Day 4: Let’s build ‘em prototypes!

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As of day four, the time has come for the six teams to rack their brains about fiddling around with the prototypes using the ideas gathered through the brainstorming sessions the week before. The sun, still pounding its seemingly endless heat into our lab, was only partly repressed by installing and building our own fans (why not use our newly gained know-how?)  :-)

However, the heat couldn’t impede our evolving progress on the prototypes:

Team 1: Mastering the Solderings

Working on their digital audio workstation and music sheet reader, a lot of soldering for the light sensors had to be done.

Throughout the day, this task has been accomplished with great satisfaction. Also, after some smaller obstacles with a magnetic fixture for the toaster handle, there have been great results with the light sensors and cable spaghetti management.

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Result of the day: Light sensors, LEDs and nice cablework.

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Light sensors, LEDs and Arduino attached to the Midi-Toaster

Sarcastic yet humorous comments from our team lead like “You like to switch the negative and positive pole, don’t you?”, “Some electrical shock could be a good lesson” didn’t spoil the moods. :-)

Team 2: Mutilate that Teddy Bear!

For a cyborg teddy to be born, it first had to be sliced into pieces.

While it seemed that today’s birthday girl had lots of fun chopping off that teddy’s head and pinching out its eyes in order to fill it with electronics, some problems also emerged. Hacking an old mp3-player’s buttons turned out to be easier said than done: finding the right current and producing good sound proved to be quite strenuous. Towards the end of the day, however, starting and stopping the mp3-player via pressure sensors was already possible.

Having to spend her birthday in the lab, she let her aggressions out on the poor teddy bear

Having to spend her birthday in the lab, she decided to let her aggressions out on the poor teddy bear

Teddy-Splatter!

Teddy-Splatter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team 3: Microengineering

Team “Walkman remote” now rustled up some sickly looking vintage Walkman. After disassembly, there has been a lot of struggling trying to fit all necessary components and cables into its relatively tiny case. Furthermore, translating the Walkman’s buttons and switches to address Arduino’s logic showed to be kind of a hassle.

Vintage Walkman

Vintage Walkman

Trying to get all up and running with Arduino

Trying to get all up and running with Arduino

Team 4: Refunctioning an Oscillograph

In order for their old oscillograph to reveal its great, gear filled look inside the case, team 4 decided to design and laser cut some acrylic glass to a new, now transparent part of the chassis. Requiring 4 attempts to do so, this design task turned out to be the main focus point of the day. After all the trouble, it showed to be worth the effort. Furthermore, it is now possible to control the newly attached servomotors through the connected joystick.

A sketch for the new chassis part to be laser cut

A sketch for the new chassis part to be laser cut

Controlling the servomotors in the oscillograph with a joystick

Controlling the servomotors in the oscillograph with a joystick

Team 5: Raspberry vs Windows; Python vs. Team 5!

Bright prospects in the morning: Authentification and uploading files on dropbox through a Python script works!

Since Arduino Uno is not quite capable of handling all the data coming from a scanner, its competition “Raspberry Pi” was to take its place. After quite a while of installing Raspbian, this slim Debian derivate disappointed by lacking support for the scanner. Therefore, good ol’ Windows XP on an Eee-PC had to do the job.

Afterwards, the wrestle with necessary Python modules, their different required Python versions and promising though non functioning “Easy-Easy Installers” from the depths of the WWW took the rest of the day until 7:30 pm.

Software installing sessions

Software installing sessions

Having Raspberry up and running

Having Raspbian up and running

Team 6: Fully Charged Capacitor + Curious Adrenalin Junkie = Sensational Short

Capacitor 1 :  0 Student.

This big capacitor definitely won one curious student’s respect today. While experimenting with this at first seemingly harmless piece of electronic in order to get the flashgun to work, the capacitor impressed by creating its own noisy flash when shorted. :-)

Besides making this involuntary experience with electrical shorts, a lava lamp has been boiled and disassembled, and an accelerometer and an EMG-chip have successfully been soldered and addressed for the arm muscle tension-measuring wristband.

Fun with the evil capacitor

Fun with the evil capacitor

Trying the EMG-Chip for the Wristband

Trying the EMG-Chip for the Wristband

Day 4: This is where it starts

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Startup Slideshow

Short one-slide presentations opened the fourth day of the course. Each team had prepared a sketch of their project’s basic concept to show to the others. If you’re interested, you can view them here:

Team 1 | Team 2 | Team 3 | Team 4 | Team 5 | Team 6

Some discussion about what to do first and what could possibly go horribly wrong followed. Luckily enough, it soon became clear that atomic explosions were not to be expected – for now. And that was it with preparation – now let the work begin!

Workshop Workout

The rest of the day we spent working on our circuits, mechanical elements, insanity and so on. Some of us went shopping to get missing parts, some others spread out through the institute’s builduing looking for a drilling machine or whatever vital tool seemed to be severely lacking in existance. Overall, a buzz of creativity sweeped the rooms. It was only broken by (mostly) silent curses, shouted test-activations of audio sensors and the cracking of an old printer being torn apart, salvaging its precious, precious motors. You get the impression.

Resting for now

At the end of the day, several prototypes grew in size, complexity or both. We’re still waiting for that special moment when someone would shout “Eureka!”, but we have already heard a fair share of various non-greek exclamations. A bit worn out, we dropped our soldering irons and laser printers (not literally of course) and let the heat and dust settle in the workshop. Now, to bed, and then: Onwards to the next day!

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