Was going toy shopping, as one does, when I walked by this old childhood game. A feeling of nostalgia swept over me as I remembered catching the little fishes with the tiny rod that is more fit for hamsters than humans. Suddenly I imagined what if this were more adult sized, how funny would that be? Now here we are, making it happen. Or at least trying to :)

What it does

It's a wooden platform with holes containing fish inside that spins around inside a kid swimming pool via a motor. The fish have RFID cards inside with magnets. The rods use magnets to catch the fish. Each rod will have the ability to detect which fish was caught and how many points it was worth.

How we built it


  • 6 total that sit inside the holes of the wooden platform.

  • Each fish was made out of 2 mixing bowls. One slightly bigger than the other, so that the top half bowl can swivel over the bottom bowl when the fish opens and closes its mouth. The top bowl is connected to the bottom with a wooden dowel and twisty ties.

  • The top fin is made out of hard foam we found at AxMan. The hard foam fin was screwed in to the top half bowl and the googly eyes were glued on using E6000.

  • We gave each fish a unique look with a sharpie marker and googly eyes.

  • Inside the bottom bowl of the fish, we sanded the surface down and then used E6000 to attach two ceramic magnets, followed by an RFID card, and topped with another two ceramic magnets. The only piece inside the fish that is glued down is the first magnet since we wanted people to be able to easily remove the fish from the rod once caught.


  • The tip of the rod contains an RFID sensor with two magnets in the middle (taped together) and that is wired all the way up the line and down the rod that will connect to the teensy inside the box located near the base of the rod. This wire is secured with zip ties along the way.

  • The tip of the rod has the top half of a 3 inch diameter plastic Easter egg to hide the RFID sensor and was meant resemble the cartoonish design of the tiny rods from the original game. A positive side effect of this is that it makes the game a little more challenging because you have to angle the rod and have it timed just right in order to catch the fish.

  • The fishing line is made out of colorful paracord that has its ends singed off with fire.

  • Each rod is created using a wooden dowel attached to a foam sword handle.

  • Towards the base of the rod will be a container holding all the circuitry and components of the smart fishing rod. We will be putting all the components together inside this container, the day of the hackathon.

  • Each container will have the following: an RFID sensor board, an OLED screen, a 2 ohm speaker, an MPU (gyroscope/accelerometer), a teensy with prop shield, and a 5V battery pack.


  • A circular wooden platform that is approximately 4 ft in diameter, that fits inside the kid swimming pool.

  • There are 6 holes in the wooden platform for sitting the fish inside. The rim of the bottom bowl for each fish sits perfectly inside each hole.

  • There are four wheels mounted to the bottom and located towards the outside of the platform, one in each quadrant of the circle if you were to divide it into four equal parts.

  • The motor will drive a spinning wheel under the edge of the platform that will hopefully rotate the platform smoothly.

  • There is a hinge installed going down the middle of the wooden platform to allow for folding up of the circular wooden platform into two halves. It is divided in such a way that 3 wheels are under one half of the platform and a single wheel is under the other half of the platform. This is to allow for easier transportation.


  • A hole will be made on the side of the kid swimming pool to affix the spinning driver wheel on the inside and attach it to the motor on the outside.

  • We will test out the motor for the first time, find the right speed to play the game at, and make a control station for the motor all on the the day of the hackathon.


  • Four incline wood pieces attached to a wooden pegboard with nuts and bolts.

  • Fits under the center of the pool, had to be elevated by 2 foam sheets underneath. This helps give the fish the extra height so their mouths will fall open wider, making them easier to catch when they are on the tallest part of the incline.

  • We will need to affix the center of the inclining base to the center of the pool the day of the hackathon to keep the inclining base from sliding around and getting caught underneath the wheels.

Challenges we ran into

  • The most challenging aspect was thinking up the whole design of the fish and the platform, as well as thinking of what is the catch a fish condition. We ended up sticking to the engineering design of the original fish game (inclines underneath the platform lining up under some of the holes), just bigger in size.

  • The RFID sensor reads the RFID card even when it's 2 inches away, so we needed to think of another aspect we could test for in order to detect whether someone caught a fish. In the end, we decided the win condition should be a mixture of reading the RFID code while the rod position has changed significantly to show they are still holding onto the fish while it's up in the air.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

How good we've been working as a team so far - go us!

What we learned

How much we overestimated in the beginning how many fish were going to fit inside this platform.

What's next for Magnetic Fish Spectacular!

Assembling the wiring and circuitry of the smart fishing rods, making decoy fish, programming everything on the teensy, programming the motor and testing the mechanics of the motor driving the wheel under the wooden platform.

Built With

  • motor
  • mpu
  • oled
  • prop-shield
  • rfid
  • speaker
  • teensy-3.2
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