Category Archives: Movement

Motor and Movement/Self Portrait

I did my movement assignment for my roommate who likes “cool decorations” and “outer space.” I made a moving room decoration in the shape of a star for her using the servo motor. First I hooked up the servo motor and set it up to spin 180 degrees one way and then the other on a loop, with small pauses between the rotation to give the appearance of gentle twinkling. Then I attached the long arm to the motor and put on the star I made (which is basically just cereal box and paint) with duct tape. I mounted it on the wall and let is spin back and forth, and aside from the wire hanging out clearly attached to an arduino and my computer, it looks like it’s spinning by itself.

I also hooked up a button for practicality. If she doesn’t want the distraction of the (somewhat noisy) movement she can hit the button and shut it off. The practicality is only useful in theory though because it’s still attached to an Arduino which needs to in turn be attached to a power source so as a decoration, having all the stuff around isn’t too great. The star is 3D and does a decent job concealing the motor though so if I get other smaller parts, it could work. All in all she was very happy with the effect for about 5 minutes before telling me to get my junk off her bed.

Code for the spinning star:

I also made my self portrait, which is very simple and slightly interactive. It was frustrating placing the squares and circles through trial and error because I couldn’t tell just by entering coordinates exactly where they’d end up on the canvas. I had to give each shape many adjustments to get it to the right spot.

I made my portrait so that when you click on the canvas it gets a little angry and upset which I think is very accurate because I just don’t really like people touching me or making touching movements anywhere near me. The canvas here is pretty much my “personal bubble” and the 12 bit anger is pretty much real.


Code for my portrait:


Make Some Noise

I wanted to build some kind of drum with the servo motor and prototyped different models. The simplest way to do so would probably be to fix the servo motor to my desk and attach something to the wings of the motor so it can hit the desk.

Then I thought about how I could create a more pleasant noise, for example a ringing sound (like a triangle). I tried hitting different objects I had, and ended up attaching a hairclip to the motor to hit a metal can. This was controlled by a potentiometer. Unfortunately this sounded awful.

I realized the instrument will probably ring better if one of the metal objects was suspended (like a triangle). I played around with different ideas and thought of converting the can into a Chinese spin drum, which is a drum that is spun around and the action triggers the drum to be hit by suspended ball bearings.

So I created my own drum prototype by attaching hairpins to both ends of the can.

I then attached the noisemaker to the motor, which created the same noise when automated (code here). The only concern is that the sound of the motor overshadows the ringing a little bit.

Automatic Paper Guiro

Guiro is a Latin American percussion instrument, which is usually played by sliding a stick across the notches on the surface:

Here, I made a automatic paper guiro, that you could control it by turning the motor on and off (in different time spacing — which makes the rhythm– if one likes). Or you could simply turn the handle from the side, in order to control the mannequin percussionist’s arm up and down.

Here is the video:


Whack A Mole II

I added some movements to the whack a mole I made last week.

I used a servo motor to tell the score, so it’s easier to understand what is going on. I also added some drawn moles and a note for the knob.

Here is the video.

The code is not too different from the old one. I changed the part for the red LED lights (the ones that showed the score) to work with the servo motor. I also rewrote the part for the LEDs that’s on the top of the breadboard.

Github Link


(Attempted) Match striker

This week I attempted to use a servo motor to strike a match on its box. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in my goal and instead resorted to simply waving the match about in the air until it caught fire over a lighter.

The circuit was fairly simple, as was the code, but for some reason my variable resistor was producing random numbers whenever it got about approximately 750 and having strange effects below 500 (I suspect it’s an issue with the potentiometer itself and I will get a new one to test). In order to compensate I simply set the total range from 501-749, which worked well, but occasionally had some jitters.

Here is a picture of the circuit setup, you can see the charred match on the side.

Here is a link to the code

And here’s a video of me attempting to make it strike and giving up.

The issue here was that the servo motor simply wasn’t strong enough or fast enough to strike the match– especially these matches. I had a difficult time striking them myself, as the matches and the box’s striker were somewhat smooth.


This weeks assignment was to make something that moves. I decided to try to make a “lighthouse.” I wanted to use the DC motor because I thought that it would be nice to have something that spins around a full 360 degrees. For this project, it was actually unnecessary to have something spin around in a full circle, but I it was something I wanted to see happen. I assembled the breadboard using the schematic from class.

From the junk pile, I found an old painted pringles can that I thought could serve well as the lighthouse. It already had holes cut into it that would help me be able to run the wires from the motor to the breadboard. The spinning section of the motor would have to sit above the opening of the can. From there, I would attach a wire with paper or something to be the ‘light.’ I had debated attaching a LED to the wire, so that it would actually be a lighthouse, but decided against it as I wasn’t sure how to prevent the wire from spinning around the motor and pulling out from the breadboard. In order to support the motor, I cut a DC motor shaped hole into a piece of cardboard that would keep the motor centered and help lift to some extent. I also cut a piece of cardboard that was the diameter of the can to put under the motor and support it. I hot glued these items in place.

I made something to sit on top of the spinning portion of the motor that was vaguely reminiscent of the house portion of a lighthouse and decided to use yellow wire to mimic a beam of light.  At one point, the wires to my motor broke off and I had to solder them back together. The DC motor spins way too fast to get the result I was going for, I wanted a much lazier spin to my lighthouse. I think using some sort of gear system would slow it down, but I’d have to look into it more.

Below is the thing in action

Assignment 4

I was originally going to try and make one of those things that spin and has pictures that are drawn sequentially so it looks like a moving picture, but realized that exact project was in the book and would be difficult to make my own besides drawing a different story. So I decided to try and make a strobe like effect and use the piezo to make some sort of buzzing noise while the light was on. But it didn’t quite turn out the way I expected. I used the code from the book for the piezo and changed some of Dakotas code from the last assignment to try and make my project work. So the whole thing only works when the button is pressed except the piezo that still makes a low buzzing noise, I think it always does that as long as it’s connected.  Then the light is supposed to turn on when the photoresistor receives enough light, the piezo is also controlled by this. Then the DC motor was supposed to be used to cut off the light at regular intervals, but the DC motor is too fast, I realized a bit too late. If I were to try this again I would have used the other motor. The grounding wire also fell of the DC motor, so I got to practice soldering again. Since I forgot to post the picture last time, I’ll add the one of the motor here.

Here’s a video of the project working, just not the way I expected.

Here’s my code for the self portrait and Arduino project.

Spinner Servo

Last week I bought a new toy thing called a fidget spinner, which is essentially just a few weights connected to a ball bearing and all it does is spin. Here’s a video of one spinning for a couple minutes:

So for this week’s assignment I made a servo circuit that just spins one of these things for a bit. Of course, the servos aren’t that powerful so they don’t spin the spinner very well, but it works! To spin, I have three buttons that determine the state of the servo: one for clockwise spinning, one to stop the spinner, and one for counterclockwise spinning. Here’s the circuit:

Now, to actually spin the spinner, I had to hold down the servo so it wouldn’t move, but to take a video I needed something else to keep it from moving while I held the camera in one hand and pressed the buttons with the other. I tried a couple things, like tying it down with a large piece of string and stacking a few decks of cards on top, but neither of them kept the servo from moving. So eventually I settled on taping it down and I’m hoping that it doesn’t mess up the deck’s box when I take it apart. Here’s a video of it in action:

For the p5 assignment, I drew a very amateur version of my face, which you can see here:


Motorized Pinwheel

For this project, I used a combination of the DC motor we set up in class and Project 9 from the Arduino Projects Book. The output of the DC motor is controlled by a potentiometer, which allows the user to vary the speed of the motor by twisting the potentiometer knob.

Motorized Pinwheel

See it in action | Github