Top 5 Constraints – Rick Festival Totem

My project is to create a totem to bring to a festival. More information about my project, and totems in general, can be found in my inspiration post. Festivals, that allow festival-goers to bring totems, outline a number of technical constraints, and additionally, because of the function and aesthetic I am attempting to achieve, I have outlined several constraints in these areas for the totem as well.

Technical Design Constraints

Some of the relevant totem guidelines that the festival outlines are listed below:

  • Maximum height can be 10 feet
  • Totems must be made from a lightweight material (e.g., foam, PVC / no solid metal)
  • PVC, light wood or aluminum poles must be no thicker than 1 inch in diameter.

Aesthetic Design Constraints

  • The totem is attempting to fit within the psychedelic theme, and within the style and aesthetic created by the show Rick and Morty. (IMDB & Images reference)
  • The totem overall needs to be decorated with vibrant colors, in order to fit within the defined aesthetics.
  • From a materials standpoint, I would like to design the Rick plush figure to be squishy, and without any potentially dangerous protruding elements. Along similar lines, I am planning to contain as many electronic components as possible within Rick, and to waterproof any elements that are exposed to the exterior.

Functional Design Constraints

  • The project requires powering a total of 182 LEDs, including a microcontroller and microphone driver (to allow the LEDs to be sound-responsive), and needs to be operated for approximately 12 hours at a time. This constraint mainly relates relates to power management for the light output (intensity) for the LEDs and technical complexity that can be used to animate the LEDs.
  • The totem has a “dancing” functionality that is manually operated by manipulating poles attached to the figure’s hands, feet, and head. Accordingly, the plush figure needs to be built so that the arms, legs, and head can move freely without interference. Additionally, the wiring and components need to be set up to accommodate the same.
  • The size of the overall totem (including the weight of all electronic components) needs to be around 5 lbs or less, and the weight needs to be appropriately balanced so that the totem is not overly top-heavy.
  • All of the electronic components need to be able to be controlled by an Arduino microcontroller.
  • I am aiming for the project to cost at or under $150.


I am always open to new suggestions and ideas! Please leave a comment if you have any! 🙂



  1. Rick and Morty IMDB page:
  2. Rick and Morty Google Images page:
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2 Comments. Leave new

  • This is a great post that really looks into the constraints for your project. It’s clear that you have thought through many of the details involved and have a thorough plan to complete it. Since only certain items are allowed into EDC it really sets some definite constraints for you to follow.

  • Avery Anderson
    March 12, 2017 11:07 pm

    I love this idea because it takes one of the best shows on TV and one of the craziest music festivals on Earth, and combines them. I am curious how you plan on waterproofing. Having the exterior be a cloth material will be challenging to keep the moisture out. It seems to me that you have a well thought out plan in terms of construction and planning. Keep up the good work, can’t wait to see it!


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