Day 4 – Work in Progress

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Being the first day of pure project development, day 4 had a very special feeling to itself. The groups dedicated themselves to the advancement of their projects, aided by the always needed help of the tutors. The Arduino platform begins to feel natural, its workings are more and more understood, and the first deeper insights are made (who knew that an output set to HIGH still differs to the permanent 5v output?).

Transistors make their first appearance, almost every group makes use of them, as they prove quite useful to close circuits when needed. The poor labeling on the transistors-box makes it more fun, as it is necessary to search for specs online to see if they are n or p switches.

Some groups have first minor or major breakthroughs, solving problems they had in a different way than previously planned.


Group 1

The Rescute team is well on their way. Solved is the problem of the spraying of the pepper spray, the LEDs are also working as planned, thanks to the additional power now used. A bit of frustration about the limited range of arduino servo motors came up, therefore effectively limiting the range of the bear’s neck. Originally it was planned for the bear to turn its head a creepy 180° on each side, now it looks like he will have to be able to turn its head 180° on one side only. Maybe hacking a servo motor will help.

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Group 2

The second group works hard on its project. It proved to be more challenging than previously anticipated, as seemingly simple tasks like the compressing of a spring prove difficult to realize with the resources at hand. Thankfully, being the creative people they are, team 2 members can compensate these problems through ingenious alternatives or workarounds. For the construction of their toy train, they make use of the laser cutter upstairs, and the result is very satisfying. Nonetheless, all of this requires lots of energy and concentration from the team 2 members, leading to part of them to almost fall asleep during the lunch break.

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Group 3

The togebear has seen some progress as well. The knit-work (yes, you read well, this bear is 100% handmade, something a soul-less laser cutter could never achieve) is almost done, meaning that the outside of the bear is almost ready. The inside of the bear proves more challenging than expected: when receiving an email from a loved one, the bear should spray some perfume. Using a hacked airwick system proved to be tricky, as reversing the motor rotation (it needs to go in both directions) proved an impossible task. Building an h-bridge did not solve the issue, maybe some of the used mosfet transistors where not suited for the used voltage. An hacked servo motor (not limited to 180° rotations) was used instead.

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Group 4

The Looping Louie team moved to the laboratory upstairs, as they need the space and tools it offers. Probably one of the most complicated projects hardware-wise, it makes sense for them to be close the equipment. Being physically removed from the rest of the other groups makes it more difficult to judge their progress, but whenever one needed something from upstairs, she or he would hear a small Eureka shout, signaling a further success of group 4, approaching the end goal step by step.

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Group 5

Today post arrived for the Madlab group, it was the game they are going to hack. Finally having the game, they were quickly able to make some progress. Surely it did help, that they didn’t lose time the previous days, thinking ahead of what and how to do it. Servomotors were quickly attached to the game, LEDs were tested, boards altered. Group 5 may have had a delayed start due to the late arrival of the game board, but they managed to make up for the time lost, and then some. If they keep up with this pace, they will be out of work by monday.

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Group 6

The Ghostcamera team had some important hardware arrival as well, now having a functioning printer for their project. The idea is to have a camera take a picture of you and then print it, but with one twist: the printed picture will have some sort of monster on it, be it a ghost or zombie, or whatever. This surely has to be the most complicated project from a software point of view, but the team members are concentrated and seem very confident about the outcome.

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All in all it was a very productive day. Each team was able to make significant progress, each team already faced problems, some of them are already solved. Creative thinking seems to be the key here. The lesson learned today seems to be not to give up immediately, but also not to fixate on one approach. If something does not work after scrupulous researching and trying, then it is time to think of a different solution to the same problem.

Another important aspect of today, was the fact that we really got our hands dirty, and quite quickly. Almost every group used power tools like power drills, dremel or power saws, as well as special machinery like the laser cutter. These are tool that some of us used for the first time. It became quite clear, that this course would not be completed by simply putting some lego together, but that custom work is necessary.

Even the components used in our electrical circuits became more sophisticated. If there was the idea that sketching with hardware could be completed by simply putting some pre-made components on a bread-board, after today the reality became clear: it is much more than that. We finally understood the importance of transistors and switches. It is one thing to read about them in a chapter of some lecture where they are mentioned briefly, but it is a totally different thing to understand how they work in order to use them in our projects. If we want to power some LEDs with an additional power source, how can we control this source? Transistors! If we want to make a motor rotate in 2 different directions, without physically switching cables, how do we do that? Transistors! Thankfully the tutors were there to answer our questions, an we all had some, ranging from where can i find xyz to more technical ones.

This was a very long day, but thankfully the weekend awaits, and monday the show will go on!

Day 3 – From Concept to Implementation

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On the third day, we needed to further develop our concepts that were come up with yesterday. So in the morning we were busy optimizing the ideas and consulted with Bernhard and Felix on technical problems.

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At around 10 o’clcok, we started presenting the concepts in turn with the help of posters on the wall. It is evident that  many groups had made much progress after careful and thorough analysis.

Group 1

When it comes to the concept “Rescute”, a more detailed explanation was given about the 3 steps to scare the attackers. As the first step, a kind of scaring light comes from the eyes and the bear turns the head. If it does not work, the police siren goes off as the 2. step. The last step will be sound like dogs’  frightening snarl.

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Group 2 

The determination of final concepts seems to be a bit complicated for group 2 due to the technical difficulties encountered before.

However, the primary concept about toy railway was picked up again in the end. Some improvement was done such as the self-making shell of the toy train using laser cutter instead of refitment of an existing one, and oval Easter egg instead of round shaped Ping-Pong ball etc.

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Group 3

The conccept “Togebear” of group 3 kept almost the same as one day before, The so-called Togebear can smell, listen, spreak and give light to interact with the person one speaks to.

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Group 4

Group 4 had already done a lot so far, the emphasis was put on the technical aspect while the idea kept unchanged. Details on functions, challenges to be overcome were explained.

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Group 5

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Group 6

Group 6 decided for the concept “Ghost Polaroid”. Except for showing some ghost-related effects mentioned on the second day, group 6 were concentrated on the technical aspects including the  transfer of photos from the camera to the computer, image processing program, a print-out program and establishment of a big shell.

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After the lunch break Felix made an introduction to the laboratory and laser cutter, during which we got familiar with the electronics and tools for prototyping, as well. Then some groups begun directly with the implementation. Other groups might be inspired by the inconspicuous but fairly useful tools and improved their ideas accordingly. The whole afternoon was really very flexible for all groups to arrange themselves. Group 5 went to the shop on the Türkenstraße in search of springs which are not available in the lab.

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Some interesting experiments to test the feasibility implemented by Group 2.

Paper prototype made by Group 2:

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Day 2 – Arduino and Brainstorming

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The day started with Arduino. It is the heart of our projects. With Arduino we can control lamps, movements and much more. This is possible through a programming interface on the notebook. It is a mixture of programming with C or Java. Afterwards the notebook transfers the final function to the Arduino. After we examined a few examples from Arduino Playground the first function we tried to control was to let a lamp blink. It was our first feeling of success with Arduino. The rest of the morning we made experiences with Potentiometer and Servo.

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After the break we got our topic for the final projects. The topic is “Gute Miene, Böses Spiel(zeug)”. In the afternoon we had time to do a brainstorming. So, each group thought about an appropriate project to do. Here are the following findings:

 

Group 1

The name of group one’s project is ‘Rescute’. It is about a teddy bear wich turns out to be a life safer. In this teddy bear several functions will help persons to safe their life from attackers. First step of defense will be barking sound. The next one will be blue light and noise of the police which comes out of the bears’ head. When the attacker is not yet scared the next step will be pepperspray which comes out of the teddy bear’s mouth. Optional the last step would be an emergency call to the police. The teddy bear will be small and fits in each bag.

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Group 2

The centric toy of group two’s project is the toy railway. On this railway there are several balls loaded. When the single trains get connected to a railway it starts. After a few meters the balls will start to fall apart and jump around.

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Group 3

Group three uses a teddy bear as well for their project. The sense is to connect two persons which have a long-distance relationship. The teddy bear has a blinking heart on it and the lover’s fragrance bottle in it. Every time one person receive an email from the other one the bear’s heart will blink. Additionally, fragrance bottle starts to spray. By clicking on the off button the functions will stop.

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Group 4

Looping Louie is the chosen toy from group four. It is called “grantiger Alois”. The sense is to attack one special player and to spare the others. This is achieved by using high sensors, a regulated motor, position and hit detection.

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Group 5

Group five will work with the ball labyrinth. By inverting axes, attaching a latency, a vibration, magnetics to deflect the ball or moving walls the game will be manipulated.

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Group 6

Group six has still two options not sure which one to take. The first option is to manipulate a polaroid camera. When someone takes a photo there will be ghosts  in the background of photo or the camera won’t take a picture and instead makes crazy other things like pup sounds. The second option is the mole game known from amusement parks. Normally you have to hit these moles with an hammer. Group six wants to come out a hammer from the mole’s mouth to hit the player.

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Day 1 – Welcome

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Welcome “Sketching with Hardware” term 2013/2014

It feels like that the knowledges of physic science were pretty forgotten since we left school, so did the introduction to electronics and the tutorial videos a great job with refreshing our memories. All participants were quite busy with the classic components and tools like resistors, LEDs, multimeter, switches and a lot of soldering exercises.

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The most interesting and funny part came after lunch, where PC keyboards where disassembled so that the controllers can be ‘abused’ for playing games more interactively. The controller is connected via USB port to the PC and a couple of input possibilities were used to generate the same input as pressing a certain key.

Team 1 attached tilt switches to a self-made poncho. The shoulder movements were equally to the left and right arrow keys on keyboard. The player can wear the poncho to play a snow boarding game on PC.

 

Team 2 also used tilt switches to play a adventure game. By steadily tilting the control element, one controlled the game character’s movement and the direction he was running to.

 

Team 3 took a game where one has to decide if the shown image of a hand is the left or the right hand. They had the nice idea to directly build capacitive switches with conductive material on the finger tips. When the forefinger touched the thumb tip, the switch was closed. The input interaction was a good mapping to the game.

 

Team 4 created a jumping game where the player is also jumping in the real physical world. The switch was bounded to the feet and everytime the player jumps, the jump command for the game was toggled.

 

Team 5 used a glove with tilt sensors attached. The game was hitting a PC to release aggresion. The player should make punching movements with the glove on, which was mapped as arrow keys. It was funny to see how a PC get smashed in a flash game while you are punching in front of the screen.

 

Team 6 glued two tilt switches on a little board for a game where one has to balance balls on a board. Tilting the real board made the flash game board tilt in the same direction.