Lucid Projects

Blog - Day to day mumblings...


08 Dec 2020 - Jake Sherwood

Bloomtogether Kinetic Sculpture Bloomtogether Kinetic Sculpture

Bloomtogether Kinetic Sculpture

Project goal:
Build a networked kinetic sculpture to bring people together in the context of beauty and wonder.

Questions I wanted to answer:
1) Can I create a mesh network without requiring wifi?
2) Will it entice people to work together?
3) Can I build custom PCBs for both the satellites and the flower hub at home during a pandemic?
4) Will it work?
5) Can it move “heavy” glass petals?

This project uses a series of devices to create an experience of teamwork and beauty.

Using ESP32 microcontrollers and the ESP-NOW protocol, 4 satellite devices and one central hub (the flower) create a mesh network without requiring WIFI.

Each satellite has a EPS32 mc and a ultrasonic sensor. When the sensor is triggered it sends a signal to the central hub / main device. All four satellites must be triggered in order to make the flower bloom.

Ideally this would be set in a installation / gallery setting allowing for more distance between sensors and requiring participants to work together.

However, pandemic times are pandemic times, so it was set in my kitchen for documentation.

Challenges, Process, & Learnings
The were numerous challenges with this project. Working remotely without full shop access, collaborating remotely with another artist, and lead time for custom PCBs and components all presented chalenges.

Luckily my buddy Noah really came through and hooked me up with his 3d printer.

Petal Mechanism Iteration - I iterated a few times through the flower blossom mechanism. Figuring out the weight and movement of the heavier glass petals was crucial.

Single CB Petal Prototype, Multi CB Petal Prototype, Single Glass Prototype

I worked with my mom to engineer and design these beautiful glass petals. Check out her work! Mary Sherwood Art Glass

Flower collab with Mary Sherwoood Art Glass Flower collab with Mary Sherwood Art Glass

Circuit / Microcontrollers
I also built my first custom PCB in Eagle. This was a fun process and just laying out the board and the designs it makes was pleasing aesthetically.

Satellite Custom PCB Ordered Satellite File with errors 🤦‍ Oh yeah this should have a sensor right??!
when I firet ordered the satellite pcbs I had mistakes. Left is wrong, right is correct.

Flower PCB - Eagle Board and Schematic

Eagle pcb layout and schematic

Fabrication - 3D modeling & Printing
As mentioned above, Noah really helped me bring this project to fruition. Without his 3d printer it wouldn’t have happened.

There is a linear articulator in the flowerpot that raises and lowers a central shaft to open and close the flower. I needed to iterate through a few versions to get it right. Thingiverse motor mount model was modifed in VectorWorks.

modifying linear actuator for 3d printing.

Takeaways & Next Steps
1) If continuing w/ SMT build / purchase reflow oven.
2) Glass Petals are heavy and things being non-uniform can cause engineering issues.
3) Build again with bigger pot to allow for bigger motor and more linear travel.
4) Refine petal process to produce more uniform petals.

Github code here.

Photo Gallery

categories: prototypingelectronicdevices

join me on this crazy ride. enter your email:

contact [at] jakesherwood [dot] com

contact me if you'd like to work together