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Chapter 8. Liquid Len Meets DiscoHead: - Pg. 221

MAKE: PROJECTS Eccentric Cubicle 8 Liquid Len Meets DiscoHead: Ambient Orb Pwnage The 60s. Between drug-induced memory loss and premature death among experiencers, it's becoming more of a fabled decade than a historically accurate one. People are generally agreed, though, that psychaedelia did in fact occur. Peace, love, and groovy, man. L iquid lighting was/is the term coined to describe the flowing ameboid colour fields that result from putting oil, water, and dye in a transparent vessel and shining a focused light through it. If you can figure out a way to induce motion in the vessel, the coloured bits swirl around all trippy- like on the wall and you can pretend you're field-testing alien psychotropic drugs. Really, it looks better than it sounds. The 70s. Between drug-induced memory loss and pre- mature death among experiencers, it's becoming more of a fabled decade than a historically accurate one. People are generally agreed though that disco did in fact occur. Shake your booty, baby. Despite having been a near-mandatory accoutrement of any self-respecting ballroom since the 20s, mirror balls attained lasting cultural resonance during the Disco Age, when anything even remotely bright and shiny was an essen- tial part of the Discotheque experience. Stand by for a jarring collision of two kinda fuzzy decades, where inspirational mood lighting means something more than the pathetically understated pastel glow of an ambient orb. It's not that difficult to fabricate a mirror-tiled sphere; making the cutting jig for the glass cutter is the hardest part. Doing a styrofoam wig stand in mirror tiles is only margin- ally more difficult, and has a solid 9.8 coolness factor. The sphere? Low 7s at best. Well worth the (minimal) extra effort, and you'll be able to impress friends and neighbors of all ilk with your newly acquired glass-cutting skills. The liquid light visual is based around the fact that oil and water do not mix. Dye some water and mix it with a clear oil. Shine a focused light through the resulting mélange and proj- ect the resulting photochromic fiesta on the wall. It's a party! The simplest way to do it is in a shallow glass cake pan placed on an overhead projector. You have to stir the mixture by hand to get the oozy flowy liquid effect happening. Where's the fun in that? A much slicker approach (and the one we'll be pursuing) is to seal the liquid mixture in a circular frame and rotate it slowly in the focal plane of the projector that we're gonna build. We'll cannibalize a swap-meet LED flashlight as the lightsource, use lensing you quite possibly have sitting on your workbench at this very moment, and McGyver together a drive mechanism from a cassette deck, two toy cars and a few rubber bands to rotate the fluid frame. Our close personal friend Mr. Gravity will handle the "makin' stuff swirly" bit. These are simple mechanisms doing simple things. Despite the overall level of precision needed to make this work smoothly there isn't a single particularly challenging aspect to the mechanics of this project. DiscoHead and Liquid Len were conceived of as a match- ing pair. During the design phase, unifying the aesthetics and form factors of the enclosures for each piece was an exercise in expanding my vocabulary of cusswords until an epiphanous encounter with white PVC pipe fittings left me whackin' my head with my palm saying "duh . . . of course." Inevitably, the entire concept then took a sharply surrealist turn, encompassing grav- ity defying optical illusions, melted lead, and simulated ivory. What You'll Need There's a lot of shopping to do for these builds. Here's the essentials to start out with; we'll fill in the missing pieces with adaptive repurposing, or, as we say on my Homeworld, "wingin' it." 210