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)
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
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
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
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?
I`ve made two small kinetic sculptures, rabbit and tree. Rabbit is basically made of a tincan and a motor with battery. Tree is made of soldered 1mm copperwire, motor and battery.
You can see the outrageously lo-tech videodocumentation here: http://www.trafo.no/arena/livsfart/15177/