Monday, April 14, 2014

First Swim in the LED Mermaid Tail

Making a waterproof LED mermaid tail is ridiculously hard.  What kind of crazy person would even attempt something like that?  

I did my first swim in the tail on Friday night at a friend's house.  I'd tested the tail in the bathtub and fixed any leaks or short circuits I could find, but electricity is sneaky, leaky stuff. I was pretty terrified before that first true swim test -- to the point where I was waking up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, in a cold sweat.  Would I electrocute myself?  Would I electrocute anyone else in the pool with me?  Would the LEDs work?  Would they all just flicker once and then go out?  Was this just a very expensive and time-consuming fruitless dream?

Finally the time came and I headed over to the pool.  After some pretty poolside photos, I slowly and nervously dipped my fins into the pool, and watched as the lights sank gently below the surface.  They calmly twinkled up at me, so I smiled and slipped the rest of the way into the water, kicking gently at first, then with a little more force as the LEDs continued to glimmer on the walls of the pool.

First impression?  This tail swims REALLY WELL.  The competitor monofin and thinner gauge neoprene I used created a juuuust slightly positive buoyancy tail.  That means that in the water I'm nearly weightless, and just a little bit floaty.  I am delighted with this.  My "Ariel" swimming tail is very buoyant -- so much that it's difficult to swim in.  Glimmer's tail is perfect.

I swam back and forth, grinning like an idiot, for about 10 minutes.  After the water started to soak in a bit, I started noticing a few flickers here and there, but overall I was really impressed with the water resistance of the tail.  Once it dries out completely, I hope I'll be able to find the leak points pretty easily and add some more waterproofing.

I didn't get a chance to work on it this weekend -- too many Elsa Princess parties on Saturday, and then I had a photo shoot scheduled with The Mermaid Atlantis and Lance Miller down in Santa Cruz for Sunday evening, so I didn't want to open it up and mess with it.

The photos Lance took are still trickling in, but I'm really happy with how they turned out.   Good thing too -- right after we got the tail's lights set up, the ocean swelled up and swallowed my Nexus 7 tablet.  The tablet is how I control the tail (via bluetooth), so at least we'd had a chance to set the tail on rainbow mode before we lost it for good.

The ocean waves seemed to be a bit rougher on Glimmer than gently swimming back and forth in the pool.  I'm a little disheartened at how much work I'm going to need to do to get her working again.  But I'm pretty delighted with this:

I'll post more pics as I get them on G+ / Picasa or on Glimmer's Facebook Page.  Enjoy!

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