Blog - Sketching with Hardware

Day 6

Published on: | Author: Jonas Schubert | Categories: 2018a, Daily Logs

The Day Before

This Thursday, the 22nd of February, began as cold as all the other days of the week. Nevertheless, all teams showed up on time and ready to finally complete their precious projects. As the days before our very helpful and friendly coach-team split up to optimize their momentum: Beat took the morning shift and Bernhard showed up two hours later to offer his expertise and craftsmanship later in the day. Although this was the last complete day before our final presentations tomorrow most teams were surprisingly relaxed. But as we discovered later for some teams this was a very deceptive silence.

The following paragraphs give a short overview of the different projects and their adventures throughout the course of this day. The titles are all still subject to a complex determination process and might change until the final presentation.

Team 1 – “Guarden Zwerg”

This team worked on a decorative gnome statue that automatically protects your garden from unwanted visitors by scanning its environments with sensors and a camera and initiating appropriate countermeasures accordingly.

As all technical features were already more or less completed in the last days this day was originally scheduled to be the assembling day. However, during this process, the pump suddenly stopped working which took about 3-5 hours to fix. Even though in the end it was more an “it just started working again”-effort than a fixing process, but I guess that counts. Additionally, the newly assembled mechanism (a gnome on top of a wooden box) started to block itself inside the “technical compartment” (a.k.a. the wooden box at the bottom): The hose that delivers the water from the pump to the gnomes mouth was simply to stiff for the motor to rotate the gnome as wanted. After several improvements to the holes in the box the team got it to work 3 out of 4 times which was a sufficient result given the advanced hour in the evening. Fortunately, this problem got fixed for good the next day (spoilers).

The overall Stress level of the day: 4 of 10 gnome hats.

Team 2 – “Vogelhaus”

This Team stated that the title of their project is not yet final and still subject to change. The goal of this invention is the creation of a pleasant living environment for birds.

The main working goals for this day were: Installation of the motor for the automated roof opening and closing, the wiring of the door mechanism against predators and the assembling of the “food production” (an automated fly swatter). The last one was a little bit tricky since the transmission of the motor that powered it was not fast enough so they build their own mechanism to support it. The picture shows the result of this effort.

Their overall Stress Level was at about 3 of 10 flies.

Team 3 – “The Hanging Moss-Spray”

Team 3 thought of this day as a “good day”. They came up with “The Box”, a control station to operate their Moss Spray setup.


This Box contains a Button to “Spray” and a Joystick to navigate the spray can. The joystick had been reused from an old X-Box controller. Additionally, they added a LED-Strip to a safety barrier that lights up red/green according to the state of the system. This way they can ensure that the spray operation is not disturbed and nobody gets hurt by their invention. They had some struggle with building all the components but in the end, everything worked out fine.

The overall Stress level of the day: 0 of 10 spray cans.

Team 4 – “Hans”

This project is similar to Team 2, however, their house provides a pleasant environment for your favorite plant. Whether it be your cactus Paul or the innocent tulip Helga this invention offers a safe place for all plants out there.

GIF of door opening/closing

Their day went completely as scheduled: They assembled the door and roof mechanisms, optimized their software code and stowed in their wiring. “Basically we are finished already” they stated when asked about their progress. Solely the measuring of the ground humidity needed implementing but this was an optional mechanism that could easily be added tomorrow as well.

The overall Stress level of the day: 1 of 10 cacti.

Team 5 – “Frida”

Meet “Frida” your friendly neighborhood watch. At least if you are a toad or a beehive. Because Frida scares everyone away that tries to disturb them.

Team 5 mainly assembled all their work today since all technical groundwork was already set up in the last days. This resulted in a very calm day for them, if you don’t count the countless alarms, flood waves and “PingPong-ball-cannon-shots” that were triggered “accidentally”. They had slight problems with their sound setup since they didn’t implement an alarm for all use cases, but this also worked out fine in the end.

The overall Stress level of the day: 1 of 10 PingPong balls.

Team 6 – “Watertag”

This is where it gets wet! Everybody who loves Lasertag will at least want to try “Watertag”. The creators of this project realized the lack of points and rules within a summer day full of outdoor water fun. So they built an interactive vest that keeps track of your performance within the current fun-war.

Their biggest focus on this day was, again, the assembling of the main body of the vest. Although half of their code still needed to be implemented as well, the focus made sense since the highly technical setup of the system required them to build it waterproof which resulted in some difficulties with hot glue. A lot of hot glue! The glue kept melting the foil they were using to protect the electronics. But when asking them about their struggle they replied: “no worries, it will be fine!”. Ah, and: “Breakfast!”. (!?)

The overall Stress level of the day: 5 of 10 Water tanks.

Team 7 – “Seedling Sitter”

This project is another idea that makes your favorite plants happy and keeps them healthy. The Seedling sitter takes a speacial interest in younger individuals that need special care. It automatically checks the environment and can act according to the need of the plant.

Team 7’s day didn’t start off too good. They had to replace their Arduino board because their LEDs had too much resistance. But the change helped and solved the issue. After that, they built a little house for their pumping station (made out of a printer pump) so that the electrical setup is protected from the water flow.

The overall Stress level of the day: 2 of 10 seedlings.

Team 8 – *to be determined*

Our last but not least team worked on a backpack that tracks your GPS location and automatically shoots seeds when near a “green” space. This way public places will automatically get reseeded. Which is a good thing, especially since it’s the year of the bee!

GIF of rice being distributed


However, since they had to control the device and the tracking with a smartphone they had to connect it via USB to an old Android device. This use of an extra device, however, lead to serious problems regarding the lack of a debugger and a stable connection. This caused them to have very high-stress levels midday. To describe the situation best, let them speak for themselves: “WHY?!”. In the end, they figured it out though and calmed back down again. Another little problem was that the seeds inside the machine might get stuck and stop or at least slow down the distribution process. Other than that, they too, assembled their project for the final presentation the next day.

The overall Stress level of the day: 6 of 10 seedlings.



As we see above the average Stress Level of this day was relatively low (2.2). At least one could expect it to be higher in some cases given that it was the last “complete” day of the project. But in the end, all teams showed high skills in problem-solving and adapting and therefore overcame all their problems relatively reasonable.

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