The Evolution

It all really started from a very simple idea: a while ago when I was making a machine part for my research project, I was amazed by the power of 3D printing (a.k.a. rapid prototyping, where you can create parts of any shape in computer and they manufacture for you). So I told my lab mate Richard, what if I make a ring with a blow-up diamond, and have the real ring inside the huge plastic diamond?

That ‘nerdy’ but somewhat unique idea got me excited. Being born to an engineer (my dad), I’ve been a hands-on person whole my life and has always been intrigued by machines and electronics, as I firmly believe that engineers make true differences to the world. When it comes to my own big thing,  I want something fun and unique. I want this moment to be remembered, many years from now. Unfortunately, in engagement proposal business, size matters. Truth being told, I can’t afford world’s biggest diamond (and I wouldn’t anyways). Nevertheless, here is my philosophy: you get to be remembered for being special. It maybe the astronomical budget you blow, or may not be. If I could do it in an innovative yet interesting way, wouldn’t that be more desirable?

Alrite, enough talking, here is the plan:

I want the enclosure to be a real diamond shape, so here is what I start with.

It’s a blow-up version of a round brilliant cut stone.

Of course, this is only the beginning. The more I thought about it and bounce it off my friends, the fancier it becomes.

For such a once-lifetime project, who stops at mediocre anyways?

As soon as I seriously treat it as a real project and decide to make it dazzling, putting in electronics becomes the next natural step.

You can’t get away with a display. Here are the options I’ve considered:

1. Apple iPod nano touch screen (totally gorgeous, but too small, and might be too much effort to hack and use for my purpose)

2. Nokia Cellphone Screen (reasonable sized, but the available ones are only of 128 colors, which looks somewhat cheap)

3. LCD Matrix (Second Choice. the ones you see on your grand-father cellphones or calculators. I like it except for the fact that it’s black-and-white, and the form-factor didn’t apply. I want square ones)

4. Red and Green LED Matrix (Final Choice. bright, perfectly sized, only 8X8 resolution though, which in a way makes it more interesting. Love it.)

So here I am, digging a hole to stick my LED matrix from back, and looks like a nice display!

And this is what it looks like when stuck into the back of the diamond cover (it’s called the CROWN).

Don’t be deceived by how dull it seems underneath the cover. Coz you know when it lit up in real world, it’s gonna shine like the fireworks!

What does that does the LED display anyways? Of course it has to say something like ‘Will you marry me?’ in the end. As for the fine print, I’ll think about it more and tell it on another page.

Lets focus back on the technical details…

Now, we need to put the real ring in. The original plan was to have a real Tiffany ring box (com’on, you’ve seen one before) into this gigantic diamond, and I will open it up, pull out the box, and then open it, pull out the ring, then eventually propose. Here are the problems:

1. Assuming I also need a box to hold this gigantic diamond, that will make this a box inside a box inside a box…..(Inception, rite)

2. The real Tiffany box is literally to big to fit into anything like this. Check this out (Thank you Rui for providing the Tiffany box….):

If I really want it to contain the Tiffany box, it has to be of 250mm (10in) in diameter! My current expectation is only 100mm (4in).

So now you see the problem, I have to ditch the Tiffany box and put the actual ring in it by itself.

Had I just stopped here and decide to have a holder inside the gigantic diamond for the ring, I probably wouldn’t even create this website and tell you guys about it. But I didn’t.

As a mechanical engineer, I almost cannot help, as well as feel obliged to show off what I’ve learned: the box has to open itself!

What’s more exciting, I decide to make the ring itself go up as the box opens up!

Check this out.

So the ring somehow will magically be lifted up (maybe even lit up by other LEDs) as the gigantic diamond box opens itself up.

Of course this is only the brainstorm idea. I’m not sure at this point as to how it will happen or if it is even possible to have the poor little box do so many things.

At this point, right here, I feel that I’ve turned this high school science demo into a real die-hard rock science……(Not kidding)

If you are not sold by now, lemme remind you what I am planning to have:

LED Display, DC motors, high-ratio gearbox, ring moving structure (possibly ball bearings), batteries, micro-controllers with other circuits to control the motor, and maybe other sensors/electronics to play music, sense your motion (shake it to open up), etc……

If that’s still not enough, consider this: it all goes into a box that fits in your palm.

Sure. as you pros would say, there is no real rock science, every part by itself is simple enough.

Easier said than done.

Trust me, it turns out to be an enormous project as my perfectionism started to dominate over my ration (and budget).

Nevertheless, isn’t that what we signed up for?


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