Lab 9: Cuckoo Clock

4 min readNov 3, 2021


Nicole Chi, Ailiya Duan, Philipp Hohlfeld, Zoe Ingram, Joanne Ma, Eleanor Mayes, Wilson Torres. Prof. Kimiko Ryokai. Info C262, Fall 2021


In this mini group project, we explored how to use tools of various kinds (e.g. gears) to translate rotational motion into other types of motions (e.g. linear). Our task was to package our exploration outcomes into something similar to a “cuckoo clock.”


Using rotational motion (powered by a servo motor connected to an Arduino board), we created a mechanical construction of a french-door style garage, where the doors swing open and close. As the door opens, the Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives 1967 Red Camaro of the show hosted by Mayor of Flavortown, Guy Fieri, pops out of the garage. We also attached a capacitative sensor to the servo motor, where touching it activates the garage door!


  • sketch paper
  • Arduino
  • Jumper cables
  • FSR
  • capacitive sensor
  • string
  • popsicle sticks
  • chopsticks
  • nuts and bolt
  • foam board
  • xacto knife
  • hot glue + gun gun
  • super glue
  • laser cutter
  • wood board, 1/4 inch
  • sharpies, rules, pens, and pencils
  • masking tape, duct tape, and scotch tape
  • brown felt
  • zip ties
  • 3D printer
  • “birds” e.g. paper mache mice

Early Designs

After initial sketches, we divided up the work into determining the mechanism for opening and closing the door, story concept, housing, crank, flooring, “bird” attachment, and door design. Ailiya mentioned that she had a paper mache mouse, which we used to prototype potential attachments with. While we initially struggled to come up with concepts, we still sketched out different door mechanisms for Apple’s garage story, coming out of the closet, and Ailiya’s mouse coming out of a pumpkin.

Getting Closer

By Monday, we had a working prototype of the door mechanism where we laser cut the gears and pinions, and quickly narrowed down to possible stories:

sketches of potential door and bird concepts.

We quickly settled onto the concept of having Guy Fieri’s 1967 Red Camaro coming out of the garage, and got to work on finding a 3D model of the car to print out.

3d printed, courtesy of this Thingiverse file

We also brainstormed clever ways to incorporate Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives with different sensing capacities, which we’ll describe in more detail.

laser cutting gears & pinions
laser cutting gears and pinions
Sanding, so much sanding

Door Mechanism

Our mechanism for the clock involved a rack and pinion system, with the clock’s “bird” on the top rack. However, this meant that the bottom rack needed to operate the doors in an inverse manner, that is when the rack is pulled the doors open, and when you push the rack the doors close. This was challenging because it is usually the opposite to how doors are operated, where you push to open the door, and pull to close. Through a lot of trial and error we create a “W” pulley system that inverts the motion of the rack.

W Mechanism: Initial Prototype
Putting the doors together, also our DDD sign
Grinding nuts :}

Another issue that needed to be overcome was keeping the string in the right channels so that when they are not taut they don’t move out of place. For this we used the screw nuts as guiding mechanism, “trapping” the string in between the two nuts.

Almost There

During our Wednesday evening work session, there was a brief moment of panic when we realized that we didn’t have the 3D printed Camaro on hand to work with. We considered potentially creating an iguana with a tongue popping out, but also quickly drew a Camaro on foam board just in case the iguana would be more difficult to pull off in a short amount of time than expected.

Luckily, the foam board Camaro pulled through, and we were back to the races.

1967 Red Camaro with flame garage french doors




Grad student @ UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Interests include social computing, usable security, Being Online™️ and reflective tech.