Intro to Fab Week #6 – Final Project [Ferris Wheel]

For the final project, I decided to do a Ferris wheel. The idea just pops up in my mind immediately when I know we will do a servo/motor project for the final. I think Ferris wheels are really pretty and romantic and that’s the reason I decided to go with it.

I first looked up on youtube for some hand-made Ferris wheel tutorials. I decided to use wood to construct the Ferris wheel.

I first get all my materials, which include: two pieces of 12”*12” (6mm) plywood, two wood sticks (1/4”), a 6”*10″ wood board as the base of the Ferris wheel.

I design all the construction parts in illustrator according to the size of the materials I bought:

I first build the Ferris wheel:

Then I referred to this youtube tutorial to run the wheel using a DC motor. Basically it uses a robber band to connect the dc motor to the wheel and use the power of the motor to force the wheel to rotate.

However, I find my motor not working at all. I think maybe 1. the power of the motor is not enough or 2. the friction is too large.

I then go to professor Light for help and with his help, we figure out that: yes the power of the motor is not strong enough and the friction indeed is too large.

To fix these problems, we change the smaller dc motor to a larger one(stronger), we also replace the holder of the wheel to make a wider space for the wheel to rotate — the friction is significantly decreased.

I got my wheels to run for the first time:


I feel like the speed is just too fast, so I think I should figure out a way to slow down the speed.

I later find a tutorial that teaches people to control the speed of a motor by using a transistor and a potentiometer. (I used a tip-120 transistor and a 10k potentiometer).

I succeed in controlling the speed of the dc motor:

And I can turn it on and off!

I solder everything together later.

Then I make some paper boxes to resemble the carriers on the Ferris wheel.  However, even if I am able to control the speed of the motor when the speed is slow, the wheel cannot really be triggered. So I somehow have to stay with the crazy speed. Anyway, it looks pretty cool. Maybe we can call it a “death” Ferris wheel. 🙂

Take a look at this crazy thing:


Great thanks to professor Ben Light!

Youtube tutorials save my life:

How To Make DC Motor Speed Controller

How To Make Your Own Paper Box – EASY!

Ferris Wheel Powered By DC Motor

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