Mat Janson Blanchet's academic works

Gearing up

Posted on October 28, 2017

Advanced Practices in Video, Performance and Electronic Arts

Lasercutting gears

This week a lot of progress was made, which is an unexpected but welcome surprise. I went to the DigiFab Lab to ask a question, and the technician told me that he had free time, since a few appointments had been cancelled. I jumped at the opportunity to cut as many gears as I could for this project, and for the other iteration in the winter session.

Lots of gears

Gluing GearsGluing Gears

The lasercutter at Concordia can only go through 1/8″ plywood. I have a feeling that tightening a guitar string enough to break it will require quite a bit of strength, so I decided to double the thickness of the gears by gluing two layers together. Also, having this many allows me to not worry if some break while I test the behaviour of my mechanical sculpture.


New Sockets Installed on PrototypeNew Sockets Closeup

Up until now, in order to connect the Arduino board and power up the motor, I had to either move the piece’s body on its side, or use the small hole I had cut on the side wall. Neither options were really practical or pretty.

I decided to change the side walls and have sockets set flush so it is nicer.

USB Socket Datasheet DiagramSketch - USB Socket Pins

While the 12v input socket was easy to connect—there are only two connections: power and ground—the USB connector was a bit trickier. As I was searching for information with “USB socket” as keywords, I only would find information about wall power outlets that include a USB socket.

While I found a few diagrams that explained what each pin of a USB connector, it was when I found the product page on Sparkfun Electronics that I was able to use the information. With the datasheet, I was able to sketch which pin is which.

2 AM Soldering Session

During a late night soldering session, I connected the sockets with the appropriate component inside the piece. The wires were also moved to the side, so that drilling a hole for the peg for the second gear would not be a problem. More on that in a future post.

2 AM Test - Functional!

Once all was in place, I had to make sure all worked, even in the middle of the night. All is good so far!



Early in the week, I went to Harsupco to get some C-Clips for 3/16″ pegs/rods, which is the diameter of the motor peg. I turns out the metal shop doesn’t have the tools to carve the necessary notch for such small C-Clips, so I brought the (way too many) clips I bought.

When going to stow my bike away for the winter, I went to the Rona hardware store on Notre-Dame, which also has a great selection of rare pieces. I bought a few C-Clips f0r 1/4″ pegs/rods, and I am thinking I could double the clips, then allowing to use a wider notch.

To be continued…

Carrying Case

When I brought the prototype home to fiddle with its electronics for the weekend, it was all nice and sunny. However, the weather quickly turned to rain, which is also the forecast for the rest of the week. And this is when I got to think that I have nothing to carry the piece safely protected from the elements. I tried to make it fit in an old electric guitar case I had, but no dice.

Road Case

That’s when I thought: the guys with whom I spend time at the TML are currently shipping some artworks and installations to Europe, in custom road cases they had built. The only complicated part of building such a case is finding the right components. Lo and behold, I found an online store that sells those parts, Next Gen Guitars, and they are in Canada to boot!

Road Case CornerRoad Case Leather Handle

At this point, I think protective corner pieces and a leather handle (seen in the figures above) would be the parts I would need to get from the store. I’ll get to sketch what I need to build, and I’ll go from there.

Le Salon des Patenteux

This week, while watching Infoman—a satirical TV show, a bit akin to CBC’s Rick Mercer Report—I learned of Le Salon des Patenteux, which could translate to the “TinkererCon.” See the video, between 8:17 and 11:10.

There, people showcase all sorts of functional devices, not always useful, or rather most often useless. This kind of place would be an awesome showcase for the piece I am building!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *