Silly Machines – Basic electronics and hardware prototyping

Design, build and program a machine that has a sensor-to-actuator loop and does something silly!*


What’s happening in the workshop?

Participants will learn basic concepts of programming actuators and sensors, prototype simple mechanisms and machines using those elements. At the end of the workshop we are hoping that each participant will walk away with a first iteration of their silly machine that does something.

Who is the target audience of the workshop?

The workshop is oriented towards physical computing beginners with small or zero experience with prototyping using the Arduino platform and or ESP8266.

What will attendees of the workshop learn?

In this workshop, we will give you a basic tool set of hardware and software to receive sensor feedback and control basic actuators. Together we will learn how to program sensors and actuators and put them together into a machine with a feedback loop, creating a system that works based on designed behaviors and interactions rather that direct human control (ex: don’t build a remote control robot, build one that drives around by itself avoiding obstacles).

The workshop is focusing on the first ‘quick and dirty’ stages of prototyping process techniques using cheap basic materials and fabrication methods. Further stages of development will be discussed but not covered during the workshop.

Topics introduced in this workshop

  • Basic electronics: How to build a circuit, which components to use and how to choose them, power supply and regulation.
  • Programming: basic programming with Arduino, logic, programming concepts, how to make sense of sensor data and use it.
  • Mechanics: How to design movable parts, tricks for creating robust prototypes, iterative prototyping, open source software for design.


  • Windows laptop with latest vvvv version and addonpack installed
  • A 3 button mouse
  • Latest Arduino IDE installed
  • We will bring some Wemos, you can buy from us if you want to keep them after the workshop. We will also provide a selection of some sensors, motors and other fun things.
  • But bring your own gadgets along, too, if you’ve got some of the following:
  • Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, sensors, motors (ideally with drivers), servos, etc.
  • You can buy Wemos here, if you want.
  • We encourage you to think about what you would like to build in the workshop.

*degree of silliness is totally up to you.

Event Type
  • Workshop


  • Tuesday
    2:30 pm - 5:30 pm




This workshop can be accessed with:

• week pass + workshops
• day pass Tuesday

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