One of the most common pieces of feedback we received was simple: GO BIGGER. So we went bigger. The problem with going bigger was that lighting a massive sculpture from overhead in a manner similar to the Pagoda was going to make any installations way too tall to be feasible. It would also probably blind you every time you looked up at it. We decided to try putting the light inside of the sculpture, eliminating the need for an external light source. The light in theory would diffuse through the plastic and achieve the same optical effect as an overhead light.
So we got busy designing and printing as big of a sculpture as would fit onto our Creality CR-10.
To spin this absolute behemoth up to speed, we needed a motor with a very specific set of skills. It needed to be big, fast, sturdy, and trickiest of all, we needed to be able to affix a stationary light fixture inside of the rotating sculpture. Think about that for a second. We needed to somehow run wires through the motor and mount lights that didn't spin to a face that does spin.
There are undoubtedly a number of ways to achieve this, but most of them involve expensive, custom hardware. All of which were out of reach for a couple of bootstrappers who'd developed a bad habit of paying for their own R&D. I've always been a really big fan of finding design solutions which incorporate cheap, off-the-shelf hardware that does the job well. Which is a happy coincidence since I ended up landing on the idea of using a really big fan. A ceiling fan, to be exact.
Ceiling fans have a unique configuration in which the entire motor rotates around a fixed, hollow shaft. It even has a light fixture already attached to one side! So we bought a fan motor from Home Depot, laser-cut an adapter plate, mounted some 100 Watt LED Chips onto the light stanchion, and spun it up. The result was one of the most successful and beautiful first tests I've personally ever conducted. Over the next 14 hours we put together a quick and dirty enclosure and presented it alongside 4 Pagoda models at a warehouse burner called Where?House Bloom by Walter Productions. Hundreds of people got to enjoy playing with the sculptures and we made lots of new friends that were excited and hopeful to bring a NovaTrope home for themselves. The prototype MegaTrope was great in dark environments, but it wasn't bright enough, the enclosure was ugly, and it only had one color: white. We knew we could do better. To fix the brightness problem, we printed a new sculpture in translucent plastic, rather than the opaque white that the prototype was printed in. An entirely new enclosure was designed using glossy black Acrylic, and we contracted a local fab shop to glue us up a clear acrylic upper enclosure. The white LEDs were swapped out with 100 Watt RGB full-color LED chips and a new custom RGB strobe driver circuit was developed. The result was nothing short of breathtaking, as you can see in the cinematic promo video below.
The MegaTrope was officially born, and we're confident that it's going to awe and inspire everyone and anyone that gets the chance to see it in person.
We have received multiple requests to purchase Megatropes, but have encountered stability issues with the previous motor we were using (who'd have guessed that using a ceiling fan motor for an unintended application might not play out well?) We are currently in the process of researching and selecting a new motor that fits our criteria, and plan on having Megatropes available for purchase later this year. As it turns out, it is quite a sticky engineering problem, but we are forging onward anyway. If you are interested in purchasing a Megatrope please email us at email@example.com to be placed on our pre-order list.