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This is my personal birthday gift to Project14 and Arduino. I have developed this idea starting with few simple points: use cheap and technology poor objects, regenerating them following a theme (look at the title), empower the objects features with electronics, no matter if the gift is practically useless, , try making something unexpected and amazing as any birthday gift should be, use an Arduino.

As I can't wait to virtually give the gift I built, you'll find the video before the explanation on how this has been done. Enjoy.


You'll be Assimilated


Assimilating the Train

The components selection has not followed a precise logic; at least not a human logic. The first idea born seeing a spring-loaded micro train I bought from the near Chinese bazaar for 2 Euros. I thought it was great to try to improve this small game with some electronic. Then during the next two weeks, I went to the Chinese bazaar very frequently, almost every day

Handling this simple toy, things seemed possible so I started developing a motor control for the Train. The steps of the assimilation of the train by a different technology are shown in the gallery below.



Spring elimination from the train mechanism

Reassembling the hacked mechanism

Now it can rotate freely

Geared DC micro-motor hot glued inside the train cabin

The micro-motor shaft exposed

Added the front-light

Cut the train chassis to host the rail contacts

The new train engine


To make the sliding contacts of the train I have used two pieces of desoldering wick. Micro-motor rotates at a max of 50 RPM; in the first version I made the transmission to the wheels engine with a 1:1 3D printed gears but the speed was too high for the engine so I designed a second group of gears with the 3:1 ratio. The below image shows the rendering of the first version (left) and the adopted version (right)

Rails have been black painted then electrified with adhesive copper tape.

Assimilating the Rose

A rose is a rose is a rose...

I should admit that this was the easiest component to hack. As a matter of fact, Earth plants are in the lower positions of the evolution rating and their assimilation only required a couple of hours. The cost of the rose (at the Chinese bazaar) was 1 Euro.

The flower rotation required the use of another micro-motor. No problem, these are super cheap and I have plenty at home! The original, flexible and thick support of the rose has been replaced by a BBQ wooden stick: 100 pieces, 0.50 Euro; I guess you know where I bought them. The making of the rotating mechanism required another small 3D design of a couple of components shown below.

The images below are self-explaining on how I have assembled it.

Then the rose has been hot-glued inside a cylindric glass to keep it firmly in place.


Adding light effect


The light effect has been created with a NeopixelNeopixel ring placed to the base of the glass. This required another small 3D printed set of components


Assimilating the Duck

As you can see, this is the more expensive part I have found on the shelf of the Chinese bazaar. But a gift is a gift and this species was fundamental for the creation of my Borg project. The gallery below shows how the duck has been motorized with a full-rotating servo, then metal painted.





Proportions loose in this changing world...

What's inside a duck?



Preparing the right wheel

Fixing the servo in place

Duck-painting, an essay of Borg art

Sounds nice, yes?


And also the duck needed a couple of 3D printed pieces, the four legs (four?) supports

Creating a new world: Assimilating the Grass

To avoid any kind of biological contamination, my preferred Chinese bazaar provided a fantastic sheet of plastic grass for only 3.50 Euro.

After the grass has been glued to a 5 mm MDF base I assembled (hot glued) all the parts on it.

Another light effect has been added to a nice green mask. The lights shown in the above image have been created chaining two 8-LEDs Neopixel arrays with the Neopixel ring installed to the bottom of the glass.

The last step was wiring and cabling the parts on the bottom of the scenario.

The last step: The Control Box

The control box has been built partially with cardboard, with the top and bottom parts 3d printed.

To make things more realistic, a custom potentiometer gauge has been used instead of the traditional ones. The two motors are controlled by an LM298 motor controller wired to an Arduino Mega 2560Arduino Mega 2560. The gallery below shows the control box assembly process.




Testing the components with a breadboarded circuit

The 3D printed top box plate

The control box cardboard body

The control box top plate, bottom view

The top side assembled

The control box complete, internal view

Another view of the control box

The box finished


Open Arduino: Software is Open Source

The software is available on GitHub at the following address:


Just in case...

If you are lost in space, at the end of this reading, I hope the map below will be useful to reorient in the right quadrant.