Juniper - a Cultural Probe


Introduction: Juniper - a Cultural Probe

Juniper is a cultural probe designed for my master thesis project. In order to examine the relationship that humans have with plants and how technology would affect that, I created a design probe that would reflect this inquiry. The probe is inspired by an existing P-MFC technology (Plant-e), designed in such a way that it would provoke discussion regarding companionship, dependence, and care.

Step 1: What You Will Need


  • Plywood (760x760 mm)
  • Acrylic paint
  • 5x Screws (M3x20 mm) and 5x Bolts
  • USB cable type A-B
  • Wires
  • Solder
  • Hot glue
  • Conductive ink
  • PlastiKote - spray paint
  • Conductive textile
  • 1x Stripboard (prototyping board)


  • Addressable LED strip
  • 1x - Arduino/Genuino Uno


  • Soldering iron
  • Hot glue gun
  • Coping saw
  • Power screwdriver


  • Ultimaker S5 (3D printer)
  • Laser cutter

Step 2: Wood Work - Laser Cutting

During this step, we will create the bottom and the top half by laser cutting. The enclosure (top half) is 314 mm long and 70 mm high (you can change the measures in the Adobe document). The bottom half is a RegularBox model, with a radius of 75 mm.

Step 3: Engraving

In this step, I added some engravings to the box, to add a more personal touch to the probe. In the document, there are some examples of the vectors that I used along with the logo for the probe.

Step 4: Painting

I decided to paint the probe as well. I used spray paint before actually drawing on the wood.

Step 5: Painting the Circuit

One of the functionalities of the probe is that it senses when the plant has been "connected". Thus, creating an open circuit that closes once we "connect" Juniper, will make the LED strip change pattern. For this, I used conductive ink (for the black pattern) and paint (for the red circle, to show where to position the plant).

Step 6: Electronics and Soldering

Here I connected the LED strip and the open circuit (through copper tape).

Step 7: 3D Printing

I 3D printed support for the pot and screw-rings that would be used to hold together the top and the bottom half (and make the top half removable in case there is a problem with the electronics). I sewed a piece of conductive fabric to the support (to close the circuit, so that it senses when the plant is connected).

Step 8: Enjoy!

The probe is done!

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