Information Display

First Impressions

Upon a first impression, it should strike the viewer as an object that is futuristic and robotic, but there should also be a feeling of being old and outdated at the same time. If such a thing exists, the design should convey a world where heavy machinery has become automated and robotic. When someone thinks of heavy machinery, they think huge, loud machines covered in soot, and for the most part, they were designed for functionality as opposed to form. What happens when we try to add a futuristic aesthetic to something dirty and industrial? 

What will it do?

At first, I wanted to address the dynamic part of the project by having the design perform a mechanical movement by implementing a translational or rotational mechanism. I think given how many projects I am already working on this semester, it may not be a good idea to dive into the kinematics required to make such things work. For that reason, I decided to implement user interaction instead to give that dynamic effect. But this isn’t the only dynamic aspect of what the project should do, the dynamics are really from the information being generated and displayed on an LCD screen. For now, I want the LCD screen to display information such as time and room temperature. The human interaction part comes in when the user wants to change the time on the LCD. This will be accomplished by capacitive touch buttons to give a futuristic feel. In the future, I think I would like to use those capacitive touch buttons to open a hidden storage compartment.


A lot has changed since my last post. After having a conversation last week with my classmates, I decided I wanted to go for the aesthetic from the game Borderlands. Although I’ve only played Borderlands 2, I can’t really explain to you what it’s actually about. But, it takes place in a very heavily industrialized world far into the future where large autonomous robots are everywhere.


The Borderlands look is very unique. It’s not cell-shaded, but it’s a mix of cell-shading and comic book graphics. The black borders give it a toony look, but there is a slightly more realistic feel with the posterized textures on the faces. This combination gives a visually pleasing aesthetic, which is further enhanced by the cool futuristic curves that are both sharp and organic.


The common design features in this Borderlands aesthetic is the use of sharp peaks. You’ll notice in all three of these images that the top of the gun will start off at a 45 degree plane and bend at 90 degrees to form the first peak and bend again to form the second peak.


Another aesthetic feature is the use of glowing lights as seen by blue/orange rectangular displays and sometimes the use of long strips of light that makes it way from the stock of the gun to the scope. The color schemes also work very well together, using contrasting colors such as green on blue or blue on orange. I’m sure there’s a term for these kinds of colors.

Possible Obstacles

  • The body has many angular features that need to come together seamlessly. It may or may not be a good idea to break up the body into several pieces that can be fastened together. I’m considering 3D printing if the cost is low.
  • Programming the LCD monitors might be tricky, but there should be available libraries to make this a breeze. I already do a lot of work with micro-controllers so I’m not too worried. The worst case scenario is if I can’t get the digital clock to work with the buttons, but I should be able to get the temperature sensor implemented easily.
  • I will need to research the best material to use but still be under $50. I don’t want a cheap feel to it either.
  • Painting will be difficult for sure, I will need to practice a lot before I do the final thing.



These are the main components for this project:

  • Arduino Nano – $7
  • Adafruit LCD x2 – $20
  • Capacitive Touch Shield – $12.50
  • LED pack – $4
  • Acrylic or 3D printing – TBD (<$50)
  • Acrylic glue – $6
  • Paint – $10
  • Total – $110 or less


March 4 – Order parts

March 11 – Program LCD display

March 13 – Finish programming and finalize 3D Model

March 14 – Begin cutting acrylic on laser cutter and assemble

March 21 – Assemble components

March 28 – Finish developing texture map in Photoshop

April 4 – Finish painting and complete project

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6 Comments. Leave new

  • I enjoy the Borderlands aesthetic. You might also include the Fallout aesthetic

  • Ethan Gehring
    March 7, 2016 11:30 am

    This is going to be a neat project. One great thing is that you can always reprogram the display to show more information later on. I think you are going in the right direction with your CAD models but in order to better mimic the borderlands aesthetic I think it could use some more contours and detail. The guns you show appear to be made up of lots of different parts. Another option would be to try to paint the finished product in that comic book style the game uses. Overall I’m excited to see how this turns out!

  • Daniel Moody
    March 4, 2016 6:21 pm

    The aesthetic reminds me of NERF but way cooler. I like the use of grainy shadows and shading. Do you plan to capture this somehow as well. Maybe brushed/vintaged parts?

  • Nice idea! I think there are a lot of code available online for programming LCD. I think using some bright color for the display might be a better choice since it can build some color contrast which will turns the content more eyes-attracting.

  • Chip Bollendonk
    March 4, 2016 12:10 pm

    Dennis, I really like the sharp corners and think they follow your aesthetic. I really like the colors in your example images though, and think that your design would be really cool with a couple of vivid accents.

  • Ashley Zimmerer
    March 3, 2016 12:56 pm

    Neat! I like the idea of having a secret compartment. Really cool aesthetic, too. The featured image reminds me a bit of Portal, but Borderlands has a really distinctive style too.


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