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)