Experimental electronic petal dropping prop

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Published 3 months ago
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A project inspired by a friend in the theatre industry who was asking about the technicalities of creating a prop rose in a glass bell jar where the petals fall off in a controlled manner during the performance.

My initial thoughts were a magnetic system or an assembly with boden style tubes to allow pins to be pulled to drop the petals, but then I decided to experiment with resistors and wax.

This video is a good demonstration of how changing materials (higher temp wax and lighter petals) can change the results completely.

The prop as shown is just a prototype. It would look more rose-like with more petals and a smaller connection hub.

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💬 Comments
Author

This is probably one of my most favourite videos I've seen you produce so far Clive. Absolutely would love to see more of this type of thing, and absolutely the type of challenge I enjoy.

Author — LibC

Author

I made a petal dropping rose for Beauty and the Beast several years ago. I started with an artificial rose and hot glued small plastic tubes to the bottom of the petals. I ran strands of music wire up through brass tubing into each petal. Then they could be pulled one by one releasing the petals to fall. Very simple to reset as well.

Author — Kendal G.

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Would this work better with PTC resettable fuses? I imagine the larger surface area and more well-defined heater temperature could produce more consistent results. Plus if somebody forgets to switch off the power you won't have burning resistors.

Author — eDoc2020

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You could use different size resistors to get them to drop at different times. The wax can be blended for different melting points to drop at different rates maybe. I'd have gone with a tiny coil creating a magnet you attach a ferrite core. Glue a pin to each pedal Then you could time the drops. Arduino in the pot below? The tough part would be getting them to grow again.

Author — Shadowbanned By Google

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Very nice. I love it when you experiment like that and make props. A coil-and-magnet arrangement would perhaps work too, and react faster when energizing the coil?

Author — alpcns

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You should probably tell him to watch out for the stagelights, because enough external heat will trigger a cascade
Also, IIRC, you live in a quite cold house, so the timings will vary
EDIT: perhaps get a wireless thermometer to watch the temperature?

Author — MrHack4never

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This is awesome, Mate! I was expecting something more "pyrotechnic" but the heated wax idea is fantastic! Dental impression wax (from you know where) has a very sharp transition temperature, and the "petal drop" might be more decisive!

Author — Phil S

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Clive, be careful the stagelights donot warm up the wax too much (and the heat in the venue, by the audience)....But I am sure you've covered that....Mr. McGyver

Author — Muppetpaster

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I would worry about the temp on stage. Depending on how it's lit you might do better with the higher temp wax beads.

Author — Jeff Kephart

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This was a simple yet ingenious solution. The wax and resistor gives the right affect to produce a great stage effect. Really enjoyed watching this vlog Clive .
I was thinking if you wanted a different more extreme effect you could possibly use pyrotechnics to blow off the petals .😁

Author — christastic100

Author

Awesome idea. I'd definitely look at an auto shut off, as you can guarantee someone will leave it switched on by accident and completely burn out the resistors.

Author — Jamie Foster

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Now I'm just imagining Belle and the Beast stopping their script and string at this rose as it catches fire from the kilowatt being fed through it.
Looking into this, there's actually a decent number of DIY videos on making this prop, including the magnet option discussed (a little more responsive imho)

Author — ParallelLogic

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This is such a wonderful idea! Also, I think some dark green plasti-dip could probably go a long way towards making the ends look more presentable.

Author — Sharklops

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Great idea, I can think of loads of great applications for this. Reminds me of a pyrotechnic actuator I built by tying something to a beam with quickmatch then setting off with an e-match to release. Yours is definitely safer though!

Author — pyromaniac303

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Great project. Nice to see the DuPont/molex connectors and resistors being put to a different use

Author — Pat O Mahony

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Blinkin' brilliant, Clive! I could see you as a production engineer for some lime-lit 19th Century stage event introducing the team to the wonders of how to use electrickery in a play.

Author — George S

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There are many different wax formulations with different melting points, and I would go towards a higher temp wax to avoid premature defloration. To get some stagger between petals, you might try something as simple as putting larger blobs of wax on some petals to increase the mass that has to be heated.
If one petal just has a skim coat and another has a puddle, it should take slightly longer to drop.

Also maybe have the power supply ramp up voltage over a few seconds, so that you get gradual softening and staggered drop, but still get to a maximum voltage that ensures everything comes off, but is just below the wax smoke point.
Maybe a slowly charging capacitor that controls the voltage? Or straight off a DMX dimmer, and the operator knows to turn it up slowly?

I would wonder if some nichrome wire would work better since it can get to a higher temperature without burning out compared to a resistor.
Then you could use higher temperature wax and avoid stage light syndrome.

Author — ke6gwf - Ben Blackburn

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Very cool concept. The first thing that came to mind for a flower dropping mechanism are those 90 cent micro solenoids they sell on Aliexpress pulling some thin steel wire through ptfe tubes, could be a faster response without the annoying servo noise.

Author — NS Gaming

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This is super clever! Thanks for sharing Clive! <3

Author — Brian

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Set the wax faster with an upside down air duster can. The liquid propellant will cool it as quick as you melted it.

Author — Chris Tollefson