Title: Luopan

INSTRUCTORS: Jeff Feddersen


This mid-term project is a Halloween related project.

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Since Halloween is essentially a Western holiday, originally celebrated by the Celts to commemorate the dead, however my partner Shawn and I are both Chinese that traditionally never celebrate this day. We have never dressed up in costumes, or trick-or-treated or decorated pumpkins. So we tried to understand Halloween from different angles based on our Chinese background and cultures.

Luckily enough, we Eastern people are just as superstitious as Westerns.

In my opinion, Halloween is fundamentally a celebration of death and horrorgiphy(but somehow people decide to carve pumpkins and go trick-or-treating as Halloween traditions…).

According to American Horror Story, “the dead can walk freely” on Halloween night. Actually, in China, we have similar Days of Dead and they are very popular as well. They are a part of the religion of the common people. A great percentage of Chinese really believe that on those days there is more of a bridge between the dead and the living, and so we must take precautions or honor the dead. Such as 中元节 the YuLan day (the Hungry Ghost Festival), or 清明节 the QingMing Festival (the memorial day).

The Hungry Ghost Festival(中元节):  is on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. It is one of several important days to deal with ghosts and worship ancestor in China. I think this day is the most similar one to the Western Halloween.



The QingMing Festival(清明节): is in the spring on the 4th of April, it is another traditional day for worshiping the dead. People go to cemetery to clean the tombs, cut the grasses, present foods and drinks for their ancestors.




So back to our project, we decided to make a Luopan, which is a Chinese magnetic compass, also known as a FengShui compass.

Feng Shui formulas embedded in up to 40 concentric rings on the surface. This is a metal or wooden plate known as the heaven dial. The circular metal or wooden plate typically sits on a wooden base known as the earth plate. The heaven dial rotates freely on the earth plate. A red wire or thread that crosses the earth plate and heaven dial at 90-degree angles is the Heaven Center Cross Line, or Red Cross Grid Line. This line is used to find the direction and note position on the rings.


It is also a traditional ghost detector and was used in so many Chinese horror movies. There is a theory of why Luopan can detect ghosts is spirits or ghosts have magnetic fields which would affect the needle of luopan. So in horror movies, we can see this classic scene that a ghost hunter walked into a haunted house, the needle of his Luopan suddenly spins like crazy, and then an evil spirit will show itself soon.




So how we are gonna build this Pcom Luopan?

We plan to use servo to control the needle and a sonar sensor to detect if there is any invisible obstacle stands in front of you. If it is, a buzzer and a 8×8 LED screen will inform you, so you gotta run.

For the outside of this Luopan, we will imitate the most traditional Chinese style by using wood and metal. And thanks to laser cutter, we will be able to recreate all the meaningful Chinese characters on the surface of Luopan.












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