Our task was to make something surprising, preferably in a delightful way using an Arduino that took in one input and produced at least one output as a result.
With such an open ended prompt, we decided early on to make a useless machine, my favorite example being this fox. This decision was due to, in part, the delightful nature of useless machines that manage to give personalities to otherwise simple creatures, as well as our limited physical computing experience since this was our first project for the course. After brainstroming some character ideas, we settled on the Loch Ness Monster on account of her infamy and simple form.
The input being received from the arduino was the position of a slider that the 3D printed boat was mounted onto. Depending how close the boat got to Nessie, she would react differently to the "threat." We gave her the ability to move using two servos attached to the base of the box, one controlling her head and the other controlling her body. In reality, both parts of Nessie had red LED eyes and a head but only one head would be visible above the water at any given time. This resulted in giving her the appearance of moving through the water like a snake before stopping before the boat.
Our original intention was the Nessie would be able to move the boat back similar to other useless machines out there but due to the limitations on the servo and their motion being circular instead of linear, we decided to focus on just having her reacting. Similarly, we originally had the idea of a piece of white acrylic underneath the waves parting so Nessie is obscured from viewers until she "attacks" but due to space constraints inside the box/fear of making the project too complicated with only two weeks to complete it, we chose to scrap that as well.