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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Children’s Museum -- Tennessee
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
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
single line LED message sign further details the sequence of
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.