The assignment for this week is to propose a final poject masterpiece that integrates the range of units covered.

My final project

As mentioned in week 1 and on the page of my final project my idea for my final project is an artificial interactive tree. As an adult living in a city apartment it’s quite difficult to get a daily doses of experiencing the woods or lying under trees. While its actually one of the nicest ways to dream away while looking at the sky between the branches and the sun or stars shimmering through the foliage. Therefore I want to re-create this experience with my final project.

What will it do?

The tree will mainly work as a atmospheric relaxing light. I want to recreate different settings and feelings.


I want to use touch and swipe to control the tree. In week 11 on input devices I therefore did some experiments with the step response.

I want to make a small touchpad or maybe just buttons. What I need is:

  1. on/off
  2. change of setting
  3. change of brightness/intensity

First basic sketch and ideas for interaction


  1. Must have: Lights representing day/night, seasonal change. This is a must have as it is the basic functionality of my final project.
  2. Want to have: Movement of leaves. This would really add to the total experience of lying under a tree.
  3. Nice to have: Sound. It would be nice to include sound. However due to to time, my own skills, and scope of this project this would really be a nice to have.

My own RGB Led matrix on a leaf shaped board

Who’s done what beforehand?

As mentioned in week 1 and on my project page there are really inspiring projects related to interactive trees.

I made a selection of the most interesting ones from previous Fab Academy students:

previous projects Fab Academy projects and weekly assignments related to trees

  • The Smile Treeby 2017 student Cesar Mariscal from Fab Lab kamp Lintfort
  • “L-system-based Fractral Tree” by Hiro Tanaka.
  • Press fit [‘How to Build a Tree Kit’]by Chikara Inamura(
  • [Privacy Seed] by 2018 student Ilias Bartolini from Barcelona (
Other interesting projects are

The tree of Ténéréby Studio DRIFT

Tree of Ténéré by Studio DRIFT

“Ever Blooming Mechanical Tulip” by Jiří Praus

The Ever blooming mechanical tulip by Jiří Praus

What will you design?

I want to design and make all parts myself. I already did some experiments in the weekly assignments. You can find an overview on my final project page. What I need to design is:

  1. Main branch (or trunk) of the tree, I want to experiment with this part in the wild card week where we will work with composites
  2. Leaves, I already designed some different ones during weeks. I want a combination of leaf-shapes. Preferable casted, I created a version for the molding and casting week, otherwise it will be a 2d design with the use of the laser cutter.
  3. Electronic design input: the input will be a step-response or something similar, like I did inweek 11 on input devices. I want a tab and swipe kind of interaction input.
  4. Electronics design output: RGB-LED matrix, I made my first version in week 12: output devices.

construction tree Main construction tree

What materials and components will be used?

My tree will consist of:


  1. The main branch (or trunk) of the tree: I will use composite to create the branch of the tree. I want to make this part hollow so I can fit the electronics inside.
  2. The leaves: I’m not sure yet which material I will use for the leaf it self. First idea is to cast parts of flexible material or to use fabrics.
  3. The lights: I want to use RGB-LEDs, Henk suggested to use Neopixels.
  4. Light effect: In addition to the RGB-LED I want to create a light effect within each leaf. I want to use glass fiber or PMMA side glow twinkling fiber inside each leaf.
  5. Movement: My main idea for now is to use Flexinol to create subtle movement of the leaves.

construction tree Each leaf will have PMMA fiber connection with RGB-LED

How much will they cost?

I still have to research the details of each components. I don’t have the final list of compontents yet. So it’s hard to describe at this moment.

  • Neopixels
  • Composites for branch
  • Silicons for leaf
  • pmma fibers
  • flexinol
  • electronics

What parts and systems will be made?

My goals is to to make all parts and systems myself.

What processes will be used?

  1. Composites for the tree/branch
  2. Molding and casting for the leaves
  3. 3D-print or molding and casting for the twigs.
  4. The electronics will be design with kiCad and milled with the Modela.

What questions need to be answered?

  1. How can I create a light effect for each leaf?
  2. How can I easily multiply the amount of leaves within the system?
  3. How can I create movement within each leaf?
  4. How can I nicely place the electronics within the tree?

How will it be evaluated?

There will be a tree like shape, artificial tree or brnch, that works with turning on the lights (neopixels) in different modes. This will be the basic requirements. Extra credits will be the movement of the leaves.

Change in planning and material

After the tests I did in the Wild Card week, I changed my basic design and it’s material. The basic concept of the artificial interactive tree is the same, however the way I will make it is different. More details on this proces can be found in my documentation on my final project development.

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