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Dan Petley Page 1 of 4


OK, the first problem I came across was paper size, in order to
make the machine you will need an A0 sheet of card.
NOWHERE seems to sell card this big, so the obvious thing to
do is to get two sheets of A1 card. Now the second problem is
paper weight. You need thick but flexible paper, I initially built
the machine with 150gsm paper, but this is way too thin! This
hindered the rest of the project really, and I curse myself for not
going to check if there was heavier paper in the shop down the
road, which there was! 300gsm is the thinnest you should
attempt to use; otherwise when it starts to go flimsy you will be
deconstructing it and strengthening it with new layers like I did!
As for the colour of the card, IT IS A VERY SENSIBLE IDEA
to use a dark colour, as white card is slightly transparent when
you put a light behind it, which doesn’t help things, as it is
important to have that contrast of light when it is finished. I
eventually painted the cylinder, which sorted this problem out,
but it’s a lot less hassle to get dark card in the first place!


First of all, print out a copy of both fig.1 and fig.2 each onto a
sheet of A4 paper. For the cutting you will need to use a scalpel
obviously. My advice is forget those crappy plastic scalpels; get
a surgical one, with a pack of pointed, not curved, blades. You
will also need a pair of compasses with a sharp pencil. As
precision is required, I found it necessary to ask the local art
college if I could use their big cutting mats and big metal rulers,
as the parallel lines of the mats coupled with the heavy
straightness of the rulers made the whole ordeal a lot less
OK, so look at fig.1. Put this sheet so that the capital letters in
the shapes are the right way up. The first thing to do is to stick
the two pieces of A2 together. Put them side by side portrait,
then stick them using parcel tape, making sure they are attached
totally straight. Now draw the grid of 2’ squares, so you have a
network of 32’x32’. On the diagram you will see in the bottom

http://www.danpetley.co.uk/dream%20machine/dreammachineinstructions.htm 3/24/2010
Dan Petley Page 2 of 4

right corner some boxes with 2’ written in them. Ignore these,

they are just there to illustrate the size of the boxes. Make sure
you leave space for the tabs on the left and right sides, don’t
ignore these! It is advisable to use one of your longest edges of
your (now) just under A1 piece of card, to be the top or bottom
edge of this grid. This will mean that the join in the card will be
going vertically, which will be a lot more structurally sound
when finished.
As you are hopefully using dark card, it is a good idea to draw
the grid with a pencil as this will show up best. I would advise
the use of another colour of pencil for the next stage, drawing
the dreaded holes.
Look at fig.2. Play around with your pair of compasses to check
how this will fit into the grid. Another useful line can be drawn
horizontally half way down the third box down. Also do this
horizontally half way down (or up!) the third box up, do you
get me? Either way, this line will makes a point to put your
compass spike for the upper and lower shapes. Now with the
compass and the other colour, draw the shapes onto the card.
Make sure the tabs are about the same as in fig.1, they need to
match when they are linked, so in the fourth box down from the
top, use a big ruler to make another horizontal line 3 quarters of
an inch down this box as a guide.
When this is done it is scalpel time! You should only start
cutting when you know that you have definitely got the shapes
right. Use a shorter ruler for straight lines when you cut. You
obviously have to be as accurate as possible with the curves, so
give yourself as much time as possible. When you need to take
a break, roll it into a not too tight cylinder and fix it with
masking tape.

The record player

This was a lot of hassle, as you need a player that can spin at
78rpm. First of all I went to a second hand shop, got a cheap
player with a 78 speed function and thought my troubles would
be over. No sir! A lot of cheap record players, to put it bluntly,
are crap. The first one I bought, I realised that when I put an LP
on it and played it at the right speed (33 and a third) it was
playing too fast! This implies that if it is going too fast on 33
speed, it is probably wrong on 78, which is no good, as of
course the dream machine is a piece of precision engineering
that has to be followed exactly. So make sure you check your
record player with a 45 or LP to check that it is right for the
So I got another crappy record player. This one went the right
speed. Again I thought I was back on line, until I built the

http://www.danpetley.co.uk/dream%20machine/dreammachineinstructions.htm 3/24/2010
Dan Petley Page 3 of 4

stupid thing, then all manner of problems occurred. To cut a

long story short, you need a big turntable, you know, the ones
just short of 12’, try pushing the turntable down. If it feels
springy, as opposed to solid, you are on the right track. You can
get a good one new from a cheap shop; mine came from TJ
Hughes and cost me £50. It had a latch in the lid, which I
removed with a screwdriver so that the box could open fully.

Final construction

Right, we have got this far, now the main issue is trying to get
this cylinder perfect. Get some stiff and very flat card. Draw an
11’ diameter circle on this card, making sure to spike that
centre real hard with the compass to make a recognisable
indent. Now, from what I can tell, the diameter of the cylinder
should be about 26cm (sorry for changing units!), so draw this
circle inside the 11’ one using the same compass hole. Now
carefully cut around the outside circle with a scalpel. Next drill
a hole in the centre spot where the compass went in. I found it
useful to use the compass to draw another small circle around
the centre point to use as a guide. I used a scalpel to drill this
hole, and gave it about a 7mm diameter so that you can put it
on the turntable like a record. Ok, now take it off the turntable
again and make the cylinder. Do this on a flat surface so you
can check that it stands perfectly vertical. Well done! Now
place this on the circle, and use glue and masking tape to fix the
circle to the 26cm circle. To make it perfectly circular it is a
good idea to fix one side down, and then fix the exact opposite
side down. Let this dry then use tape to fix it real good. A good
PVA should do the job, but I didn’t have any PVA on me when
I built it, so I used ‘UHU’, which worked fine.
And there you have it!
You may notice on my version of the machine there is a thinner
ring at the top of the cylinder fixed in much the same way. I’m
assuming that most people wont need to think about this as you
will of course be using 300gsm paper like sensible people!

The light bulb

Now you will need to hang a light bulb into the cylinder. From
the miniscule instructions I found online, I read that it has to be
60-100 watt bulb. So we got a cheap lamp from a budget shop
that could use a 60 watt bulb, demolished it and smashed the
china then hung it into the cylinder. We achieved this quite

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Dan Petley Page 4 of 4

easily by installing the machine in a wardrobe, putting the bulb

wire through a hole drilled in the roof.
Now switch on the bulb, turn off the main lights, put the deck
to 78rpm, put on some Hawkwind, and well done, you are now
experiencing mechanically induced psychadelia!

The wardrobe

The idea of putting the machine in the wardrobe was born out
of a health and safety issue. As this machine was a public
installation, we didn’t want to (involuntarily) induce epilepsy, a
disaster which this wardrobe prevented. Using a wardrobe also
gives the machine a magical ‘into another world C.S Lewis
style’ edge. Now that I have installed the machine in my own
room, it just doesn’t feel anywhere near as magical!

http://www.danpetley.co.uk/dream%20machine/dreammachineinstructions.htm 3/24/2010

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