Project tutorial
adVenture - paint with the wind

adVenture - paint with the wind

Wind-activated paint spinner to visualize air power released from Stanley Hall vent.

  • 1 respect

Components and supplies

28M103 Canon DC Motor - 12V, 0.9W
Dolly for swivel caster wheels
Various screws, nuts, and washers
Zip ties
Ph a000066 iso (1) ztbmubhmho
Arduino UNO

About this project

Activating adVenture

All widgets in this column come from the second part of the project: creating our artifact.

Project Description

AdVenture is a wind-activated spin art machine that combines the playfulness of the intense air stream prominent within our site with the critique of harvesting energy in unexpected places. AdVenture can be rolled around the vent like pulling a wagon. As you roll over areas of the vent with higher wind-power, adVenture's spinning plate will rotate faster. Therefore, to achieve a desired spin art effect, the user must explore all areas of the space. To accomplish this, the underside of adVenture contains a small wind-farm of 6 propellers that translate the wind into electrical power. The power is monitored by an Arduino board and determines the speed of the spinning plate. What else could this power be used for? What other unexpected places can energy be harnessed? Throw some paint on the spinning plate and have a blast with the colors of the wind! 

Demo Video

adVenture - paint with the wind


Finished Artifact Photos

Painters and Paintings


Design Process

Work in Progress

Circuit Diagram

Arduino Code


Propeller blade holder
Propeller blade

Box file

Laser-cutter files

Laser-cuter files


Propellers:     We scaled everything down by .4 and omitted the "spinner" because it failed twice and was unnecessary.

Box:    Created with

Circuit: Using the Transistor:

Step by step

Step 1: Gather materials

1. Vent

2. Handle

3. 6 complete propellers (3 blades and 1 center piece each)

4. 6 motors to be the windfarm

7. One motor to spin the paintspinner

8. Bowl

9. Cardboard tube

10. Box

11. Electronics (see Electronics Bill of Materials)

12. Laser-cut motor "clilps" to attach propellers to vent

13. Handles of some form.

14. Wheels on swivel casters.

Step 2: Attach handles

Depending on your specific handles, you'll have to figure out a way to attach them. We used an old lawn aerating tool, so we stuck long screws through the hollow holes, buffered the vent on either side with some washers, and called it a day. It's not the sturdiest thing in the world, but it gets the job done.

(Check out the pictures in our presentation for a visual of what we did).

Step 3: Solder the motors

We attached our motors in series. Basically you solder the red input wire to one side of the motor connection and a black ground wire to the next, then you solder the red wire of one propeller to the black wire of the next. You keep doing this until you have an almost-complete loop. The single free black wire and red wire both go directly into the Arduino (see the circuit diagram for that).

There could be problems with this method. For instance, if one propeller is spinning very quickly it could actually drive the next motor, and cause some strange feedback loops or other issues. There are certainly some improvements to be made at this step. For instance, if you wanted more fine-grained information about exactly how each blade was spinning, you could hook up each propeller directly into the Arduino. There aren't enough Analog inputs to handle very many propellers, so you'd need to either use a mux or get a board with more Analog inputs. But it would give you more information from each propeller.

Also, if you want to actually *use* the power, you'd need to do some complicated things that we don't know much about to do current-matching. That's a future step for our project ;)

Step 4: Attach the propellers to the motors, and the motors to the Vent

The stl file has a hole in it, but the hole was a little large for our motor shaft. We used hot glue to make up the difference ;)

There are two holes in the center of the "motor clip" laser-cut pieces. Rest the propeller onto those and slip a zip-tie long enough to grab your entire motor around the body of the motor. Make sure the blades still spin freely when it's attached. Hot-glue the zip-tie to the motor, since gravity will be fighting us the whole way.

You can use the other two pairs of holes to attach the "motor clips" with the propellers attached onto the vent.

Step 5: Wire everything up

Check out the circuit diagram for more details on that!

Step 6: Build the paint-spinner aparatus

We used a plastic bowl, a cardboard tube, and another motor. The basic idea is you need some way of holding the spinning plate up high for easier access. The plate spins via motor, so you also need some way to string the wires up. We used a cardboard tube, and some laser-cut plates to hold the tube in place. Then we just hot-glued the bowl to a plate at the top of the tube, and glued a laser-cut spinner onto the motor shaft. It works really well.

We also laminated some paper and placed that over the cardboard spinner. This protects the spinner from dripping paint, and also looks pretty neat :) Our shaft was magnetic, so we initially held the pieces of paper in place with a magnet, but it might actually be easier to have some kind of stick attached. It would be easy to laser-cut a hole into the pieces of paper. That's what I"ll be doing for our presentation at Maker Faire.

Warning: embedding parts within the project story has been deprecated. To edit, remove or add more parts, go to the "Hardware" tab. To remove this list from the story, click on it to trigger the context menu, then click the trash can button (this won't delete it from the "Hardware" tab).
28M103 Canon DC Motor - 12V, 0.9W
Dolly for swivel caster wheels
Various screws, nuts, and washers
Zip ties

Site Selection

All widgets in this column come from the first part of the project: selecting our 5x5x5 space.

Space Description

On the side of Stanley Hall that faces Pimentel, there is an air vent. It is bounded by bushes on two sides, Stanley on one side, and an open area on the other. When you stand on top of this air vent, all other day-to-day sounds fall away, and you are hushed by the whir of the air blowing up from underneath you. This space is a hidden gem: something to cool you off on a hot day, and a place where water droplets fall upwards and leaves stick to the underside of the grate, overpowered by the man-made wind. When you visit this space, it is sure to blow you away.

Map of Our Spot

Weekday Photos (not included elsewhere)

Weekend Photos (not included elsewhere)

5 (or more) Unexpected Objects/Things

5 (or more) Unplanned Traces of Time, Wear, and Use

Sunday: Two Minutes of Video

Sunday, version 2: Two Minutes of Video

Monday: Two Minutes of Video

Pedestrian Interviews

Interviewee One:

Link here to interview recording

Interviewee Two:

Link here to interview recording

Interviewee Three:

Link here to interview recording

Our Own Metric: Sound

Click here to hear the sound

Minimum dB measured = 75.4
Maximum dB measured = 84.8
Average dB measured = 79.7

Sound Differential Outside and In

When you are walking up to the space, you hear construction sounds and people going to class, but when you get close to and into the space, those sounds disappear, and you only hear the air blowing.

Exploration of Effects of Wind (Videos)

Things that are blown


Inspiration: Wind farms!

Inspiration: Wind Power to Charge Battery

We thought we'd need an extension cord to power our technology. Now the only extension cord we our imagination.

Inspiration: Powering a small radio with windpower

He says you need some kind of voltage regulator.


Custom parts and enclosures

Propeller blade holder

Sketchfab still processing.

Propeller blade

Sketchfab still processing.


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