Bill Gurstelle is a Contributing Editor for MAKE magazine. His most recent book is entitled Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. You can follow Bill on his danger-quest at twitter.com/wmgurst. He is a guest Make: Online author for the month of August.
Earlier this year, Michael Dubno invited me to his house to take a look at his Sand Table. Here is a picture of it:
It’s one of the cooler maker projects that I’ve come across this year (it’s got that Zen sand-art thing). Michael Dubno is the younger of New York City’s Dubno brothers, who are famous amongst gadget lovers for throwing the wonderful Gadetoff event. (Gadgetoff takes place annually in New York City. It’s a celebration of technical and artistic innovation and a salon to ponder the future.)
More on the sand table from dubno.com
“The sand table is a functional piece of art. It is a complex electromechanical mechanism within a coffee table that draws patterns in sand.
How does it work?
A steel ball bearing sits on top of a pan filled with sand and is moved by a magnet hidden underneath. The magnet is driven along two axes by a gantry controlled by a computer with a web-based interface.
The parts were designed with Autodesk Inventor. Everything was either machined by hand or obtained from parts suppliers.
The gizmo was built in Dubno’s basement, which is no big deal except that he lives in a townhouse in a ritzy part of New York City’s Upper West Side. Dubno may have the best amateur machine shop in Manhattan. Unlike most NYC apartment dwellers, he’s got a full-sized industrial mill, lathe, and drill press plus all sorts of electrical equipment and hand tools.
This picture shows the X and Y axis stepper motors that precisely controls the magnet that drags the steel ball through the sand.
Here are the electronics that control the the positioning motors.
Michael took this picture of the table showing the motors and linear actuation devices prior to wiring in the electronics and adding the sand.
Examples of Sand Table Art