For the last two semesters I taught college students how to use Arduinos to make art, which was a lot of fun. The class was 2.5 hours long, twice a week for 15 weeks. I wanted to compress much of the basics into a Beginner Arduino Class for the space, and we (mostly) did it.
The class ran for 4 hours, and covered about a dozen examples using various components to get through the concepts of digital input, digital output, analog input, analog output, and covered the Arduino software a bit and the Arduino world, including some example projects for inspiration.
I did limit the class to six students, and I supplied all needed parts. All the student had to bring was a computer with the software installed and a free USB port. I wanted everyone to have all the same parts so we could avoid things not working due to different components, which I’ve faced in the past. Overall, I was pleased with the outcome, though we did run out of time. I may have to alter things next time, or just put time limits on certain parts of the class.
I’ll aim for the next class to happen in February, and once enough people get through the Beginner Class I’ll work on an Intermediate Class. If you’re interested in taking the class, add your name to the “Interested Members” list at the bottom of the wiki page.
The Turndrawble is a drawing machine I designed, based loosely on an old vinyl turntable, but instead of playing records, it creates drawings.
The construction was done using stacked layers of wood and acrylic. I wanted to avoid using the typical laser-cut “box” enclosure I usually use. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
The Turndrawble is meant to be used to create 12″ circular drawings. One of the knobs controls the platter speed, and the other sweeps the arm in and out. Since it’s a new drawing device, it hasn’t been mastered yet, but we’re working on it!
Here’s a short video showing the turndrawble being operated. I’ll probably have it at some future art events for people to try out and see what they can create with it.
There’s a bunch more info about this thing on the Turndrawble project page on my web site.
I built a QWERTY keyboard that types the letters Q, W, E, R, T and Y, and nothing else. No space, no return, no escape.
It’s a fully-functional USB device, you know, as long as you just want to type words that can be composed with Q, W, E, R, T and Y. (WET, WRY, YET, TRY, there’s a bunch of them!)
I wrote plenty more about this project on my blog, and if you want to read about the history of the QWERTY layout, and its connection to Milwaukee, and why the way we interact with technology is interesting and sometime ridiculous, well… I got that too.
I’ve lived in Bay View for the past 9 years and I have always loved trick-or-treating night here in the neighborhood (despite the fact that it isn’t actually on halloween!). After I got some good photos of great costumes last year, I wanted to run a photo booth in front of the house on trick-or-treating night. Add some procrastination, python and a couple of arduinos to a good idea and voila: Bay View Boo! was born!
I started by building a shelf to hold the photo booth (and double for an extra shelf in the garage for the other 364 days of the year). On the shelf, I set up an HDMI monitor, driven by my laptop and a logitech webcam for the camera. The electronics were simple: I had an orange sanwa arcade button attached to an arduino to trigger the photo to be taken and another Arduino connected to a thermal printer from Adafruit to print out a link to the photo. On the computer, i had a Processing sketch to drive the display, perform the countdown when the button was pressed and send the filename to the printer. I also ran a little python app that pushed the images to Google Cloud Storage. An AppEngine app displayed the photos. I was in a bit of a rush to finish Saturday as I spent half the afternoon at Fantasticon and in my haste I forgot to add page navigation links to the front page. Oops! Ah well. I had the site updated after i tore everything down for the night. I had one trick or treater ask me if I had “like a Raspberry Pi in there or something” and I said, “Nope, but i have a couple of Arduinos!”. “Cool”. Cool, indeed.
None of the individual pieces of the project were very difficult and it all came together pretty nicely. The most gratifying part of the night was hearing from people that they had heard from other people to come over and get their photos taken. Word spreads quickly in Bay View! I’ll be posting all the code to a github repo shortly and I’ll update this post with the link when I’ve done that.
For next year, I plan on making a couple of changes. First, I want to have a nicer enclosure for the photo booth and something more permanent to mount the button and printer in than the white cardboard box i cut holes in with an X-ACTO knife. The second thing I want to do is make some interchangeable front pieces for the booth. I could use this for lots of events and it would be great to be able to bolt on something that was more thematically appropriate than a painter’s drop cloth with holes cut in it and secured by shiny duct tape! Ah well, it got the job done and after a while it was dark enough that no one could see my shoddy craftsmanship! That brings me to my final change for next year: lighting. I had one 250W light ready for when it got dark and it basically sucked. To everyone who showed up in awesome costumes once it was dark: I’m sorry. I’ll have better lights next year so everyone can get a great looking photo, even if you don’t come out before the sun goes down!
Here are a few of my favorite photos from the booth. I hope everyone who stopped by had a good time and enjoyed your photo! I’ll see you again next year! In the mantime, head over to Bay View Boo! to browse all the photos from the evening!
Back in June we announced some Instructables Build Nights featuring littleBits and the new Arduino at Heart modules. We had a lot of members play with the ‘Bits during the last six weeks, and we’re still waiting for Steve to publish the detailed instructions on his “littleBits-powered Vomit-Inducing Machine”, but for now we’ll have to make do with the littleBits Arduino Annoying Machine that Eric and his son built.
I also got in on the action, with two Instructables that (sort of) go together; littleBits Serial Data and littleBits Serial Controller. All of our projects make use of the Arduino module, which add some great programming functions to the littleBits world.
If you didn’t get a chance to play with the ‘Bits yet, we will have four littleBits Deluxe Kits and a bunch of Arduino modules at the space to experiment with. They should be treated like a LEGO set; build something, then take it apart. Hopefully having some fun and learning something new along the way.
(Big Thanks to Instructables and littleBits for providing the kits to us!)