Day 5 – Crucial stage is beginning

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Two days left for final presentation the common problem of all groups is the missing hour for sleeping because of daylight saving time. But there is no problem that could not be solved. Each group is highly concentrated on own problems and solutions. Panic, frustration, joy and success are close to each other.

Basics of electronics have been internalized, now highly sophisticated questions and problems occured. Most of them could be solved by close communication and collaboration between the groups and with our teachers. In the following the progress of the individual groups is summarized.


Group 1:

Team Rescute had a hard day with a lot of frustration but also with success and joy. A long time was required to find a right transistor to connect a parallel circuit of 6 LEDs. Every transistor is named differently and the poles are not always on the same position. After the right transistor was found, the circuit did not react on input from the Arduino pin. After long discussions and many tests it turned out that there was a problem with different voltages. This could be solved by equipotential. Now the arduino gets its power totaly by power supply.

Furthermore they tried to construct an amplifier on their own. This failed because a particular transistor was needed but nowhere available. So now a simple physical solution improves the sound. Also the connection of the sound modules and arduino cause problems but this has to be solved tomorrow on day 6.

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Group 2:

Group 2 is working well, the train is starting to take shape. Their strategy of prototyping is very successful, ideas could be implemented straight forward. So today they prototyped a machine, which helps them to fire off the balls of the train. Therefore they had to hack a servo.

Now this concepts was totally judged as good, the balls are flying very fast and wide. Furthermore they constructed the undercarriage of the train. We are all looking forward to see the train in motion.

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Group 3:

Togebear seems to become alive. Now body, head, legs and arms are crochet completely. His face is smiling at all members of the course. It seems as if to say: “Guys, don’t give up”.

So finally group 2 could solve the problem with the space spray. They bought another space spray machine with a trigger by a button. So they could easily connect the machine to Arduino.

Also as group 1 they suffered because of the equipotential. Here the problem was more difficult to solve because at the power suppy of the arduino the could not found any voltage. “Somtimes it is magic”. But Togebear is still smiling. Cheer up, guys!

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Group 4:

Louping Loui is gaining momentum. The most technicical problems could be solved, so the guys were able to assemble the game with all electronics and mechanic.

Thereby they discovered some further problems.

With a hand gear there was not enough power to lift Loui. So now they use a crank. It is not as fast as a hand gear but the power is adequat. Because of shortage of space they decided to remove the ground on the swivel plate. But at this position a potentiometer is required and potentiometers need ground. But this has to solved on day 6.

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Group 5:

The functionality of Madlap is advancing rapidly. Today they implemented tilt sensors with potentiometers. This was not so easy because sometimes its was too fast, sometimes too slow. So tact was required highly. Furthermore they attached rubber band on servos. Here it was difficult to tighten them. It seems the implementation needs as high attention and tact as playing Madlap. Furthermore they constructed a switch where a light turns on, if the ball is running through it.

The biggest problem of group 5 was the Arduino. It broke down. Why? Nobody knows. After some irrational solutions it worked again. “It is magic”.

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Group 6:

Team Ghostcamera, seem to have some help from supernatural friends. They are making good progress.

The print with background images works. At the beginning they had some problems with the format because of the Java Print API, but those could be solved. The hardware of the camera was complicated to hack. Some cables were pulled out. But they solved it, too. Now they are creating a box for the polaroid camera with Illustrator. Keep it up, girls.

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A successful day is over now. Only one day is left. It looks like all projects can be finalized successfully. Good luck to everybody!

Day 5: Making progress!

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Day 5 was all about turning gathered ideas into reality. Every team seemed very concentrated on their tasks and with every accomplished intermediate goal the number of wires, devices and code lines steadily increased. After a fresh, pleasant morning, hot temperatures came back as usual and made every available fan spinning. The working area spread out to the 2nd story as more and more components and tools (like the laser cutter) were needed.

Team 1: Turning breadcrumbs into music

“Team Toaster” accomplished quite a lot today. While tracking contact of toasts being inserted in the toaster appeared to be more problematic as assumed, big progress could be made with the light sensors in the bottom of the toaster. After some calibration and writing the software light and dark spots on the breadcrumb drawer (those will later correspond to musical notation) could be recognised by the Arduino successfully. Communication via midi is now possible.

Contacts inside the toaster.

Contacts inside the toaster.

Turning "breadcrumbs" into musical notation with an Arduino.

Turning “breadcrumbs” into musical notation with an Arduino.

Team 2: Can’t stop me!

“Team Teddybear” was hit by one of those technical problems that take as long to fix as to discover in the first place: without any visible indication their MP3-Player (which plays a major role in the whole setup) suddenly died. However, after spotting the problem a replacement and a pragmatic solution could be found. The rest of the day lots of wires were soldered and attached to the teddybear which is also increasingly packed with buttons and LEDs.

Wiring up speakers and MP3-Player.

Wiring-up speakers and MP3-Player.

Wiring up ad teddybear (this will look cute eventually).

Wiring-up a teddybear (this will look cute eventually).

Team 3: Keep it vintage!

“Team Walkman” advanced toward their goal from both, hard- and software side, today. Scripts to control the computer’s bluetooth and text-to-speech and Arduino code for the communication to the keyboard controller and shake gestures were written. After some struggle with a built-in potentiometer from the 70s, some new buttons were added to the plastic enclosure while (of course) keeping the vintage look. As in the previous days it was time to plan the inner life of the walkman very precisely. Every millimeter counts!

Speaking to Spotify through an Arduino and Bluetooth

Speaking to Spotify through an Arduino.

Work in progress: Arduino, Bluetooth Controller, Walkman board and lots of wires.

Work in progress: Arduino, Bluetooth Controller, Walkman board and lots of wires.

Team 4: Electric ink

“Team Oscillograph” made further progress in gaining control of the complicated mechanics and programming the Arduino. A big challenge lied in “reading” the ink, which should ideally conduct electricity. Different kinds of ink were tried and different solutions were discussed. This prototype remains very exciting!

Casing of the oscillograph.

Casing of the oscillograph.

Lines and fascinating mechanics.

Lines and fascinating mechanics.

Team 5: Heavy lifting

“Team Dropbox” was all about motors and sophisticated mechanics today. After experimenting with different step motors which continually ran out of breath, big success was made with servo motors. These tiny things can now open a huge box over some attached threads when activated by a (infrared) light barrier. They also managed to scan images with a Python script, to take one stop further to Dropbox integration.

Opening a huge box with a tiny motor.

Opening a huge box with a tiny motor.

Taking photos with this scanner now works!

Taking photos with this scanner now works!

Team 6: Muscles and Fishbowls

“Team Orb” divided their work in input and output tasks to advance quickly: the (arm) muscle interface was improved so that the input data can now be passed to Processing where muscle tension and arm movements are displayed. The next task here is to classify data patterns to recognise characteristic arm and hand gestures. The output side of the prototype involves fluids so that the team’s workspace was frequently extended to the bathroom or other places with water supply. The lava lamp turned out to not do the job, so a fishbowl is now in the field. It was successfully equipped with lights and a vapor generator and even by now it looks great!

Muscle tension and arm movements mapped to curves in Processing.

Muscle tension and arm movements mapped to curves in Processing.

Lights in a fishbowl, soon also equipped with a vapor generator.

Lights in a fishbowl, soon also equipped with a vapor generator.

Day 5: Building, building, testing

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After the first tests yesterday, today everyone was busy building their prototypes. So most of us spend at least half of our time in the workshop: testing material, cutting, screwing, gluing, and getting the electronics to work.

At the end of the day, every project looked a bit more developped and presentable. Here are some impressions of today:

Though no one was stressed today, I guess tomorrow will be different.

Day 5: Building frames and cases

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Today’s work was characterized by a lot of cutting, milling, shaping, etc.

All teams were in the progress of building different kinds of frames or cases to house the technical parts of their projects.

Consequently, the workbenches and drilling machines were in great demand.

Thanks to a Laser-Cutter available on the second floor, workable material wasn’t limited to wood.

The wonderfully pleasant smell pouring out  of the cutter told every visitor of the acrylic glass that was being cut.

First, the students sketched their drafts on paper, discussed different versions and later redesigned them in Adobe Illustrator.

Parts, the Laser-Cutter should cut out had to be set as hairlines (<0,001mm), while thicker lines could be used to imprint the parts with logos and other decorations.

The results looked so professional that more than one team decided to rebuild parts of their (eg. wooden) frames from glass.

Alongside this modelling, the projects’ technical aspects continued to mature and substantial progress was evident by the staggering amount of blinking LEDs, buzzing motors and humming compressors.

Day 5 (and Day 5,5): The prototypes start to take shape

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After the first steps of progress (and minor setbacks) on Day 4, we devoted another full day to work on our prototypes. Although the air was still full of optimism and passion for the projects, we all realized that more obstacles lay before us than originally anticipated. The reasons ranged from defective electronic components over high precision mechanics problems to the overheating of electronic boards. Thankfully we managed to overcome all these hurdles with lots of different (and often fancy) solutions: While one group adjusted both the audio frequency detection of their algorithm and their own voice pitches, another group started cutting their own gears out of plexiglass.

But not only the hardware turned out to be difficult — the programs soon developed into something much more sophisticated than usual Arduino Sketches: Additional shields such as a stepper motor shields had to be used and programmed, whereas other groups reached for full-blown Processing programs to combine the computing power of a real laptop with the Arduino’s hardware capabilities. Even methods like interrupt-driven programs were considered as solutions for really tricky programming problems.

As the day came to an end, it became clear that some projects were still facing serious issues. More work was needed to get the prototypes into shape for the presentation on Tuesday and some groups started to doubt that Monday and half of Tuesday would be enough to get to that goal. So Hendrik and Sebastian decided to devote half of their Saturday (and therefore their own free time) to further help those of the groups that needed additional resources. The results did not disappoint: After lots of laser-cutting, hardware tinkering and opera-like sound performances (for fine-tuning the audio frequency detection), all of the projects were much closer to completion than before.

First Results

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After two days of developing we get first Results. Step by step each group built the outer hull and the inner electronic circuits.

We learned that it is important to test every small part of the electronic circuits, because you never now, if any transistor is broken, or the circuit doesn’t work as expected.

See a small video of a circuit with two multiplexer controlled by an Arduino, that can switch on and off all rgb channels of 3 light stripes.

After two days of developing you can see first results:


Status Day 5 Team A - Outside

Status Day 5 Team A - Breadboard

Status Day 5, Group B, Floor mat with cables?

Status Day 5 Team C, trying to fit the circuits into the plastic

Status Day 5 Team C, trying to fit the circuits into the plastic

Status Day 5 Team D - Cat

Status Day 5 Team D - electronic circuit

Status Day 5 Team E - Outside

Status Day 5 Team E - Inner Life

Status Day 5 Team F

Status Day 5 Team F, electronic circuit

Status Day 5 Team F, electronic circuit

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