Tails fails

Nature of Code
The original idea

my original idea was to create animal tails that look organic for audiences to swing and play with. Details are at the following link.


Difficulty I encountered

I was using toxiclibs to draw springs, but the joints are not under control. I kinda what a structure like this.

Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY

However, with accurate different variables and calculations, they still twist a lot. This is what I actually got.

Animated GIF  - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why not make it into something else?

The time was too tight for me to figure the whole thing out and connect it with Kinect. I decide to develop the tail idea later, but make it into an elastic toy instead first. The movement and the sense of out of control remind me of toys I had when I was a kid. I liked to watch them fall down in the wind with an unpredictable path. It also created an illusion of they actually have thoughts or being alive. The randomness add few character into it.

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Flora is a good listener


Emotional object story about Flora

Who is Flora?

She’s an artificial flower. But she has feelings, and it’s not artificial. 

What’s her story?

As you can see, Flora is an ordinary unnoticed artificial flower. Even if people feel the decoration of the room is nice, she does not get the credits. No one likes her, and there were even rumors that she’s totally fake, just because she’s not as fresh and smelling good as the ‘fresh’ flowers.

Yet she has a beautiful soul that no one knows. She’s patient and devoted, she would never leave you after met you for only a few days -like the fresh flowers do. She’d always be there accompany you. And the best thing is: she’s a good listener! If you’re busy, she would be very thoughtful and be quiet. But if you are talking to her, she would always nod, to let you know that she is listening and she’s here supporting your ideas. ‘Flora, do you think I can get a summer internship?’ ‘Is my idea good enough?’ ‘Can I manage this?’ Trust me, you’ll get the appreciation and understand from her, always. Because she knows how it feels. Being understand, being listened to, being appreciated, these are all Flora desired for her life.

Tails! – Idea Proposal

Nature of Code

Tails are cool! Who doesn’t want one?

What is this project?

It gonna be an interactive experience using Kinect and P5 to allow the audiences play with ‘their tails’.

Why & what’s the inspiration?

  1. I was inspired by another class: Sense Me, Move Me that the interaction and movement we design for the audiences could break through the limitation of the shape of the human skeletons. Instead of redesign a human skeleton, the first step could be adding something onto it. And tails were one thing that we all wondered ‘what if I have one?’ when we were young.

2. I came from an animation background, I love to simulate physic and vivid movement. But before Nature of Code, everything I did was by frame by frame hand-drawn animation. Now, I have the coding as a secret weapon!

What would it look like?

  1. Basic: one audience would be able to see his/her tail attached to his/her body on the screen. He/she can control the tail by moving the hip joints. The tail and the movement would be soft and nature as a real one. The texture would be cartoon style.
  2. Advance: each user has an animal shape on the screen. More different kinds of tails can be simulated, for examples: fox, fish, lion, bear. And multiple audiences can play together.
  3. Ideally: different tails could be controlled in different ways. For instance, fish tail requires the movement of the whole body, peacock can display feathers with arms and legs at a certain angle.
  4. Even better: besides tails, the audiences have reflections of their body on the screen according to the animal they got assigned.  That is to say, if an audience gets a dinosaur tail, he will also get two dinosaur-short-arms.  The movement would also limited by the length of them.

How to make it?

1.The code would be written in P5.js. For the tail simulation, I’m considering chains in Matter.js.

2.The interaction would include Kinect.

3. One question: I know physical libraries can simulate the 2D tail movement very well, but how come when the audiences facing sideways?


ICM Final: Complimenting Pictures

ICM 2016Fall

Complimenting Pictures

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My perspective of this work is to create a collection of pictures that can draw the audience and give specific compliment.

Inspiration & Perspective

I found out that compliment from other people, especially those that you are not familiar with, can be really helpful to cheer you up when you are not in a good mood. One day, I told the lady doorman that her dark red nail polish look really beautiful on her before I went to a neighbor’s party. When I see her again after two hours, she was still so happy because of the conversation earlier.

I wonder if this kind of compliment can be replaced by machine. All of us had done this: checking out ourselves when passing by a reflecting surface: could be a store window, could be a car window. I wonder how would people feel if the reflecting surface give some feedback or talk to them such as texting:’You look great today’ when they’re checking themselves out through it.

Then I realize that if the compliment is just general, people would think that it’s not talking to them. So I decided to make it interactive, to detect the color of the audience cloth, and give a more specific feedback: You look great in red. The audience would feel that’s really talking to them.

My perspective is to create a collection of different sketches that drawing the audience at the same time all together. One of them is just a reflection but give text feedback and the others are with different styles, all changing color base on the audience’s cloth.

Tools & Approaches


All sketches are using video capture and drawing by pixels. I created a color count function and define how would a combination of RGB count as a red/blue/green.

And to make the audience be able to see the original sketch the the color changing process, I made the color changing code with accumulation of color count, that means only if the ‘red’ color counts 400 hundred times, the sketch would decide that you’re wearing a red color.

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The code:





1. I only achieved less than 50% of my perspective. I couldn’t figure out how to detect and change color while drawing with particles, and the effect that I want the text feedback in a mirror look sketch, I couldn’t make it detect the color. I will keep working on it, try to figure out the functions I wanted and develop more types of brush stroke with particles.

2. But this is only the beginning. With ICM, the first time in my life, I realized coding could be a lot of fun and I’m not scare of it any more!

Week_5 Two Materials

Fabrication 2016Fall

Ear Stud



I always like the texture of wood, and wanted to make some ear stud with wood. I’ve bookmarked many wood studs in my online shopping account, they were beautiful but sometimes too large for me or too expensive.

Materials & Tools

Metal ear stud parts from Michael’s

two kinds of wood


1.I cut the wood into small pieces.

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2. Try to sand them into pieces I want.

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3. Use a rough sanding material to hold the pins. Attach the wood to them.

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4.Try to attach the artificial crystals to the pins but failed. The supporting part of the pins are flat, but the crystals has sharp end. I tried to bend the flat platform with plier but it cannot fit. They are not the right parts for the crystals.


5. Finished the wooden ones.

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It was so frustrating that this assignment was done under pressure of all the finals. It didn’t even reach 5% of my self expectation. I actually interest a lot in trying different materials, especially the nature ones. It should be the most enjoyable thing for me here in ITP. I wish I had this assignment not during finals, but I’ll continue exploring fabrication with the take-aways from this class even after it.

Week_6 Mount Motors

Fabrication 2016Fall


Marriage Machine

It’s a physical installation shows people’s happiness are so easily been ignored just because they are not the majority in many countries and regions. 


it’s about gay marriage. While the whole United States were celebrating ‘Love Wins’, most counties around the world, people who are members of LGBTQ community are still being shut the door upon their face by marriage. However, to many people, this fact is just a statistic data they read in news. Is this work, I want to show the audience how ‘straight only’ marriage works and how many people’ life-long happiness are easily ignored by this kind system.

Materials & Tools

Pine wood

Rubber sheet

1/8 Ply wood sheet


5mm Metal shafts

5mm to 5mm coupler

Stepper motor(stepper motor mount from amazon)

Standard servo(wood piece to mount servo)

RGB color sensor



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1.I had totally no idea about how to build a conveyor. First of all, I tried how to use a cylinder to create enough friction to move a conveyor. I found that any cylinder with rubber band can do it.

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2.My second concern was how to attach the cylinder to a stepper motor. I never touched one before 2 weeks ago. I had all kinds of crazy imagination of how to do it. Even though I went through the class content of mounting the motor in advance, I still couldn’t figure it out without seeing the actual things and demo of how to use them. For so many times, we took what we learnt for granted, but with the whole semester feeling helpless with necessary fabrication knowledges and skills, I realize the importance of learning. And I feel gratitude for things that I could learn.


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3. I talked to second year students who have done it, tried 3D printing parts. But finally I found the right coupler and shaft in Thinkersphere and decided to use them. The 3D printing part worked well, but the three tooth was very fragile and hard to find accurate holes on the cylinder.


4. I built a demo version of this before I built the actual one. Used a black rubber sheet found from soft lab to be the conveyor. It worked well without pulled tensely by two cylinders, but created too much friction when everything is on its right position. I still need to adjust it to make the conveyor move easier. I bought a thiner and light color rubber from Canal Rubber and canvas from blicks.




1. Many ‘seem easy’ things could be very tricky to actually build. Always do experiment early.

2. My biggest lesson from this project is: I didn’t even give myself the time to fail fast. I found out my old idea for Pcom final couldn’t achieve my original expectation, and give it up late. Only left myself two weeks to do a 5-weeks project.

Week_4 Enclosure

Fabrication 2016Fall

Crystal Cave

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detachable enclosure for acrylic pieces and electronic components.

The intention of making this is to explore if I could always come back into the enclosure and make changes with different parts of it.


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Last week was the first time that I made something with acrylic, the beautiful texture reminded me of a drawing I drew before, it was a cave that has crystals. I feel it would be nice if I make it with acrylic.

Materials & Tools

1/8 12*12 ply wood sheet

1/8 grey acrylic sheet

1/8 green fluorescent acrylic sheet



1.I drew a sketch to figure out how different parts of this box placed and working together.



2. Did a lot of calculations and drew the box parts in Ai. Roster the slots out with laser cutter and laser-cut out the box parts.


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3. Glue the parts together and let it be alone for the whole night. This step is painful. Like Ben said, it’s not worth it. But I had to make the box by myself as I couldn’t find a suitable one in the stores.


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4.Test to see if it works well. The slots could actually hold the pieces as I expected!


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5.Laser cut the layers of cave and place them inside the box.


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6. laser cut the bottom acrylic holder. I made all the cave layers with a 1/8 thickness protrusion, so them could be plug into the bottom holder perfectly. Each layers of the cave look different, I don’t know which is the best order to put them, but I can always come back and change the order with the holders on the bottom and the sides.


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7.The pieces could be reorganized and make room for any necessary electronic components.

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8. Laser cut the cute little crystals. In the first go, those poor little things fell down into the machien after being cutted out. Then I placed a piece of plywood under the acrylic for the second run. But this time the wood burned a little and colored the acrylic. 🙁

9. Glue the crystals onto the cave layers. This was supper hard, but I don’t know what alternative options.


1. Even though I did every calculation so carefully (and it exhausted me), the  acrylic pieces did not fit perfectly in the box. The wood slots could somehow hold them in their position, but not that strong. Maybe I should make three of acrylic holders like the bottom one.

2.Lessons learnt, buy a box whenever you can.

Week_3 Meet the magic laser cutter!

Fabrication 2016Fall

Having a difficult time picking classes?

Try this!

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In last week, the topic were always ‘Spring2017 Classes’. I felt confused and not sure which to choose. I recalled that when I was young, I always make small pieces to help myself plan and understand things. It was nice and making me feel safe when things became tangible.

Also, this came from a joke my adviser made: ‘There are all kinds of good courses, you can get in good ones just by pointing with your eyes closed’

To make it possible for players to pick with their eyes closed, I used different shapes to represent courses with different units. Rectangle for 4 credits, ellipse for 2 credits, hexagon for 1 credit.

Materials & Tools

Plywood + Acrylic piece(I found in junk shelf)+ laser cutter


1.Calculation and Drawing in Ai.  I drew the calendar and small tokens in size that fit the materials I had.

2.Test with junk materials in laser cutter. Test to make sure the sizes are good and the engrave could cover everything.

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3. Cut with laser cutter. The engraving on the wood was super slow, I only did it once. The engraving and cutting on acrylic went three times to make a good result.

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4.Sanding to make them feel good. I fell in love with sanding, it’s such a relieve!

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5. Color them(failed). My original idea was to differentiate courses with colors to mark them as programming ones, Pcom ones and design ones. But the coloring didn’t went well, it could not fill the whole thing and looks ugly. It may have something to do with the material.

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6.Placing them into the calendar & try pick some with my eyes closed.

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The classes I picked with closing eyes.

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How it looks

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  1. I should test the coloring before I cut the whole thing. Then I could have realized the whiteboard marker did not work well and finding alternative solution such as using acrylic with different colors.

2. The contrast between the plywood calendar and the acrylic tokens is almost zero. I should have planned it better. The tokens look better on darker surfaces. Now it’s not clear enough.

3. Acrylic is so satisfying. 😉 Wanna making more with it!

Week_2 Duplicate it!

Fabrication 2016Fall

How the products look



I bought this cube from Bauhaus-Museum Weimar on my trip to Germany 4 years ago. I like it so much that I brought it with me here and keep it on my desk everyday. My intention of making this cube was quite simple: all my friends who has ever seen it, liked it very much. Since I could not go back to Germany and buy more for them, then why not making some for them?




I did a brief study to understand the structure of the cube and how it connected. Then I try to category the parts, and calculated how many of each kind of parts I should make.



Materials & Tools

  1. I used a long piece of oak wood(I was too excited to took a picture. I divided it by three right after I made sure that it is enough for me to make five cubes.)  Beautiful, with good texture and not expensive, but a little bit hard.
  2. Power saw and band saw for the wood, power drill for the holes, elastic cord(bought from Michael’s, that place is paradise!) for connecting the pieces.



  1. Cutting the wood to the size I could handle. The wood was so much taller than me before I cut it into 3.(I cut it with the huge machine) I did some calculation: each cube need three layers of square cubes, I need 15 in total, and the wood could provide me 18 from 2/3 of it. The last 1/3 could save me if I did something wrong.
  2. Using power saw to cut them into 18 square cubes. I used a stop wood to make sure each cuts are even. Tried with trash wood before cutting the oak.                                                                                   511089092  1677151108
  3. Cutting middle size pieces. So far it went smoothly. I started to like the power saw and its relatively accurate results. I tried to cut the vertical pieces with it, but it eats too much. I had to turn to band saw instead. Again, I draw lines and used stop woods. But it was not that accurate this time.
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  4.  Group Sanding. The band saw was so inaccurate. To move on making, I had to at least make the same group as even as they could be. So I decided to sand them together. When the wood are just 18 pieces of square cubes, they were easy. But when they were cut into 60 pieces, it became super hard just to be put together.
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  5. Figuring out which sides to drill holes & drill them. There were 2 kinds of settings for big square pieces, 3 kinds of settings for middle size rectangle pieces and only 1 kind of small square pieces.  2 holes are required for each piece, the aim of the holes are to thread a elastic cord through. Although I marked the drill bits, it was still hard to handle the deepth for the holes. At the end, I found out I have to be able to see the drill bit in the first hole when I am drilling the second, then it became easier.  1206286244 1184946020
  6. Divide all kinds of pieces with different settings of holes & connect them.  At this point, I had to go home as it was too late, so I packed them so I won’t mix them up. The other day, I connected the cubes one by one.78485333 847921797 290552286 626386649
  7. Sanding individually. I tried to always keep them in groups, as when I cut them into square cubes, smaller pieces, those are cut together stay much similar. However, when I drilled holes into them, I had to take all the same shape from different cubes and drill them together. Even though I’ve marked each one with numbers, It became hard for them to get back to old groups. As a result, each piece of one same cube seems hard to get along with each other. I had to sand them again. In group and individually. Group sanding to make them ‘look like’ a cube. Individual sanding to make them feels better(not to sharp, not hurting when people are touching)                    730897135 1726463231

The cubes!

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  1. I didn’t finished all of them. This made me a little upset. But the good part is, I did finished two of them and learnt a lot. And my friends liked them. ‘This feels satisfying, can I borrow it in the class so I won’t fall asleep?’ someone said to me.
  2. I knew from the beginning when I decided to make them, but I didn’t know the band saw could be so inaccurate. And I definitely

    underestimate the difficulty of drilling joint holes.

  3. If I could start all over again, I’d like to buy a long wood batten which could offer me even size. The pieces could be a little bit more accurate.