Brendan Attempts to Make Some Things


Final Project Proposal: LED Paint Board

Coming up with a final project is tough. I went through the past three years of classes on the website, trying to come up with ideas, but it was still difficult for me to find an idea I was really in love with. I ended up coming up with the idea for an LED Paint Board, where LED's turn on when pressed. I felt like this would help incorporate a variety of skills, but my final project will almost surely be different than this.

  • Technology: N/A
  • Week: 0

The first thing I did was try and explore as many types of software as I could. I ended up downloading software like The Unreal Engine, which I did not find particularly intuitive to use, SolidWorks, which was not free, SketchUp, where the free version was not very useful, Antimony, Inkscape, and GIMP. As a programmer, I really like Antimony's interface and parameterizations, and ended up using it for my initial design.

Original Grid Design
Grid sketch up in Antimony.

The idea behind this project is that there is a grid of 24x24 Red LED's, which should cost about $18 , sitting on a fairly large circuit board. Each of these LED's is lying above two wires, one in the horizontal direction and one in the vertical direction (bringing the total number of wires to 48), that, when pressed down, will send a signal that will be picked up by an Arduino, which will turn that specific LED on if it is off and off it is in on.

I would also like there to be a series of preset images on the Arduino, that can be sorted through with some small controller. For example, one of a candle could look like this

Grid rendering a simple candle.

To sketch this candle, I used Inkscape, which was my first lesson in the fact that vector and bitmap softwares do not always play particularly nicely together. When trying to fill the circle, it would not always fill completely, which you can see if you look very closely.

If there are a series of pre-loaded images, then one could also play a game. For example, you could fill in the blanks yourself, where the Arduino would randomly select an LED that is supposed to be lit and start blinking. When the LED is selected a new one would light up, until the image is completed

Candle GIF
The last light in the candle (Lower Middle), beckoning to be touched

While I didn't sketch up a project that I'm in love with, I think I did help establish that I would like to focus on something that is more aesthetic than practical.

Robotic Tree
A robotic tree. Courtesy of

Inspired by this photo, I would love to make some sort of robotic fern, that while keeping it alive, interacts with passers by using a small camera. This would be hard, but would certainly be fun. I have no idea about the feasibility of either of these projects, but it is fun to dream for at least a week before having to make anything physical.