Galileo's Finger

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Hive13 Project
HIVE13 Tribute to Galileo
Status: Active

Galileo's Finger is HIVE13's maker technology tribute to Galileo Galilei, the father of modern Physics. The whole thing is an evolving interactive obolisk/kiosk thingie that we can take to Maker Faires and shows to publicize our Hackerspace. It is a multi-media art piece with a steam-punk theme.

The whole thing started back in March 2010 when HIVE friend Warren Trefez and the River City Works decided to gift the HIVE with a one-of-a-kind work of custom blown glass. Warren is the instructor and project director at this unique glass blowing facility in Cincinnati.

The piece is essentially a glass chalice with a glass lid containing a glass replica of Galleo's finger. It turns out the remains of his real finger are contained in a similar chalice in a science museum in Italy.

Well, the finger kinda looks like a glass pickle and the lid is not attached to the chalice so the piece needed a bit of finishing. HIVE member Jim took on the task of making an appropriate presentation for this unique artifact. The result has been an evolving/expanding active project that exhibits the HIVE's woodworking, brass forming, laser etching, dumpster diving, and Arduino-based electronics skills.


This is the 3-D CAD model for the design of the chalice/obolosk/thingie. The blown glass chalice containing the green glass finger sits on top. There is a mounting that holds the glass lid onto the top of the glass chalice. The effect resembles a vintage hot-air balloon. The implications of lots of hot air are entirely appropriate. The chalice/balloon sits on top of a SteamPunk rocketship. The cockpit is half of a scavanged hall chandelier having a six-sided brass frame and beveled glass panel inserts. The hex-shaped wood base is stained and varnished mahogany and the six feet resemble rocket nozzles like the whole thing is launching off. Laser etched panels on the sides explain the Galileo story in the original Latin and with an English translation.


Well, this bizarre thingie needs to sit on something to be appreciated, but just any old table would not do. We are currently working on a glass table top and a hex-shaped wooden base that makes the connection to HIVE13, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

Finally, the combined obolisk/kiosk thingie can't just sit there, it has to do something. Enter the Arduino LED add-in to the project. The idea is to have some autonomous interactive function that would attract the attention of the casual passer-by.

The above picture shows the hex-shaped structure and the six approach vectors (two red, two green, two blue) radiating out from where the six distance sensors would be located. The objective is to have some distance sensing ability when a person approaches from one of these six directions. The desired range is roughly 36" down to 6", more or less. These are analog inputs to the Arduino. The Arduino outputs an increasing intensity to the red/green/blue LED outputs. A shorter distance equals a brighter intensity. Once up close, you could wave your hands in front of the sensors to dynamically change the rgb values of the merged LED light.


This is what the real thing looks like. The base structure and glass table top are still being built at this point.


Clyde Kober and his Epilog laser shows the laser etching he did on one of the three Corian(R) sign plates for this project. Thanks, Clyde. They look great!


Above is what one of the etched signs looks like mounted on the base. It was spray-painted black and then the paint was sanded off flush with the top surface. The black paint stays in the etched cavities of the border and lettering and has a sharp look.

Galileo.picture1.png Galileo.picture2.png Galileo.picture3.png


Above is the prototype of the Boarduino (Arduino clone) that uses a sonar distance sensor as an input to pulse the set of six red, green, and blue LEDs. The pulse rate increases as you approach the unit.