Scale Model Grand Haven Musical Fountain

dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
edited 2017-10-06 - 18:58:19 in Robotics
Thank you for a successful show season. All shows are completed. Return here in the future for new announcements.


Dancing Waters - 50 Years of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain
Tri-Cities Historical Museum - Akeley Building
200 Washington Ave
Grand Haven MI 49417
March 27, 2014 through October 2014

-- Opening Ceremony Video:

-- Michigan Live:

-- Photos:

-- Lecture: The Story Behind Building the Scale Model Musical Fountain, April 28, 2014, 7-8 pm, Grand Haven Library

Award: "Best of Show" Ribbon
Maker Faire Lou
800 Block of East Market Street
Louisville, KY 40206
September 28, 2013, Noon - 6pm

Maker Faire Fort Wayne
Headwaters Park East – Lincoln Pavilion
33 South Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Saturday & Sunday, September 14 & 15, 2013, 10 am - 6 pm

Award: "Best of Show"
Propellerpowered Expo 2013
The Greene Center
875 Kidon Rd. Orrville, Ohio
Saturday, August 17, 2013

Award: "Maker of Merit" Blue Ribbon
Maker Faire Detroit
The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, Michigan
Saturday & Sunday, July 27 & 28, 2013

The scale model uses the following Parallax products:
#SSI-IC Propeller Spin Stamp [Discontinued]
#32200 PropClip
#28850 Board of Education Development Board
#30085 Easy Bluetooth [Discontinued]
#28023 Parallax Servo Controllers (quantity 2) [Discontinued]
#900-00005 Parallax Standard Servos (quantity 21)
#27977 Serial LCD Display

Yours Truly,
Dennis B. Page


  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 22,694
    edited 2013-07-17 - 22:59:45
    Wow! I'm totally blown away by the scale of this project (big in terms of concept, small in terms of size) and the expertise required to pull it off. Congratulations, Dennis! 'Job well done!

  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,045
    edited 2013-07-18 - 03:58:49
    Hey, that's cool. If you ever do a write up on it I'd like to read it.
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,506
    edited 2013-07-18 - 04:16:07
    Dennis, that's amazing. I can't wait to see it at PropellerPowered in Kidron! Well done!

    Seeing the real thing might even make a trip to Grand Haven worthwhile outside of Tulip season!
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-07-18 - 05:16:26
    Thank you for your kind comments.

    I might also mention that the following early versions of contributions from the object exchange made the project much easier to complete:
    Full Duplex Serial
    Full Duplex Debug

    ... and learning from the following contributions:
    Eight Talking Cogs
    Serial LCD

    ... and many forum posts.

    You have created a tremendous resource for makers!

    A write-up can be found at the parallax link in the first post.

    See you at the shows!

    - Dennis
  • prof_brainoprof_braino Posts: 4,312
    edited 2013-07-18 - 05:59:41
    Wow! That's nice!
  • RobotWorkshopRobotWorkshop Posts: 2,301
    edited 2013-07-18 - 07:05:15
    Hello Dennis,

    It looks like you did an amazing job on your project. I am also in the Detroit area and plan on bringing some robots to the Maker Faire at the Henry Ford and to the Expo in OH. Perhaps I will see you there and get to see your project in person.

  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-07-18 - 18:25:24
    Robert and everyone else,
    I hope to see you at one of the shows! If you see my project and the attached poster, please stop by and say, "Hi!"
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-07-31 - 11:35:28
    The response to the musical fountain exhibit at the Maker Faire Detroit 2013 was amazing, receiving a "Maker of Merit" blue ribbon. Over 2,000 people visited our booth and spent time enjoying the exhibit, examining the fountain and asking questions. I was amused by the dads who wondered how the water heights were controlled and their kids pointed out that servos are connected to valves. We will have to find a way to darken the tent enough to show the full lighting effect of the 200 LEDs. The light show is 2/3 of the effect and the daylight allows only a slight tint.

    Exhibit photos:

    Meet the maker:

    Tiny video:
  • Keith YoungKeith Young Posts: 569
    edited 2013-07-31 - 12:03:47
    Will you have it in/around Grand Haven any time soon?

    Your half way to a mini Coast Guard Festival :)
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-07-31 - 13:38:32
    We're in the early planning stages of bringing the fountain to Grand Haven, sans the great Coast Guard Festival fireworks. I regret not knowing about the rededication night on May 26, 2013 to celebrate fifty years, as that would have been a perfect time to show the model to some of the original 1963 musical fountain committee members. One Grand Haven bride-to-be asked about bringing it to her wedding reception next year, and we offered to choreograph their favorite song.
  • shimniokshimniok Posts: 177
    edited 2013-08-01 - 07:09:28
    Woah! That is *so* cool! I saw the "tiny video" -- I am dying to see a higher resolution video + tripod + good sound... this project deserves a great video so others can be amazed! Wished I could see it in person!
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-08-18 - 11:21:05
    The Propellerpowered Expo 2013 show was awesome!

    The response to the musical fountain exhibit was amazing, receiving "Best of Show." There were plenty of exhibits that could have won the award and I am pleased that the fountain edged out the competition this year. Next year, watch out! There were some amazing "in-progress" projects that, when finished, promises to dominate the Propellerpowered Expo next year. (More about Propellerpowered Expo 2013 at

    Award presentation photo:
    Jeff Legder Presenting "Best of Show" Award.jpg
  • ctwardellctwardell Posts: 1,705
    edited 2013-08-18 - 11:44:10
    I was really good to meet you and see the fountain at the expo.

    Controlling all those servos and lighting is a great way to show off the propeller.

    Chris Wardell
  • mindrobotsmindrobots Posts: 6,506
    edited 2013-08-18 - 20:53:15

    Seeing this amazing project in person was awesome! Your workmanship, attention to detail, engineering and problem solving skills were inspiring.

    If anyone who hasn't seen it gets a chance, it's well worth a trip out of your way to see it and meet Dennis! It is an impressive feat of model making, engineering and programming! What a great showcase for the Propeller as an embedded complex process controller.
  • Timothy D. SwieterTimothy D. Swieter Posts: 1,613
    edited 2013-09-23 - 05:01:55
    This is so, so cool! Too bad I couldn't make it to any of those shows when I was in the USA this summer.

    I am from Michigan and have seen the real fountains in person and would love to see the model in person too.

    When I was a co-op at Rapistan (in Grand Rapids) I met an engineer working there that told me about when he was in high school how he and a buddy did some maintaining on the original fountain. It was stories like these and my own experience at Disney that propelled me to be an entertainment engineer.

    Way to go recreating a classic in small scale!!
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2013-10-04 - 09:42:50
    Maker Faire Fort Wayne 2013 and Maker Faire Lou 2013 are history now! The 2013 show season is over for the fountain. The public reception was nothing less than amazing. Visitors responded with intense pleasure and interest while watching the water dance and mechanisms move. What started out as a private father-son project grew into public showings in four states around the midwest.

    The number one comparison of the model was to the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas, Nevada. While there are similarities, the Bellagio uses modern technology, such as, laminar flow nozzles that make the water appear solid and air-assist canons that send water to great heights. The prototype fountain in Grand Haven, Michigan, uses 1962 technology with a single source of water pressure, individual valves and standard turbulent water flow.

    The number one question is if the model responds to the music. Since the prototype fountain does not respond to music, the model was designed to use the same pre-programmed choreography as the prototype. At one time the public could download software from and submit their own choreographed creations of their favorite music. The choreography software can still be downloaded, but the software is no longer supported and the "submit" link has been removed. Perhaps public creations will be accepted sometime in the future.

    One of the original fountain committee members in Grand Haven shared with me the idea of connecting a midi keyboard so that the public could "play" the fountain. The fountain would also be responsive to pre-recorded music. I may decide to pursue this in the future. The technology to accomplish this is well known. I understand that more energetic music would cause more water to rise higher with brighter colors, but there's still work to do on figuring out just how the fountain should look for various notes, chords and tempos. There are 20 water/motion features and 200 lights to be controlled from the music. The challenge will be to make attractive patterns that translate artfully in response to the music. I'm still thinking about it.

    Thank you all for your kind comments. I was thrilled to be able to meet some of you. I also enjoyed seeing your creations as well.

    I will post again in the future if anything new happens to the scale model Grand Haven Musical Fountain.
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2014-03-06 - 18:08:49
    See Post #1 for information about the next exhibit at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum in Grand Haven, MI coming soon!
  • dbpagedbpage Posts: 182
    edited 2014-03-18 - 18:04:04
    2013 was the year of Maker Faires. 2014 is the year of the Museum.

    For an exhibit described in post #1, I just finished setting up the model in the Tri-Cities Historical Museum. After 50 years, this is the first time the Tri-Cities Historical Museum has an exhibit of the Grand Haven Musical Fountain. The Grand Haven Musical Fountain was completely renovated this year with new plumbing and LED lighting. Artifacts of old equipment and stories from founders will be exhibited. The model will be a centerpiece to show what the fountain looks like.

    The exhibit opens on March 27, 2014 and will run into September. See the attachment for what I call the "unveiling" to museum staff.

    Attend the events and the exhibit. It'll be fun!

    See you there.
    1024 x 576 - 62K
  • NeilRogersNeilRogers Posts: 12
    edited 2014-03-21 - 19:17:33
    If I had the time, I would download their software and make one for the Edmund Fitzgerald, where it even sink. :).

    Doubt they would use it though!
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