We can finally talk about our latest project – a NERF installation at MailChimp headquarters in Atlanta! We designed a custom cart to hold dual Vulcan guns so they can lay down some hurtin’ over the interwebs. We’ll post more once we get off the plane and back to our HQ. For now, check out MailChimp’s blog and the video below.

The Bigger Design presents you with the intial release of the Sentinel project. We strapped a NERF BFG on a homebrew swivel stand, hooked up some wires with an Arduino board, slapped a webcam on top, and brought it all together with an Adobe AIR application to make it sing. Now you can too.


The Sentinel project is a mashup of ideas and is based on several freely available AS3 libraries. You can do whatever you like with it as long as you don’t sell it. If you do create a unit, please let us know.


The Orbitron font and AS3 libraries are included. You’ll need an Arduino board and a webcam to get it started. From there you’ll also need a NERF Vulcan, a few servos, etc. A tutorial is in the works to get it all going, but you can start looking around now and seeing how things work.


  • Tutorials on how to create your own base/stand, configure Arduino, making it all sing, etc.
  • OpenCV integration for face tracking
  • Moving in the X and Y axis without buying a $800 base. The jury is still out on how this is going to be done affordably.


I’d like to thank Jack Doyle, Justin Windle, Grant Skinner, Björn Hartmann, and Matt Przybylski for making their awesome AS3 libraries publicly available for the Flash community.


If you have any questions, please contact us at: info@thebiggerdesign.com

Download The Sentinel Source Code from Google Code

The NERF Sentinel Project is going open-source, so you’ll be able to build your own system to automatically protect your domain. We’re cleaning up the code and preparing a series of technical tutorials on how to get your gun up and running. Look for more information in the coming weeks.

If you’re at AdobeMAX and want to see more of the Sentinel, message @thebiggerdesign and we can arrange a demo in the pavillion.

So it’s been about a year since this blog was updated, so we’re bouncing back into the blogoverse with an epic post to make up for the hiatus. The Bigger Design presents you with our Sentinel project. We strapped a NERF BFG on a homebrew swivel stand, hooked up some wires with an Arduino board, slapped a webcam on top, and brought it all together with an Adobe AIR application to make it sing.

This was part of a larger presentation given at this past spring’s Columbia Adobe User GroupRefresh Columbia double-feature meetup. Here’s another short video demonstration of the Sentinel from the meeting, courtesy of Greg Lunn.

Now we’re brushing off the cobwebs and bringing the Sentinel project back into the spotlight. Over the next few weeks, we’ll break the project down, describe its biggest challenges and how we solved them. If there’s enough interest, we’ll get your trigger finger itching with details on how you can roll your own.

Check out our Sentinel photos on Flickr.

No, not like that, though I’ve seen people give Flash the finger far too many times. In our case we want the cursor to change to the finger cursor. This is the same cursor you would get when hovering over a link. By default this is turned off for MovieClips. To enable it, we add this line of Actionscript for the movieclip:

myMovieClip.buttonMode = true;

Simply take your MovieClip’s instance name and set the attribute buttonMode to true. Now when you publish your movie, rolling over the MovieClip changes your cursor.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Let’s say there’s a MovieClip in your library that needs to be used several times to contain text, such as a list of buttons. You set up the MovieClip as a class to re-use, you pull in the XML content to each class using a for loop, and then add it to the stage with buttonMode set to true. Now here comes the pain in the neck. When you hover the mouse over the MovieClip you get the cursor change, but when you move the mouse over the part of the MovieClip with the text, bye-bye cursor change.

This result is due the default behavior of text with the cursor. To disable this behavior, set the textfield inside the MovieClip to this:

myMovieClip.myTextfield.mouseEnabled = false;

Presto! Now your MovieClip behaves like a button, the cursor is not affected by the text, and you don’t have to give Flash the finger.