About The Kinetic Sculpture
This exhibit became a much admired centrepiece for 'Up and down', the section which deals with gravity and motion.
The sculture is fabricated from hand worked stainless steel rod, teflon coated steel plate (routed into a customwood base and pyramid shaped frame), brass and stainless steel universal joints and a tempered glass wobble plate.
Most componets were hand worked and all metalwork hand silver or TIG soldered.
The stainless steel bearings and universal joints were components designed for use in high-end radio-controlled model racing cars. Each of the universal joints are screwed into threaded sockets that were hand-tapped into the stainless steel rod. Positioning of each thread around the spiral track required some complex calculation.
How it works
A hidden motor drives a wobble plate which makes groups of the rod linkages oscillate up and down. This movement gives a slow hypnotic wavelike motion to the outer circular and inner spiral tracks. The oscillation introduced via the wobble plate effectively creates a wave that travels through the stainless steel track (despite the tracks appearing to remain rigid).
The wave motion drives two carts around tracks. The carts balance on two ball bearings that roll along the, track which is made from a continuous length of hand bent and welded stainless steel rod.
The carts are stabilised by the use of round lead counterwights suspended below the carts. The cart wheels do not touch the track - they act more as gyroscopic 'flywheels' to help smooth and dampen the cart motion and, most importantly, to limit the accelleration of the cart after it reaches the highest point on the spiral track and commences a steep descent to the lowest point on the spiral - where a new series of circuits is commenced as the cart 'surfs' the wave that raises it back up through up the spiral.
The two centrally mounted ball bearings provide the only contact between the cart and the track.
The point where a cart rolls on the track is the leading edge of a wave. The 'height' of the wave is designed to exceed the height of the spiral incline, so the carts actually are continuously surfing down the leading edge of a wave: Although the cart is continuously rolling 'down' the wave but relative to the base of the spiral, the cart actually does 'roll up hill' and thus appears to defy gravity
If you were to choose any point on the track and map its motion through one rotation of the cart on the outer track, it would describe a sphere.
A cart on the outer track predictably rolls along the downside face of the wave - But the cart on the inner track rolls upwards following the narrowing spiral until it reaches the apex and then races down the steep end to start its upward journey once again.
Visitors of all ages try to figure out how the inner cart seems to defy gravity for most of its circuit.
The exhibition team had the museum commission SAAS (the Studio of Applied Arts & Sciences) to create this intriguing and captivating display.
About Studio of Applied Arts & Sciences
SAAS is a leading provider of lateral solutions to institutions through the innovative use of applied arts and sciences.