Week #6


Midterm team: Matthew Lau & I.

A prototyping board on a white table. The board has many colorful wires coming out of it
The final PCB with all the wires before we braided and connected everything

We made a weird noise maker / interactive experience / musical statoscope! Luckily it also worked — we were having trouble with it until the very last minute.

As mentioned in previous posts — the Arduino nano could only play one tone at a time, so we switched to the Uno that could supposedly play three tones at a time as it has three internal clocks that could be assigned to three different speakers, but for some reason it never worked. We tested anything we could think of from every possible angle we could think of and have come to the conclusion that it must have something to do with the logic of our code. However we couldn't figure it out in time. We set up office hours with Danny one hour before class. He suggested it has something to do with the millis() function, but changing our timers was going to require major changes to the code and we just didn't have enough time to make it before class so we opted to add a second Arduino and that way we managed to play three tones simultaneously.

Three different people's hands are holding small black knob-like plastic objects on top of a wooden board. The plastic objects are connected to each other via colorful electric wires.
our classmates interacting with our project during class

The fabrication took way longer than expected. Just successfully 3D printing our little knobs required close to two days of work, because it kept getting messed up (next time I should probably model our objects in a dedicated program...). I tried printing some models that kept failing over and over again, so switched to simpler ones. I also tried printing two knobs at the same time but it kept failing as well. Eventually I had to print each one separately and stand by closely in case the printer is not in the mood to work properly...

Literally left for 10 minutes and came back to this atrocity

The laser cutting also required some trials but wasn't too bad to work out. Once that was done we were ready to connect everything together (using mostly just hot glue).

After testing the interaction itself we realized the wires we used were too stiff, they were pulling the knobs off the board and made it inconvenient to play with. So we made the tough decision of cutting and reconnecting (and re-braiding!) all six of them with audio wires that allowed for more flexibility.

We felt it was a good experience and an interesting prototype — at class it looked like people enjoyed playing with it and figuring out how to control the sound. It created this almost intimate experience where three people stood around the board and tried to create something together. We would like to continue working on this and improving this initial prototype. We think that if we can get better sound in terms of the tones played, and better and more accurate control over the stretch sensor's values (both in and out), it will allow for greater affordability for the people interacting with it and will result in a fun and unique experience.

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Jasmine Nackash is a multidisciplinary designer and developer intereseted in creating unique and innovative experiences.