You may recall that in my last post I described the umbrella business as being rather nasty -- I now have additional support for that theory. The umbrella on the right is the one I received from a company geared to weddings. Their site said returns were impossible and they even declared that they take photos of everything that leaves their warehouse. Well, I guess this little Brellazilla slipped through the cracks. As you can see, the handle is stained, and be glad this is not smellavision. It reeks of cigarette smoke and I can already picture the rainy wedding where this umbrella sat sadly in someone's ashtray. Luckily, once confronted with my photograph, the company immediately decided to take the umbrella back. However, I wasn't willing to risk another purchase with them. I went straight to a company that specializes in umbrellas, and luckily, they carried the same exact brand. I can't tell you how beautiful white looks when it is actually clean and smells fresh (yeah, we all know it is really called off-gassing). Anyway, I'm really excited, not so much by the clean umbrella, but by the screw in its handle.
I wanted a screw in the handle so that it would be removable, making it easier to create a new 3D printed version. Well, the screw on this handle turned out to be misleading. Once I removed it, the handle would not budge. "Oh, it's probably just an awesome pressure fit", I thought to myself. Well, it was a little more than that. Apparently, something was blocking one of the side walls. I tried jabbing with various jeweler's tools inside the bottom of the handle, and it was evident that there was some movement, but not enough to release it. I started thinking of how plastics work, and my first thought was that freezing it might help. So, with my husband's help, we put some canned air inside. It did indeed fog up the metal shaft, but still the piece wouldn't budge. Finally, I thought of how I loosen all syrup jar lids -- a hot faucet. In about two minutes, my husband had a tug of war with the handle, and believe me, he is a stocky 6'3", and the umbrella was no match. Finally, an umbrella without a handle! It turns out, when the screw had passed through, it had caused the metal shaft to dimple, and it was just enough to keep it stuck. I'm just glad it worked, because I wasn't sure if I was just going to have to melt it off.
So, now I can start to imagine how a circuit might work in this small space. I know the SparkCore will be tiny, but I'm still not sure I can fit a battery with it. If I do get the parts to fit inside, I will have to do a screw cap, much like I did with my previous umbrella project, to allow for access to the battery. It may also make the LED situation tricky. I was hoping to use one NeoPixel to conserve energy. However, for a nice glow it would have to be situated at the top of the handle, probably in the way of the screw cap. A better choice would be to use a small NeoPixel strip in a length of 5 or 6 and wrap it around the inside. Not only would it have a nice glow, but it would also be out of the way of the moving parts. There is one last challenge, and that is the button. If I enlarge the diameter of the handle, I will also have to increase the thickness of the button in order for the umbrella to open. So many tricky details to worry about it, but I still believe something interesting is possible. For now, I'm eagerly awaiting the SparkCore so I can get started on the challenge of coding.