4201: Alternatives for Inputs, Outputs, Designs (notes)

After getting some much-needed advice, I realized I should probably make the crane cage behave significantly different from other/typical claw machines. This is an art project, after all, and I wouldn’t want to put my current Arduino knowledge/potential to waste(!).

At this point I have already ordered a small, relatively inexpensive claw machine game from Amazon (found here). I do plan on opening the machine up temporarily to inspect its inner workings, but perhaps I don’t actually have to take it apart; instead, I can possibly add/detract from the functions, and alter the way it looks to make it more “artistic” and conceptually interesting.

For  starters, I considered different ways of inputting commands to make the claw move. Perhaps using joysticks is too “ordinary” and expected.

A claw game using alternative methods of controlling the claw has actually been done before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2X72bLjsO4

I’ve also browsed a few pages regarding toy hacking, especially those with controllers (like RC cars)

toy car

WALL-E Robot

generic stuffed sheep

A few alternatives to standard joystick:

  • Photosensors
  • PIR Sensor (link,
  • Internet/Text Message input

On another note, additional outputs might make this more interesting to look at.

  • Additional LEDs, responding to wins/loses/idle states
  • Emitting “bird sounds,” depending on the position/location of the claw within the machine

General wikipedia page for claw machines: Link

I also realize that the birds/prizes themselves might need to be an appropriate size. Currently, the origami paper I have to work with comes in 1 1/2″ and 2″ inches in width.

4201: Cleaning things up

So based on the reception for the previous set of sketches, I’ve decided to go along with the “Crane Game” concept as the focus of my New Media class project. I have yet to post or access references for the exact mechanics of how claw games work.

4201_c10002(original sketch)

Details sketches


How I picture the claw’s path to be set up. Most, if not all, claw/crane machines use a “scaffolding” system like this to move the claw. 


Intended size/setup. This is mostly based on my own height, though its installation can be adjusted to fit the eyeline of average/taller people. 


And detailed version of the overall appearance (in beta) 

A word on the intended material of this one: I initially thought this would be made mostly of plexiglass and standard metal bars. But that might make it too heavy to be supported by a hanging fixture! Then I considered the paper birds and decided this might be interesting if it were made with cardboard and thinner wires. Granted, it should be VERY sturdy cardboard, or even very thin birch wood panels. There would be that connection between paper and wood, and the source of that material.

4201: Ideas for the First Project

These are 4 concepts, particularly for the New Meda/robotics class.

Idea 1: “Conversation Booth” 


I’ve heard people often say, when in closed urban spaces, talk about wanting to become more “in touch” with nature. So this piece was inspired by the idea of being able to interact with the “outside” while remaining “inside,” hence the structure of a window.

This installation relies on a person’s presence. When it detects that there are people nearby, it will attempt to interact with the person by playing a projection. The projection/elements will only move when it detects that there are nearby people; in the absence of a person, it will pause its motion until someone comes by again.

Idea 2: “Crane Games” 


A visual pun on a classic arcade game. I used to call those claw games “cranes” (and nowadays, “UFO catchers”). In this game, you catch paper cranes that might have fortunes inside of them (revealed by unfolding).

Ideally, this can be installed as a hanging object or placed on a fancy-looking pedestal.

Idea 3: “Stepping Stones” 


Inspired by gardens, I based this one on the stone trails that can sometimes be found in them. It features multiple “stone” cushions or plates that can/should be stepped on. When stepped on, it will light up (possibly in particular colors depending on the stone), and also light up a few surrounding stones. Likewise, when a participant steps on an already lit stone, it will deactivate the lighting, along with a few surrounding stones as well.

It is designed to exist in spaces of various sizes, as it only requires enough space for it to be stepped on. Ideally, it would look nice in a small corner of a room or in a hallway setting.

Idea 4: “FEED; and I’ll tell you all I know” 


I am interested in finding different ways of telling stories. This piece in particular will only tell a story when it is “rewarded”; it is made up of 4 or more small containers resembling candy caddies, with each having a receiving tube (with a mouth shape on it) and a small door. Dropping a small object such as a candy into its dispenser will allow access to viewing a small scene inside the container, via a small door/hatch. The viewer must do this for each segment in order to witness the entire story.

It can be placed on a flat table surface, with a supply of “treats” nearby.