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Assembling your Time FountainAll > Tech > Inventions > Assembling your Time Fountain by natetrue
Remember, I'm selling these as fully assembled units ($200), kits ($100), or just preprogrammed PIC chips ($30). The pre-sale discount period is over, sorry if you missed it! Head over to the Buy page if you're interested.
- A wooden bowl (treated on the inside to prevent water damage)
- A 12VDC power supply (Note: If you're not in the US, you may need a converter or have to find a local 12vdc power supply)
- A DC pump with ridiculously long power cord
- A nozzle for the DC pump
- A highlighter (source of fluorescent ink)
- 2x Small plastic zipties
- A slanted piece of foam to catch the drips without splashing
- 20x High-brightness UV LEDs
- 2x TIP31C NPN power transistors
- 1x 7805 5v linear voltage regulator
- 1x 4.7 kilohm resistors
- 2x 1.0 kilohm resistor
- 1x 100uF 25v electrolytic capacitor
- 1x 11x18 prepunched PCB
- 1x 18-pin socket
- 1x PN2222A run-of-the-mill NPN transistor, EBC terminal order
- 3x Tactile pushbutton
- 1x Gold-plated pin header, 2x1
- 1x PIC16LF628A microcontroller, preprogrammed with the Time Fountain firmware
- 6ft 24AWG solid hookup wire, paired
- 1ft 1/8" ID clear vinyl tubing
- 0.5in 1/8" OD smaller clear tubing
- 18in 1/16" brass wire, with a bend in the middle
Kits may also include large amounts of packing peanuts.
Ready to start? So am I! Let's begin!
Now, make sure each LED is aiming toward where the drops will be falling.
Here you can use a drill to twist the wires together (you only need about 3 feet of twisted wire; the rest will be used as hookup wire and shouldn't be twisted) so that the wires stay together.
This concludes the mechanical portion of the construction. On to the electronics!
Hold the board with the shiny circles facing away from you - that's how these graphics will be presented.
For the capacitor, take mind that the banded side MUST go to the center pin of the 7805. The other side connects to the bottom "In" pin of the 7805. If the capacitor is in backwards it may explode, so make sure it's right!
One of the 1k resistor goes from socket pin 11 to the bottom power transistor, as shown.
Then the other 1k resistor goes from PIC pin 9 to the top power transistor.
- The ground (middle) pin of the 7805
- The right-side pins of all 3 buttons
- Socket pin 5
- The emitter (top) pins of each power transistor
You're done! Put the PIC chip in the socket so that its notch lines up with the socket's notch.
There's still some adjustment to be done, so follow these instructions to get your fountain working.
Testing your assembly
Plug in your Time Fountain with no water in it. You should see the UV lights flickering and the pump should gradually speed up then stop. If this happens you've built your fountain correctly so far. You can proceed to the moister section. If not, check the Troubleshooting section for possible solutions.
If you bought an assembled fountain
If you bought a pre-assembled fountain, you may be disappointed to find that it is not fully assembled. You will have to put the pump into the bowl yourself, sorry! Everything else is built, though.
Using your Time Fountain
Start by filling the bowl with water. It should come to within a half inch of the top of the bowl. You'll have to add water periodically as it evaporates and/or splashes out.
Chew the back end off of the highlighter and extract the ink sponge. You only need a few drops to get the water very fluorescent.
Plug the fountain in (make sure your hands aren't wet). The pump should power up and slowly build until the water starts dripping out. If the water starts spraying everywhere then you don't have the sensor correctly positioned - the water stream should hit the sensor when it starts.
The Time Fountain automatically chooses an initial speed for the motor but it's up to you to fine-tune it to a stable drop stream. Use the left and right buttons on the fountain to slow down or speed up the pump. You know you have it right when the drops appear stably frozen in mid-air. You may also have to experiment with sensor positioning.
Press the center button to enter "Stable" mode. In this mode the drops will stay frozen, and you can use the left and right buttons to move them up and down.
If you press the center button again, you will enter "Slow motion" mode, where the drops fall in slow motion. Here the side buttons do nothing.
The last mode is "Backwards" mode where the drops will move backward in time. Again, the side buttons do nothing.
Hitting the center button again will return you to "Motor Adjustment" mode.
That's all! I hope you enjoy your Time Fountain as much as I do mine.
Troubleshooting your Time Fountain
Okay, so something went wrong with your Time Fountain. Here are some common problems:
When I turn on my Time Fountain, the pump gets faster and faster then stops.
Something's wrong with the sensor. For the sensor to trip, it needs a bridge of water between its two leads - the white one inside the tube and the blue one hanging in space below the drip opening. Make sure that your sensor is wired correctly and that it is positioned to be hit by falling drops before they disconnect from the drop opening.
The LEDs don't light up at all.
Either the LED wires were installed backwards, or there's a short circuit - check that the LED anodes are connected to the power supply and that the cathodes are connected to the center lead of a power transistor. Also examine the leads on the LEDs for a short circuit.
I can't get the drops to freeze in mid-air.
This could be a sensor misalignment - the sensor might be too far or too close to the drip opening to get a good on-off-on-off reading when drops go by. Also try using slower pump motor speeds to make bigger drops.
If you have any other issues, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below and I will be sure to help you out.
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