Smart Film

Well, the Shutter Glass was super cool, but I can’t seem to find it in big pieces and you need to use power to hold it dark . Smart Film is frosted and then you apply power to clear it which is more what I am after, again, cool stuff!

 
 

The Vibrating Floor

 
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Pretty much since I started working at Three Ways School, nearly ten years ago now, I have had my eye on a cavity which was built into the Sensory Studio floor. It was pretty much sealed in and over the years I have done investigations and tried to get hold of missing plans etc to find out what is down there. Over the last couple of years I started work in earnest and got some budget to create a vibrating floor.

Having come up with a rough design I set about trying to find a carpenter willing to take on the project. Once I had detailed my requirements, mostly I found that the carpenters stopped returning my emails and answering my calls. However, Andy Emmerson (Emmerson of Bath) was made of sterner stuff and agreed to take on the build.

We built a floating floor mounted on rubber supports and powered by two powerful shaker motors. These motors can be driven with low frequency audio meaning you can feel music with very limited audible sound. Andy did a great job on the frame, there are no rattles and the floor moves freely for a great responsive and very powerful vibration.

I am currently working on a suite of tools for using vibration effects with SEN children and will eventually link the visual floor projection with the underlying vibration events.

Puzzles for the visually impaired

It may have been a little quiet around the blog lately, in part due to the fact that I now have access to a laser cutter and have been lasering everything I can get my hands on.

A teacher at Three Ways School was asking about simple puzzles of limited pieces and it got me thinking about puzzles for the visually impaired. After a simple prototype I made an 8 piece puzzle with a raised pattern on one side and each tab being a different shape. I ran off 5 of them which are out with classes being tested right now.


Feather Huzzah32 - ESP32 OSC

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I was a fan of the old Huzzah board based on the ESP8266 chip, but it only had one analog input which made it unsuitable for some projects. The new ESP32 chip has loads of analog inputs, bluetooth/BLE and is pretty packed with GPIO and features! Check it out here at Adafruit

I have been using it to send button and fader/sensor readings over WiFi using OSC to my computer running Max MSP, it is a great tool. I have created a repository here with all the coding and information to set it up. 

Esther Rolinson 'Revolve' installation at Curve Theatre, Leicester

So, this is the installation for which I have been working so hard on the modular power LED string. See those glowing internal lights?

Beautiful work, just sad I didn't get to see the finished piece in person. 

LED fidget spinner

It was my recently my son's birthday and although fidget spinner madness is starting to wane now I thought it was worth trying to cram some electronics into one. I found an Instructable that I took as inspiration and put my own spin (!!) on it. I wanted it to be see through as my son likes to see the workings of things (he would have just taken it apart otherwise!), which caused some issues when trying to grind things out as it tended to melt. Anyway I managed to get some really cool tiny switches from Rapid (2.5mm thick!) and ended up with this.

Wifi RFID sender

I have been putting together an RFID reader that can send tag IDs over Wifi to a machine running Max MSP on the same network. I have used an RC522 reader which I have blogged about before, and the recent Adafruit Feather Huzzah board which is based on the ESP8266 chip and includes an onboard Lipo charger so is great for portable IoT projects. For once I managed to find an enclosure of pretty much exactly the right dimensions, it was tight but I crammed it in including switch and indicator LED. The hardware will be used for a project at Three Ways School that aims to give non/pre verbal children a voice, more details to follow...

Arduino / Xbee network

I will be running some workshops on the Creative Computing course at Bath Spa in January with kit supplied by Farnell Element14. I want the students to create a network of nodes that communicate with each other and have some element of generative algorithm to them. I have built a proof of concept as seen in the video, a single node generates an audio and LED output and sends the message to another node, that node displays the incoming message and then generates one of its own to signal another unit. Right now everything is generated pretty randomly and the nodes choose another one to send their message to at random. Things will get more interesting when we link colour and audio frequency and think of more interesting ways to generate our message. Perhaps some nodes will favour talking to others or malcontents will start interrupting the current conversation? I am interested to see what behaviour might emerge when there are 10 of these things going and each has its own 'personality'...