Bluedot is over, and our project was a success! We spent a very tiring weekend explaining to everyone how astronauts exercise, whilst blowing up balloons, giving out stickers and setting off bottle rockets. A few people did ask how we managed to build it all, so I figured I’d write a little something about our apparatus here.
So, after The Physiological Society approved my outreach grant I went on a spending spree. I purchased bike pumps, lengths of tubing, balloons, brackets, screws and nipped to the local B&Q. I’m a bit in love with the wood cutting machinery at B&Q. It’s is basically a big circular saw connected to a frame which takes up an entire wall. It can cut wood to any size you want. As I’m awful at saws, I was excited to measure things up and pass it off to the folks at B&Q.
I came home with a car full of treats, and starting drilling away. I basically made a big box of wood, which can be taken apart, and rebuilt, quickly. I drilled holes to allow the tubing to pass through, and hide it away inside the box. I used a jigsaw to cut a little square in the lid, so insert a big upright bike pump, and led a tube out of the front of the box. Simples.
Using a loads of rubbish from labs I connected tubes together, and built a little stand for the empty bottles to sit in. Charlotte drank herself through roughly 900 bottles of Pepsi Max to give me a load of empty bottles.
I had to toy around with a couple of things to actually bung up the bottles. I originally planned to jam a cork in, drill though it, snap a sterile pipette and jam that through. Then connect my tube to the other side of the stripette and Robert’s your dad’s brother!
However, I soon realised that sellotape wrapped around the tube would work just as well. And when I saw as well, I mean better. And a roll of sellotape is much simpler to carry around then all of that junk.
So there you have it. Although if you’re making it at home, you can do it much simpler, by drilling a small hole through a cork, jamming it into a two little bottle with 200-300 mL water in, then feed the needle from your bike pump through, pump away and enjoy!