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Created 13-DEC-1999
Updated 15-DEC-1999

The Tunnel

    1) In the CAN man!
My first tunnel model was made from TUNA and CAT FOOD cans! I scoured the neighbor's rubbish, on collection day, until I had about a dozen. I then cut the bottoms and tops completely off, cleaned and painted the interiors white, then squished them into a semblance of an oval.

Experimenting with the arrangement of the lights allowed me to match the look of the "Tunnel" in it's various modes. During the experiments, I stumbled across the "self masking" effect that the rings have. This keeps spill from illuminating un-targeted rings, once the luminaries are positioned correctly. (illustrations show only ONE side)

I installed lighting for alternating blue/white illumination of the rings, controlled by a SPDT switch. I also used the old train transformer and steel wool trick to simulate the "transfer" pyro effect. I changed to alternating each ring's color, from white to blue and back, though isn't exactly the way it looks, I like it this way! %^)

   2) LEGO my tunnel...
My second version was made from white curved and straight LEGO sections I, um.... "borrowed" from my younger brother. I assembled the white ring block sets into a column of black blocks. This made rounded off squarish ring sections and it was rather small to boot.

The top white block, of each ring was absent which allowed light to enter, the colors of which were controlled by a sliding gel holder on top of the assembly.



  3) Plastered
The third version was an attempt to construct the tunnel with the requisite forced perspective.

I made a series of ring section "interiors" from a cone of paper squished into an oval cross-section, sliced in increasingly narrow rings. These slices of the cone were then surrounded by an outer shell to form the ring, the space between filled with plaster and allowed to harden.

Unfortunately, the long axis of the sections failed to be aligned parallel to each section's base, as well as the ovals becoming uneven, giving the completed tunnel assembly a "Dali-esque" look.

    4) The cast-away

The forced perspective, from the above attempt, worked good enough that I proceeded to construct a more ambitious tunnel. From work I obtained a quantity of Polyester Resin and catalyst to cast a solid, forced perspective, cone of material from which I would slice the individual rings.

I again made a mould, including inner and outer edges mounted in a fixture to keep all pieces aligned. The mouth opening of the cast monolith would have been about six inches high by eight inches wide (from memory).

UNFORTUNATELY, as the polyester was hardening, I found out why most casting mixes are mostly filler. There arose such a stench, and cloud of noxious fumes, I had to hold my breath and run up the stairs to throw the mould outdoors. After the casting cooled enough to handle, I unmoulded the unit and found most of the resin had cracked or crazed into an unusable MESS !!!


One of the FIRST things I tried to do in 3D computer graphics, on my Amigas, was, you guessed it... "The Time Tunnel" !!! I had the tunnel, round "rings" (seen in matte shot of chamber), consoles, chamber flooring, and power unit laid out before most of my time was sucked up by my, at the time, new laser lightshow hobby.

    5) A new beginning

After seeing Larry Scheflin's description of cutting styrofoam with a "hot knife" I was interested in actually trying a method similar to his, one that I'd thought of a while back that would be a good course of action.

My version of the method is to obtain or cast a block of styrofoam, or suitable material, draw the opening outlines on one end and the "distant" outlines on the opposite side. The center is then removed and the outside cut down to size, connecting the delineations on either end. The resulting preform is then sliced into reducing perspective thickness'.

Above, and at the top of the page, are pictures of the prototype tunnel made with this method. The actual model is three inches high by four inches wide and six inches long. I carved it in about an hour out of firebrick !

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