Day 7

In the morning I enter our project room to find a glass cage with five mice! Some of them are trying to spin on an exercise wheel. It has some switch magnets attached to it which makes the weight of the wheel unfamiliar to the mice. But they seem to be experimenting together to make the wheel spin properly. There is an Arduino board attached to the glass cage wall. I look forward to find out what’s going on.

Jeff introduces himself, and his work.

He shows some video of his work over the last 10 years, that focuses on sculpture and installation, pointing out that previously he has worked with telematics, the internet etc. He shows the LiveForm:telekinetiks (LFTK) project based on kinetic sculptures that relate to the social activity of sharing a meal in a networked communications setting. As part of this project, they developed a web-based recipe book. It contains recipes (precise instructions) on how to build these sculptures.

Patrick wants a discussion about the necessity of using toys/gadgets/objects in telematic communications situations.

Jeff gets a tour of the various projects, and an idea of how he can contribute.

After lunch we wait for Jeff to set up a demo of servo motors and watch a dvd documentation of Aurthur Ganson’s machines that were created between 1978 and 2004. At he is 15.00 ready. He demonstrates how to use servo motors that you can buy from a model shop. When they are turned off you can manually operate the motors/gears. They don’t turn all the way around, but 180 degrees. Inside the black casement is a motor, a gear box, and circuit board that allows them to take signal and position the motor, etc. They work from between 4.5 to 6 volts. They have black (ground), red (volt) and white (signal) cables. All the black wires should be connected together on the Arduino board. The signal is a pulse. The amount of time between each pulse causes the motor to go faster/slower. Jeff uses the Firmata firmware to allow the control of the Arduino board via another software (eg, Max, PD, Processing, etc). In max you have to use the Arduino object to make the connection. With Jeff’s Arduino code you can run up to 8 servos at the same time.

His system is in 3 parts:

1. Servo code for the Arduino: creates the pulses/timing.
2. Servo code integrated into Firmata.
3. Max/PD patch to process it.
(Download Firmata code, open it in Arduino, load it up unto the board, then you can use max for controlling stuff)


LFTK: A project by Michelle Teran and Jeff Mann dealing with kinetic sculptures and social interaction via networked communication. On this site you will find “recipes” for building the sculptures. The sculptures are based on sharing meals.

Day 6

Today we start with each of the four working groups presenting their ideas, and what they can offer in relation to input/output as control elements to the other groups.

(photos by Romunde, click on them to see them bigger)

Group 1: Musical box

musical box

They are working on trying to get a motor to turn the handle of a little musical box (grinder style). Problems related to this are to find the correct motor (step motor with gears) and how to attach the rotation head of the motor to the musical box handle. Other ideas concern the use of other sound making instruments and devices.

Group 2: The weather group

weather sensor

This group have been using a wind sensor to get a piezo sensor to sing inside a paper coffee cup speaker. A fan provides the wind. The weather sensor sense data to the Arduino board. The microcontroller converts the data from the sensor to alter the sound frequency of the piezo sensor.

They have also come up with another idea of using a mouse running on its wheel to drive a motor. Using a magnet switch, they plan to track the speed of the fan and send this data to a piezo sensor to create sound in a similar manner to the first group.

Group 3: The contemporary music machine

music machine

Also stuck on the piezo sensor, this group have attached a vibration motor taken out of a mobile phone. The piezo sensor is used as a sender. It triggers MIDI notes in max/msp which then plays random piano notes. The signals are sent back to the vibration motor as the piano plays, causing the whole Arduino board, the sensors and the cables to shiver.

Group 4 (läuft): The Element-paper-machine (EPM)

A heating element from a kettle is mounted on a vertical board along with a paper roller. A flex sensor fixed to a piece of paper uses data when the paper is wafted to turn the heating element on and off at defined thresholds. When the heat is turned on a light bulb is illuminated. As the paper roller feeds paper between the rods of the heating element it burns the paper, creating barcode-like brown lines on it. The group plan to track the paper and the lines drawn on it with a webcam and max/map, and use this to create sound. One of the challenges is to get the system stable. During their demonstration the paper caught fire several times! Another will be to tackle the changing light conditions in relation to video tracking. See it in action here.

After lunch ideas are launched about the showing on Friday. A decision has been made from above (HC and me) to move the showing from our small studio to the large project room on the floor below. This will happen on Thursday, when attention to the spacial aspects of the integrated machines must be focused on. By Thursday evening everything must be completed and all the dots connected. Some questions are:

Should it be an automated machine?

Should it run like a domino effect with a clear start and finish, with a consequence that is irreversible?

Should it run in a loop?

If so, how can there be variations in the loop?

Can things be added/subtracted to the loop while the whole machine is running?

Should visitors be able to intervene?

Should particpants be able to intervene?

The schedule

Wednesday 24th October:
– Starts with experiments with light sensors to do something with the output from the 4 lamps from the day before. Where it ends is a mystery.
– Each group should find a gadget, kitchen appliance or toy that whizzes, buzzes and/or pops (220 v) so we can try stuff out on Thursday in relation to Morten Kvamme’s introduction to using relays for various electrical devices.

Thursday 25th October:
Morning session: HC demonstrates how to control 12 volts things with Arduino and the help of transistors (on/off and dimmer function).

Afternoon: Gradually extending the possibilities to include motors, electronic gadgets, etc.
Morten introduces himself, and then shows us how to use relays to control electrical appliances.

Friday 26th October:
First – a short meeting where participants describe their ideas, accomplishments and frustrations of the past 4 days. We have to start to connect the dots between the various experiments/groups/individuals. (Canceled due to group dispersement.)

Otherwise, its Morten’s day: More work with general electrical appliances.

Monday 29th October:
Let’s talk!
10-11 am: each group sets up something they have been working on to present to the rest of us.
11 – ?: Discussion time. Presenting ideas, accomplishments, etc. Thoughts about what will be presented on Friday.

Tuesday 30th
Jeff Mann enters the scene with his kinetic objects.
Pizza evening proposed by Patrick. Time ?

Wednesday 31st October:
Continue to work with input from Jeff.
Evening: We go to the opening of Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s kinetic sound exhibition at Lydgalleriet.
Link to JPG’s website here

Thursday 1st November:
We will move down to the project room on the 6th floor. By the end of the day the space must be organised for the presentation. There are several practical issues that we need to get sorted, including fire precautions (guards, etc). HC has the details.

Friday 2nd November:
We will present the results of the workshop.


( a message for Romunde)

Here you will find the max objects and help files for speech and listen:

Download them and put them in your max folder.

Get a microphone (anyone have one that Romunde can use?)

Practice some phrases that listen can recognize. I added “shut the door” to the list of words listen can recognize, and then used Junior’s voice in the speech help file to speak the phrase. It gave positive results just using the built in mic on my mac. I am sure that, with some thoughts about how people behave, you can incorporate this into the Connect the Dots work. It is just a case of trial and error, and finding something that makes sense!

Day 5

By next Friday we should have put together a domino effect machine which we will have to present to folks outside the workshop. Today was supposed to start with a round-up of people’s ideas, with eventual demos of what they have achieved during the last week. However, the group is once again in disarray. Some of the participants have other commitments, and the rest are trying out stuff on their own steam.

One group is working with a wind sensor, a couple of fans and a piezo sensor that is taped to a paper cup. They are trying to make music by using the data derived from the wind sensor to create sound frequencies that you can here in the paper cup. Another group is trying to control little musical boxes with servo motors. Romunde is exploring the potentials of speech recognition to control a coffee maker. The Läuft group have been collecting more stuff from containers – amongst other things, a paper machine. The last group are using a piezo sensor on a small motor to create random data. I am unsure of what it is they want to do with the data, but they at least immersed in the work.

Day 4

Day 4 starts with a showing of Gymnopedie no. 1 as an example of a performance that uses pressure sensors (on/off switch mats), and by routing midi signals via Midipipe.

HC then demonstrates how to use 12 volt lamps as output on Arduino. Through this, we learn about
– transistors; how they can be used as switches and amplifiers (a way of controlling a larger signal with a weaker signal).
– diodes, that stop electricity going in the wrong direction.

Morten presents himself, and his work related to this workshop, such as his glitchy peice, “Flimmer” (2003) consisting of 100 light tubes (old tubes, in the last phase of their life) “37 degrees celsius”, (analogue method of turning on and off appliances to keep the room at body temperature – feeling inside temperature on the outside).

The big question is, “what is a relay?

hrmmmm…. it is .. ummmm …. an electrically controlled switch, generally used for switching high voltage/current with low  voltage/current. (etc, wikipedia gives a better description).

We look at time relays, which can’t be triggered via an external source (such as a 5 volt signal from Arduino) like the simple relay boxes. But by using them together, with the time relay at the end of the chain, it is possible to control the variable/time relays via via Arduino.

So today we have got 5 volt, 12 volt and 220 volt appliances to speak to each other. Ellen comes in with her wind sensor. We have several fanse spinning, lights blinking, a food mixer playing a guitar …. tomorrow is a new playground ….