Propane tanks located on the side of the gate provide fuel for the flames, these flames are controlled using solenoids that open or close based on an electric input provided by a set of 12V batteries and controlled by an arduino with a relay board. The gas is lit by a pilot light which is also controlled by the arduino. Future additions can consist of adding lights that will flash and "breathe" and can be controlled by the proximity of a person to the gate, or to the presence of a person in the gate itself as well as incorporating a wireless remote.
The controller is an Arduino mega2560 attached to a relay board where the solenoids and lights are hooked into.
For me, this project was important in developing my programming experience with experimental/creative Arduino uses. It also was good experience with a group setting and working namely on software instead of hardware, but also being exposed to new hardware components such as flame detectors, gas flow controllers, and wireless communication for Arduino.
A continuation of previous year's gate setup, this gate improved upon the fire controlability, where in the past it was controlled by simple button presses hooked directly to the solenoids (flow controllers), the new setup involved a microcontroller and relays. Below, you can see how the gate operated in the past. In the video, we ran the gas at a very low pressure and simply connected the battery pack to the flow controllers directly.
My roll in this project was to program the Arduino to allow more advanced controls, that way, with the appropriate hardware already available, all that will be needed for future upgrades will be sinple software changes. I created a block diagram of what the original plan was to be, however that had changed as hardware changed further down the line, and separate flames were connected to the same controllers.
From there I created a test program to test and control if a pilot light was lit or not, and if so, then light the mains. In the circuit below, the green light represents the pilot starter (an electric grill starter), the white light represents the pilot gas control, the yellow light represents the main gas control, the button is the equivilent of a remote button, and the switch represents the flame sensor (the overall logic of this circuit had to change due to the fact that we could not get the flame sensors to work in time.
During build day, I constructed the circuitry, hooking up and recording the pins from the arduino to the relay board, then from the relay board to the controllers on the gate itself.
I then created test programs to analyze and ensure that the circuit was working right, then we could play with the timing of the flames as well. During the testing, we operated at a mere 40psi, howeever during the actual event, the pressure was run at around 100psi.
And the final product consisted of an automatic mode and a manual mode where the user could push a button and set off a flame, or simply have the gate shoot every so often as is demonstrated below.