Museum Exhibits

Magical.  Informative.  Interactive. Whether they're intended to demonstrate a specific scientific principle, bring life to a history lesson or just stir up some good old fashioned fun, our exhibits catch the eye and capture the imagination.

Browse the selections on the right to see some samples. 



Some of J. Boyd Hildebrant's existing museum installations include:

Adler Planetarium - Chicago, IL

Sunergy: Once a pushbutton is actuated, a section of the “sun” moves upward and particles start to vibrate. The visitor turns a knob to regulate the vibrating energy of the particles.We used a linear motion servo system, digital encoders and stepper motors to achieve this complex aggregation of effects.  (Image)

Losing the Moon: A linear array of several hundred yellow LEDs simulate a radar signal bounced off the surface of the moon to monitor the minutely increasing distance from the earth to the moon. To achieve this effect each LED had to be individually addressed by the purpose designed control system.

Energy Icon Exhibit: Several arrays of incandescent light are slowly brightened and dimmed by the control system to provide energy to scores of radiometers that spin faster with the increasing light/radiation levels.

How Hot?: Light temperature/color is regulated by precisely positioning a fiber optic illuminator disc in relation to a visitor-operated slide on the exhibit panel. A microcontroller based servo system was designed to accomplish the very critical positioning required.

How Far is the Star Calculator: The visitor interacts with this exhibit by observing information and then entering numerical brightness levels into a “calculator” to resolve the distance to a particular star. The calculator prompts the visitor through the process by asking questions on a vacuum fluorescent alpha numerical display that also echoes the entries and posts the result.

The Powerhouse – Zion, IL
Zion Power Generating Station Model: A scale model of the nuclear power station at Zion Illinois. Once a button is pushed a digitally stored sound track starts and various parts of the model illuminate to depict the function being narrated. Multiple fiber optic illuminators and many incandescent and miniature fluorescent light sources are used. (Image)

Geyser Exhibit: A button push starts a rumbling digital audio sound track, fiber-optic lighting effects and eventually, a 4 foot high geyser-like eruption of water.  (Image)

Showerhead Economy Exhibit. By pushing a button, a race between two showerheads is initiated. Tubes fill and just as they appear to be about to overflow, the water stops, pauses and drains - ready to initiate another sequence. The use of high-pressure (70 PSI) water and a fast re-circulation system were special accomplishments.

Atom Exhibit: A 3’ diameter sphere within a wooden frame contains a large model of a helium atom. Neutrons, protons are individually lighted in accordance with a digital audio narration. The electrons strobe as a fog is introduced. The fog is evacuated within 1 minute and the program is ready to run again.   (Image)

Limited dispersion speaker systems for video presentations: Throughout the exhibit hall video presentations are staged to direct and inform he visitor. A confusing field of sound originally bombarded the visitor from all directions. Speaker systems were designed, fabricated and installed to direct and contain the sound to the immediate areas around the presentations.

Lincoln Park Zoo - Chicago, IL
Rainfall Interactive Exhibit: An 10’ high by 2’ wide waterfall with water cascading over the rain gauge like high relief panel. Special filtering and water treatment techniques were developed to safeguard the visitor, as this is “hands in” exhibit.

Kenosha Public Museum – Kenosha, WI
Tidal Pool: A hands in activity pool for children, great care was taken in the design to insure the cleanliness of the re-circulated water. Special filters and an anti-bacterial treatment system were designed.

Chicago Children’s Museum - Chicago, IL
These exhibits were designed as part of cooperative among several museums here in the US and Canada. The exhibits traveled through a number of venues for several years. Techniques we developed for tradeshow set-up and teardown cycle survival as well as child-proof, robust, reliable electronics and mechanical means were employed.

Juke Box: Digitally stored memory related songs are called up and played by the visitor selecting the songs by illuminated pushbuttons.

Memory Pushbutton Game: A game designed to tease shot-term memory. Pushbuttons would light in ever lengthening sequences. After correctly completing four sequences the visitor is rewarded by light show.

Memory Telephone Game: English or French is initially selected and thereafter the visitor is audibly directed through a memory game requiring remembering and keying in ever lengthening number sequences on the telephone keypad. After three challenges the visitor is congratulated on successful completion. An all digital voice and control system was designed to accomplish this enticing exhibit.

Memory Video Presentation: A 10-minute animated video presentation that runs at the push of a button.

Woodpecker: A microcontroller based control system was employed to produce an occasionally occurring woodpecker sound. The sound was created in the exhibit by propelling a solenoid plunger against a hollow wooden block.

Children’s Museum -- Tennessee

This self-contained recording studio for children plays one of four familiar songs and will record the child’s voice over the music.  Many special effects can be added as well.  The device is all digital, with instantaneous record and playback.   (Image)

First Division Museum – Wheaton, IL
A computer based interactive exhibit where the visitor learns about the United States Army’s First Infantry’s part in the later phases of WWII. A large monitor was designed into a low console so as to be usable by both standing visitors and those in wheel chairs. Illuminated pushbutton switches within easy reach direct the interaction. A large European map some 12’ by 20’ is painted by lasers to graphically show the relative locations of the various battles fought by the First Infantry.

Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago, IL
Petroleum Planet Big ”T” Exhibit: An engineering only project, more than 140 bubble panels are arranged five levels high inside a walk through cylindrical room 18 feet high and 22 feet in diameter. To support the many effects the panels can produce, a complex scheme was designed including a 20 HP air compressor, thousands of feet of plumbing, hundreds of solenoid valves and a control system interface. Challenges were presented by the very aggressive properties of the special fluid engineered to fill the panels.

Petroleum Planet Big Valve Exhibit: Includes twelve 8-foot tall bubble tubes. It's similar to the above system, but with more modest scale and effects.

The New Farm Exhibit: A load cell based industrial scale compares the weight of visitor(s) to various illuminated graphically represented farmyard animals. The scale platform had been already been donated to the museum some years ago. We designed a special interface to couple the load cell's output to our microprocessor based control system.

Shedd Aquarium – Chicago, IL
Sea Polyp Mist System: Includes a DI water atomization process that produces water particle that are 30 microns in diameter. Pushing a button produces a mist cloud several feet above the visitor’s heads. The particles evaporate before reaching the visitors, the exhibit or the floor. The equipment is located some 40 feet from the exhibit. A microprocessor-based system monitors liquid levels and pressures at various points to insure proper long-term operation.

Fishing Techniques: A large panel with ten triangular graphic elements rotates to tell the story of various fishing techniques utilized in the Philippine islands. A purpose-designed and fabricated control system responds to four pushbutton actuated programs to tell the story. Up above, a single line LED message sign further details the sequence of graphic depictions.

Gobey Fish: A small diorama utilizing several servo and linear mechanical motion means coupled to sliding knobs at the front of the exhibit. Two visitors are engaged to save the Gobey fish and blind shrimp from a predator fish. Several annunciator lightboxes light to inform and encourage the visitor. All automation is monitored and sequenced by a purpose built microcontroller and software.

Sanctuary Model: The visitor rotates a large knob to simulate the spread of vegetation on an island, affecting the balance of resources and future viability of the ecosystem. The vegetation is represented by fiber optic points generated by six illuminators. The knob is coupled to an absolute digital encoder and stepper motor actuated by a purpose-designed control system and software. After about 30 seconds of inactivity the knob automatically rotates back to the zero position and all fiber points are turned off.

Shark Head: A small oval door is lifted by the visitor to reveal a small diorama. When the door closes it won't pinch anybody's fingers -- it automatically returns to the closed position without slamming down.



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