Enclosure Team


Upon finalization of the supercomputer idea, we asked one of the original Niero group members from the design proposal assignment to give us further insight with regard to structure and their vision of how we should design the enclosure for this project.


We relayed some ideas around the newly formed group about how it should function and specific design aspects that would contribute to the overall aesthetic. Soon enough, we landed on the idea to feature these screens on domes.


The domes were suggestive to various different environments that can affect everyone’s creatures on their respective OLED screens. We got to this idea by looking at architectural modelling of terrain and other topographic designs to gain a perspective on how it’ll possibly look.


In the ideation stage we wanted to incorporate the idea of the brain and its neurons – staying true to the proposed name, Niero. It was to take the idea of the brain cells and the connections and having the wires exposed to simulate the interconnectedness of the brain. After we assessed the discrepancies with the design in regard to exposing real wires, we alluded towards a biome design to showcase certain elemental effects that change the creatures animation to either happy or sad.



To best communicate our design aspirations, we sketched out a rough design of the structure and how it will look like in a real world context. In the sketches there are concepts of the design with intermittent conversation with the wiring team about how it would work out and exact sizing of the structure itself.


In this sketch we are trying to explain how the single dome design would work with the idea of splitting the dome into selections. This is also the rough sketch of the wiring on top of the dome.


In this sketch we are looking at the wireframe of what needs to be connected and how things are going to be connected underneath the structure and on top. This sketch was just a way of looking at the system and not an actually design concept, it more of a way to look at the functions of the hardware and the way the wiring team could possibly put things together.


For the final design we landed on making a ‘shoe-box’ structure – a box with a hinged lid to house the wires, boards, and Nano’s inside. This will also give us the best and most amount of space for the project.


The top of the lid has 4 domes – three for the respective environments and one for the controller. Each one is decorated in appropriate environmental setting to resemble the natural element that affects the creature. We also created a fourth dome to house the controller for users to control the different elements.


We wanted to create an ambient environment that the creatures can blend into rather than creating a world that doesn’t have any illusion or connection to the original idea. We also kept with the idea of the brain by placing the controller in-between all of the domes along with the wiring so that function can work out better for the wiring team and also be aesthetically pleasing.


After having the final draft of the design fully thought out, we began to brainstorm about potential materials. We first went with the idea of using stiff foam boards and layer them or make a box out of it to make the placement of wires and Nano’s easier. After going through the pros and cons of various materials, we settled on wood as it gave an organic feeling. For the dome we wanted to have a semi-circle dome type of shape. So we vacuum formed plastic by using a basketball as the mould. The plastic was thin enough and had the ability of mold into the shape we wanted when under the influence of heat.


Once these two essential factors were complete, we focused on decoration and foliage of the domes so that they’ll accurately depict the environments we chose. For the aquatic dome, we chose seaweed like plants and lily-pad flowers. For the desert dome, we chose cacti and dried plants. Finally, for the forest biome we chose tree-like plastic pieces.



Upon completion of the design and ideation of the construction, we brought together each individual component to get a bigger picture and anticipate the final product.


The first thing that was to be made was the box so that it’ll be able to fit everything into it. The box was made from wood with 3 separate door hinges to allow for easy access. Due to sheer skill in craftsmanship, every facet of the box was well cut and accentuated its clean design. Additionally, there was an added lip to the lid of the box to allow for ease of opening.


The next thing to create was the domes themselves. This was not only the hardest part but took some tries getting it to the right size and look. The first couple were made from vacuum-formed basketball, draped with plastic. The first one was very oversized and looked really odd.


The second and third ones were smaller and had a unique design that followed our ideation stage of how the dome should look like. Then the fourth and fifth domes were molded and those ones turned out a lot better. They had a form we were all pleased with.


After the box and domes were complete we required a method of feeding wires and the OLED screens themselves on the domes. First, we tried by cutting into the cold plastic material, but it did not work out so well. Due to the abundance of soldering equipment, we resulted in using a soldering iron to burn exact-sized holes into the domes. This step was interesting because when plan A didn’t work, we were quick to adapt and move forward with plan B! By burning holes into the plastic, it allowed for a customized look and feel to the dome, without any stray pieces of plastic as they were sanded down.


The next step was to make holes into the lid so that the all the necessary wiring can be run through the lid to the inside of the box for storage. We outlined the the domes once they were trimmed of the extra material, and made adequate holes into the lid by using a drill bit. This drill bit was quite large because it allowed for a lot of room for the wires to be fed to the insides of the box. The holes were made for the domes, controller and the power source.


Later on, we added the decorated domes with the OLED screens and then wired them to the Nano’s for the data transfer, ground, and power. One very satisfying touch to the domes was the Japanese textured paper, as it gave a natural and 3D effect. Topped off with foliage, it made for a very aesthetically pleasing piece.


Lastly, we combined everything together and physically added the wiring to the inside structure. With the design, the structure worked out with the minor adjustments that were made last minute. The problems we ran into right at the end was just getting the power into the box and ease of access to the wiring when troubleshooting. These were easily taken care of with collaborative efforts right away with fast and quick adjustments.  



The final product was exactly what we imagined and it turned out really well. We had successfully held true to our concept all the way until the end of the project. The detailing that we wanted and the overall look and aesthetic came through in the physical model. Another thing that came through very well was the awareness for the wiring teams system and aspirations. This allowed us to build the structure in a way that benefited the way things were placed in the box. And when everything was working, the screens and Nano’s it really made the unique environments stick out with a strange weird otherworldly feeling.


Some of the suggestions we received from other instructors for the redesign or second version of this project structure wise to create a sliding screen instead of a lid. This would be for easier access to the wiring and would make the project easier to work with in terms of wiring, organizing, and troubleshooting. The sliding design would also be much more efficient because the way it’ll slide is easier than lifting and threading wires. Another suggestion was to experiment and look at molding different sphere shapes that could relate or have different meaning to the piece. For example, this would be like a topographic view of the box. It would be a terrain like environment that would be separated towards how each selection of the environment can affect the creatures.


As we were discussing the overall appearance of the structure and about improving the discrepancies, a lot of the talk was geared towards custom hardware and creating special pieces that can organize the wiring and components a lot better. Suggestions were to make the screens seamless to the dome or environment. Another was to create a longer structure that has different levels and areas along the structure. And there was also talk about creating custom screens and breadboards that would be more efficient and result in better effects for the aesthetics and design. Having custom material allows for unique shapes and organization to occur.


To conclude, the construction process was lots of work from its ideation, creation, building phase and finally presentation of the final product. This process was tough and consisted of a lot of collaboration between group members and separate groups to make decisions and design choices. The problems that arose were thinking further about the logistics of other groups requirements and our method of how we want to get things done. A lot of time-coordination had to be done so that everything that was required to be built was finished and viable, further more pressured due to the lack of access we had to the open workshops and other crafting facilities. Ultimately, each group member was able to utilize their unique skill-set to contribute to the final product, and even learned something new by focusing on a different aspect of a product for a change.

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