Lab212 were asked to design an exhibition for young children (2 to 4 years old) at Stereolux in Nantes. I worked with Pierre on his idea. Basically it’s a huge industrial fan that responds to your blow on a tiny pinwheel. It’s not a simple on/off interaction, the big fan reproduces exactly the same speed curve the user applied to the pinwheel.
I primarily worked on the technical aspect of the project. The big challenge was to drive the Altivar 3 phase frequency controller with an Arduino. I had a hard time to study the MODBUS / RS485 protocols and the Altivar documentation about MODBUS communication isn’t very DIY’er friendly…
The speed of the pinwheel is measured with an old ball mouse mechanism that sends it’s PS2 data to the Arduino (this part was easy thanks to all the libraries that exist). The Arduino on the other hand outputs the fan speed data through an RS233 – RS485 transceiver connected to the speed controller via an RJ45 cable. The Altivar also delivers enough power through the RJ45 connector to feed the Arduino and mouse board so we ended up with rather clean setup.
A dedicated website shows all the projects of this exhibition and you can read more about Appel d’air on Pierre’s website.