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Topic: Because we can Can-Can - Moulin Rouge windmill  (Read 11654 times)
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« on: March 14, 2010 06:06:01 AM »

A while ago me and my mate were asked to make a Windmill for a Friends Birthday.
 The Theme : Moulin Rouge
They wanted a Moulin Rouge Windmill with rotating blades.

a better photo but without the top/lid on it

We also had a light inside it so yellow light shone through the little windows

Well...this was the first Mechanical Prop we had ever made - so of course we were learning from scratch had quite a few stuff ups with fitting the motor in, and getting the blades to rotate at a slow enough pace... We also had a very small time frame in which to make it and let me tell you - Liquid Nails just does not set fast enough Smiley

Its made out of polystyrene - the rotation peice went through the little round hole near the top of the windmill - and the blades were attached to it.

 It worked in the end though - the blades did spin. We learnt a lot ... but still have a lot to learn...
It held out for most of the night - however at about 1am the rotating mechanical device must have heated the Liquid Nails up just enough to loosen its grip...and as the blades were attached to that same piece, they ended up drooping and smashing into the side of the windmill - - blades pieces went flying ! Tongue

One day we will try again - but mainly with coreflute next time. We just had a lot of polystyrene lying around so we decided to use it

« Last Edit: March 14, 2010 06:09:44 AM by Ankhored » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2010 07:27:55 AM »

Amazing job.  I want to make this.

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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2010 07:55:13 AM »

When you said "we had a lot of polystyrene lying around", you weren't kidding!

I think if you could keep a motorized prop made entirely out of 1" polystyrene running til 1 am, you can consider it a success. I would have guessed that it wouldn't go an hour before the foam started to wear and the joints give out. So bravo!

Your first idea was right, though, polystyrene is perfect for this sort of thing: fast, cheap, lightweight, easy to cut. But it doesn't like to hold up much more than its own weight, so some carefully-placed reinforcement with thin plywood or a more durable foam is often needed, especially for things like motor mounts. (My preference is for Gatorboard, which is also very lightweight, but rigid as plywood. Expensive, though.)

If I'm in a hurry (and usually even if I'm not) I tend to use water-based contact cement on polystyrene instead of something like Liquid Nails. You can turn a fan on the glued pieces to dry them very quickly before they're attached together, and then no further drying time is required.

And look at it this way: your self-destructing windmill gave an unexpectedly spectacular end to the party! Well done!


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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2010 12:07:15 PM »

This is a cool prop.  Looks great and sounds like it held up long enough for all to see it at least.  Did anyone get any action pictures?  Great job.
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2010 04:29:24 AM »

LOL Wulf - - Yes we have aaaaalot of polystyrene. Some bought , some given to us that had been used as insulation in an old cellar - which is what we used to make the windmall out of. So it was actually about 5" thick, not the 1" thickness you thought Smiley

 From the way we cut it and stuck it together, it had a lot of stability - just not at the top where we had the motor. Plus from our stuff ups - we ended up glueing the part that spun the blades the day before it was used - - so we are VERY lucky it stuck for as long as it did. The windmill pulled apart in the middle - and was put together by hinges.  Next time, will use either mdf or coreflute backing for extra support.
 Ill keep in mind the water-based contact cement, Ill have to research it. We normally use Liquid Nails..as the only other glue we know of is PVA, for polystyrene.

 We would also like to make the blades spin slower. A lower voltage battery helped slow the rotation down slightly, but it was still going too fast for a windmill.

 The windmill was for a friend of ours - for their friends birthday - so we never got to see the windmill in action in person - only by video. It looked pretty cool though  Tongue but Im biased  Roll Eyes  I will have to try and get a copy of the video.

 Next time we will also take more photos of the process - we are pretty bad at remembering to do that.

It was pretty disappointing that something we spent hours building broke in the last part of the night - but I guess if it hadn't of broken, we wouldnt know there was an issue with it. We learn from our mistakes Smiley

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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2010 08:45:39 AM »

Hi,  Great windmill!  I need to build a windmill for a party in two months.  Do you have instructions or pattern for yours?  I love that the blades turned and everthing.
Any help you can give me will be appreciated.

« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2010 01:02:49 AM »

Hi - Thanks kduffyr

 I will do my best to explain - We didnt really make a pattern for ours though - we didnt have time Tongue
Im afraid my explanation isnt going to be very helpful because we pretty much just picked up our blocks of styrene and just went for it...
 I hope it makes sense...

 First you have to figure out how tall you want it. We had planks of styrene sitting in our workshop so we cut them to the length we wanted. We had 5 panels because our windmill was only a semi circle. We cut each panel so it was about 25cm width down the bottom and about 15cm at the top.

Next step was to *angle cut the depth so that when we put them all together they joined at the angles and formed a semi circle. This was the hardest part for us as neither of us is very good at maths Tongue so it was a bit of guestimation getting the angle right..
 (*the easiest way to explain what I mean here is to say 'go look at a picture frame, see how each corner is cut so it fits together - this is what I mean by angle cut' Tongue)

 Once done we cut out the windows in each panel etc and then glued the panels together.

 For the turning blades - this was also a learning curve for us and a lot of trial and error. We cut out each blade seperately (also out of styrene so it was light enough for the motor to turn) - and then sandwiched the tip of each one between 2 wooden circles.
 As you can see in the very bottom picture, we had a hole cut out in the top of one of the panels - this is what the motor sat in. We attached the motor to the wooden circle that the panels were on and voila ! We had to glue the motor in so it wouldnt move.

 We also attached the windmill to a wooden base.

 Do you have any idea what your going to make yours out of ?

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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2010 07:52:04 AM »

I don't know what we are going to make it out of.  Maybe Drywall.  Any suggestions?  I think the blades will be balsa wood, but I don't know about the motor. 
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2010 08:13:31 AM »

lol Dusty Springfield started singing in my head when I saw this.

This is fantastic.  I am surprised you are not making props for theatre acts... this is awesome work.
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2010 06:19:20 PM »

hmm, kduffyr. Depending on how heavy the motor is going to be and where your going to position it - you could always try it out of Coreflute? Thats very easy to work with  - you can cut the panels out, stick them together with tabs on the back.
 We only used styrene because we had so much of it already. But Coreflute would be a lot easier.

 I would use coreflute for the blades aswell - balsa wood breaks very easily... I wish we hadnt used it for the windows - it took forever to cut out each hole out.

  As for the motor - go to a store that sells electronics and tell them what you need a motor for - they should be able to hook you up with all you need. Just get a very low voltage battery or the blades will spin too fast.

 Thanks Clay Smiley - I have done a bit of theatre work over the years, but also a lot of things for parties and just random stuff. The pic I have as my avatar are three Giant Chess Pieces I made for a theatre show - they are about 1.5-2m tall.
  I have a fair few pics I could put up of previous works, I havent because its all stuff from between now and 8 years ago Smiley I figured I should just put up the more recent stuff  Grin

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