PComp Midterm




PComp Midterm from John Farrell on Vimeo.


Jay and I presented our midterm today.  Even though a couple sensors weren’t working, everything turned out pretty ok.  I was pleased with the design of the instrument itself, the fact that we had a mostly working prototype, and that we got sounds to play from Max (which turned out to be the most frustrating part).  It wasn’t perfect by any means, and there is a lot we could fix if we wanted to refine it.  Obviously, have all the sensors working, toggling the fill sound, spending more time with someone who knows music on how to construct our range and combination of notes, as well as some fabrication changes.  But considering 2 months ago I had never touched an Arduino before, I’m feeling satisfied.

PComp Midterm

With midterm projects due in one week, a progress update is in order.  Looking back to my last post, we decided to stay on track with our infrared instrument.  We went a little off-course by ditching our breadboards (mostly) and soldering everything to perfboard.  The decision will give us a little more flexibility and space in design.  It’s safe to say my soldering technique is up to snuff now.



IMG_2131   Soldering details

 IMG_2136 Set up and soldered.  As you can see, we are using a breadboard only to link some power and ground connections.

After the soldering was complete, the moment of truth came – plugging in and trying to run our program.  Of course, didn’t work.  When plugging the power and ground in to the Arduino, the “on” light on the board immediately turned off, signaling a short.  After a lot of looking, poking, prodding, de-soldering, and rewiring (and a lot of systematic debugging by Jay) our issues were resolved, and the sensors are fully functional.  An incorrect solder or two, and a misplaced wire on the breadboard threw us off.  With the functionality set, we’re on to fabrication.  Wood is our material of choice, and we decided on a wave-based curve for the top housing, reflecting the deterioration of the notes that will be played.  I drew up some simple diagrams, and hope to laser cut the wood in the next day or two, however a decision on the LEDs is still yet to be made.  They were used for testing the sensors, but could be useful to keep around.  We also need to leave time to program the sounds using MIDI in Max.



The box below the curved structure will be used to conceal wires and the Arduino itself.  Only the USB cord will show.



Something that began to slip our minds – where to put speakers?  Currently, thinking cutting an area out on the sides of the housing seen in the pictures above.

ICM Week 6: Simulation





Natural simulation in processing, using the tocixlibs libraries.  300 particles are emitted (pic 1), whose behavior can be manipulated.  Key presses can reverse their attraction, making them group together or erupt apart like fireworks.  The intensity of the gravitational force can be changed, as well as the fading alpha background, which can be used to produce trails (pic 3).  The particles also group together around a mouse click, which can produce an effect of throwing the particle (pic 2).  Having trouble getting the code to run right in the javascript export so no live animation for now.

CommLab Video Final

What’s Good At 6th & 53rd (Communications Lab: Video & Sound — Final Project, Fall 2013) from justinr on Vimeo.


A short documentary on the halal food carts at 53rd and 6th.  This is what we presented today in class.   Lot of issues still bothering me with sound, transitions, and microphones.  Some will be cleaned up for the end-of-semester screening, some are stuck that way.  Not that satisfied with it, but that is usually the case with anything I make.  For such a quick video (and first time making something of this nature) I’m ok with it.

PComp Catch Up (Pt. 2)

Decided to split things up to avoid a mega-long post.  More recent developments in Physical Computing.  Jay and I have continued to work on/troubleshoot our musical instrument.  Troubles have included use of digital pins 1,2 and 13, which Ben Light explained to us can be troublesome to use as standard inputs due to their additional functionality, as well as light noise affecting the IR readings.  We’re hoping a physical case would solve those issues by keeping the bulbs set back in a piece of wood to shield them from extra light.  We also have some unknown problems on the board that are causing issues with a couple of the IR sensors which need investigation.  Jay and I are currently debating pursuing this as our midterm project, which would involve developing a more robust physical housing, mapping sounds (maybe piano?) from Max/MSP, and working on some visualizations to be triggered in Processing.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time on it and want to see it through, but project fatigue is also setting it.



Overall setup


Breadboard detail


Arduino detail

Speaking of using Processing sketches – we just learned how to do that!  Here’s proof.  Mapping values from a potentiometer in a Processing graph.

Graphing Arduino values in Processing from John Farrell on Vimeo.


Controlling an ellipse using an accelerometer.

Controlling Processing through Arduino from John Farrell on Vimeo.


PComp Catch Up (Pt. 1)

Haven’t kept on top of my blogging for the past week – here’s some of the latest things happening in Physical Computing.


First up: Mouse lab.  I’ve been working with Jay as my partner for the past couple weeks.  After making a mouse work using photoresistors programmed through Arduino, we were working towards using an accelerometer as our mouse.  We had the LEDs mapped to the X,Y, and Z axes to give a corresponding brightness, but had a little trouble with our safety and clicker buttons.  We figured them out, but ran out of time for full testing.  Something to come back to, as I would like to have a good understanding of how to use the accelerometer.



Here, I had the Servo motor set up to pivot when light was blocked to the photoresistor.  I taped my drawing pen to it quickly, and made a little doodle by rapidly covering/uncovering the sensor.  Each little dash is the plastic arm on the servo rotating back and forth, while I moved the servo motor itself in my hand.



First tonal output through Arduino!  After mapping a pitch library to the photoresistors, I was able to play simple notes by covering each sensor.  Pretty basic stuff.


Vertical Video WOOOOO!

Tonal Output through Photoresistors from John Farrell on Vimeo.


I also did a quick exercise from the Arduino book using a temperature sensor.  The idea is that the LEDs each have a different temperature range, and will light up depending on how hot your hand is when you squeeze the sensor.  I didn’t spend a lot of time doing calibration so it doesn’t work perfectly, but interesting to try nonetheless.

LED control with temperature sensor from John Farrell on Vimeo.



ICM Week 5

Week 5 assignment for ICM.  Decided to work in 3D, originally hoping to replicate Thai lanterns.  I was never happy with the visual appearance, so I changed gears to a space-looking sphere animation.  The spheres pulse in and out using sin wave oscillation, using Perlin noise for the fill to simulate lighting.  Rendering appears slightly different in-browser, getting too light.  I would like each sphere to also pulse at a different time using that same oscillation, but couldn’t figure it out in time for class today.  I’d also like to involve some interactivity, with a way for the user to break apart the spheres, either in explosions or, in a more advanced exercise, pulling the spheres apart polygon by polygon.