Blog - Sketching with Hardware

Day 4 – The projects are evolving quickly now!

Published on: | Author: Patrick Mörwald | Categories: 2015b, Daily Logs

The eight Teams are two days into the development process for their projects. They know now how to apply their individual skills and coordinate their tasks effectively. A day full of motivation and excellent team work. Come with me and take a look, there is a lot to see already!

TEAM 1 – Solar Lamp System

Team 1 - Masters of the universe!

Team 1 – Masters of the universe!


Look how unique those crocheted planets are. Team 1 even thought of the Saturn rings.

Look how unique those crocheted planets are. Team 1 even thought of the Saturn rings.

Team 1 is on a mission to the stars. The launch was fast and now they can see some planets already. Crocheted planets actually. Anna made amazingly accurate replica of the solar system’s planets out of colorful string. Meanwhile, Philip connected to NASA servers to get some critical mission data. Using the LMSAL HEK API he is downloading big amounts of XML formatted solar activity data. But parsing big data on a small processor like the Atmega2560 which has a meager 8KB of RAM can be big trouble.

To avert mission failure Philip activated his PHP XML parser on the university server to reduce parsing workload on the Arduino’s Atmega2560. A clever move and a big step forward for the interstellar project of Team 1.

TEAM 2 – The magic suitcase

Team 2 doing the servo hack.

Team 2 doing the servo hack.

Don't mess with Team 2 - they are arming the catapult.

Don’t mess with Team 2 – they are arming the catapult.

Abracadabra! For Team 2 the day was going quite well with Florian hacking servos and Bernhard tuning their mighty catapult. They where constantly increasing the capabilities of their mysterious magic suitcase.

Everybody actually became quite curious for the final features of the self-opening surprise box. They used more motors than any other team to make all the mechanical gadgets in their magic suitcase work. Usually servos only rotate about 180 degrees, but one can hack them to move continuously.

TEAM 3 – The iHooks

Old school - Team 3 shows some classic carpenting skills to build the vintage iHooks.

Old school – Team 3 shows some classic carpenting skills to build the vintage iHooks.

Lights on - Team 3 is pushing pixels through the LPD8806 LED strip.

Lights on – Team 3 is pushing pixels through the LPD8806 LED strip.

Its always great when team mates have different skills so they can complement each other. That seems to be the case with Team 3. They where working hard on the construction as well as the programming aspect of their promising iHooks project. Ben was showing how wood work should be done by creating the basic shape of the iHooks case in the workshop very precisely.

Patrick was fascinated by the power of single wire driven LED strips like the LPD8806 that they salvaged from the workshop. Flashy patterns sparkled on the strip as he was figuring out on how to map colors and positions to the strip which should make the notification lights of the iHooks truly come alive. A productive day for Team 3!

TEAM 4 – The Glowbus

The world is yours - Team 4 creatively reinventing the Globus, sorry i meant Glowbus!

The world is yours – Team 4 creatively reinventing the Globus, sorry i meant Glowbus!

The ambitious project of Team 4 to show weather data and the day/night rhythm from all over the world on a self made globus really kick started this day. Annika was going new creative paths by cutting the shapes of continents out of nicely patterned cloth pieces. She was then applying the clothinents on the self made blue globus.

Mujo was managing truly big data which he gathered through the popular openweathermap.org API. Therefore he set up a Python web server which crunched down the big JSON data to small bits of data which the small Arduino could handle. Clever thinking and great artwork at Team 4 today!

TEAM 5 – Optogram

TCP, IoT and LCD - Team 5 pushes the Atmega2560 to its limits. Coding galore!

TCP, IoT and LCD – Team 5 pushes the Atmega2560 to its limits. Coding galore!


Laserpower! - Team 5 uses Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter to prototype with the speed of light.

Laserpower! – Team 5 uses Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter to prototype with the speed of light.

A steampunk binocular which shows you Instagram pictures in 3D. Wait a moment, that sounds pretty ambitious for a micro controller project, does it? Probably some people thought it would not be possible, but Team 5 trusted their excellent skill set and set off to build the Optogram.

Ronja was building a rock-solid and very professional looking case in the workshop by using the laser cutter not only to cut the shape but also to engrave a cool Optogram logo.

Alex had the challenging task to load pictures from the internet over WiFi into the Atmega2560 RAM and then via the Arduino parallel port to a full-blown LCD display. He therefore dug deep into compressing data as well as splitting and reassembling TCP packets. Chapeau for some cutting edge programming on the small Atmega!

TEAM 6 – Book Infinite

Page turning processor - Team 6 brings audio capabilities to the Arduino.

Page turning processor – Team 6 brings audio capabilities to the Arduino.

A book with infinite media playback capabilities, thats the vision of Team 6. Today Daniel and Evan got their long anticipated Seeed Studio music shield, which has the capability to play audio files from a SD card. The shield itself is controlled by the Arduino Mega. During the day, we where amused hearing various funny audio snippets while Team 6 was testing the music shield with the external speaker. Most memorable: Darth Vader’s Yes my master!

But Team 6 did not stop there. They also used the WiFi module to upload a list of recently played audio tracks to the Book Infinite’s own twitter account, so the users can keep track of their playlist and share the experience with followers. A great example of the multimedia features one can bring to the Arduino!

TEAM 7 – Karl the typewriter

Over 30 individual connections to bring Karl the typewriter to life - Team 7 is showing great effort!

Over 30 individual connections to bring Karl the typewriter to life – Team 7 is showing great effort!

Take a closer look at Karl's guts.

Take a closer look at Karl’s guts.

Team 7 was refurbishing an old 60’s Adler typewriter to fit the 21st century. By digitizing the user input and forwarding it to the artificial intelligence Cleverbot, they gave the user the impression of chatting with another person. To achieve this, they had to solder 32 connections to the typewriters keys, plus pull-down resistors for each line to get a clear signal on the Arduino side. Simone showed her great soldering skills in this challenging task.

Meanwhile, Philipp brought the WiFi module up and running to send and receive the text messages over the internet. To simplify the parsing of received messages, he relayed the communication through the university server, running his custom PHP script to do some nice pre-formatting of the data. The best news for this day: Cleverbot was already responding to the user input. A good day for Team 7!

TEAM 8 – RunSoMeter

When art meets science something great is about to happen - Team 8 designing their Runsometer.

When art meets science something great is about to happen – Team 8 designing their Runsometer.


With the innovative RunSoMeter envisioned by Team 8, the user can monitor his daily workout performance on old-fashioned analog instruments. To get the sports data, Team 8 tapped into the popular Runtastic API. Since the mail-ordered analog instruments did not arrive today, Team 8 quickly focused on other tasks. Anja was working on the creative design of the instrument backgrounds. She was drawing vintage looking scales which could later be printed out and placed on the instruments.

Markus was taking care of the Runtastic API and the data reception on the Arduino side. In the end, data was flowing nicely from the iPhone’s Runtastic App over the Runtastic server to the Serial input of the Arduino. They also made a great baroque looking case using Adobe Illustrator and the laser cutter. Amazing engraving work in this healthy project!

linked categories 2015b, Daily Logs

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