For my second internship I worked with a special effects company TCMfx.
I was asked to develop a product, from an idea to something with potential for a small production run.
I built a system to drop a curtain, banner, or any other item. This is obviously not a new idea, but I think my implementation is quite novel. Due to the requirement for low-voltage DC (the wish to later include a small battery and remote control via NRF), I skipped out on the obvious “stick a big electromagnet and turn it off to drop” that various companies have successfully put on the market. Instead I opted to design a mechanical system that lets a relatively small solenoid drop a very heavy weight. The goal was set at 25 kilograms, but my product prototype exceeded by dropping more than 30 kilograms reliably.
I went from initial idea to proof of concept in the first week, during the second week I built a better proof-of-concept mechanism with adjustment options so I could test the release force, and then spent some time designing a prototype product, and with the lessons learned from testing it, the improved product which should be ready for production.
[March-2017] Last I heard the product has been put into production, I am quite proud of this.
[Jul-2018] The only major issue was with powder coating changing the carefully calibrated friction. Filing the contact surface clean solves this.