From day one I had an idea in my head to transform the figures I have been making as drawings and animations into a three dimensional sculpture whose movements would be driven by sensors. I kept making drawings if what I wanted it to look like and got excited about the idea that it could be make from different colors of plexiglas.

I neglected to think about all the complications in making such a sculpture. To me it was easy. Create the pieces, wire then together and then it will move... just like magic.

But it does not work like that.

My first attempt was to cut the figure our of cardboard and attached it to a wire. This wire was attached to a small DC motor and then using a photo sensor I was able to control the spinning of the figure. Issues I never thought of came into play. The figure is heavy, so how can it stand up straight and how can the motor make it spins with such a load. My initial idea was there would be a central shaft to which the body of the figure would be connected. This would spin. The legs, arms and head would also pivot where they were attached to the body through another gesture with the sensors.

I wired together the figure and ran fishing line to connect its part. All of a sudden what I thought would be a simple movement was not at all simple.

Consulting books on levers and how whirly gigs were assembled it seemed that the motion of the limbs could be controlled by a rod that had wires that ran from it to the arms and when the motor spun the rod would move the arms up and down. Again what seemed like an easy assembly took between 20 and 30 hours to create. looking for a motor that could carry the load of the figure was one issue. A motor with gears was found at the hobby store but even this could not power the motion. Finally a motor used to run a fan was used. The initial motion of spinning had to be eliminated as the motor needed to be used for the arms, which were then connected to the legs as well. This was connected to a wooden platform and finally was able to move. The motion is not controlled by sensors yet. The motor is plugged into the wall. But at least it works!!!

Time and luck permitting the goals now would be to create an on off switch, to control the speed of the motion through the sensors and maybe add sound as well as a second motion but the sculpture is fragile and might not be able to added on to.

The images below represent the different stages of the project during the Thanksgiving break from November 20 - November 26. 2007.
  NEXT STEP -- Making it sensor driven

To view the animation of my drawings that I showed in class visit

I was not aware when I bought it, but the motor that I am using is an AC motor. In order to connect it to the arduino and the breadboard some additional things were need. At radio shack I purchased two relays that were used on the breadboard to power the infrared proximity sensor. The sensor is now attached to the outside of the box and two power sources are used, one connects to the relay but splitting an extension cord and attaching it to the relay, the other powers the arduino.

for some reason I had to plug in the USB every time I wanted to start the sculpture moving. to bypass this a 10 k resistor was connected from the gound to the arduino pin 0 and the problem was solved.

The PC relay used is a 12VDC coil rated 10A at 120VAC/24VDC and a reed relay rated 0.5 A at 125 VAC

The code for the arduino is this: Simple but it works

int sensorPin = 0;
int motorPin = 2;

void setup() {

void loop() {
  int sensorVal = analogRead(sensorPin);
  if (sensorVal > 50) {
    digitalWrite(motorPin, HIGH);
  else {
    digitalWrite(motorPin, LOW);

  Below are some images of the inner networking
(sorry for the blur but my camera does not focus closer)