The past couple of days I have been working on the triple arches that will be replacing the single arches in the show this year. The arches will have a common base but there will be 3 hoops on each one. The outer hoop is 43 lights, middle is 41, and the inside is 38 for a total of 122 each. The hoops themselves are just 1/2 PVC pipe… The bases for them I am printing on my 3D printer. I am going to push the lights through the PVC pipe so I need to drill holes into the pipe to accommodate them.
I first had to 3D print the Jig that I am using on the drill press. This jig allows me to lock in the 2 1/2 in spacing for the lights. As I slide the pipe though there are two tabs that click into the previously drilled holes holding the pipe in place so the new hole can be drilled.
I of course needed to print the bases. These take about 30 hours each to print but I probably print them a bit more dense than is necessary. I also struggled with getting the print settings correct and ended up wasting a few of them as part of my learning process. In total I will need 24 bases to be printed. My printer will get a workout of about 30 days – its a little over 720 hours. So far I am just over half way to the total number of them that I need. It is going to be close.
Next, I need to actually drill the pipe. I use a 12mm Forstner bit on my drill press. I start by taping 2 of the 10 foot pieces of PVC together with some electrical tape at multiple places along the length. I lay it on a flat surface and then use a sharpie and run a line down the crease between the two pieces. This will give me a straight line to follow. I have drilled a number of these already and the jig does a real good job at keeping the pipe from twisting but I would rather be safe that sorry so I still draw the guide line.
The first hole that I drill needs to be about 6ish inches from the end of the pipe. To make sure they are all the same I push the pipe through the jig until the end is flush with the exit side of the jig. Then I drill the first hole… slide the pipe through the jig… click the drilled hole onto the tabs, drill the next, push through, click, drill, over and over until all of the holes are drilled. The second pipe in the arch is 6 inches shorter than the first so I cut off those six inches and repeat the process. Third pipe is 12 inches shorter than the first so I shorten it and repeat. Today I was able to get 3 arches hoops drilled and ready for pixels before the rain started.
Next I will push the pixels. I haven’t started that process yet. Perhaps tomorrow since it will be raining all day. I may decide that I need to use a step bit to make the hole on the back side of the pipe just a bit larger. I will try a few first to see how difficult it will be. Ultimately I want them to fit tightly so they don’t fall out but I don’t want them to be so difficult to insert that I am miserable the whole time.
After the pixels are pushed then I will assemble them. The bases will have a piece of 1/2 EMT holding them apart. These will be about 5 feet each. I will then drill holes and mount the PVC. I am going to likely need to heat it up a bit in order to get it to bend into the arch formation. It will be quite brittle and since I have weakened it with all of the drill holes I have to be careful to not snap the pieces (ask me how I know).
Once all 3 of the hoops are in place and bolted in… the arch is ready for the hillside.
Not sure why I waited so long to work on this project. I knew it was coming and it was going to be time consuming. Here we are at 60 days until go time and I’m a bit anxious that it will get done.
I was hoping to get the Whales on the Roof before the rain started but it didn’t happen. They are all lit though and I have mounts on them so the should go up onto the roof easily when I put the moving heads up there. I love these!!! They came out so