Lia Muriel Belarmino Martinez ( )
CITA 495 Capstone Spring | Dr. William Bares | CITA 495 Final Written Report | 2 May 2017

Gundam Diorama + Arduino and LEDs


When I changed my major from Civil Engineering to Computing in the Arts, I seriously had no idea what I was going to do, what to expect, and what will become of me even after talking to Dr. Manaris what CITA can bring out of me. I had no coding experience prior changing my major but I had a vast knowledge on how to tune up a car and motorcycles. I pondered for 3 years how to prepare myself in my Capstone class, but nothing seems to come. I thought about making a game to be honest, but the game I wanted to do was something too far fetched to do by myself alone. With the researched we’ve conducted in CITA 395, more ideas came up to me.

The idea of LEDs incorporating with Arduino came up to me when I was going through my photo album on Facebook and I saw this one sponsored video ad on my news feed where it shows Coachella. I saw how the lights interacted during the concert throughout the night and I was somehow hooked to the idea of how lights affect people’s mood. Thus beginning my search in JSTOR and ACM about LED lights and Arduino.

The idea of incorporating Gundams in a Diorama came up to me when I was really lost and I was stuck in a calm water level where nothing was progressing. I consulted so many people and I’ve asked them what should I do. All of them told me I should do something what I really love and passionate about. Something I shouldn’t regret making but something i should be excited while talking about. The idea didn’t come up to me till later on when I was building one of my Gundams during fall semester of 2016. I was listening to the news about the campaign trail and they were talking about how to resolve the struggles around the world and especially here in the United States. When one of the candidates mentioned the word, “war”, I was looking at my Unicorn Gundam and realized how this anime series have a lot in common with what’s going on with our lives right now. War is a very big thing to us right now. A very broad topic that we should always use pre-cautionary steps because a lot of people have different views about the war especially if we never experienced one before.

The idea of coming up with a story for my diorama was the hardest one. I remember Caroline Requierme asking me all the time if I have an idea already for my diorama and I kept telling her ‘not yet’. Once again, the idea came up to me when I was watching the last few episodes of the new Gundam series called “Iron-Blooded Orphans” this Spring season, midway through the semester. War, sacrifice, safety of the others, and independence, those were some key words in the series. The series revolves around independence of Mars from Earth’s control, using children in illegal work conditions and putting them in the front lines of the war, betrayal, and finding hope when you’re lost and about to give up. I cried at the season finale. I knew what was going to happen to them but at the same time I was hoping. At this point, I was back to the question ‘how am I going to put these two together?’ and that’s when the idea FINALLY came up to me: my grandparents.

My project revolves around a lot of factors in my life. I created this project because it has a deep meaning to me. It might look very simple, but with this kind of simplistic work, I poured all of my emotions and ideas in this piece of work. My grandparents are the people whom I look up to the most. They lived a long and hard life in the Philippines. Both of my grandparents fought in the Second World War but it was mostly my grandfather who did the fighting. Both of my grandparents were only on their teens (around 16-17 years old) when the Japanese occupied the Philippines in 1941. My grandfather, who was in his teens, fought with a band of guerilla in the province of Laguna and throughout the years he became the Vice-Commander in his district. My grandmother went into hiding along with her family but helped and tend the wounds of the injured in their area. Both struggled and survived the war. My grandparents are my very key figure while I was growing up.

I was born in the Philippines but grew up in Europe (Rome, Italy and Limassol, Cyprus). I spent most of my growing years out of the country where I was born because my dad worked abroad as an Accountant and as a family, we moved wherever he was. It was a great opportunity for us to be exposed to different cultures and open our minds to different possibilities what life can give us. I also grew up spoiled because I’m the youngest one in the family and all of the attention was on me since i have 3 older siblings. But after our papers got processed to come here in the United States, we stayed in the Philippines for a vacation but 9/11 happened. Our papers got held and been reprocessed for background check to see if we were terrorist because Philippines has one of the highest Muslim community in Southeast Asia.

While staying in the Philippines, I continued my education there starting in 1st grade. I remembered not being able to speak my native language fluently for 3 years but I could understand it and my classmates bullied me for being ‘different’. Different because I didn’t grew up in the Philippines, rather in a different country and I was speaking in Greek and English all the time Greek to my siblings and English to everyone else. My classmates saw me as an outsider and that I should return to where I came from. I was young back then, I can’t comprehend what some of the words they were saying until the bullying became physical. I was pushed down the stairs, classmates would ‘cut’ my hair, steal my belongings, wipe their shoes on my uniform, and made fun of me. I told the teachers and the principal about it and they just turned blind eye on me. I told my parents about it and they immediately took me out of that school and enrolled me to where my older siblings attended at but the bullying didn’t stop there.

A year later, my parents got so busy where my dad found work in Qatar so he had to go provide for the family and my mom tend to my older siblings. I was left to my 3 personal maids and my grandparents. I didn’t like the idea at first because I didn’t want my classmates to see that I was being taken care by my grandparents or my maids. There was this one time where all of my classmates told me that my parents doesn’t love me that’s why they ‘threw’ me away. My grandparents on the other hand, they taught me how to read, write, and speak my native language and how to be better at it. Both of them are very good at speaking fluent English so our communication to each other was very easy. Especially conveying feelings to each other.

But there was this one time where I was so ashamed and embarrassed to go to school and I remember this worst memory of mine where it was raining and my grandparents took me to school. We only had one umbrella so we had to share under it. When I was near my school gates, I told them that I was going by myself. They insisted on going with me but I yelled at them to not come with me. I grabbed the umbrella from my grandfather and made a dash to the front gates leaving them umbrella-less and being soaked in the rain. When I got home that day, I got scolded by my dad (who was visiting us for a month) and my mom because they saw my grandparents soaked from the rain. I yelled at my parents telling them how I feel, the bullying, how I hated my grandparents and I told them, “if you loved me then you shouldn’t have threw me away to my grandparents!” I received more scolding that day but I was young. I didn’t know why my parents did that to me.

But the next day was my end of the year commencement of my 2nd grade where they award students who made good remarks and made the honor roll. My parents promised me that they would come and put the medal on me when I walked the stage, but they never came. I waited. I was hoping. I was about to cry because my name was about to be called. When they called my name, I was slowly walking to the stage and I could hear my classmates laughing, taunting me, and calling and yelling ‘no parents’ at me. When I got to that stage, both of my grandparents were there, smiling big as if they won an award or a lottery ticket. I cried hard that day when they put the medal on me. They told me that they were proud of me and that they loved me. Since then, in my eyes, my grandparents became my parents when I was growing up.

My grandparents who was there for me through thick and thin, when I was sick, happy, crying, being bullied, and finding my true self, they were there for me. They taught me to be brave and have confidence. They supported what I believed in. They expanded my knowledge that there are more on what we learn in school. They also told me that I should be able to pull myself together and pick myself up again when times are hard. When there are negative people in my life, I should trust in myself that I can overcome them and fight them. They were my rock, my foundation in my life for five years when I stayed in the Philippines. When they told me their stories during the Second World War, I appreciated them more and saw them my inspiration, my hero, my everything. I might not have experienced a war like my grandparents did, but finding myself and fighting off the bullies while growing up in the Philippines was my war and I found love and peace in my grandparents arms. I was only 8 years old back then and I remember thinking that my grandparents will live up to a thousand years old because they were just too amazing and invincible. Everybody loved them: my neighbours and family members.

But recently of this year, My grandfather died past january and four months later, my grandmother died also. It has been 12 year since I last saw them and it has been 6 months since I last talked to them on Skype telling them that I loved and missed them dearly. There were times in this Spring semester where I would drive to school early and just cry in the parking lot before coming to class because the pain was unbearable. But in my mind, I had to pull myself together and finish this semester strong. I would always remember their advice to me that I should keep moving forward no matter what happens and I should never look back. And that’s what I did. I believe that there will be a time where I would break down and cry for them, maybe after I walked that stage on May 13th. I’ll cry and honour my hard work to them that I made it through the struggles of being a college graduate.

Thus with my love to tinkering, breaking, and building stuffs, I decided that my project would be installing LEDs in my Gundams with an Arduino + ultrasonic sensors and putting it in a diorama. A diorama conveying a story of my deceased grandparents while honoring them who fought during the Second World War and taking care of me. And this is how I synthesized art and technology together.



Throughout the course of a year while I was taking CITA 395 and CITA 495, I’ve conducted a lot of research in the ACM Digital Library and JSTOR for inspiration on how to make my idea “unique”. With intense searching, I stumbled upon my first 3 articles to give me ideas about interactive lights:

  1. Circles and Sounds by Sarah Linebaugh
  2. Lichtform: A Shape Changing Light Installation by Philipp Schardt, Michael Schmitz, Hannes Kafer, and Eric Hofmann
  3. mood:cloud: Data as Art by Younghui Kim, Geri Gay, Lindsay Reynolds, and Hyuns Hong.

Circles and Sound is an interactive installation, it brings the artist’s vision to life. The artist, Sarah Linebaugh, wanted a new Interactive installations with New Aesthetic and Relational Aesthetics to create art that depends on cutting-edge technology while emphasizing human interaction and connectedness. It enables technology to allow the users to engage with the artwork instantaneously.

Circles and Sounds is a mixture of an interactive art in the field of motion graphics, real-time, sound, and art. It requires participation from the artists themselves or the viewer. Using Microsoft Kinect as it’s base unit, they incorporated sound, movement and art in this art piece. If you move in front of the kinect, like your arms by raising them, circles will follow you. If you move closer or farther from the screen, you’re manipulating the volume of the sound. At the same time, the farther away you are from the screen, the circles are bigger compared to when you’re near, they’re smaller.

Lichtform is a shape changing light installation that can be controlled through a smartphone application. The object is attached to the ceiling and it consists of LED lights that has a stepper motors to make it move (lowering or raising). The artists said that light has always been an essential element of interior design and creating mood and atmosphere, hence they created this piece. In the mobile app, they put a screenshot where they can control the motor control, LED control, and saved shapes.

Mood cloud is about Photographic Affect Meter technology, or PAM, which was developed at Cornell to measure psychological affect and mood. Mood loud also uses mobile app to have a collection of pictures varying what they’re feeling right now and it will trigger the LED lights.

mood:cloud is about asking the user how do they feel today. If they chose a happy picture from the iPad, the light sculpture will turn orange or yellow which indicate they’re happy. This light installation reflects the mood of people in a public space. The colors of the sculpture change depending on the individual’s mood but the mood of others in the space, hence it’s an exploration artistic representation of data art.

With those first 3 articles, I felt it wasn’t enough. I’ve conducted more research in the ACM Digital Library and finally typing down ‘arduino and LEDs’. The first thing that popped up was Miya Masaoka’s LED Kimono.

Miya Masaoka is a musician, composer, and developer of unique koto-based instruments. She’s also been digitally processing and sampling the koto to expand its sonic and gestural components.

This project revolves around both technology, culture of the kimono, and koto at the same time. Miya Masaoka incorporated the art of kimono and how the movement and sound triggers the LED in the kimono she built in.

The kimono has a built in 444 LEDs that’s controlled with Arduino that respond to sound, movement, and as a monitor to interpret a live video to the audience. The LEDs are embedded in the right sleeve of the kimono and that is mapped with different pattern depending in the harmonic and parameter spectrum of the sound and the movement of the model.

I thought to myself that this article was very useful for my possible project as I’ve always been intrigued how light, especially LEDs, can be incorporate in art and music. I’ve seen a lot of projects with LEDs plus Arduino and most of them has this “wow” effect on me and as well as other people because bright lights tend to trigger something within us and make us mesmerize with them.

Along with the LED Kimono, Dr. Bares gave me a very amazing feedback about emergent behaviour. When I searched what’s emergent behaviour and how it connects with new media, Constellaction popped on my top feed. Constellaction is an intricate emergent behaviour that uses autonomous building blocks. It is also about small pieces of tetrahedron with small LED light and tiny buzzer to make sounds inside of it. In order for the light and the sound to turn on (or blinks depends on the fixed delay), the tetrahedron must detect sudden change of light intensity (shadow, cellphone light, flashlight, camera flash, etc) and a small buzzing sound would be heard. If there are other tetrahedrons nearby, they can blink also and pass it on to their other tetrahedron neighbor giving it an effect of a “light wave”.

In the Gundam Community, the most famous one that people knows best is TR13. When I started my Gundam journey again back in 2014, he was the first one that I saw on my Instagram feed. His build was pretty amazing and clean. He straight builds them and custom paints them. Besides painting them, he adds more plates and armour to them to make them more bulky and “unique”.

Next is my technical background. With my previous knowledge in Python, Java, HTML/CSS, and JavaScript, I knew I had to do something else. Something different to take on a challenge. I was deadset on using Arduino for my project and using LED lights to interact with the users which mean I have to learn the language ‘C’ and learn about Arduino’s functionality. With that, I had to learn more about the electrical engineering side of it. I have to learn about currents, voltages, and resistors. I have no knowledge of them prior starting this project. I had to consult online videos, tutorials, Google, and my electrical engineering friends from USC and Clemson.

I wanted my project to be different and unique from the other completed work from other people. How my project will differ from the rest is how I’m going to be building Gundam models by buying off the internet, weathering them, and installing the LED lights in their rightful components. With the LEDs installed, I will hook them up to the breadboard and power it up with the Arduino.

This is something new to the Gundam community where people are still using the traditional battery powered LEDs where you can just switch it on and off for the LEDs to light up. A lot of great Gundam builders built dioramas also before and I’m always amazed on how they built them. I wanted something different, something memorable to me. I want to be in control of my project and my lights. Hence interacting Gundam LEDs with a diorama stuck to me.


User Experience

The interactions the user will have with my project is that they have to walk around the diorama and immerse themselves in it. Since I’m using Gundams as my key figures, I’m hoping it would trigger something in their mind that reminds them of their childhood. Either be it a specific place or an item that they cherished the most back then. Another interaction that the user will have is to have an object placed in front of the ultrasonic sensors and moving them front and back (0 – 50cm) to have a different pattern of light shows. If the distance is near the sensor, it will have a slow paced pattern. Halfway through the sensors, it would have a medium paced pattern. Lastly, near the constrained distance of 50cm, it will have a fast paced pattern of flashing lights in the diorama.

The users can monitor their distance and how fast the ultrasonic sensor pick up the object in front it by looking at the Arduino monitor screen and it will indicate the users their distance and the microseconds.

He’s a snippet how the LED light would turn on: (instagram) (instagram 2)

I put my instagram on public for now, but I would turn my instagram profile back to private again and you won’t have access to see it. If you want to see the mini video, you can send me an email and I would turn back my instagram to public again.





Proposed Approached

It’s safe to say that my project evolved tremendously. I started my idea by wanting to use Bluetooth and Android app to control my Gundam’s LEDs. After that I had this other idea where I’m going to use a router and server to control my Gundam’s LEDs using Arduino and HTML/CSS to have simple buttons over the web. Next was using a router and Processing3 as the interface to have buttons to press. My very last resort was just using the simple interaction with professor Jarod’s idea using the Ultrasonic sensors. He proposed this idea because he was doing it also for his next sculpting project.

With my project, there were some aspects that were really hard for me to approach where I have to consult Google for help. There are times where I would consult some of the CSCI and CITA students for help and feedback. I told myself that I would do the coding and wiring together to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. That method actually worked and that’s when I had to decide whether if I should use parallel circuit or series circuit. Then I have to understand what’s an Ultrasonic sensor and how it works and detect an object in front of it. Next was writing my coding and last was the diorama creation.

But what is the difference between parallel and series circuit?

  1. Parallel circuit, the voltage across each of the components is the same, and the total current is the sum of the currents through each component.
  2. Series circuit, the current through each of the components is the same, and the voltage across the circuit is the sum of the voltages across each component.

With my project, i used parallel circuit to power up my LEDs so the total components are the same and the total current is the same in each LEDs.

The next thing was trying to figure out how different LEDs have different voltages. Red, yellow, green, orange LED’s run on 2 volts, white and blue on 3 volts. You will need a source voltage higher than this; you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO use a limiting resistor for each LED or string of LED’s, to limit current to (depends on LED, but usually for small ones like these) 15 milliamps for 2 volt ones, 12 milliamps for 3 volt ones. Or you will be buying new LED’s very frequently.

So, if you have a 9 volt battery to light red leds, you would do the following calculations:

9 volts – 2 volts = 7 volts.

15 milliamps is .015 amps.


7 volts divided by .015 amps = 467.


You need a resistor at least 467 ohms to make this work and avoid burning out the led. You can use a 510 ohm or something similar. For the other colors or for other size batteries or power supplies, just plug the numbers into the calculations above.

The higher the resistor, the less light the LED puts out. The higher the resistor, the longer the LED will last.

the higher the power, the higher the resistor, the lower the power, the lower the resistors. But depending on the LED light color you’re using, it will need different ohms of resistors. For example blue LED light will need about 220 ohms resistor.

The next one I had trouble wrapping my head around was the concept of the ultrasonic sensors. But what is an ultrasonic sensor? Ultrasonic sensor is a device that can measure the distance to an object by using soundwaves. The device record the elapsed time between the sound wave being generated and the sound wave bouncing back. With my code, I have the calculation for that ping. Since the speed of sound is 340/ms or 29 microseconds per centimeter, the ping travels out and back to find an object. So to find the distance of the object, we talk half of the distance travelled hence you return the duration / 29 / 2 or distance = (duration/2) * 29.1. The 29.1 value was determined using the speed of sound through air. In some other forums that I found they have something like this since they used true physics in here from the physics books: distance = duration * 0.034 / 2. But for the sake of the project, my friends from Clemson who are Mechanical and Electrical engineers helped me with this calculation when we were all in Google Hangout.

Now that I have a basic understanding about LEDs and the Ultrasonic, I have to move on to my code. This is how my code flow using pseudo code:

Intialize pins (trig and echo pins) and LEDs

Void setup() {

Serial.begin(port number)
pinMode(led, OUTPUT); }

Void loop() {

Initialize duration and distance
digitalWrite trigPin to HIGH //HIGH means ON
Delay microseconds to 1000
digitalWrite trigPin to LOW //LOW means OFF

Do the duration calculation here
Do the distance calculation here
//then you can either do some printing here to see the distance of your object.

//you can also print your duration here to see how long it took the sound waves bounced back and forth.
Set delay to 10 }

If distance <= 50cm {
Turn on your specific LEDs
Set the delay timing
Turn off your specific LEDs
} else turn off all LEDs

If distance <= 25 {

Repeat process by turning on specific LEDs and set their delay timing and turning them off } else turn off all LEDs

You can have as many if and else statements as you wish buf for my code I only have 3 if and else for 50cm, 25cm, 10cm distances. At the end, I ended it with:

Else {

digitalWrite turn off all initialized LEDs

Set delay timing }


Here’s an example of the finished code and output mini video on my instagram.

For my computing mentor feedback, Dr. Bares pointed me out to a very nice direction where he told me if something seems to be repeating itself it’s better to lump them together something like this:

LED1 = pin port, turn it on, set delay timer, turn it off

That was a really great idea that i never thought about it but for the sake of my project, I wanted to have each LED component individuality where I can set their own delay timers on how fast I want them to turn on and off.

Lastly was the creation of the diorama and building the Gundams. I have no knowledge or experience with building a diorama before. I’ve only built straight Gundams out of the box and maybe sometimes paint them with spray cans. My art mentor was professor Jarod Charzewski. He’s one of the sculpting professors at the main campus on the first floor near the elevator and theater area. Professor Jarod pointed me out a very good idea as he told me to “…figure out how to make the lights create a mood or dramatic effect.”


He also mentioned that to think about the interaction doesn’t have to have the user’s input like pushing buttons to turn it on, it can be a light show where everything is in sync. The reason for that is the interaction with the project is for the users to look at the project up close and walking around it while putting themselves in the Gundam’s position/perspective.

Building the Gundams took a lot of time especially building the Zaku II Master Grade. It took me a lot of time because it has an inner frame so it can have more dynamic poses, hence it will be heavier than the other lower tier grades. Instead of just straight building the Gundams, I decided to weather them to have an effect of rust, dirt, and smoke effect. I had to de-assemble each piece again and paint them individually. Some parts of the body I just painted them as a whole. Building the Miss Sazabi was really fun and easy because it doesn’t have an inner frame like the Zaku, and it’s much more hollow where i can just stuff the wires in easily. At the same time, with the diameter of the wires, all of the wires that I placed wouldn’t fit in one specific place, hence some of the wires were outside and revealed. Painting the gundams definitely took the most time. I built the diorama in 2 days and the rest of the 3 week period was dedicated to painting the Gundams.

Initial build of my Gundams with red panel line on Zaku and straight build of the Miss Sazabi.

Next page shows the after with weathering.





Task 1: Coding 3 weeks
Task 2: Testing out Wiring, LEDs, & Hardware 3 weeks (can be combined and simultaneously work with task 1)
Task 3: Look up diorama ideas 1 – 2 days
Task 4: Building & designing the diorama 3 weeks
Task 5: Building the Gundams (3x) 3 weeks
Task 6: Debugging 3 days
Task 7: Test, Final Paper, and Final Touches 3 days

Total Weeks:

9 weeks and 10 days.














User Guide


In order to start with this project, the very key detail is the circuits. Do some intense research about circuits, voltages, resistors, and currents. The key to this Gundam LED magic is the circuit. If your circuit is broken, it won’t work. You have to choose from parallel circuit or series circuit.

Next thing the user needs to know is to download the Arduino IDE, buy the Ultrasonic Sensor, and online tutorial for it. The Arduino IDE includes a vast library available and the online community is pretty helpful. I usually just Google something and the answer will be there. It might not be on the first page, most of them are in a blog post instead of forums. To start with the Ultrasonic Sensor, this is the my first tutorial page I’ve stumbled upon: link.

The user needs to buy the Arduino kit since it would include a breadboard, Arduino Uno, USB, jumper wires, resistors, and some LEDs

Last, user needs to know is do a little bit of research which Gundam and size they want to build. There are 5 types of grades Gundam has: No Grade (1/100), High Grade (1/144), Real Grade (1/144), Master Grade (1/100), and Perfect Grade (1/60). No Grade and High Grade are similar, they both lack the details of the Gundam. Real Grade is a small size of the Master Grade but has a lot of details. Master Grade is what you expect from the Gundam series but it lack a little bit of details. And Perfect Grade is the most expensive Grade out there. It has a built in LED components and the size of it is huge and it’s not for beginners. But if you’re a beginner and no Gundam experience, you can go for No Grade and High Grade. For my project the Grades that I’ve chosen are Zaku Shin Matsunaga Custom Master Grade and Miss Sazabi High Grade.


There wasn’t a lot of LED tutorial for gundam on Youtube that I found very helpful for my project hence everything was a trial and error for me. Most of the tutorial for the LEDs was using a soldering to do a series circuit. There is a 8×8 cube LED tutorial for Arduino which is helpful also but it got too confusing for me since there was a lot of technical stuff going on behind it (like installation).













What worked well?

To be honest, my favorite part of this project was completing the coding and wiring up the LEDs inside the Gundams because they worked well in my favour. There was a lot of struggles trying to get the LEDs in place but in the end I waited until the end to build the diorama so it was very relaxing and the stress of the time constraints were gone while working on it. There was a lot of things I need to switch back forth from my initial idea (Bluetooth) to the latest (Ultrasonic). The coding aspect worked well for me as it was very informative and fun to build. I like the idea of how I can set the timing of my LEDs and which one to turn on and off in specific distances.

What did not worked well?


A lot of things did not worked well in this project to be honest. It was super hectic. My room got so dirty where I had to open up my windows while working. There was a time where I had to work at the garage late at night with the garage automatic door open and I would scared cuz it’s dark and snakes might come in, haha. I guess the diorama and Gundam building was the most hectic one because paints would splatter across the floor, on my table, and almost on my new MSI laptop. I also didn’t have a drilling pen so I had to resort using pliers and screwdrivers to make holes. I burned my hand a lot of times from the heating gun to glue something. I also cut my fingers a lot of times while cleaning up some nubs on the gundam to make it flat, flawless, and shiny.

The wiring of the LEDs was a disaster also. I wanted to try to do the soldering but budget wasn’t on my favor so I had to deal with what I have in my room and in my garage. I said this because I had to find the right place to place the LEDs and glue them in place. Sometimes when I glue the LEDs in place, the wires would touch making the circuit broken, thus not light up. I had to open up my Gundam piece that I glued already and try to fix it. I had to do that A LOT of times to the point where I cried and took a break and just played Overwatch. Once I cooled my head, I went back to it and struggled once more.

What would you do differently?

I guess the first thing I could have done differently was the wirings of the LEDs. I should have just asked my dad for money and sucked it up. Hiding the wires by soldering would have made my project more sleek looking and beautiful. But at the same time I get embarrassed asking my dad for money since I’m 23 and jobless, haha.

The other thing I could have done differently in this project is to make the diorama smaller. My diorama was so big that i felt like there was just some spaces that I didn’t used. But at the same time the smaller the diorama, less details. The bigger the diorama, more details.

There was a lot of people in the CS After 5 pointed out that I should have made the Gundam move with a motor or add some sound when the lights turn on. Some said that it would have been cool to have an app to control the LEDs also.

Most helpful or impact lessons learned from peers, mentors, artist/developer forums, etc.

I’ve received a lot of advice and pointers on my project from my friends, family, boyfriend, and followers on Instagram and Facebook. I post most of my updates on my Instagram and my followers would see my progress since most of them are from another country and they were interest on how to make one also using Arduino. A lot of them pointed out how I should hide the wires as much as possible because they were kind of distracting. Before I hid all of my wirings, they were just hanging outside of the Gundams. One guy on my Instagram who follows me messaged me and showed me how he did his. He showed me using screwdrivers by heating it up so the plastic would bend and make holes easily. This is very helpful because I’ve been using my nippers to make holes and scissors which result to cutting my hand more than usual.

I also liked the how professor Jarod told me to make a diorama that has a meaning to me. I was going to go for a space theme fighting with a black backdrop at the background as if they’re really in space but at the same time I asked myself why space? The word memorable rang in my head every single time I looked at my Gundams and when I finally found the correlation of my project and the Gundams (which is war), I know in my heart I have to use my grandparents as my main protagonists in my diorama’s story.

The feedback that I received in the CS After 5 was really helpful and this LED Gundam project was a start of it. I’m trying to get their feedback and most of them were amazing that I never thought before. But the next step for my project is try to make it move since this is a very good learning lesson and step to move forward.


Describe at least one significant instance where a lesson learned resulted in a notable improvement or change in your project.


There was a lot of “a-ha!” moments in my project to be honest. One was the weathering 101 from my boyfriend. I could have checked tutorials on YouTube but at the same time I’m the type of person who wants to learn things by myself first by trial and error (because that’s how I learn).

My boyfriend taught me how to weather my Gundams since he’s really into weathering Gundams and those intricate designs. He told me to go lightly and don’t go overboard. But knowing myself, I always go overboard. Here’s a comparison of his build (left) and mine (right).



The weathering really striking where a lot of people during the CS After 5 asked me how I did it. One person even asked me if I rolled my Gundams in the mud and dirt to have it like that, haha. But I used enamel paints so if it is splashed with water, the paint will stay intact. This one significant moment really improved my project even more and focused the attention to the Gundams than my diorama and that’s what I was aiming for since most of the activity was on the Gundam itself.




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