19 Apr

Solar Sunflower Comes Alive!


It’s alive!

It’s not really alive. But it has been built—just in time for next week’s demo at Philly Tech Week. The sunflower was built with the generous assistance of PWD aquatic biologist Jay Cruz and Drexel University student Tommy Thompson, who’s currently a co-op with our Watershed Sciences group. It’s heavy; it’s mostly made from repurposed metal pipes we had lying around in a PWD garage. We originally thought it might be made of PVC, but we already had the pipe, and PVC is difficult to paint (it requires roughing up the surface so the paint sticks). Let’s have a look at the construction:


Pipe sections and pipe fittings were assembled, with three cross fittings on the bottom for the three soil moisture sensors. The yellow cable at the top is a flexible gas hose from Home Depot, the kind that attaches to the back of a gas stove.


A closer look at the “roots.” The wires from the sensors thread up through the pipe/”stem.”


The head of the sunflower is a cheap mixing bowl from IKEA, drilled through the center to attach it to the flexible gas hose.


A threaded gas connector holds the head in place. The tubing is a little too flexible; the head droops a bit but it can easily be stabilized with some rigid wire (like a length of coat hanger) or a pipe section around the hose that acts as a sleeve.


A quick spray paint of the head and flexible gas hose.


Found some yellow and green plastic containers at the dollar store; cut out petals and leaves from stencils; did battle with a hot glue gun. Arts and crafts is not our strong suit, but it’s presentable enough. Here’s the sunflower in my cubicle, freaking people out.

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