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October - November 2017

Research #9: Assembly and Construction


Mathematical measurements and 2-dimensional diagrams had a huge practical gap from the reality, although they were one step closer than imagination. It was also because I did not have a sense of the formality and characteristic of wood that could have countless uncertainties that can lead to a significant imperfection. At the same time, those uncertainties were tiny opportunities to make it perfect, even though my calculation was mistake.

These photos shows the first attempt to assemble the fabricated pieces to see if the proportion and level were correct. The level was notably tilted, and the length of every piece had to be revised. Since wood fabrication was the process of reduction, the overall dimension kept diminishing by little to find the perfect proportion.


October 2017

Research #9-1: Modulars and Mobility


The installation needed to have mobility and flexibility in dimension in order to store and move. The structure was assembled with a set of modulars. I used wood inserts to prevent the damage on wood for every beam that supports the top beam.  

I aimed to maximize the mobility by using caster wheels on main body which could function as a dolly to carry the other modulars. The decision was made also because our school lacks open exhibition spaces so I had to book different empty classrooms for every critique. I needed to disassemble and reassemble many times. 


The latest move was from my apartment to the exhibition Algomotion in May 2018. I took me less than 20 minutes to disassemble, and 30 minutes to reassemble and operate. 

November 2017

Experiment #2: Building as Form

Building as Form was one of my studio courses in Fall 2017. It was an interdisciplinary study of sculpture and architecture. I was also taking three other studio courses: Pneumatic Art, Fabricating Motion, Sound and Radio Signal. I planned to combine all of the course techniques and materials to focus on this project. For this interdisciplinary course, I mainly worked on the concept of architectural structure in relation to the space and audience.


I presented in-progress orientation for the midterm critique in November 2017

I also presented my notes, sketches, and other elements that I had been working on from other class: pneumatic and sound. 

Caster wheels, 1/4" & 1/2" air hose, electronic wires, pipe fittings, two 1/4"air solenoid valves, fabricated aluminum bearing bed, fabricated speaker amp

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This was the roof that would cover the space for the air compressor

Will It move, 2017

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It is a sketch for the further design and functionality of the pendulum. The pendulum will move by the signal of external light source via photo censor and Arduino that will control the air solenoid valve inside the concrete cube. Behind the cube, there is a shutter square hole which the light will pass through once the pendulum begins to move. The frontal legs will be supported by floor locks instead of caster wheels to stabilize the motion. 

The structure is composed of three major parts: Breathing (space for air compressor), Memory Container (space below Mechanical Heart), and the Pendulum

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November 2017

Research #9-2: Breathing

Breathing is a upper part of structure where the air compressor will sit on. The dimension of this space was determined regarding the overall composition and dimension of the affordable air compressors.


Since the air compressor is usually quite heavy, the floor is fitted in the groove on each side, and supported by two wooden beams underneath. 

There is a wide price range for the air compressor. The maximum size that fits to the structure of pendulum was 2-gallons tank, and the budget for the compressor was $200. I found 2.0 Gal. 1/2 HP aluminum air compressor by California Air Tool the most suitable for my project in terms of its functionality, price and relatively low-profile in appearance. 

My first idea was to cover this space with a pair of wood walls as a triangular roof (right). However, it did not seem right to add more weight along with the compressor on the top, which would probably weaken the foundation of structure. So I decided to use 14G metal sheets instead (below).


Later I turned this structure into an independent object which became Mechanical Heart. I was so happy to find this sculpture from Mechanical Heart because it reminded me of the allegory of Genesis, Adam and Eve. 


Spiritual Compound, 2017

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One of the greatest physicist Albert Einstein is my all time inspiration. I have a sincere hope to imitate his limitless imagination. He has led me to execute this project to study the mystery of time. I have wondered how he sees the world with his scientific knowledge. 

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For those of us who believe in physics, the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."

Upon his friend Besso's death in 1955

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November 2017

Research #9-3: Memory Container

Memory Container was the core of my curiosity in time and memory. The idea of container is a boundary between spaces. Where is our memory stored? Is it only our brain in cranium the container of everything? Any physical boundary is permeable. How can I relate myself to the collision of two massive blackholes 1.8 billion light -years away? Is it completely meaningless to ourselves? What is the boundary of the container of our memory? 


Memory Container has the convex lens in front that converges the light in the center of the space. The frontal side is composed of two layers of metal sheet. When the pendulum is inactive, the square hole is covered by the concrete cube. 

There is a door in the back with a peep hole where you can see the converging light blinking by the motion of pendulum.


Initially, the prism was added that rotated by the stepper motor which would refract the converged light inside the Memory Container. However, the stepper motor did not function once it was installed. 


The stepper motor that would rotate the triangular prism turned on when it detected the light. The photocell was attached to the frontal side onto one of the tiny holes around the convex lens


First I thought the problem was AC to DC convertor that had only 1A max to power several electronics: Arduino, solenoid, and the motor. However, it did not work either after I replaced with an individual DC power supply for the motor.

Memory Container is the core space for the power supply for every element. This DC convertor supplies power to the pendulum. Also, the AC cord for the air compressor runs down through this space to get power. 


The observer, 2017

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The instant frame captured by our conscious

The moment of the separation from the chaos

of past and future.


October 2017

Research #9-4: Fabricating Motion


The joint that connects the pendulum with the structure is the crucial part that can significantly modify the motion. First, I used a readymade swing hanger with several other hardwares. The problem with this mode was a non-linear motion, swinging the pendulum in every direction due to the slippery contacts between the modules. I needed a tight and smooth fitting for the joint to make the motion in one direction. So I started to design my own customized hanger for the pendulum. It was also part of my ambition to use bearings and try fabricating aluminum with milling machine, instead of buying a readymade bearing bed.


Then, I drilled a 1-1/8" hole on each aluminum plate to fit in the flanged ball bearings for 3/8"-diameter shaft. I used a threaded shaft fixed with spin nuts on each end. The shaft was also covered with oil-embedded sleeve bearings to minimize friction with the metal square tube.

I bought an oversized aluminum sheet with 3/8" thickness, 2"(w) x 24"(l). Using the manual milling machine, I made 3/8" wide groove to fit two pieces of aluminum plate to embed the ball bearing on each side.


October - November 2017

Research 10: Pneumatic Pendulum

Pneumatic system is the most important part of the operation as it is the engine of the pendulum. It is also the most challenging one which has taken me another three months to modify after the end of  Fall semester . 

The video on the left was the first experiment of the demo version of pneumatic pendulum. I simply used a plastic pipe with 1/4" air solenoid which was connected to the air compressor and DC power. 

This experiment proved the possibility of compressed air that had sufficient power to push a hanging object. However, to push the heavy object like concrete cube with personal air compressor, I needed more research to maximize the efficiency. The most helpful resource was the mechanism of jet engine which compresses the air to combust with fuel, and blasts with bypassing air.

The first design of pneumatic system was using a pair of 12V 3-way 1/4 air solenoids. The air supply was spilt into two solenoids via tee connector. I wanted to have one solenoid on each side of the pendulum. 


This hose was not suitable for the type of push-to-connect which caused air leakage.

There was different chart for the size of pipes which I realized later. All of these hose couplings was the wrong sizes.


The mechanism was the large air flow passing through the small outlet. The problem was how to manipulate the compressed air, by using the right size of pipe, hose, solenoid valve and outlet to maximize the force. I tried a wider outlet (left), but it released less force, but created a louder noise.


This is the customized circuit inside the concrete cube to control the air solenoid by Arduino with photocell. The logic is quite simple. The information of light is first received by the photocell, then send it to Arduino. Then, Arduino sends data to the transistor to control the solenoid valve. This circuit also provides pathway for DC power to Arduino and solenoids. 


This was the first assembly test using manual switch with on and off. Due to the size and capacity of the air hose and solenoid valve, although using the industrial air compressor, the amount of air flow and pressure was too low to fabricate any dynamic motion. The first design of pneumatic system was unsuccessful. I needed to modify the system with a new set of equipments.


I replaced the 1/4 solenoid to 3/4 which had almost three times larger amount of air flow and allowed higher pressure. I also used a bigger air hose (1/4" to 1/2") for optimizing the flow. The coding became much simpler to control single solenoid to push one side.


The power supply comes from the Memory Container for the solenoid, Arduino and photocell. The air hose supplies compressed air from Mechanical Heart.

The photocell is attached to the frontal side of concrete cube open through a tiny pin hole. When the light hits the concrete cube, the pendulum is supposed to move instantly by blasting compressed air. 

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November 2017

Experiment #3: Control Over Pendulum

In this experiment, the pendulum was fully controlled by the manual switch to turn it on and off. I could even stop the motion by pushing against the momentum. The air flow was very sufficient with the industrial pneumatic system at SAIC. The challenges were still remained with writing the code to blast air at the right timing, and calibrate this system with my personal 2-Gal. air compressor which was a lot smaller. 

Gravity Machine, 2017

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Memory is a mass that holds us tight in the present

It is our home

Sadly we all lose our home at some point

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