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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!]


Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I write for MAKE, serve as Technical Editor for MAKE magazine, and develop original DIY content for Make: Projects.



  1. Dennis Mabrey says:

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  2. Olaf Fichtner says:

    How heavy is this thing? And how slowly will it move? Judging just from the door, the weight must be enormous…

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  5. This project wasn’t commissioned from San Francisco art collective Five Ton Crane, it was commissioned and funded by the folks I work for Chris and Amber Marie Bently:

    They also worked on the original idea- it’s been something they both talked about with our design department for years, we did a lot of artwork along the way for this. 

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