Things about dielectricity and slip ring


Along the journey of designing the puppet controller, the alien “director” of the installation, I was actively researching how to be able to have its body continuously charged while spinning on itself. First I used a coin cell holder


attached to the aluminium wire, and add also a small resistor 10 ohm to avoid overheating the battery as it was serving continuously 3V along the wire. I used this version for the mini version of the installation at the Digital Culture Eva conference.

Although it was working correctly and gave a pleasant aesthetic , it did not last very long, the body was loosing its electric charge very quickly , and the connection to the sensor were not stable at all.

After the first show and work in progress presentation, I looked for a more permanent solution and I came across the notion of dielectricity. which is how long an item is staying charged even after having been disconnected from a power source. And I went deepr into my research for a solution, I came to discover that Teflon and water have very high dieletric ability. Unfortunately neither of those material would be a solution for it. It was really a desesparate situation as the ability for this character to control was at stake if I could not find a solution which would not be a human touch. I was really keen to give the control of the installation to this non human character.

Luckily , sharing my problem around me and especially with Nick from the tech team, gave me the solution : the slip ring system! With this I would be able to have the wire spinning without entangling the electrical wire connected to the ground.

I immediately ordered it but when I received it, I faced another challenge. Although it was a great technical solution , the aesthetic of this object was not compatible with the rest of this installation and I could not see a nice way to fit in the controller box or above it without destroying the harmony of the installation!

After few iterations and out of despair, my puppeteer craft ability saved me once again! I had discovered my own interpretation of a slip ring : a simple screw with a size just above the puppet body’s diameter, and a recycled open screw scavaged from the magnifier holder, soldered to a conductive wire. the whole system will be enough close to the body to charge it, while allowing it to spin freely !