When I started the design process for this, I knew I wanted it to be dark, mysterious, and futuristic looking. The aesthetic was my constraint priority number one. This determined the material, the shape, the color, and the dynamics of the lights.
I wanted this to be a desktop sized item. It would be able to fit on the corner of a desk or on a shelf without taking up too much space. Size was also determined by my choice of material and manufacturing method. This is going to be 3-D printed so it was required to fit onto the 3-D printer.
It didn’t take me all to long to decide to use Arduino to power my device. I could control the lights, the servo, everything from one Arduino Uno. Doing a little research I was able to find an addressable light strip, a servo, and a button to switch the device on and off. The available switches also had a little impact on my aesthetic.
Because of the size, the components I needed to install, and the function I needed a material that was easy to mold and make small features while still appearing to be seamless from the outside. This led me to 3-D printing. I could sand the final product smooth and it would appear to be a solid object without any seams or signs of manufacturing.
I wanted this project to fit into my budget (~$100). Thankfully Sparkfun makes the technology cheap and 3-D printing filament is fairly affordable. I should only go over my budget by ~$20 or so which is fine by me. I can use the Sparkfun starter kit for many projects after this one, so I am definitely getting my money worth.