Archive for September, 2009


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Here’s the premise: baby presses the tummy when it wants a laugh but it presses the “third eye” for inspiration (signified for now by the yellow LED), and it touches a hand to foot for a growing tip. (see video demo) Given that this is a teething toy, I wanted to create one more action that would open a box holding a coveted lost tooth.

I soldered wires to the flex sensor and to the force sensor (see photos) and then I inserted it into the toy and sewed it back up. I wired the board and the code utilized “if” statements to trigger each light.
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For the open-box output, Greg let me borrow his small solenoid but with all the testing, I burned it out accidentally. I’ll get another a replacement and will then connect the solenoid inside a box so that it pushes a lid open.
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Untitled from Nisma Z on Vimeo.

Our assignment this week was the Electronics Lab.  In order to get started, I realized I needed to solder wires (see photo) to the DC connector, so I learned how to use the solderer (thanks Ted for the overview!).  NZ_IPC_W3_lab_3146

The multimeter is a bit intimidating but the voltage measuring wasn’t too hard to figure out.  While playing with the switch, I measured the off position at 3.45 volts but when the switch and LED was on, I got 0 volts.  For the voltage across the LED and the resistor, I didn’t get a measurement but when the switch was on, I measured the LED at 1.99 volts (see photo), which is consistent with what we learned in class.  NZ_IPC_W3_lab_3149The total resistance across all components added up to 5.45 volts so clearly all the electricity was getting used up in the circuit.

For the series circuit (see photo), I measured the yellow LED at 1.87 volts and the green LED at 1.96 volts.  When a third LED was added, nothing went on because it exceed the maximum number of volts.

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For the parallel circuit, the measurement of each LED was 1.77 volts but only the red one was actually lighting up (see photo) – they are all supposed to light up but be dimmer.

NZ_IPC_W3_lab_3153Using the multimeter to measure amperage was much more confusing.  I did put the ends into the circuit but didn’t get a reading, even though the circuit itself worked.

The measurement of the potentiometer worked fine (see photo) and went up to 1.99 volts, or the full brightness of an LED.

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I read chapters 4 – 6 in Processing and created a simple toggle button that draws randomly incrementing ellipses.  I wanted to add another button that does something else within the same sketch but I’m not sure yet how to do that.  Instead, I went back and altered the “else” block to include three ellipses that made use of the altering R,G,B values that are also being utilized as color changes for the background.  I added if statements to ensure that the R,G,B values stayed within a 0-255 range.  CLICK HERE for the sketch.

NZ_IPC_W2_knee_3131Inspired by the “analog in” lab, I experimented with a flex sensor input and checked the numbers in the serial monitor and then adjusted the code so that when the flex sensor bends more than 90 degrees (which translated to over 550), the LED would light up.

I went back and soldered the ends to wires and attached it to a wood figure.  The idea here is that if the knee bends over the toe – which is bad for the knee – then the light would go off.  On a human, perhaps one would feel a vibration as a gentle reminder to adjust the knee back to 90 degrees and not put unnecessary strain on it.

Here’s the video:

Pcomp Week 2: Analog In with a flex sensor from N Z on Vimeo.

This “Analog In” lab taught us how to connect a variable resistor to a microcontroller and read it as an analog input.  I used a potentiometer to change the values of an LED.   See photo and video below.

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Pcomp Week 2 Lab: Analog In from N Z on Vimeo.

This one is inspired from working with my figure skating coach: I wish I could wear lightweight, unobtrusive sensors on my body when I’m skating that picked up which muscles were being triggered for which moves.  These would be recorded and displayable on a graph and also superimposed on a video so that I could see what I’m doing both correctly and incorrectly.

Here’s another work-inspired fantasy device idea – a device that would sound off an alarm if you don’t wash you dishes (not washing dishes in the communal kitchen was a common problem of interns of co-workers at my old job, and I’m sure this is a common problem in all shared kitchens).  This could have 3 sensors: the bottom of a sink could somehow be outfitted with a waterproof pressure sensor that detects when anything is place in it,  the faucet could be outfitted with a sensor to detect whether water is flowing and for how long, and a place on top of the sink that is designated for the dishwashing detergent could be outfitted with a reverse pressure sensor that detects whether the detergent has been lifted. If someone puts a dish in the sink but doesn’t turn on the water or lift the detergent to wash the dish, then an alarm would sound off (or maybe lights would flash or a digital voice would be triggered).  Hopefully over time, just the thought of setting it off would encourage people to wash their dishes (although the really lazy folks would probably just leave their dishes on the desks, which is a problem that perhaps only a homing device or a GPS-on-every-mug-and-dish could solve).

I thought of another device that’s inspired by the hand weapon liquifier but simpler.  This device would contain an automatic sensor that detects extremely fast motion of any kind coming at a human body and it would transmit an SOS signal to 911 or to other such rapid response emergency centers.  The sensor could be like a long flex sensor (except that it detects motion) that is embedded in a belt, thus fully wrapping around the body.   Because of the timing, this sadly wouldn’t prevent impact to a human body but at least it would send an emergency response immediately so that there could be a chance to save that person’s life.  Perhaps the sensor could also be connected to a small camera (or series of cameras), also worn by the person, with the photo also being transmitted to the emergency center after the initial signal.  The photo could help to identify the attacker, the vehicle or whatever the cause was for the motion hit.

I’ve been working at a non-profit human rights organization for the past four years and have seen – either on video or with my own eyes – the horrifying impact of physical violence on victim’s bodies.  Last year I started fantasizing about a device that could somehow destroy or disable a hand weapon before a perpetrator had a chance to use it.  I envisioned a small 1″ device that would be disguised as a pretty pendant on a necklace but that was really a sensor with an extensive database and wireless transmission, programmed to identify any kind of gun, grenade or other hand weapon that entered an “intent-to-use” state, and once the weapon was in that state, the device would immediately beam it with an invisible ray that would turn the weapon to water via some sort of chemical transmutation and simultaneously send a signal to a human rights monitoring group with the ability to act immediate.   I know, very 007!

I started out with the idea of drawing a character based on angles instead of curves, but I ended up wanting to soften it up with eyes, ears/earrings, and curly hair (which I realize looks more like dreads).  I’m not thrilled with the way it looks but I used most of the primitive shapes and added interaction with the mug.  I’d like to program this so that when the mouse is clicked, the mug will be delivered to the character’s hand and remain there.  CLICK HERE to go to the page with the character.