The Undersea Telegraph Cable Project

The Undersea Telegraph Cable Project

PK is delighted to display a new, brightly coloured, and accessible undersea telegraph cable in our museum. The cable was designed and developed remotely for PK Porthcurno by Sophie Bellec, a modelmaking student at Arts University Bournemouth.

Why was it made?

We were looking for a 3D cross-section of a telegraph cable to have in our displays – a fixed interactive resource that reflected the different layers of an undersea telegraph cable. We wanted it to be an object for all our visitors to handle. It was specifically designed to be accessible for visitors with a visual impairment.

Sophie commented:

Using images of undersea cables from the museum, I created digital mock-ups of a cable to decide on a colour scheme that would be both eye-catching and accessible. I tested using plastic tubes to trial my ideas for the telescoping mechanism. The next step was recreating the textures. I used the photos of originals to guide my experiments; rope, twine, clay, and glue sticks were used, as well as laser-engraving, to recreate the feel of each layer of the cable. Once the textures were approved, I made silicone moulds of the textured tubes and cast colourful copies using resin, rubber, and pigments to create the finished model“.

Image of plastic tubes- telescoping mechanism closed test
Image of cable resin layer tests
Image of a rope, clay texture test

How does the cable work?

Visitors can gently pull in and out the sections of the cable with care and explore how the different layers and textures look and feel.

Which is the smoothest?

Which is the roughest?

Which do you think the messages would be sent along?

We asked Sophie some questions about her experience of making the model:

Q. Why did you want to make this model for PK Porthcurno?  

A. I loved how unique the brief was, combining making a replica, interactivity, and questions of accessibility.

Q. What is the most important thing you have learnt from making this model?

A: I learned a lot about materials, mould-making, locking and telescoping mechanisms.

Q. How long has it taken you to make?

A: 3 months in total.

Q. If you were to make this model again, would you do anything differently and why?

A: I would use much more 3D printing, to speed up the process and improve the accuracy of the moving parts.

PK Porthcurno would like to thank Sophie for giving her time and skills towards developing this wonderful new and accessible addition to our museum displays.

We hope all our visitors enjoy discovering this telegraph cable during their next visit to PK Porthcurno!

The Undersea Telegraph Cable Project
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