Lab 3: Simple Vehicles

Step 1: Assembly

The assembly went pretty smoothly for me. At first I was intimidated by the chinese-only instruction manual, however I quickly realized that it was actually picture-based. One part where I slipped up is with the screws — since the quality is pretty cheap, it’s easy to strip them which makes it hard to fix. After stripping one screw, I made sure that didn’t happen again. This assembly process taught me to be patient, as many of these screws and components require you to work slowly in order to ensure that nothing breaks.


Step 2: Testing

Hyperbolic Electronic Orchestra Final Documentation

Our project, entitled ‘Bubbles’ is a parody format social media platform that plays on the not-so-private practices of social media services today. Almost every Facebook user has come across a time when they notice advertisements popping up which were very accurately tailored to their recent search engine habits.

‘Bubbles’ utilities careful visual curation as well as sound design to create a compelling, interactive experience with the audience. At the trial stage of the app, we go through user controls step by step and allow the audience to demo the app in real time. We have used colors and sounds coming from the phones, to add to the visual experience for the audience.

Our project was heavily based on collaboration. After countless brainstorming sessions and picking each others’ brains, we came to the genius conclusion that ‘Bubbles’ would indeed be our contribution to the piece. The score we integrated was meant to be user- initiative so as to give the crowd full creative freedom and see where they decide to take it.

Creatively, I contributed primarily to the visuals & sound fx curation, as well as the curation of the speeches our team gave. My group members and I came together to gather random visuals, and later on narrowed things down to just a few key visuals that come together to tell a funny narrative. We decided to do a keynote style presentation, reminiscent of Steve Jobs or Tim Cook, and thus created this script:

[Hey Everyone] We are so happy to have you all here today! [Ad-lib if you catch people on their cellphones in the crowd] We are living, now more than ever, in an interconnected world. And in a crowded sphere full of social media apps, it’s time now for a breath of fresh air.

[Introduce the Product] Introducing bubbles. The only social media service you will ever need. Make friends, chat with them and share photos, video and other content. It’s all there and more.

[to Amy] Hey Amy, can you get out here for a second. Hey everyone, lets give a round of applause to our CTO Amy DeCillis! [Applause]

[Amy] Hello guys! We’re so happy that you could make it here today! We’d like to give you a taste of what’s to come with the release of bubbles 1.0! Here’s a look at our standard homepage. As you can see we have all the basic functionality of your favorite social media services. Here is our news feed.

Here’s how it works! [Amy Demos] Now it’s YOUR turn! Everybody take out your cellphones and scan the QR code on the screen to start using our new app! Also, because of this special occasion, at the end we will be giving one lucky winner 500rmb, so make sure you’re participating!

[cut lights and have audience interact with website]

[bring back the spotlight on Justin]

[Announce Winner] Attention everyone! We have our winner…Lillian Korinek! We felt like you would be a great recipient of this money. You seem innocent enough since you loved the images of horse and the beach, funny enough since you liked the memes, and smart enough since you hated the images of Donald Trump. We also noticed that you’ve recently been buying a lot of toys for your cat on taobao, so you must be a kind animal lover. But you’re not just an animal lover, no, we can see that you also have been calling your mother every day for the last month. Please let her know we hope she can beat this cancer soon.

[Lillian looking appalled the entire time] What??

Cut lights


  • scan QR code
  • one of you will go home with 500rmb

Sound Fx Files :


Thoughts on Final Concert

Although I didn’t attend the final concert, I spent quite a bit of time reviewing the footage and assessing our progress. I believe that ‘Bubble’s’ was an excellent turnout. Joel started off the presentation on a very enthusiastic note and maintained the energy throughout. It seemed as though people were very receptive to both our concept, particularly the visual aspects. The fact that our visual curation of the colors and sound, worked out quite seamlessly.  What better way to engage people than to let them wander on their phones?

I was disappointed not being able to make the rehearsal, and ultimately being told not to come for the performance. However, I deeply thank my group members for holding things together despite my absence. Joel did an excellent time editing together the visuals and  sound fxalso creating the light sources. Amy did an amazing time with the video content, editing it together beautifully so that it fits right in the center of the page.

Write an explanation of your project, score, performance, etc.
Describe how you contributed to the collaborative process (if collaborative)
Write a reflection on the final concert (both your work and the work of others)
Upload any video documentation you might have (the process not the final concert)
Upload any scores, schematics, patches, apps, etc. as jpgs or text that you created for the project


In-Class Score Documentation



Solar Contraptions: Final Documentation

For my final project, I have followed the original idea of creating an abstract drawing device powered by motors.

Original idea:

To design a simple robot that can draw or create something on a canvas. It can either carry a brush or pen which is dragged across the ‘canvas’, or use another medium like charcoal to create a trail. I’m not very good at drawing, but I love creating things and see a lot of beauty in abstract art. I don’t think this robot would need to be heavily programmed, but I would love for it to stay within certain bounds while drawing/creating.

Professor Mikesell provided me with a valuable resource partway through the project execution period, a kit made drawing device powered by two motors. This concept inspired me and thus I tailored the direction of my project moving forward to it. I intended to use the same materials provided in the kit, along with some of my own to modify it into something with two motors, one which controlled the spinning of the canvas, and another which controlled the movement of the pencil.  The two independent motors would be connected to independent solar panels, and thus throttling the light received by each results in a different movement and pattern.

I met a few challenges while attempting to achieve my final product, the main one being dysfunctional motors and solar panels. After designing several prototypes, I got stuck on the ‘testing’ phase due to the faulty motors and solar panels. Limited supply of both caused me to interchange materials and repeatedly do trial and error.

The additional motor and solar panel, powering the canvas can be seen on the left.

Given more time, I would stock up on the necessary materials and troubleshoot beforehand so as to make the project execution more seamless. It was quite simple for me to come up with the project, however, actualizing it was more complicated than I thought. I intend to spend more time analyzing the relationship between the motor  and the creation on the canvas.


Video Game As Art: Final Documentation

Game Proposal Addendum:



For my final project, I continued my work on the Gold Mining game in hopes of achieving a playable model which included all the functional aspects I aspired to get working. To reiterate, the concept of this game is to replicate something called ‘Galamsey’ or illegal gold mining as we call it in my home country Ghana.

As a nation with rich resources but limited ownership of those resources, opportunities to earn money are few and far between. Ghana, like many other African nations has been plagued by British colonization, and still suffers the effects from colonialism today. One way Ghanaians are attempting to move forward is by engaging in Galamsey, but it’s very dangerous. Authorities have been cracking down on Galamseyers heavily as of late, thus making it a risky job. Those who are doing it have few other options and most of them have families to feed and bills to pay.

My aim is to create a game that replicates the experience of a Galamseyer, mining for gold in the ruthless and difficult environment. Ideally, the game would be in 2d platformer format, with a simple player bouncing throughout the harsh environment. The main gist of the game would be to make it difficult to attain the gold, and easy to lose it. Thus, I will design the enemy script in such a way that it serves as a strong boundary between the Galamseyer and the gold. Furthermore, the enemy script will also deplete the gold supply on contact, thus emphasizing how easy it is to lose it.


In building out this concept, I experienced many shortcomings, most of which were due to the technical knowledge barrier. I learned how to deisgn this game as I went along, and there was a great deal of troubleshooting involved while following along with several tutorials. I bounced between about 4 or 5 simple 2d platformer tutorials, most of which either had components or functions that didn’t work with my version of unity. Finally, I found a very simple one that worked properly, and thus I spent days on end learning its in and outs and using the components to program the functions I planned to use.

I decided to keep the design and aesthetic simple to begin with, using only 2d components for the characters and gameplay environment. In doing so, I intended to place more energy and emphasis on the deeper meaning behind the game, rather than on aesthetics.

I successfully created the simple character with platforms for him to bounce on, as well as some barriers and obstacles throughout the gameplay environment. I was also able to create the enemy script which made it difficult for the player to navigate the gameplay area. The coin collection and counting script was also successful, along with designing the enemy script to deplete coin supply on contact.

Given more time, I would begin enhancing the game by further developing the environment to look like a gold mine as well as placing more obstacles around it. The enemy script would also be further developed to strategically deplete the coin supply.

As I mentioned before, many of my shortcomings while designing this game were due to lack of knowledge about game design and the learning curve of game design in Unity. These in no way hindered my ability to be successful, since I am proud to have achieved a working model, but I am deeply interested in further developing it to match my vision more closely.

Game File:

Attempt 1

Attempt 2


Tracking Solar Concentrators: A Low Budget Solution


Fixed System vs. Solar Tracker

Fixed System – Immobile system mounted so that it absorbs sun rays for the better part of each day. Eg. inclined plate you put on top of your house to harness sun’s energy

  • performs well, but its fixed position doesn’t allow it to optimize sun’s energy
  • better option is to have a system that is always perfectly positioned to get maximum solar energy

Tracking System

  • Sophisticated device with control circuitry and mechanical elements which orient the ‘sun collector’ towards the sun at all times (sunrise – sunset)

Two Classes of Tracking Mechanisms

  • Single Axis
  • Dual Axis
  • Single axis has 1 degree of rotation that is approx parallel to the earth’s axis of rotation east – west
    • can’t follow the sun with precision since earth’s tilt varies from season to season
  • Dual Axis has 2 degrees of rotational freedom and can perfectly align with the sun at all times
  • Murphy’s Law “If anything can go wrong, it will”
    • Sometimes the system stops abruptly
    • When things go wrong, we are worse off with the tracking system than with the fixed system
    • Trackers are more prone to natural issues, such as cyclonic gales accumulating underneath the collector

Dynamic Trackers

  • Simplest tracking systems with sensors to detect when the position isn’t optimal
  • Fig 3.2 uses an opaque pole between two photo voltaic cells, thus using the pole’s shadow to detect whether the sun is making optimal contact
  • Small issue with dynamic trackers: they cannot tell the difference between the sun itself and a bright spot in a broken cloud, thus they have the tendency to orient the tracker towards the bright spot instead of the sun. These devices aren’t dependable in foggy, misty, or dusty conditions when the ‘view’ of sensors is impaired.

Chronological Trackers

  • Single-axis device using a clock mechanism to perfectly orient itself in the sun’s direction
    • Axis is parallel to earth’s access and rotates east-west
    • Needs frequent adjustment due to seasonal variations
    • Only works during day time for a certain period, rotating at 15 degrees per hour

Cost/Benefit Analysis

  • Creating a tracker & concentrator with $1000 budget
    • Software is open source and free, so the only real cost is hardware


  • Protytpe must follow the following criteria
    • Rigid: since it will be in open air, the device must be weather resistant and made out of concrete, stainless steel, plated metals, etc
    • Must have an appropriate viewing angle of space

Solar Contraptions Homework #3: Final Project Ideas

For my final project, I brainstormed a few different ideas that might or might not be executable.

The first idea is an oscillating fan that rotates on a motor, and plays music as well, perhaps from a pummer or another device. The idea would be something simple portable which operates on solar energy, somewhat along the lines of those lightning/micro-usb powered fans that people usually attach to their phones.

Another idea was to design a simple robot that can draw or create something on a canvas. It can either carry a brush or pen which is dragged across the ‘canvas’, or use another medium like charcoal to create a trail. I’m not very good at drawing, but I love creating things and see a lot of beauty in abstract art. I don’t think this robot would need to be heavily programmed, but I would love for it to stay within certain bounds while drawing/creating.

My third and final idea was to create a simple solar powered robot which can water small plants on a scheduled basis. It would harness energy to then pick up a small amount of water, which is then delivered to the plant. This idea might not be very plausible given the need to program the robot.

Assignment: Pushing Against Boundaries (Krom)

Since video games haven’t been a big part of my life thus far, I chose to analyze and create a Game Art mod based on the two games I’m most familiar with: Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft. I played Grand Theft Auto on several occasions with my friends, and found it interesting because it accurately depicts Los Angeles… except with a highly criminal twist. Being able to drive through the entire Los Angeles area and see iconic landmarks like Venice Beach and Rodeo Drive made me, as a player, feel like I was actually in Los Angeles. The main essence of GTA is to earn more stars by committing crimes and evading the authorities thereafter. I found it incredibly fun to be able to break into random mansions in Beverly Hills or throw people out of their sports-cars on the road and run over random civilians, and then illegally fly a helicopter over LA . Playing this game gives the player a unique thrilling feeling.

I was introduced to Minecraft by my classmates in boarding school when I was younger, and we all loved the ability to create our own worlds and live in them. Competing to build larger properties and gain more resources was great fun. However, I thought to combine the building aspect of Minecraft with the free-roaming lawlessness of Grand Theft Auto. This way, people could compete with each other and build up their Minecraft communities and also steal resources, break into houses, and fight one another. Adding a Grand Theft Auto stars aspect to the Minecraft gameplay interface adds another dimension of adventure where the player can freely roam the environment and do whatever they want. In this case, it’s not just about building the best community, but also being able to protect and maintain it.

Minecraft is the type of game that is meant to make the player feel like they can create to their imagination’s desire, whereas Grand Theft Auto is more-so about destroying what has already been creating. I believe that combining these two games challenges the traditional institution of gameplay where users generally have to choose between creating and destroying. It can be argued that art is a process that intersects creating and destroying, so I believe merging these two concepts presents the player with an interesting artistic challenge. Art, in my eyes, is creating with no boundaries. However, most games today present players with an illusion of having ‘no boundaries’, rather than an actual open ended interface. Grand Theft Auto lacks in the player’s freedom to create, and MineCraft lacks in the player’s freedom to destroy. Merging the two, in my opinion, is a step towards a game that allows complete player freedom.


First Solar Powered Experience

My first experience with a solar device was during the (5th grade I believe) science fair. Solar panels were newly becoming popular and I was really interested in DIY solar energy. I made a DIY solar panel with tin foil, ketchup, and a few other random items. It didn’t end up working out, and I couldn’t figure out why, but it was worth the try!

I remember this well because it was my first failed attempt at a science project, but also my first experience with alternative forms of energy. I always recalled watching ‘how it’s made’ and learning about wind turbines, solar panels, and water-powered energy, but never thought to try it out for myself.

Galamsey Game – Midterm

My initial proposed idea for this midterm project was to create a photo-based game which juxtaposes visual representation of Africa in a negative light (which the media tends to propagate), with the beautiful and glamorous viewpoint of Africa that the world seldom gets to see. My idea was to present the player with two polarizing images, and allow them to choose which one they felt was an accurate representation. At the end of the game, the player would be presented with all of their selections in mosaic form, with the negatively represented images greyed out / lower opacity, and the positive ones in normal view. I ran into several road blocks while developing this idea. The main barrier was figuring out which tools would help me actualize the concept in game-format.

After realizing it would be unrealistic to complete this concept with the remaining time, I developed something new.

Galamsey, derived from the phrase “gather them and sell”, is a local Ghanaian term which means illegal small-scale gold mining in Ghana, West Africa; such workers are known as galamseyers or orpailleurs in neighboring francophone nations.  Galamsey is a widespread issue throughout Ghana, being that gold is one of our main natural resources. It’s the only way for some to earn money given the unstable economy and lack of opportunities throughout the country.

I designed a game that depicts the player as a Galamseyer running through a gold mine and collecting gold. Each gold coin collected adds points to the Galamseyer’s life, but there are landmines hidden throughout the mine, designed to deter them from illegally mining. If you reach 100 life points, you win.. but each landminemine you step on decreases your life points by 10. When the life points reach zero, it’s game over.

I created the game from a regular 2d platformer base, adding the mining environment as the background, adding the enemy code to reduce life points, and creating the storyline of life or death.

Here are some screenshots from the game as well as a link so that you can play it on your own!