Pursuits of Design and Robotics

The documentation of concept development and general processes

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Enchanted Object: “SoapBox: Lonely Dog Up For Adoption” by Priya Granadas and Yeliz Karadayi

SoapBox: Lonely dog up for adoption from Priya Ganadas on Vimeo.

SoapBox is a puppy who likes pretending he goes on adventures though really he just likes to sit on his couch. SoapBox is lonely and looking for love, however, if you hit him he will like you less and less. He is forgiving though, of course, and if you hold your hand out to him gently and wait to pet him, you might win him over and he’ll reach back out for your love. He gets confused when you disappear out of view, and he gets bummed when he’s alone. Voice reactions indicate his mood, and he moves when he’s reaching out for you to pet him. SoapBox wants to learn to love!

Alone Soap sits, waiting for someone to love

Alone Soap sits, waiting for someone to love

Could it be? Will somebody take me?

Could it be? Will somebody take me?

Alas, no. I continue to sit here sobbing on my SoapBox.

Alas, no. I continue to sit here sobbing on my SoapBox.



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SoapBox Code

Well, this code kicked my face. But I think I got it. 

Let’s start with the obvious information: I have a distance sensor, and I have a servo. When the distance provides some desired information, Soap will return a desired output. I start with smoothing, because I’m starting to think everything should always be smoothed, at least a little, for better results. After I smooth, I track. I track by putting the smoothed distance values in an array for 10 frames [so trackingArray.length = 10] which is no time at all, but better than tracking for seconds, meaning high tolerances, and thus lower reflexes. So the dog tracks your movement for 10 frames which is probably around a second. Then the dog runs some tests on this information. If you mass addition the differences between the distances from one frame to the next, the result will yield whether or not you are approaching the dog or distancing from it. This result also tells you, on average for the past 10 frames, how fast the movement was as well. 

Additionally there are factors such as slow movement while being close to the dog versus fast movement far away from the dog, and so on. My favorite aspect of this puppy, though, is that he knows if you are hitting him, and he gets upset with you. For every frame that the dog interprets your movements as a hit, he will become jaded and less friendly to your approach. If you patiently hover your hand slowly to him, however, he will grow to like you again.

I was pretty proud of this code for a first project. Priya and I faced a lot of struggles in dealing with the COM Port communicating while the servo was plugged in, which I learned today [also known as too late] was the fault of the cable I was using to load the code to the Arduino. Additionally, we also struggled heavily with the sound output which Priya took charge of and failed after I failed first. We still don’t know why that didn’t work. It worked on all of the example files, but not on ours. However I know the rest of the code works due to the most lovely Serial.println function.

So, all you need is a Servo and a distance sensor and this disastrous code will tell you what’s up.

#include <Servo.h>
//orange to ground
//red to 24
//green outputs 24
Servo arms;
Servo head;

int distThresh = 600;
int soundThresh = 600;

int distSensor = 0;
int microphone = 1;

int armsPin = 9;
int headPin = 10;

int const smootheFC = 3;
int thisSmooth = 0;
int smoother[smootheFC];
int average;
int total;

int const trackFC = 10;
int thisFrame = 0;
int trackMovement[trackFC];

int frameCounter= 0;
int timeToMove = 1000;
int averageGen = 0;

int const stateCount = 5;
int stateIndex = 0;
int states= 0;
int saveStates[stateCount];

void setup()
pinMode(7, OUTPUT);
pinMode(distSensor, INPUT);


for(int i = 0; i < smootheFC; i++){
smoother[i] = 0;

void loop() {

frameCounter ++;
int distance = analogRead(distSensor);
averageGen = 0;

if (frameCounter == timeToMove){
// Serial.println(thisSmooth);

total = total – smoother[thisSmooth];
smoother[thisSmooth] = distance;
total = total + smoother[thisSmooth];
thisSmooth ++;

if (thisSmooth >= smootheFC)
// Serial.println(“thisSmooth = 0”);
thisSmooth = 0;

for(int i = 0; i < trackFC-1; i++){

Serial.print(“, “);


average = total / smootheFC;

for(int i = trackFC -1; i > 0; i–)
trackMovement[i] = trackMovement[i-1];
trackMovement[0] = average;

for(int i = 0; i < trackFC-1; i++) averageGen += (trackMovement[i+1] – trackMovement[i]);

int score = 0;
boolean sameState = false;

for(int i = 0; i < stateCount-1; i++)
if (saveStates[i] == saveStates[i-1]) score++;
if (score > 2) {
sameState = true;
Serial.println(“^” );

Serial.println(averageGen );
if ((averageGen <= -400) && (trackMovement[trackFC-1] != 0))
states = 4;
timeToMove = 2000;
Serial.println(“DON’T HIT ME!!!” );
else if (average < 200 && averageGen < 50 && averageGen > -50 )

states = 0;
timeToMove = 1000;
Serial.println(“Guess I’m alone!” );

else if (average > distThresh && averageGen < 50 && averageGen > -50)
states = 1;
timeToMove = 3000;
Serial.println(“PET ME!” );
else if ((averageGen <= 0) && (averageGen > -200))
states = 2;
timeToMove = 1000;
Serial.println(“you are getting closerclosercloser to me!” );
else if ((averageGen >= 0) && (averageGen < 200))
states = 3;
timeToMove = 2000;
Serial.println(“you are getting farther from me!”);
else if (averageGen >= 400)
states = 5;
timeToMove = 5000;
Serial.println(“WHERE DID YOU GO!?”);

saveStates[stateIndex] = states;
if (stateIndex == stateCount) stateIndex = 0;

frameCounter = 0;


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SoapBox Physical Process

This week was a total mess and I have only just now felt comfortable sitting down and reflecting. But before I reflect, I should talk about the process.

Priya and I began with a similar practice to the one Ali Momeni had us do in class where we jot down 10 ideas in 5 minutes. After doing this we took turns telling each other our ideas and building off each one, after which we cycled through and eliminated one each round until we found the one we were most excited about. Our favorite ideas were a drink that tells how long it will be desirable for, a robot that dodges your punches, and a simple DJ that determines your mood or color and plays music based on that.

The robot dodging punches seemed particularly cool. We knew we couldn’t make a robot really dodge punches though. We could, however, experiment with how far we could take a simple distance sensor and interpret the input to general a wide range of responses, as opposed to a simple activation once a target distance is reached. The fastest solution to a robot that would do this was most easily an old used toy of mine from my childhood that we could bring to life. We originally envisioned the bot being a dramatic bratty character who always looks like it’s about to cry, and would ask needy questions or act abused. Since using the toy dog, the character changed a bit to a more loving but still needy puppy. The biggest struggle with this pup was his skeleton.

Here’s some documentation of our struggle:

Materials considered for skeleton- No idea what I’m doing.

We thought this could be a decent skeleton. We didn’t think how this would hold a Servo.

This is what the arms would look like in wood.

As you can see, these pieces puzzle together so that while we glue it while inside of the puppy, the skeleton will hold itself together to a helpful extent.


This is what we came up with in a half hour after failing for 8 straight hours with the other skeleton alternatives. We thought we could just use sticks and metal. How wrong we were. This worked better than everything else.


We felt we were successful in making him look pitiful. Nobody seemed to notice in class though 😦


I liked the simplicity of his design. Why does he need anything more if it’s just for the sake of character? I think for me it was the fact that I’ve had him for a very long time that made him exciting just as he was.

For the final design we made him a couch made of foam and covered with old bed sheets. We put the sensors in goggles around his eyes, so I guess we did add to his character, and in a functional way which was nice. See the more recent post on this project for the final product!