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Sketching with Hardware 2017b Day 3

Published on: | Author: Markus Posselt | Categories: 2017b, Daily Logs

Sketching with Hardware 2017b

Day 3

After getting a first introduction in electronics and hardware-hacking on the first day (which ended in controlling computergame-cars by tilting toy cars, using a head mounted control for Super Mario, making a digital unicorn jump by riding a broomstick and using other fancy game controlling devices) we got our hands on some Arduino unos, sensors and actuators on the second day to get a feeling for using them. After lots of exciting anticipation the topic of our work for the next few days was revealed:

Something Old,

Something New,

Something Powered,

Something Wo-Hoo!

This mission’s advantage was at the same time its biggest challenge – freedom in all direction brings uncountable opportunities to innovate. An advice which helped a lot was to think about an old object (which probably unnecessarily takes up precious storage space in the cellar) and reinterpret its usage and functionality.

Soon the first ideas evolved and while some teams started right away on Wednesday others faced a few struggles in the beginning and still had to decide or define what exactly they wanted to realize.

Team 1



Team 1 decided to work on an old ghetto blaster. They generated a lot of ideas about what to do with it and how to expand or completely change its functionalities.

Quite soon it got clear they couldn’t do it all, so they decided to dismember it completely and look what’s already inside. Unfortunately some of the screws were screwed, others too well-hidden to be unscrewed. But in the end of the day and with the help of some well-dosed gentle (brute) force, the radio finally freed its marrow and the final idea was born: to make it play songs from a SD card and to add a second layer of expression to the music by optically intensifying the mood of the music.

At the end of the day the ghetto blaster was successfully deconstructed and the speakers could already show some feelings with LED patterns. A really good progress for the first day working on our projects.

Team 2



Team 2 (which I belonged to) came up with the idea of an emotional lamp. We wanted it not only to change the light depending on its emotional state, but also to move itself and directly express its “feelings”.

So on Wednesday I brought my bedside lamp to be butchered and disassembled to find good spots to attach the necessary servo motors, the LEDs and the sensors.

Two things became clear, one very early the other one quite late.

First thing: we needed more powerful servos than the usual ones. So we ordered some on the internet (which arrived early next morning).

And second: the lamp I brought and we completely destructed actually didn’t fit our needs. The construction of horizontal parallel round rods made of durable steel was too heavy, too hard to adjust to our needs and the joints made it almost impossible to attach the servos in a way they could transfer their full strength.

Searching for solutions we came up with the idea of another, differently constructed lamp, made of lightweight aluminium square tubes that are paired in a vertical position, actually one of the kind that I coincidentally use at my working desk. Or should I say: once used at my working desk?

Team 3



Team 3 initially had some trouble to decide which of their ideas to choose for implementation. A lot of discussion and brainstorming went on, weighing pros and cons of different ideas, finally getting the idea of making something with some kind of ghosts, or secret notes and messages that can be found.

After shifting through different settings they decided to use an old viewer for slides they found in their parent’s old photography equipment. The plan was to change the slides while viewing them, not only by different light settings but by letting ghosts and notes appear, perhaps using some sounds or smoke to underline the spooky atmosphere.

Team 4



Team 4 brought an old silverish antique looking casket and had the idea of transforming it into some kind of mystic safe.

The knob on top should become the device to put in the secret code by turning it and aligning runes. Coloured LEDs seamlessly embedded in the rich ornaments should indicate if you had selected the right runes in the correct order or not. A locking mechanism had to be invented, the lid should be able to lift itself up and close itself again. The team had the idea to make the box emit obscure fog when it is opened, to make it set off an alarm when the wrong code is used, and even to enable the box to send you a new password to your email account in case you somehow forgot which code you set last time.

At the way too early end of the day first production steps were taken, with still many more to come.

Team 5



Team 5 wasn’t sure about which way to go. Something to boost your learning? Or maybe a beer-o-meter, counting the beers you drank and telling you not to drive home by car anymore?

In the end they decided that everyone needs some motivation sometimes – but how to achieve a good, brain-boosting effect? And what shell to choose? Is a teddy bear too cute to motivate? Would a little toy dog be better? Which kind of motivation should be realized anyway?

In the end of the day they took the decision to realize some positive motivation via rewards.

The plan was to create a device out of an old alarm clock that gives you dextrose as reward for your efforts, suggests you to take a rest from time to time and perhaps even forces you to stand up and move when not working by running away from you, playing hide and seek or shooting water.

Team 6



Team 6 quickly came up with the idea of using an old telephone, ideally one of those with a turning dial plate. The plan was to give it as much of the functionalities of a modern smartphone as possible in this short time, which is actually a really tough target to achieve.

First things first they started to disassemble the phone, keeping important parts working like the axis of the dial.

Ok, let’s see, we need a clock with an alarm, a calculator, of course it should be able to actually make and take phone calls, perhaps a vibration alert, a scheduler, an address book, a game, a GPS, perhaps internet, …oh wait, we only have one week.

At the end of the day they had concrete plans about how to represent the time, the additional holes needed were drilled in the dial plate and some serious construction was going on.

Team 7



Team 7 brought a disused VHS videotape and started right away to follow their plan of building a disc-jockey-console-mixing-turn-table-thingamabob.

Although not much effort was needed to detach the tape since there’s not that much electronic stuff inside, it was hard to figure out how to reassemble everything according to their needs, due to the fact that there just wasn’t much material to work with at all.

After the decision was made to use a laptop in the background to compute the scratching and so on, it still had to be figured out which software to take. Further the question of how to turn a turning motion into a digital signal had to be solved.

Team 8


Team 8 had so many overwhelmingly good ideas, it was really hard to decide which one to choose. In the morning they were looking for something like an old water-tap, or, if not available, an old electrical typewriter. Gladly they found neither nor, but ended up with an old mirror and the brilliant idea of constructing an infinity mirror. But of course not just a simple infinity mirror. They wanted it to be controllable, movable and in some way playable.

They came up with the plan of making the back mirror tiltable in different directions to control the direction of the infinite tube, and somehow to manage to show glowing things in the middle of the mirror, too. If everything goes right, perhaps even some kind of game could be included.

linked categories 2017b, Daily Logs


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