Next, I ran a script in MATLAB in order to determine the required heatsink thermal resistance at varying ambient temps and voltage levels. For our design, we needed a roughly heatsink.
While we’re on the subject of temperature, we also ran a test while we were presenting at Imagine RIT in order to gauge what our ambient temperatures looked like as a function of time. Now, this is kind of a useless test since we were running in “demo” mode (as shown in the video above) where we speed up time by 60x so that one “minute” passes by as one second. However, it does give us some very valuable information in that we would NEVER want this running in normal operation without some kind of fan circulating air internally. We saw roughly a 10C rise when one coil would only be on for a maximum of four minutes… just imagine four hours. Yikes. Holden and I ended up testing it over a 24-hour period in “normal” with a little 60mm computer fan blowing air through the gap at the bottom of the frame and we never saw the ambient increase above 50C so we should have done a MUCH better job analyzing internal heat generation compensation.
Our frame was designed by an awesome Industrial Designer we brought into the project named James. A week after bringing him on, he bombarded us with LOADS OF CONCEPTS. This made us really think about implementation more which is how we converged on the “binary” version of this clock. James ended up designing a beautiful frame that we ended up paying a friend of Holden’s named Byron Conn to make (he’s an awesome wood-worker). We basically just wanted a really beautiful and aesthetically pleasing frame in order to tie the whole project together, and BOY did James and Byron deliver!
Overall the project was rather simple from an electronics standpoint, but the design process from product definition up through the final stages was a very interesting experience. There are many, many, things I think all of us would do differently if we were to tackle this project again but it was very useful to make some of the mistakes we did (the biggest one being that we ignored how to properly handle the ambient heat from the solenoids). Anyways, at the end of the day I’m still really proud of this thing even if it’s ultimately useless. It’s just… cool which is all we ever wanted from this project to begin with.