I just finished some quick test code for my first unit of polyps, so I thought I would share what they look like so far.
The skeleton is made from mini Popsicle sticks riveted together with circuit board eyelets, through which I have threaded narrow gauge wires. I attached 3/8″ polyethylene tubing with polyp bodies made from silk flowers and googly eyes. The wires are attached underneath to a heavy gauge wire frame that can be raised and lowered by a mini servo motor. 5mm ws2811s are tucked into each tube and daisy chained.
In the finished product, every connection you see between the popsicle sticks will host one of these light-up polyps, and exterior textured “skin” will be applied between the tubes to mimic the appearance of a surreal coral reef.
Now, the picture above gives a good impression of the construction, but it’s much cooler to see the contraption in action:
In this preview, I simply spray painted black on some tissue paper to create some cover, as stated above the finished product will be a textured sculpture and not tissue.
Also, in this demo I am only showing off the mechanism and lights. I have infrared LEDs and phototransistors, as well as multiplexer ICs that will allow my circuits to monitor anything suddenly getting closer to the polyps (at 50 different points in the sculpture) and the polyps around the proximity sensor will draw into the reef, while polyps that are not disturbed will remain external.
Each servo/sensor unit will interlock frames with it’s neighbors, so that there will be a gentle “slope” of polyp disturbance between sensors.