Thursday, March 8, 2007


Final Project

For my Networked Objects class, I'm going to be working on the networked aspect of my thesis. You can find more information here.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Two Pongs don’t make a Right

Project 3: Pong

For this assignment, I returned to my white cube and created a controller based on that form.

The basic concept is that there's a beam of light emitted from the center of the form. The user holds a mirror and reflects the beam left or right onto the form. Photocells embedded on the R and L hand side of the form register when the beam is reflected its way. These sensors in turn work with the Arduino code to determine which way the onscreen paddle should be set (i.e. R or L.)

I added a reset button and a few extra LEDs to give Status such as R and L, and Connected. Unfortunately the Xport is still not my friend, and I haven't been able to test it at my home studio. On presentation morning, it definitely worked, connecting and getting me into the game. Sadly, I never calibrated my program to the photocells, so it didn't work in the brightly-lit room. (Later that day in the darker lounge area, I was able to get it to work.)

It was pretty satisfying getting the onscreen paddle to react to my controller and other people seemed to be able to use without much of a learning curve.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


PHP scraper

I tried Tom's PHP scraper example for HOURS. Seemed like the Xport was working but I could never get it to connect to the internet. I tried many different things, and found one problem: the Xport was wired incorrectly and kept resetting itself. After that, it still didn't work and drove me a bit mad. I finally gave up and talked to Tom, and it appears my home modem/router setup might be the problem. I hope to return to this when I get more time, to get it working.

The code I was using was straight from Tom so I definitely feel it was my setup at home. Aggravating!!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Rise and shine... or else!

Project 2: Future of the bedroom clock

This was a group project. JennyLC, Jaymes and I had a lot of fun brainstorming. It was good to get to know Jaymes as he's a first-year. I haven't had a lot of contact with that group of students, but they all seem to kick ass. It's a little intimidating!

After batting around some ideas, we really decided to get down to the essence of the task. We simply want to make sure you're out of bed when the alarm goes off. All three of us agreed that the snooze feature—appealing though it is—is detrimental to anyone trying to get out of the house on time. We all bonded over a common behavior: addictively hitting snooze over and over and over again.

Our solution to the bedroom clock problem was to develop a bed that would become inhospitable when it was time to get up. We briefly considered a bed of nails, where the nails would be stored inside the mattress until the alarm went off (the alarm would trigger the nails to extend and poke the sleeper.) Another idea was to create a ridgeline down the center of the mattress which would slowly increase in height until the sleeper was rolled out of bed and onto the floor. We finally settled on tilting the bed up, so that the sleeper would be faced with a choice of 1) hopping out of bed or 2) sliding down to the footboard in a heap. (see illustration)

Props to Jaymes for finding a sweet British accented female voice for our countdown.

Friday, January 26, 2007

You must be lentil, man!

Project 1: Physical Computing Improv

For this assignment, we had to choose an Action, a Thing and a Response and combine everything into an object no larger than a 40cm cube. The object had to produce a clear reproduceable action.

What stuck out for me was the cube aspect of the assignment. I had a vision of a clean, perfect cube. I wasn't sure what the action would be, nor the response, but immediately I knew I wanted to work with a cube.

My initial investigations began with feathers and a fan. I envisioned my perfect cube with a conical vent on the top. I was hoping I could place the fan underneath this inverted cone and have a feather miraculously float above the cube, caught in the stream of air. Unfortunately early experiments proved this concept to be quite difficult to achieve as the feather tended to drift away and fall out of the air stream. I also had a problem where the feather would drift out of the stream and fall on the table, only to be sucked into the fan's intake, creating a small cloud of feather particles. It became quite irritating breathing in these small allergens so I abandoned the feathers in favor of lentils.

Having a small fan and a pile of lentils on my workbench, it was only natural to create a lentil throwing machine. I quickly fastened some chipboard paddles to the fan (biscuit fan) and slowly poured a stream of lentils onto the moving fan. This worked extremely well, creating a high-velocity stream of lentils. Unfortunately this also proved irritating as the lentils went everywhere, and I spent most of my time trying to recover them.

For my final concept, I stuck with the lentils but rather than throw them, I decided to dispense them as a dump truck would. I thought this would be an intriguing object because I envisioned a perfect white cube sitting on the table and whenever you moved it, it would leave behind a trail of lentils. It wouldn't be absolutely clear why or how it was working, just that it did.

Using a QT113, I developed a switch that sensed when someone was touching the top of the cube, and using that triggered a small selanoid to open a gate in the lentil hopper. I added an LED so that I could see when the program was in set-up or ready to roll.

It worked really well, except occasionally a lentil would get caught in the gate, or if the hopper was overloaded the selanoid didn't have enough oomph to open the gate. But everyone seemed to like it, and laugh. You should watch the video!

Video is Here!