Rotating Fortune Cat

Fortune Cat

A fortune cat is a popular figurine among Asians. The eternally waving hand of the cat has magical properties that allow it to pull in good luck and prosperity into a business. With the hope of amplifying its luck-pulling abilities, I decided to start a project: a rotating fortune cat. That way the cat can pull in good luck from all directions, not just the front.

I started with the motor. I bought some panel-mounted stepper motors. They were very easy to mount but are pretty tricky to get up and running. I also added a potentiometer in there to control the speed and direction of the rotation. Here is the code I used to get the motor running.

Diagram of the circuit
It took a while to get the motor running

After I got the electronics working, I dove into the assembly and fabrication process. I used a 4in by 6in bamboo box for the enclosure. The first thing I try to do was figure out the mounting for the potentiometer. At first, I wanted to use a sliding potentiometer just because it looks nice. I created a few prototypes until I landed a design that fit well.

Some of my materials at the start
Various prototypes for sliding potentiometer mount

It took some drilling and Dremel work to create the hole that will fit the potentiometer. After some time though, I was able to create the appropriately sized hole for the sliding potentiometer.

After that, I mounted the Arduino and motor driver into the box using standoffs.

However, sometimes luck is just not on your side even though you have a lucky cat with you. During the soldering process, I accidentally broke my sliding potentiometer, and I didn’t have time to buy another one. Plan B it is. I ended up having to use a rotating potentiometer instead. I had to create another mount and I had to adjust the hole to fit a taller potentiometer.

rotating potentiometer in place of the sliding potentiometer

The final big thing to do is to create the lid and mounting for the cat. I made the lid out of acrylic using the laser. I did a few prototypes using cardboard first to make sure that the mounting holes are exactly right. I had also made the mounting for the cat using acrylic on the laser cutter.

Motor mounted on the inside of the lid

Lastly, I assembled everything together and added some black rubber feet at the bottom to make it look nice, and it turned out to be amazing!

Final product
Final product

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