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I started this one slightly selfishly I've got to be honest. I've just had an afternoon's work on my latest project and I really wanted to put some pictures up, but there didn't seem to be a topic where people could post pictures of their latest creation. The rose didn't warrant a thread of its' own, so I've started a "show your project" one.


I thought the topic might be educational too - we could maybe post a little about how we actually made the thing which might give others ideas.


The local am-drams are doing "Beauty and the Beast" in a few weeks time. Finding an affordable rose that drops its' petals on cue seems to have proven awkward, so I said I'd build them one.

I saw it as a chance to combine my theatre interests with my old hobby of Model Engineering (building miniature ride-on steam trains in my case) and also a touch of the day job - electronics.


The plan was simple. Solder 3 brass tubes together to form a stem. Inside each of these would run a "push rod" that would be operated from in the base by a servo (from my remote control car racing days!). The petals would be made from brass, folded and cut to shape. Each one would have a small peg that fitted into the end of the stem tube. Pushing the push rod now forces the peg out of the stem and the petal drops. I'd then add a few leaves for effect. The middle smallest petal stays in place all the way through, so it can be solid, it's only the 3 outer ones that fall.

One word of encouragement. Just cause I've built working steam trains before doesn't mean this is tricky. I did it using an electric soldering iron and plain old electronics solder. The brass was from a local model shop and isn't that expensive. Yes I've done this kind of thing before, but it isn't difficult. Give it a try!


The actual rose in the film and proper stage version is inside a glass dome. This is something I've not quite worked out yet. They're available from taxidermy shops, but they're a lot of money!


So to start with, this is the stem;



This is a petal with peg attached;



These are the 3 petals. Each one slightly different sze, curvature and peg angle so they sit inside each other;



This is the stem with leaves attached;



This is the end of the stem with push rods visible;



This is the whole thing before paint, with the petals in place;



That's as far as I've got so far. Tomorrow I'll take some Humbrol enamel paint to it and see how it looks. I also want to tweak the angle and folding of the petals. It looks a little too open between the inner and outer petals. Might look better when it's painted, and I suppose it's not seen up close, but I'm like that! Then it needs a base plate with the servo mechanism and the glass dome to finish it.

I'm either going to buy a DMX servo driver so it can be worked from the lighting desk, or just use a radio control car handset. Depends on time and budget. I'd also like to put some white LED's in the base so it can glow mysteriously. If I do that, it'll have to be DMX controlled though.


Let's see what we've all been up to!

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Yeah thanks for that.

Unfortunately this thing stands at about a foot high to give it some visual impact. Nobody out there seems to make plastic domes big enough, and glass ones are at least 60 quid, which I'll pay if I need to and know I'll get a return on the investment, but the servo board is costing me 40 quid already.


I actually have a plastic dome that's just the right size. Came from a "build your own skeleton" kit I had when I was little. The foot high model skeleton stood inside this dome. The plastic's gone a little hazy over the 20 or so years I've had it though!

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Are you SURE you are in the right profession? ** laughs out loud ** That is very nice engineering cedd. If we run out of planes to land you have a new career cobbling up kit for the theatre, not to mention those who like one off pieces of art.


Ref the jar, have you tried school lab suppliers for a Bell Jar? Sort of thing used for chemistry experiments to minimise risk to students when doing reactive experiments say. The ones we had were about a foot high and 8" OD.

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14" high, 18" diameter, both plastic & glass available - Any good?

Oh you absolute star! That's perfect. Different shape to what I was originally looking for, but I think it looks a bit more in keeping with the show anyway.


I think I'll go for the plastic one. My only concern with the whole dome cover thing though is the effect the lighting will have on it. I'm lighting the rose itself from inside the jar in the base, but I don't really want reflections on the dome obscuring the view. That may well just have to be a problem for the LD to tackle, but any thoughts on if glass or plastic will behave better? I'd rather go plastic cause of the bvious cost savings, but I guess if it's a major problem, could stretch to glass. I'd rather not as it'll then be a bit more fragile to transport.

Vac forming was also an option, I have access to a machine if I really need one. Making the former is a bit of a hassle though. I suppose drain pipe with a shaped end would work.



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This looks absolutely cracking - and being a fairly central piece of prop for the show, something WELL worth spending the time and effort on. Also eminently hire-able, too, once complete.


If I put my critic's head on for just one second, the only question I'd ask relates to the soldered join between the petals and the pegs. Knowing sodlered joints as I do (!) is that going to withstand the repetitive knocks from being pushed out and dropping on the base? You may well have bench-tested the solidity, in which case go for it!

Just a thought...



Otherwise a VERY impressive prop.

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I had wondered about that. If I'm honest, you haven't actually seen the final pair of petals in those pics. I had second thoughs for just the above reasons (yurp, having used steam boilers holding 80psi behind silver soldered joints, I like to see a decent soldered joint as well!) and my Mk 2 petals have holes drilled behind the peg that the solder has been allowed to flow into and come out the other side to form a sort of soldered rivet. I may well as yet produce a Mk 3 petal which has wire wrapped through tiny holes in the petal, around the peg. Then solder over the whole lot. That's how I attached the leaves to the stem if you look closely.


Mk 1 now has paint and is sat drying in the kitchen as we speak. I'll road test it tomorrow. The Mk 3 petals may well be slightly thinner too. The base is going to be felted and maybe have some rubber under it too, but I'm still worried about them making a noise as they fall off.

Indeed, who's to say they have to be brass and not something like cardboard as long as I can make them keep their shape. I just like making things out of brass!


Subject to the set designer's approval, I'll crack on with servo's next and constructing the base.


I think I'm going to keep hold of the thing afterwards and as you say, make it available for hire. I wasn't too sure about mentioning that on here as I didn't want it to appear as advertising, but as it's been suggested, I may as well respond and say it had crossed my mind!

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... who's to say they have to be brass and not something like cardboard as long as I can make them keep their shape. I just like making things out of brass!

The noise as it drops issue may also be an issue of course, yes - but if you're thinking of changing the material of the petals it might also be worth making the WHOLE flower head from the same - if only because it may be tricky to get the same finish or 'look' on different materials for the inner and falling petals.


The other downside to brass or heavier material is the way that the petals fall - I doubt you'll get anywhere near the 'floaty' appearance of the real thing (or indeed the cartoon!) and artistic licence should cover most, but obviously a dead drop with a 'clunk' at the end is probably a bit too much of a leap... :)


May well be worth experimenting with a variety of options for both the petals and the pegs.


Either way, still an impressive project. Shall be watching with interest.

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Well, some time has passed and the project has progressed a little.


As discussed further up, whilst the brass petals looked nice and were certainly robust, they were just too heavy to look right.


This morning I picked up some Plasticard from the local model railway shop (and spent half an hour feeling like a little boy again looking at all the shiny models - I sometimes wish I still had a train set!). I have made much lighter weight petals now, which are much better.


I've also assembled the base and attached thick fishing line (pike braid) to the ends of the push rods. These go over a set of brass rod carriers, to a servo arm. Moving the servo arm pulls the line, which pulls the push rod up, releasing the petal.


Photo of the new plasticard petals (still to be painted) here;



I've currently only got 2 of the petals working, cause I'm still waiting on a 3rd servo arriving, plus I haven't got the DMX-servo card yet, so am having to make do wth a 2 channel RC system. Nevertheless you can see a video of the 2 petals falling (and my incredibly messy workbench) here;


2 petals working


Don't be fooled by the amount of time it takes to get the second petal working, I just moved the lever the wrong way! The servo's are currently set up so that they don't move the petal until the final half of their travel. With RC kit, the servo positions itself half way along its' travel to start with, so moving the lever oe way just slackens the fishing line and does nothing. When connected to the desk via the DMX card it just means that the petal won't fall until the fader is in the top half (probably pretty near the top).


Shame I have to paint it red, I really like the petals in white with a red centre!

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Come on folks! Let's have some other people posting some interesting projects! I feel very selfish hogging this whole thread for my own stuff - it wasn't the intention!


I've taken a few days break from the rose project cause I've had issues with the delivery of the DMX-Servo card, so have had to go direct to Milford. Instead I started work on the box of 6 plastic pigeons that came to my door a couple of days ago.

I've got to be honest and say that my workbench looks like a scene from an animal version of the Saw movies! I have pigeon heads, wings, all sorts. Plus I had to take a previous project (remote control Toto the dog - A.K.A'd "digidog") apart for servo's, so I now have bits of dog lying around too. It's all very wrong and I'm sure I'd have some explaining to do to the RSPCA.


Anyway, started on a simple one - a pigeon that pecked. The body contains a servo and a pivot mechanism (made from brass again - my new favourite construction tool). Then there are a pair of purposefully thin legs going down to the ground. The idea is that a jerky movement of the servo and pivot will start the legs bending slightly, which will make it peck. I might stiffen the legs up a touch as the pecking can be a bit of a pain when you want the thing to actually stop! Plus I did manage a touch of harmonic motion a few days ago - the servo was trying to correct the swaying, but not quickly enough, so it actually fuelled the feedback and it just kept rocking!

Anyway, pecking pigeon mark 1;

Pecking pigeon


I then moved on to the main item - the saluting pigeon. I carefully removed the moulded wing, leaving the side of its' body open. Then I made a bracket from brass sheet to hold the pivot from which the wing would rotate. A brass tube through this bracket, going the full width of the pigeon and out of the other side of its' body makes one half of the hinge. The wing itself has a rod (which fits into this tube). The rod sticks out from the back of the wing. Once it reaches the wing itself, it bends 90 degrees and then runs the full length, down to the wingtip. This gives the wing some rigidity and makes the join to the plastic stronger as it's spread over a longer distance. A brass plate then sandwiches this rod between the wing plastic and itself, forming the inner "skin" of the wing. A length of fishing line is fastened to the wing and threaded over a set of hooks positioned around the pivot, so that when pulling the line, the wing rotates around the pivot point and the line comes off the hooks one by one as they pass.

The other length of the line is fastened to a couple of elastic bands secured in the back of the bird's body. The wing now springs into the salute positon.


A servo arm mounted in the side of the body under the wing, forms a hook that locates with the wing. Operating the servo removes the catch, allowing the wing to rotate to the salute position. This method was used to give the salute a snappier look. I could have attached a servo (sail winch type - 180' rotation rather than 60) direct to the wing, but the load constantly on the servo would have made it noisy and wouldn't have been as quick.


Finally I mounted a rotating mechanism in the bottom of him, so he can remain with the hacked wing (which does look slightly different to the other one) upstage. He then turns to the audience (attracting attention) and salutes. He can then rotate back and forth to "milk" the salute for all it can!


I need to tighten up the lines driving the rotation - it's a bit jumpy currently, but that's also partly cause I'm using a cheap and nasty RC system. Will be much better when I get it on the DMX card and can use Chamsys.


See what you think;


Saluting pigeon


I'll now make some rotating and tilting ones to finish off the ensemble!


More news on the rose in the next couple of days.

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