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This painting machine uses a light sensor to respond to the environment. What other types of sensors might work?


Overnight Painting Machine

I made a painting machine that paints when I can't, at night. The machine dips a piece of paper in the paint so that the pigment soaks in slowly and raises it out in the morning. I didn't expect the crazy patterns that would happen. - Margaret
stuff you need
  • A cricket, a motor, a display, and light sensor.
  • A motion module that can dip the paper into a container and remove it again.
  • A cereal, oatmeal, or other tall box
  • Cardboard
  • String
  • Binder clips
  • Hot melt glue gun and glue stick
  • Watercolors or food coloring
  • Paper (An absorbent, heavy-weight paper will work best.)
  • Shallow container for water
First, make a stand for your overnight painter. I made a tower out of a cereal box by cutting around 3 sides of the front of the box to make a platform. I reinforced the box with some pieces of cardboard.

With the front of the box cut away, you will be able to center the paint container beneath the paper.

You can use a motion module to lower the paper into the pan of paint and raise it back up again. I chose the Reel. Learn how to build the Reel.
Next, attach the string to the reel. Tie the end of the string around the wheel and use a dot of hot glue to hold it in place.
Use a binder clip (or paper clip) to attach the paper to the string. Tie it in place.

Make sure the string will be the right length to lower the paper into the water.

My painting machine used a light sensor. I experimented with the light sensor and a display to figure out what the light level would be at dusk.

Next, program your machine to make overnight paintings. My program turned on the motor to lower the paper when the light level dropped below 30, and turned the motor back on when the light level went above 29.

See a larger image of the program.

When you're ready to make a painting, pour about 1/2" of water in your pan, and add watercolor paint or food coloring. Don't be afraid to add lots of coloring - it will make your painting brighter.
As you sleep, the color slowly soaks into the paper and in the morning - a suprise. These two were made with red and yellow food coloring.
Try combining colors - like green and blue, or yellow and red. Sometimes you'll get interesting patterns.
What else
Find a useful Motion Module
Read about Margaret's Hot-and-Cold painting machine
Make a painting machine that spins.

 
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