I took on a challenge to create a pirate ship steering wheel. I wanted to give land lovers the powerful feeling of a captain steering their ship. Though this project is ongoing and ever changing, “The Helm” has been installed twice, each time adding additional pieces to further push the illusion of steering a ship on land.
The next step for “The Helm” will be to create bone structures (carved out of foam) to fill in the rectangular wooden ligatures. “The Helm” also has slots to insert lights to encourage people walking by to play with it.
I designed the wheel in Rhino and then brought the design to the ShopBot CNC Router. The base of the wheel was layered with different patterns to allow knobs to be lamented in. The knobs were also created by laminating wood together and milling them out on the ShopBot. The base of “The Helm” was designed to look as if it were the deck of a pirate ship. I made sure that the base had enough structural integrity to allow people to stand on it and also hold the wheel’s weight. The wheel is attached to the vertical bracing of the deck with two block pillows. A 1” steel rod, held on by shaft collars extends through “The Helm” and both block pillows.