“Nautilus” Art Car Pressure Door with Huge Mechanical Iris

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2399 Articles

By Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

2399 Articles

Sculptor, kinetic artist, and longtime MAKE pal Alan Rorie is back with this beautiful “pressure door” built for a Nautilus-themed art car commissioned from San Francisco art collective Five Ton Crane.

The door locks and unlocks via RFID, and the huge, four-foot diameter mechanical iris in its center is motorized:

The motorization of the large aperture was surprisingly easy. I used two small DC motors with spur gears and nice torque mounted on either side of the cam ring. I then welded chain around the cam ring turning it into a giant gear. It worked the first time I tried it. I controlled the two motors with an Arduino and a motor shield, two limit switches and a few lines of code. I then modified an old positioner and inserted a set of buttons, so that when you pull the handle of the positioner it trips the buttons and turns the motors.

Rorie, who is a specialist in iris apertures, also built four smaller irising windows for the car’s body.  There are many more beautiful pictures in Alan’s Flickr Set.   [Thanks, Alan!]

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