HackNado in action
To create an exciting way to visualize flow vorticies
What it does
Our device creates a miniature tornado. The violentness of tornado is controlled by adjusting the RPM in a pwm fan, while the white LEDs are used to illuminate the fog. We created an android app to send the electronic circuitry information commands via IR signaling. The app controlled fan speed, and the power for the ultrasonic foggers and LED strips.
How it's built
We sat down and drew up an prototype design. We our design into in a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software called ANSYS Fleunt. The analyzation verified that our prototype would work. Given this information, we started preparing to build the unit. We needed a water tank for the fog, see through plastic for display, and materials to assemble the structure of the entire unit. The ultrasonic fogger produced fog through high frequency oscillation in the water tank. The fog was pulled up through an orifice by a fan placed at the top. We used an Arduino to control the PWM of the fan, thus giving us control of the flow rate in the system. To help the rotation, we encorporated innovated mechanical design choices.
Challenges we ran into
We initially attempted to use bluetooth to receive and transmit data with the Arduino. We found that it was an extremely steep learning curve, since none of us had prior experience with using it. Pressed for time, we ditched bluetooth and chose IR transmission. There were lots of hardware challenges. One search for a 3D printer in our area. We found an available 3D printer which had extremely low resolution. Our total 3D print build time was over 12 hours! Some of the prints failed early on in the print job! The "successful" parts were extremely porous, which caused water and air flow to leak everywhere. We had to resort to other means of sealing. There were problems on the computational analysis side too, lots of them.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Within the final hour we had nothing assembled. It was looking like we were going to show up empty handed. The circuitry wasnt in an enclosure nor was it tested, the wires for the LEDs and ultrasonic foggers weren't long enough, none of the 3D parts were assembled, and we didn't even know that it would work since we didn't test the 3D printed parts. The final 30 minutes was an extreme scramble; however within the final moments, 90% of the project was done. We rushed our work #hardcore. With the last 5 minutes until the deadline, we plugged everything in, tested it for the first time, and it worked! We got super lucky, since that's usually never the case.
What I learned
Plan for the basics and work up from there. If you and your team have no knowledge on how to do something (Bluetooth for us), don't expect to learn in in 24 hours, unless it's well documented online. Additionally, know what hardware that will be provided by mlh ahead of time.
What's next for The Hacknado
Taking out Kansas