Project Pitch

HuLED Hoop

Growing up, some of the toys I played with were hula hoops and the “skip It,” which you put it around your foot and spun it around and it kept track of how many revolutions so you could try and beat your best score. The problem was that you had to stop before you could check your score.

I think it would be fun combine the score tracking feature into a hula hoop and use LEDs to communicate to the user how many revolutions they have completed so they don’t have to stop and check their score.

I did some research and found some hula hoops that light up and some that track your score, but didn’t find any that combine the two.

Additionally, it might be fun to integrate some copper tape into the design on the inside and outside of the hoop as a switch to trigger a light feature for users who like doing tricks spinning the hoop around their body with their hands.


existing products:


  • sensor (photo resistor, or a button, and or a motion sensor)
  • microcontroller, I’m thinking a pro micro because it would actually fit inside or a micro:bit that could send the score out and could possibly sync with other hoops.  I have a couple of each of these to play with
  • LED strip
  • rechargeable battery


  • Plastic tube with an internal diameter large enough to house components
  • connectors to make the pipe hold it’s shape.
  • decorative tape

Analog I/O and Enclosure

Part 1:

Build an interactive circuit that uses at least two different variable resistors (inputs) and some kind of output (sound, light, movement).

For part one one this exercise, I played around with several different sensors and the first circuit I built used a slider, a flex sensor, and a photo resistor each mapped to control the brightness of three different colored LEDs.


After having good success with this experiment using multiple sensors to control multiple lights, I wanted to try using multiple sensors to control a single RGB LED. The photo sensor wasn’t “playing well with others” so I replaced it with a potentiometer.


This gave me an idea for Part 2 of this exercise to make a color blending sort of toy, using three potentiometers, so rebuilt the circuit with three regular LEDs, red green blue, and one RGB LED. Each potentiometer controls one color. The Red pot is mapped to the single red LED as well as to the red pin on the RGB LED, so when it is turned it controls both.


Part 2:

Build a custom enclosure for your project – the enclosure can be soft or hard but it must fully hide your electronics.
Parts: variable resistors, photo resistor, micro-controller, breadboard, fabrication materials

I decided to make a color mixing toy, so it seemed appropriate to make the enclosure in the shape of an artist painting pallet.

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After using the laser cuter to trace out the shape on cardboard, I needed to use an exato-knife to get it out of the sheet.

The cardboard I found in the recycle bin was double thickness so I cut through the layers in a ring around the holes to mount the translucent material that will allow the LEDs to shine through.

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Two layers of clear plastic sheet with two layers of white tissue paper sandwiched in between gave me the appearance I was looking for. Trace and cut out pieces that fit into the recesses.

Created an inner structure with shallow cardboard tubes that give space for the Red board, power pack, and house the potentiameters and LEDs.

I found that one LED wasn’t bright enough to light up the little pods, so just wired two together using small proto boards to consolidate the wires.

then added the potentiometers threading the wires in through opposing sides to give it some support and to make sure the LED wires don’t touch it.

Cut a hole in each white plastic piece and then mounted them into the pallet with the pot/LED pods, securing with hot glue.

I wanted some unique knobs for this that looked like blobs of paint, so I made some using some modeling foam and craft paint.

Adding all the wiring in was a bit messy, so I combined all the power and ground wires on proto board, and made sure to label each wire as I went so that hooking up the microcontroller would be easier.

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Here is a rough attempt at a schematic of the wire hook up:

Final step for components was power. I have a 5v power pack from a previous project that happened to fit, so added that. Also added a rim so that when the bottom piece is attached, none of the internal components show.


I’m quite happy with this as prototype. The lighting quality isn’t quite as good as I hoped, but different types of LEDs could solve this if I had a longer time frame to research and experiment.


In daylight, the lights are more difficult to visualize, so I put it on the floor under the table so it would show up brighter.

Here is the code:

Digital I/O

Part 1:

“Solder a circuits from Monday to a prototyping board (2 leds in series or parallel).”

For part one, I remade my in series circuit by soldering all the components to a small perf board.  The result was a cute little breakout board with three tiny green LEDs, one 100 Ω resistor and a tiny button.  Simple but useful

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Part 2:

“Build a circuit with 2 or more digital inputs. Use LEDs (regular or RGB) or neopixels as outputs. Program your microcontroller so that each input has a unique output.”

Parts: micro-controller, breadboard, neopixel strip, button, switch, LED, resistors.  

My idea was to have a circuit that has an “on/off” toggle switch and a button that, when pressed, lights up a green LED and changes the light animation from  slow blinking blues and purples (Chill mode) to brighter flashing reds and yellows (Burn mode) on a neopixel strip.

schematic showing hook up of micro-controller, two switches, one LED, and a short RGB LED neopixel strip.

I had a bit of trouble getting the buttons to work at first, but then our instructor pointed out I was missing part of the code.  After working out that hang up, I was able to get my light components up and running.  I like working with the ALA (Arduino Light Animation) Library.  This library has some nice “twinkly” options that I’ve really enjoyed using in other projects, and it is easy to add to the Arduino IDE.

Test of the button and toggle with green LED


Here is the code:

Final video

Hello Object

What I hope to learn in Object:

-more about calculating what resistors and power sources are appropriate for setting up a circuit.

-more experience programming sensors and actuators with more complex functions

What I already know:

I am pretty familiar with basic electronics and programming Arduino from past classes in ATLAS, and I have been building, sewing, and creating things for as long as I can remember, so I would say that fabrication is my strong suit.

Project ideas:

Some things I would like to build

  • Hula hoop that counts revolutions, and/or speed, lights up in different patterns to based on inputs, and shuts off after a set time of inactivity.
  • LED clock with a unique time display
  • twirLED for him, using micro:bits to communicate back and forth.

Lab 1

Build 2 bread-boarded circuits – one with 2+ LEDs in parallel, one with 2+ leds in series. Be sure to use appropriate resistor values for the LEDs in your bread-boarded circuits.
Parts: jumper wires, breadboard, LEDs, resistors, power supplies, barrel jack connector, voltage regulator.
What to post: photos of each working circuit, schematic drawings, and a written explanation of what you made.


mail me a link to your post.

twirLED Final Post


The basic idea for this project is a skirt that reacts to motion and lights up when you spin around on the dance floor. For social dancing like blues, swing, and salsa, the “show off” moment is when a dancer spins, so I wanted a skirt that only lights up at that time.

The function is accomplished by running a simple program that reads the position in the z-axis of a 3-axis sensor and triggers a light strand to blink if the reading is above a certain value.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the way my first prototype turned out, however, I became immediately aware of a construction problem during the first live trial.

The sensor and, pro micro and LED strips performed great, and as expected, but my solder joints on the LED strips around the hem of the skirt began breaking almost immediately.  I did some research into other LED and wire products and found an alternative way to construct my second prototype, which is proving to be much more durable.  Here is a link to the Instructable I wrote if you are interested in all the nitty gritty details of this project and a couple demo videos of the second prototype below.

The only issue I have yet to resolve is that the 5V power bank, of which I have tried several, turn off if there is not enough power being drawn off of them, but all you have to do is turn it back on, and everything works fine, so I don’t know if it is even worth addressing.  Of the ones I tried out, I think I prefer the Sparkfun version because it has a switch that works to turn it on and off and it has a small digital display that tells you what percentage of charge the battery has left.

Finally got all the info together and organized to post an Instructable for this project if you are interested in recreating your own version.  I also entered it into one of Instructables contests, so please like and vote if you enjoy it!  Thanks.

Click here to check out Instructable! 


Cat Walk


Four legged, middle-aged, dark haired, male.


Being too short to have a good perspective of a room, he is always in search of a perch, and because the canine housemate steals his food if his bowl is near the floor, he has to jump up and down from the top of a shelf that is too high for comfort.

Design Idea:

Upholster the the top of a shelf at a comfortable height for the little man to hang out and walk around on that will also serve as some storage space for the two-legged inhabitants, allow him to get to his feeding spot more easily, and give him a climbing option in the house.

Supplies Used:

Used almost entirely leftover bits and pieces from previous projects and things I already had sitting arround:

  • 2 Ikea Trones storage bins
  • Pine boards: 1″x 8″ and 2″x 2″
  • An old cardboard mailing tube
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Decorative upholstery tacks (this is the one thing I had to buy)
  • Miscellaneous assortment of screws and brackets

Lessons Learned

Spray adhesive doesn’t really stick to memory foam.

Memory foam isn’t great for upholstery foam because it is more difficult to make it even and smooth when covering it with fabric under tension.

Regardless, kitteh approves!


Click Here to see Instructable!



I was fortunate to have the wonderful opportunity to work with the MindScribe team to help develop soft user interfaces for their work.  I did this project as independent study for a semester working on tactile fabrication.  Some goals for the user interface were low cost and using local animals for educational setting.

stripes“MindScribe is on a mission to help young children tell their stories. We use puppets and talking stuffed animals to ask kids questions about their 2D & 3D creations. By creating and sharing their stories, children grow their skills and their connections with the world. And through their stories, caregivers learn how to better support incredible, individual growth”

This project was entered into the openIDEO Early Childhood Innovation Challenge and will be presented at HRI 2018 in Chicago and IUI ACM 2018 in Tokyo, Japan.


The Process


  • stuffed animal from a secondhand store ($2)
  • Fabri-Tac (fabric glue)
  • Seam ripper
  • Scissors
  • Zipper or velcro
  • Needle and thread
  • Clothes Pins

Step one: find a suitable subject..

I checked the local Goodwill first to see what I might be able to find.IMAG0441


I was able to get these guys for $2 apiece, and chose to start with a few different body shapes and sizes to see what might work best.   IMAG0450

Step 2: Wash and Prep

Make sure to wash the toy, especially if it is pre-owned.

Step 3: Making the pocket:

There are several ways to do this.  I sewed some of them and created some just using fabric glue.  The glue option is quicker and more approachable for anyone who doesn’t have a sewing machine on hand.  This is simple construction and doesn’t have to look pretty since it is going to be inside the stuffed animal.  The purpose is to make it easy to get the phone in and out and to keep the stuffing from escaping.




This guy is pretty small, and only smaller phones would fit inside so didn’t work for everyone, but with a small phone, he stands up really well because he can sit in the tripod position.






This guy presented a bit of a challenge because he can’t stand up on his own, so I added a skeleton by bending a wire coat hanger to fit in his feet and tail to create a triangle base and then up in a big loop in his head.




Grumpy GopherIMAG0550.jpg

The look on this one’s face is just too cute.  I took a different approach to adding a pocket to this one.  Instead of a zipper, I decided to see if Velcro would work as a closure option.  Additionally, because this one has a larger body than the others, I made the pocket opening horizontal instead of vertical.












This bear is another example of the tripod position where the animal sits with it’s front feet between their back feet which adds some stability so the furry friend doesn’t fall over when a phone is inside it.