model Mars Rover that could analyze its environment, travel under computer control, and provided a robot’s eye view for visitors to observe.  Very neat!  So, naturally, it was decided to make a “crater” in which the little rover (about the size of a desktop printer) could display its roving prowess.  The crater, of course, needed its own environment, and that’s where I came in.
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Time Flies!

This is by far the largest single project I have completed for the museum. Graphics aside, nearly every physical aspect of this exhibit was designed and constructed by me. This entry will cover the overall design, cabinetry, control circuitry, mechanical devices, and even the mode of interaction. Due to this entry’s complexity, I will cover Time Flies! in several sub-sections, each accessible by one of the links below.



PER3 Interactive

Fly Cam

Sneak peek for the Fly Cam!

Robot Park

Project: A virtual park environment in which a programmable robot can be put through its paces.
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Project: A kiosk where visitors can take pictures of their ears, measure them with a computer program, and compare them to the ears of others on a computer-generated graph.  It must be more fun than it sounds because this kiosk gets about 200 hits per day.  (We know because the ear-measuring program stores all the data the visitors enter. ) As an interesting aside, we tried this exhibit first with noses, and very few visitors would participate. Apparently, people do not like to take pictures of their noses, but have no problem storing images of their ears in a database.  Go figure.

Concept drawing for EarCam arm.

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