The Box : A Project In Design

Origin Story

As part of opening up computer science to non-CS majors, I began to hold “Intro to CS” meetings on Fridays for people who wanted to dip their toes into computer science. The first meeting was an introduction to how computers work (with an emphasis on Linux operating systems). After giving a lesson on how modern operating systems work and user levels, we go into how computers can see and recognize objects. This led into the idea of a single, simple object that would only recognize a single thing. This became “The Box”, and all it would do is light up if it saw a cat.


We decided to use AWS Rekognition as it can recognize separate objects and we wouldn’t have to run training and recognition on a Raspberry Pi. The idea of recognizing a cat was changed to recognizing a human because none of us owns a cat. The scripting was done in Python 2 with libraries available from PyPI. The Physical components include a 3D printed box, a Raspberry Pi and a PS3 Eye. (The full list is available on GitHub.)


I printed the box out of black 3DDPlus PLA on a FlashForge Creator Pro. The electrical components were wired together using scrap jumper wire that I had laying around and electrical tape was used to hold things in place. I used super glue to mount the power switch to act as a part of the back door assembly. The PS3 Eye must be taken apart somewhat to fit it into it’s spot and by using a RGB LED, the Pi cannot sit in it’s spot.


Some members of the club found this project to be a waste of time as it’s mainly a python script and some hardware. Most people loved the simplicity of it and enjoyed playing around with it. 

After Thoughts

If I went to make this from scratch again, I would probably do a better job of making the box seamless as well as putting the wireless charging coil on the bottom instead of the back. I would also look into optimizing the software by porting everything to C++ instead of Python.

Categories: Projects


As an engineer, I make stuff. it's my love and time-sink. There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is just a dream away. (She / Her)


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