Blog - Sketching with Hardware

Day 3

Published on: | Author: Sascha Oberhuber | Categories: 2014b, Daily Logs


Team 6's table at the begin of day 3

Did anyone ever work here? This sight will change as the day progresses.

During day three, the level of progression varies greatly across the different teams. While some smoothly proceeded to put yesterday’s brainstormed ideas into practice, others struggle to choose an idea to pursue.

To make the overall schedule more intense, the course officials find out that the controller of the rc-cars provided to the participants do not match their own model, and that the specifications vary greatly. At this point, the only choices are to craft some hardware by themselves to overcome the differences, or to order new controllers.

After a few hours of tinkering with electronics and Google, new controllers are bought. This delays the progress, as most teams are not able to hack and test the car’s controls immediately.


Team 1, who settled on “The Great Carholio” as working name for their project, intend to create a small, stealthy life logging drone. In the morning, they’re discussing the necessary materials. While Steve-B stays in the lab to experiment on code, Alex decides to leave in the search for hardware.

Hours later he will return, unsuccessful, which makes Team 1 reconsider their concept. They decide to either go with a sound-based project, or drop the Arduino in favour of a Raspberry, which offers more immediate hardware access at the local retailers and additional computational power – at the expense of analogue input pins.

Alex @ work

Team 1’s Alessandro exploring sound playback options for the Arduino



Team 1 concept art

Team 1’s questionable approach to design


Team 1's table

Messy as usual, team 1 doesn’t waste time with cleaning up it seems


Team 2 starts off day three with a blank. Yesterday’s idea of a robot that travels a table while automatically distributing game cards and trying to not suicide jump any edges was abandoned.

After some time brainstorming, they come up with “Themey”. “Themey” is a sound drone meant to follow its owner, all while generating audio output that “fits the situation”. Fitting music is meant to be chosen based on sensor input.

Team 2 Themey art

A soundtrack for your life? Yet Themey never came to life.

As the team lays out the basic functionality, they realize that they’d probably have to use a Bluetooth-signal-strength based approach to implement distance measurement to the target. Wisely anticipating issues with that, they go right back to their original idea, the card distributor, dubbing him “Cardiator 3000”.

This video shows off the basic principle of the card drop mechanism.


Meanwhile, team 3‘s “Sneaky Paint”, a vehicle meant to colour the ground it drives on while hiding in plain sight, keeps growing as planned. Team 3 builds the mechanism that holds the colour spray in place and triggers it using a dedicated engine.

Team 3 intends “Sneaky Paint” to carry roughly 100ml of paint in one go. Since they used empirical science to determine the maximum carry weight each car is able to transport per default, they already plan with additional, stronger power supplies at this point.

Sneaky paint design draft

A sophisticated drawing of team 3’s design vision

Team 3 threat

Team 3 threatening the photographer with their paint spray mechanism

Reference stone

The fabled reference stone, used to measure the maximum weight a rc-car can carry



Team 4 sticks with their original idea of a moving flower pot that is drawn towards places with decent lighting and that notifies its surroundings if the plant gets in trouble. They go with the name “Fridolin Fikus” for their creation, and proceed to craft their own humidity sensors – to later make sure the plant is not about to run dry.

Much to the disappointment of this article’s writer, Team 4 did not bring a plant to test on with them this day. When asked about the reasons, they confessed their inability to keep a plant alive for an entire week.

Adorable Fikus

Team 4’s adorable vision for a cute plant follower <3

Team 4 pot building

Team 4 working on a home for Fridolin Fikus















Team 5 is set on their plans to create a “dog trainer” app and UGV as well, and while a few details still need planning, they make decent progress. They decide to order a plush animal online, with the intent to later rip it apart and replace its intestines with electronics, thus giving their vehicle the appearance of a cute dog.

Meanwhile, the team works on their companion app that translates the input to a smartphone’s or tablet’s position sensors to movement orders for their car, and plan to enhance it with voice commands as well.

Earlier than other teams, they proceed to configure and set up the provided Bluetooth chips for Arduino usage.

Dog Trainer concept art

Team 5’s vision for their dog trainer project


Finally, team 6 continues the work on their playful, candy eating monster. Being the only mixed-gender group (and the only group with three members) in this iteration of the course, the team has trouble settling on a name and a few other details, but overall, work continues as planned.

Candy eater concept

Concept art for team 6’s candy eater monster

Team 6 mouth mechanism

Servo + pencil = monster mouth opens











While two member of the team stick to artsy tasks mostly, Thomas writes the code that is meant to control the opening mouth later with a servo, and runs a few successful tests.



Random impressions across the day

Aroused students 1

Heavy at work. Check out the confusion in everyone’s faces!

Team 1 progress

At the end of day 3, this is pretty much everything team 1 has achieved

Aroused students 2

Still heavy at work here. I think.

Getting advice

Confused student getting advice from Chief HotKey

linked categories 2014b, Daily Logs


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