Erica Plinth Upgrade

A project log for Erica The Cyber Rhino

An interactive artwork built to help with the goals of rhino conservation and electronics and computer science outreach

tyler-ward-scorpiaTyler Ward (Scorpia) 04/08/2014 at 13:550 Comments

As a part of taking Erica to the big bang her plinth needed improving. The original version had a single captive mains cable to provide Erica with power. Although this was fine when Erica was in the Marlands we have since discovered several issues with this solution, as the cable was captive it was easily damaged when moving Erica around, in addition to this disconnecting Erica from the plinth for maintenance or transport was a difficult task.

As well as power we wanted to connect other wired devices to Erica such as external speakers or displays. The difficult challenge when doing this is to ensure the plinth is still robust enough that it can survive being based around either in transport or things bashing into the plinth. In addition we wanted to make it easier to disconnect Erica from the plinth, this was especially important now that we where adding additional cables.

In order to do this we used robust versions of standard data connections, these are commonly used in theatrical or industrial situations. These connectors are usually available in a Neutrik D format housing which can fit into a range of different mounts , we chose to use standard wall plate sized mounts which we screwed onto the plinth. we had put a 4 slot plate under each foot and an 8 way for data and a 4 way for power on the back of the plinth.

underside of the plinth

data connections


power connections

For the power connections we used Powercon connectors, as these are locking connectors it means that Erica wont loose power if someone pulls on the cable. as well as linking the back plate to the foot plate we placed an additional out connector on the rear of the plinth to allow an extension lead to be plugged in to provide power for additional devices.

For the data plate we had a mixture of data types to deal with. For the audio we used 1/4″ unbalanced stereo connections under Erica’s foot and on the rear of the plinth. These where additionally broken out to balanced XLR connectors for direct connection to large speakers.

For the Ethernet connections we used Ethercon connectors which as well as accepting standard Ethernet cables can also accept reinforced versions that protect the cable end by placing the connector inside a metal surround which can be released with the detach button rather than the usual locking tab. we did a similar technique for the usb and HDMI connections.


Ethercon connectors under Erica’s foot


Plinth data connection pannel