Object, Projrcts

Project 2 – Polygon


For project 2 we will be taking the theremin project further, we are hoping to create four physical attachments for the theremin that modify the feature of that particular musical instrument side. If you slide the attachment on the guitar side, then it would modify the sound to an electric guitar. Attachments on the bass side would become an electric bass, the piano will become an organ, and the drum will become synth drums. This theremin allows users to create music in a fun and tactile way. Anyone can use the instrument because all it takes is simple hand motions. When the attachments slide into the main cube, it will connect a DIY switch made using copper tape, triggering the change in instrument. The connection will also trigger an LED that will give feedback to the user that the connection was made. The attachments will be rectangles that match the size of the cube side. The theremin will still have the four buttons to switch between the instruments, however, the buttons will be more integrated into the interface of the enclosure. We will laser cut the enclosure and attachments using acrylic. To power the instrument, we will use a battery and have an on/off switch. The goal is to be able to integrate a speaker inside the cube so the user doesn’t have to attach an external speaker, however, we still need to do some testing to see if that is possible. We would also have to figure out where to let the sound come out of the enclosure. The best option for this would probably be at the top of the enclosure.  




Acrylic for fabrication

Copper tape





Sound shield

Ultrasonic sensor


Capacitive sensors

Wires/jumper wires



sketch of encloser


Interactivity diagram


As we thought more about the project we made a few changes. We decided to used magnetic shapes as our physical switches. So they simply magnetized to the side of the box closing a circuit of copper tape. 

We got the switch working on the prototype which was exciting! From there we had to figure out how to code the switch into the theremin.  This proved a bit more difficult than I expected. We wanted the sound to change when the magnetic switch was added, but we could not get that, you have to press the button again for the sound to switch tones.

Another challenge we faced was the speakers. We used the small ones you see in the video, however, when we hooked them up they were really quiet. We had to order a sound amplifier from Sparkfun and solder it into our circuit, but this fixed the quiet speakers problem!


This is the Audio amp Breakout

We soldered everything together to put it into the box, we had few problems with wires touching but we moved things around till it was okay! we also had a few power problems, we used a battery so that it was wireless but the battery drained quickly. Here Is our circuit schematic! 

Here is our first prototype enclosure. We made it from cardboard and it was nice to do a practice cut to figure out what we needed to change.

Even with the prototype, I had to do our final cut twice. I the first time it I forgot to change the tab materials for the thickness of the plastic we were using and I had to add holes for wires. We also wanted frosted acrylic but were not able to find any so we sanded down the clear acrylic.  This wasn’t exactly what we wanted for the final look but it was okay! For the final version of the switches, we were not able to use the acrylic because it was too heavy for the magnets. So instead we used three layers of the original cardboard. We used three layers because then the magnets were embedded and easy to grab! 

Here are the laser cut files for the connctors and the box and the un assembled box and the assembled box! 

We changed the capacative sensors for the final version.  So that they were more incoperated into the box, they also just are really nice and a add a great feel to the project. Here is the final product working! 

My partner Kaelen did all of the coding for the project! She had done some of it for her previous project. Here is all the code we used for the project. I really enjoyed this project and I think that the feel and aesthetic were really great! I just wanted to play with it. However, I wish that we had more time to perfect the enclosure, but I am happy with how it turned out! 

Object, Projrcts

Project 1 – Prisms


Project Description

Prisms is a series of magnetic pyramids, allowing the user to create unique shapes and patterns. Promoting interactivity and interconnectedness, each Prism is identical and connects to any other Prism. Connections create a light in one Prism and add to the overall structure. Perfect for an interactive piece on a coffee table or desk!

Each piece is the housing to an individual portion of a circuit. Embedded with magnets the Prisms snap together and hold to provide a structure to build upon.  The connections are made by conductive copper tape that runs around the outside of the Prism and connects the face with the open circuit. Fabric glued into the windows of he Prism defused the light and hides the electronics inside.

The purpose of Prisms is to stimulate creativity, building and a bit of puzzle solving in a fun and aesthetic way. Interesting people with its initial beauty and simplicity and then enthralling them with the vibrant colors and structural possibilities.

The Final Product


Action video


System Diagram

Interactivity Diagram

Interactivity Diagram 02

Original Planning and Ideation

Within each piece will reside an individual NeoPixel light. By creating one central circuit, we can programmatically address all of the lights at once and implement specific lighting patterns.

In addition to the circuit, each piece will have an individual shape that will dictate its position in relation to the overall structure. With each piece having a dignified shape, the circuit will be able to be closed in the correct manner, generating the output that is desired. Consequently, the frustration will be avoided of completing the puzzle, but the circuit not working properly.

At the rear of the pyramid will be a potentiometer. The potentiometer will allow the user to adjust the brightness of the NeoPixels once the circuit and puzzle has been completed.




Bill of Materials

  • Strip Wire
    • $2.50
  • NeoPixel Strip (2) (Cut into smaller segments, 1 light/puzzle piece)
    • $3.95 ea
  • LEDs (if NeoPixel doesn’t execute as planned)
    • 2 – 5pack of addressable ($2.95 ea)
  • Potentiometer
    • already have
  • Arduino Uno/USB connector
    • already have
  • Copper Tape
    • $2.95
  • Cardboard/Cardstock
    • already have
  • Solder Wire
    • already have
  • Maintained Switch
    • already have
  • Glue
  • Exacto Knife / Laser Cutter

=  $13.35


Interactivity Graphic System Graphic

Elevator Pitch

First Prototype

We really had to just dive into physical construction. We did a little planning of the enclosure, what we wanted it to look like and making the laser cut file.

And the laser cutting final for this iteration:

Screen Shot 2018-10-25 at 7.53.21 PM.png

Our circuit though very simple we also planned out, the tricky bit was figuring out how the switch was gonna work. Here is our schematic.


After breadboard testing we soldered to a breakout board the LED and the battery and a wire to positive and a wire to ground, we then soldered the wires to the copper tape which is where our switch is


Once we figured that out it was then the matter of how to put it into the enclosure and how to make each side close a circuit. We implemented this by placing the circuit on one face and wrapping the copper tape to the outside face, on the other three faces of the prisms there was a circle of copper tape to close the circuit. This design was for our first prototype which was made out of corrugated cardboard.

Here is a video of the two prisms interacting.

Doing this first prototype really helped to figure out how to connect the circuit and understand the physical feel of our project. It was also nice to have other classmates test it and give us feedback. Lots of people said that the LEDs were not very bright, they also thought we could try to let more light out and another common response was not knowing which faces to press together to close the circuit. We hoped the magnets would help with this in the next implementation.

Final Product

Taking the feedback from user testing we improved our design in a few ways for the final product. Our circuit mostly stayed the same, but we added another LED to produce more light and color. Here is the schematic.


The prism design also changed. We opened up three sides, completely taking out the circle in the first design, this allowed for more light to shine through.

And the laser cutting file:


We then covered the opening with white linen to defuse the light. We also switched to a lighter material using white foam this time.


The white was a really nice material because it was light and with the white linen, the color of the LEDs were really showcased. It also gave the prisms a sleek clean look and contrased well with the copper tape. Another feature we added was magnets, they really helped in the design, holding the pieces together.



However, we did face a few challenges. First, with the magnets, We had to embed them which was time-consuming but necessary for the magnetic strength, and also though the polarity was checked the magnets were not working properly. We think that having three in one corner of the prism cause the polarity to go out of whack. Next, the prisms did not sit fully flush against one another and even the tiniest wrinkle in the copper tape caused the two sides not to touch fully, this made some of the connections tricky.

I have definitely learned a lot about prototyping and physical projects through this project. They are time-consuming and often have issues! If I were to build the prisms again, I would maybe try light acrylic, 3D print or perhaps plush with fabric them and save more time to troubleshoot magnets, and maybe explore other connective mediums like fabrics, or maybe even paint.

For this project we ended up in a little bit of a different place then we stared, but I liked it and we had great vision for the project beyond the scope of what we could accomplish in this class, but I feel that we made an excellent prototype that communicated our goal and was functional.