Monday, August 29, 2016

Motorized Lighthouse

First project in the new apartment, again something that is long pending.

Though I made the lighthouse nearly 5 years back (Gosh! time flies!), I never got around to motorize it. While re-assembling the layout in the new apartment, I decided to start with this one since I already have all the materials needed to motorize the already built structure - it's just about attaching the lens housing (which was also made nearly 4 years back) to a slow motion motor.

The first step was to measure the space and clearance for the motor:

Then I'd cut a Masonite circular disk matching the inner diameter of the base of the lighthouse

The central hole was made to fit the motor bolt thread of the motor housing

The motor was then fixed to the board,

And then test fitted at the bottom of the lighthouse to check for clearance etc.

If you see the original construction details of the lighthouse (and many pictures thereafter), you would notice that the beacon housing already had a light installed. I just tested it's position and made sure everything is in it's place

Next step was to attach a shaft to the motor. Now this is where I again switched to 'scrap-building' mode. I didn't have a hollow shaft of suitable diameter with me - neither styrene, nor metal. So I went scrap hunting that can be made into a suitable hollow shaft, and I found a non-working pen. This was a gift from Brooklyn Locomotive Works, so I thought what could be a better place to utilize this than on an N scale Layout!

All the internal mechanism of the pen was removed - the tip side of the pen meshed nicely with the motor shaft, so I just secured it by drilling a through hole on the pen and securing it to the motor shaft using a pin (which was actually a part of a paper clip):

If you follow my work closely you would notice that one of my major focuses is always easier maintenance, because in my experience, things can go wrong at any time. So I decided not to permanently attach the lens housing to the shaft. So I created a removable section that tightly fits to the upper portion of the pen, but can be removed if required.

Now, if you are wondering how I found that lens - it is actually a contact lens packet! Some of the contact lens packaging have a perfect lens for model making - perfectly shaped, made of tough plastic and has very short focal length which is perfect for a lighthouse animation.

Here is the final shaft assembly with the lens:

And here is how the assembly looks when you 'cover' the shaft with the lighthouse structure. The light bulb hangs from the ceiling of the beacon housing and sit along the axis of the rotating, hollow lens housing.

And here is the lighthouse totally assembled:

Final test before installing on the layout

And that's how it looks when installed:

Here is a very short video to show it in action - Technically this is a 'fixed and flash' lighthouse with no eclipse:

All the photos and videos are with my phone, hoping to get a better composed video soon - may be after I finish some more work on the layout. :)

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