3D designed and printed straw connection system used to build a ferris wheel and combined with littleBits electronics to control the ride and speed. Great Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths learning in the one project and sure to keep students engaged.
A simple design process to create your own straw connectors with Tinkercad. Sketch your design and work out what shaped connectors are required. Measure the diameter of the straw and choose a shape to model each piece on (I chose the polygon shape and simply selected bevelled ends).
Create a Tinkercad design for each piece required. What angle and straw length is required to make the size circle you require? What will you use for the axle (a Lego axle, an icy pole stick) and what are the dimensions of the hole required in the hub piece to make the axle turn?
What hook design are you going to use to ensure each basket rotates freely?
Export the 3D printable .STL files from Tinkercad.
Open the 3D printer software, position the parts and print the required quantities of each.
Assemble your very own designed and printed ferris wheel.
Build a platform to house the littleBits DC Motor and attach to the ferris wheel axle.
Attach littleBits powerBit, dimmerBit and wires to the DC motorBit to provide adjustable speed to the ferris wheel. I used the CloudBit instead of the dimmerBit to control the speed of the motor from my laptop via the Internet and Wifi.
Attach a powerBit to a lightsensorBit and a numberBit to set up a counting of rotations.
Point a light to the lightsensorBit ensuring the ferris wheel basket blocks the light source at the basket’s low point to count the number of ferris wheel full roations (number/ number of baskets).