Week 8, Midterm Project-Yuxuan Li (Leon)

Midterm Project: Fishing Machine

PROJECT NAME: Fishing Machine


Fishing Machine is basically an entertaining interactive project. Our main purpose is to make people feel relaxed through the game played on the machine. Moreover, the inspiration for the project comes from an ancient Chinese historical story. By adding this story and the Chinese traditional style to the outer packaging, we hope that users can get a glimpse of Chinese history and traditional aesthetics while having fun with the game. In this case, the project might arouse the interest in Chinese culture of people from different cultural backgrounds, thus expanding the influence of Chinese culture. By the way, similar to crane machines, Fishing Machine can also be placed in a public place such as a shopping mall to earn profits and maintain operations through coin-operated methods.



  • 《武王伐纣平话》


《武王伐纣平话》is a book about the history of the late Shang Dynasty. As recorded in the history book, Jiang Ziya was a Chinese noble who helped kings Wen and Wu of Zhou overthrow the Shang in ancient China. In order to get the attention of Ji Chang, who became king Wen of Zhou later, He often went fishing at the Weishui River, but he would fish in an unusual way. He hung a straight fishhook,without  bait,three feet above the water. He often said to himself, “Fish, if you don’t want to live anymore, come and swallow the hook yourself.” This act, which contains political metaphor and philosophy of life, was summed up by later generations as “when Jiang Taigong is fishing, he who is willing will hook up (姜太公钓鱼,愿者上钩)”.

This story is the initial inspiration for our project: Fishing Machine. Our expectation is that users can get a glimpse of Chinese historical story when interacting with the game.


  • Yimou Zhang

Image result for 张艺谋


Yimou Zhang, born 2 April 1950, is a Chinese film director, producer, writer and actor, and former cinematographer. He is part of the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers. In his recent film “Shadow”, he uses a lot of Chinese traditional elements, such as the ink-and-wash, mainly in black and white.

The design of the outer packaging comes from the



Image result for 张艺谋 影



The fishing machine is essentially a mechanical interaction that transforms human actions into the machine actions. It has three main parts: the pool, the fishing rod, and the string. The user controls the rod and string by sliding, pressing buttons to catch the fish in the machine in the way we designed, and move it to the place where he can touch, then he can get the fish he catches.

In order to make the game interesting, we design 3 modes: easy, normal, and hard. By changing different modes, users are free to choose different speed and direction of the “pool”. Additionally, to make it more challengable, we refer to the working principle of the crane machine and design the fishing line to automatically put down and pull up after pressing the button. In this way, the user needs to adjust the inclination of the fishing rod, wait for the correct timing to press the button, and the fishing line will automatically drop. If the position is accurate, the magnet hook will pick up the fish containing the iron piece and the machine will automatically take the line up. The user can move the fish to where they can reach. Of course, if the fish is not caught successfully, the fishing line will also automatically be retracted and the user will have to wait for the next opportunity.

We started from digital programming, then prototype, and physical fabrication at last. In digital programming, we use Arduino for coding. After finishing the code and circuit, we make a prototype case out of card box. At last, we choose to laser cut fake wood to be our final outer packaging of Fishing Machine.

Users can not only gain happiness from the interested and challengable “catching” process but can also feel accomplished if they get their “trophy”. Meanwhile, we design the outer packaging of the machine with the story”Taigong Jiang fishing” along with Chinese traditional elements. Users from different cultural backgrounds can get interested in Chinese culture, thus expanding the influence of Chinese culture.


Fishing Machine is an interactive project with functions of entertaining and culture spread alike. Users can not only gain happiness from the interested and challengeable “catching” process but can also feel accomplished if they get rewarded. Moreover, users can get a glimpse of Chinese history and traditional aesthetics while having fun with the game.

The target audience for the fishing machine is young people from cultural backgrounds outside of China. They are energetic and childish and are more interested in enjoying the joy and relaxation of the interaction with game machines. At the same time, the fishing machine has an outer packaging containing traditional Chinese elements and a refined model of Chinese koi as a trophy. In this case, the project might arouse the interest in Chinese culture of people from different cultural backgrounds, thus expanding the influence of Chinese culture.


Digital Programming

The “pool”

Main Component
  • 1 * 42STH33-0404AC stepper motor
  • 1 * SN754410NE ic chip
  • 3 * LEDs
  • 3 * 220Ω resistors
  • 1 * 3D printed motor coupling
  • 1 * power jack
  • 1 * 12 VDC power supply
  • 1 * Arduino kit and its contents
  • 1 * paper cut circle
  • We can control the speed and direction of a stepper motor with a rather simple code. The reason why we don’t use DC motors is that DC motors can’t change direction.
  • Users need to have a feedback when they change the modes, so we decided to add three LEDs to represent different modes
Finished Circuit

The Fishing Rod

Main Components
  • 1 * 180º servo
  • 1 * potentiometer
  • 1 * Arduino kit and its contents
  • 1 * straw
  • The fishing rod only needs to move less than 180°, so there is no necessity to use a stepper motor.
  • The circuit of a servo is very simple.
  • The code can be found in Servo Library
Finished Circuit

The Fishing String

Failed attempt

We tried to use a 360º servo to do drive the strings up and down. But we failed to make it rotate a full circuit by making adjustments to the Sweep example in Servo Library. Additionally, a Servo is not strong enough to drive the string with a magnet attached to it.

Main components
  • 1 * 42STH33-0404AC stepper motor
  • 1 * SN754410NE ic chip
  • 1 * 3D printed motor coupling
  • 1 * power jack
  • 1 * 12 VDC power supply
  • 1 * Arduino kit and its contents
  • 1 * Strings
  • We can control the speed and direction of a stepper motor with a rather simple code.
  • Stepper motor is stronger than the servo.
  • We have ready-made 3D printed motor coupling to make the rope go down and then up.
  • My partner Coco is very skilled at building the circuit of a stepper motor.
Finished Circuit

Physical Fabrication


Failed attempt

We tried to use 3D-printer to make the fish. But it took a long time and we could find a fine model of fish as we want. To make matter worse, the printed products were very rough, and we couldn’t separate them from the base and support.

Material & Elements

Red plastic


Laser cut

  • We can use Illustrator to freely adjust the image we chose from the Internet, making it as beautiful as possible.
  • Laser Cut is more precise and refined than 3D print
  • Laser Cut is faster than 3D print
Finished Products


Material & Elements

3mm Fake wood

Chinese traditional decorative design


Laser cut

  • Users can get a glimpse of Chinese history and traditional aesthetics while having fun with the game. In this case, the project might arouse the interest in Chinese culture of people from different cultural backgrounds, thus expanding the influence of Chinese culture.
  • It’s artistic.
Finished Products

User Test

Test Version

Problems & Solutions

  • Users didn’t realize that the string will automatically go up when they catch a fish

    Solution: cancel the delay for the string and make the stepper motor rotate faster

  • The potentiometer does not perfectly fit the hole

    Solution: change the conditions of the potentiometers code to fit the box

  • The hole for the button is too small so that it cannot be fixed

    Solution: use hot melt adhesive to fix it

  •  The hard mode is not hard

  • Solution:  make the speed higher and let its direction change more quickly to make some challenge
  • Users can’t get the cultural backgrounds

  • Solution: translate its background information to English


Fishing Machine is an interactive project with functions of both entertaining and culture output. Through numerous attempts and failures, we have successfully made this interactive machine work. In the process of user testing, we won the praise of many students. The user showed a happy smile without exception and said the machine was very interesting. In this case, our purpose of entertainment and relaxation has been fully realized. 

However, our goal of spreading Chinese traditional culture has not been well achieved. Users often only think that this is a beautifully crafted fishing toy without realizing the historical allusions behind it. Even if some user noticed the decoration with Chinese elements, they will only feel that this is the so-called “Chinese style”, and will not take the initiative to understand the meaning behind it.

If we have more time, we will start from the design stage and choose another more interactive expression to spread the role of traditional culture. At the same time, as to the fun of the toy itself, we want to use an electromagnet instead of a magnet as a hook so that the fish can be removed more easily. And we can add some gravity-sensing integration system, or increase the playability of the game by two-player.

I learned a lot through the design and manufacture of this interactive project. In addition to familiarity with the components and procedures used in the interaction, I have increased my awareness and ability to work with my partners, and I gained a more specific and in-depth understanding of this course. At the same time, I also realized that I was lacking creativity. Our interactive design draws heavily on existing machines and is used primarily as an entertainment toy. I still need to improve further in discovering problems in my life and applying what I have learned to solve it.

In general, this is a successful and enjoyable interactive project.

Week 8: Response to Theft and Artistry – Sylvia Lee (Chen)

As the article states, cultural appropriation becoming an issue for popular singers is very common. The biggest problem is that these celebrities are very influential. When they create something of not their culture without actually understanding it, such misrepresentation would be spread to others who also does not have much access to that culture, thus creating a widespread misconception of it. Just as Meiselas in the Molotov Man pointed out, understanding the context of the material is crucial when one is using someone else’s creation as a resource. Especially in this case, because a culture, religion, or a custom of one of these, includes far more content and background story than one work of art, there should be more effort to understand exactly what each representation entails and how it would be received by different audience.

Week 6: Response to Theft and Artistry – Thomas Tai (Moon)

Thomas Tai
Response to Theft and Artistry
Professor Moon
Date: October 22nd, 2018

This article discusses and debates different views of cultural appropriation in music and pop culture. Beyonce, Coldplay, and Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and many other artists borrow and adapt cultural elements from other parts of the world, often without much consideration or thought. The basis for cultural appropriation is that it is a form of theft caused when a corporation or person imitates a minority culture. I don’t completely agree with this interpretation, but this article brings up a good discussion on the difference between theft and adaptation. While these artists are certainly borrowing elements from other cultures, they do not blatantly copy styles, but rather adopt it with a western interpretation.

The exchange of culture is not equal, but it doesn’t have to be. Many believe that western influence is spreading across the world and destroying local culture, but I feel like the opposite is happening. We are understanding and appreciating other people’s cultures, and bringing them to the west. This is generally a good thing. The issue I found concerning is that the media industry can reinforce racial stereotypes and generalize cultural norms by accident. As responsible individuals, we should be more observant of what the media industry is feeding us. If it weren’t for this article, I wouldn’t have seen the negative aspects of popular culture borrowing elements from other minority cultures. This article has broadened my viewpoint of the culture industry.

Week 8: Response to Theft & Artistry – Pellegrino (Chen)

In “Theft & Artistry: Coldplay, Beyonce In India Spark Discussion On Appropriation,” reported by Eyder Peralta on All Things Considered, Peralta discusses the topic of cultural appropriation within music and pop culture. Specifically, he speaks of the then (2016) recently released song “Hymn for the Weekend” by Coldplay in which the music includes the artists performing before a backdrop of a stereotypical India and Beyonce dressing and dancing in a similar style. While the film shots and scenery are beautiful, the piece itself feels ugly watching the artists take center stage, using India’s culture merely as an aesthetic for their business.

While I think it’s possible to explore other cultures, to live in different places, and to learn about people from all over the world and express this in artwork, I also think there is a clear line between cultural appropriation. When artists mimic patterns, designs, musical themes, etc. from specific cultures, it’s important not only to be educated on the roots of such themes, but also to ensure that such themes are used in a sensitive and appropriate way.

Furthermore, I think it’s important also to be sensitive to using certain elements of different cultures for profit. While engaging with different culture’s art or music that’s existed for who knows how many years, I think it’s possible to explore or experiment with these themes (as long as the artist is appropriate and educated on them). However, when an artist remarkets them for profit it doesn’t quite seem fair. Yet this happens all the time.

Which then, all things considered, it seems very difficult to create any form of art or to create a career as an artist. Yet, I think what’s most important is education on the material and genre’s that you’re working with and sensitivity towards these themes.

Week6: Response to Theft and Artistry (Moon)

I was astonished when I first read “Theft and Artistry”, which criticized the song of my favorite singers. I think neither their song brings any “honor” to India culture, nor it contains as much stereotype as the article describes. As explained in “Theft and Artistry”, singers learn by imitating and gaining inspiration from others, which implies that appropriation is inevitable in songs. In the case of Justin Bieber, “he is drawing from Black and Brown cultural formation (with the track and the dances) absent the full presence of Black and Brown people and can do it just as good as they can”. For “Hymn for the weekend,” Indian people “just become a backdrop with no voice and context, no humanity.” Is that true? As I see it, people may be too sensitive in this case. As we know, the whole world is in the process of modernization, a tendency that approaches to Western countries, thus everything is becoming more and more similar. We don’t want to become the Other, emphasizing the significance to preserve our own culture. At the same time, we refuse to admit that what the Other presents about our cultural elements is us. What is the distinction between stereotypes and uniqueness? It’s hard to define. And that’s why cases in ” Theft and Artistry” are so controversial.

Assignment 2 and 3

So for assignment 2, we had to create something that represented us, and I got the idea of doing a palm leaf, because I’m from a tropical country. I first drew the thing in Illustrator and them imported it into Rhino, and that was when I realized that it was quite small in certain areas. I had also made it a small file size, and when I tried it for Assignment 3, it didn’t end up printing properly at all.

So for Assignment 3, I thought it would be better to just do a solid to actually make the most out of 3D printing. I decided to just go with a think S, my initial. This one turned out much better, so that was a relief.


Com Lab Week 7 – Response to “Theft and Artistry” – Samantha (Moon)

The reading focuses on the issue of the works of artists and imitation. Through many of the examples brought up by the author, it could be seen that it is actually very common that artists,  singers, for example, get inspirations as well as certain ideas from existing pieces of music and sometimes build upon these to produce their own pieces of music. Under such conditions, it would be likely that the borrowed piece of music is presented in a very hollow way, lacking the deeper content the original piece aims to present or has as its features, which accounts for some of the dissenting voices. Although just like Tate said in the reading that the feedback of such works may usually depend on the fact that if most of the people think that the work is good or not, this is a problem worth thinking of that whether it is appropriate to “re-make” some pieces of artwork while abandoning their original traits and connotations.

Week 6: Response to Theft and Artistry (Syed)- Allie Gaylord

This particular topic is always really hard for me to discuss. I feel for most of the article I am very conflicted. For one I agree with the overall idea that cultural appropriation is something that very much exists in the music industry, and many other industries for that matter. I think the only way to improve the issue of cultural  appropriation is to spread as much awareness as possible. However this is where my confusion begins. Obviously it is wrong to take someones culture, that you are not a part of, and misrepresent it in a way that allows you to gain profit from it. On the other hand, how can I be arguing that the only way to fix this is to spread these very cultures, eliminating ignorance, at the same time I’m saying it isn’t ok to show these cultures by people who are not a part of them? Often the ways other cultures are spread is by people of their own culture explaining another. This isn’t the best way, but it really is the way the people typically hear about another culture, from one of their “own”. This means that whatever culture is being showcased is often stereotyped or misrepresented because the person spreading it, doesn’t fully understand it. I don’t think participating in cultures other then your own is wrong, I even would encourage it, but the problem arises when you then choose to spread your very basic understanding to the world. If people would be more carful with the ways in which they choose to present these cultures, and actually take the time and effort to really learn and understand them then appropriation wouldn’t be a thing to talk about.

Week 2: Response to Mcluhan- Theresa Lin (Chen)

In “The Medium is the Message,” Mcluhan describes medium as an extension of the human ability. He gave the example of the railway in which he says “the railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions” (152). Furthermore he goes on to describe how the message of a medium is not necessarily the content of the medium, but rather it is the medium itself that contains the ‘message.’ The different medium used strongly impacts the way a message is conveyed. Similar to “The Machine Stops” Kuno wanted to talk to Vashti in person rather than through the Machine even though Vashti thought there was no difference. Although on the surface the ‘message’ was the same whether Kuno told Vashti face-to-face or through the Machine, but in actuality the medium had a heavy impact. Therefore Kuno was insistent that Vashti go visit him.

Week 1: Response to “Long Live the Web” and “As We May Think”- Theresa Lin (Chen)

Long live the Web

I think it’s interesting to think of the contrast between Tim Berners-Lee’s view of how the web should be used versus how the web is used in China. He says The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous world-wide conversation. The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium.”

However, in China, the web is highly monitored by the government. The Chinese government uses the web to essentially control information flow and filter out what they want or don’t want the Chinese people to know about.

He also points out another problem with the web. ”A related danger is that one social-networking site—or one search engine or one browser—gets so big that it becomes a monopoly, which tends to limit innovation.” I do agree that a lot of social-networking sites have become some sort of monopoly which limits innovation, but of course people who use these social networking sites contribute to this monopoly. I think in most cases people are just so used to the social network that they already use. So, even if there is a new site, there won’t be a enough people who would switch unless it’s drastically different and better. For example, a few years ago there was a new app called “peach.” From what I remember it was a combination of Instagram and Twitter. At first quite a lot of people started using it but in the end it pretty much died down. Of course, this is also the result of the monopoly of social media sites that already exist such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and etc.

As We May Think

I think it’s really interesting that how even though the article was written in 1954 Bush was able to predict the future of technology. He mentioned how maybe in the future people will just cease to write with a pen or typewriter and instead directly speak to the record, which in fact it is possible today. It’s also interesting to think that the process of “selection” that the author describes is the same process that happens when we search something in a search engine. It narrows down and filters out the searches to include only the key words we typed in.