Category: PhysComp

Final Project Update

Melissa and I ran some more tests with lasers and water streams at school and individually at home. Unfortunately we are still fine tuning our alternative light and sensor interface that will trigger the MIDI notes.

This is our first attempt at a MIDI output circuit.

This is us using the stock MIDI code from Arduino’s site. We are running the Arduino through a MIDI jack to a MIDI/USB converter and then into a soft synth.

This is one of our laser tests. I think it’s a cool effect but if we do use it, it will be more for aesthetic purposes.

We met again yesterday to test out our pump and PVC pipes for the fabrication part of the project. I think we are in a good place but we still have to catch up on the deliverables. Luckily I took off next week to focus on getting this completed.

DELIVERABLES (in progress):

Concept & Brainstorming (DRAFT)

Melissa and I decided to work together for the final project. We are working on creating a water instrument. The main interface will be a water fall or water sheet.20161110_111227

I am thinking about the pros and cons or it being a midi controller versus a function generator.

+Post Final Project Concept discussion (11/12/16):
We had a very productive demonstration of our water synth project. Here is a video of how we simulated our concept.

We received a lot of great feedback from our classmates and of course our Instructor Benedetta. After the testing we knew we had a good idea to proceed with and were confident that it would be something we could pursue.

After the demo we met to test our idea. We wanted to have several lasers travel through a waterfall. Unfortunately that is not easy to do and the results were not promising. We were able to get the laser to travel along a stream but it became increasingly difficult to get a projection the higher we went.


Proposals for Final Project

I enjoy listening to and playing synthesizers. These days most synthesizers are digital. That’s great because it allows them to be cheaper and reach a greater amount of people while offering a greater flexibility with sound. However there’s a limit to the resolution of digital synthesizers. We also lose a lot from circuits that simulate or model an analog synth. Analog synths are expensive, they’re messy, heavy etc.

1- One idea for a final is to bring analog qualities back into sampled and function generated wave forms.¬†Usually water and synthesizers don’t mix. But if I can run a MIDI controller through a circuit that uses a water height sensor, I think I would be able to add back analog elements into the sounds being played. Also maybe the water can be the expression interface for the instrument itself. I can use other physical qualities of water to manipulate sound and modulation.


2- A second idea I had was to detect position along a RGB plane and have that affect color output among other things. There are already MIDI controllers that allow sound modulation along track pad axis. However this could be an interesting project if there is a unique application for it.



For our PComp midterm everyone in my class was assigned into groups to work on a project. I initially thought it would be a good idea to use a sensor array to map out a color space and have the output reflect where the user was activating. We ran into some issues with the microphone behavior so we decided to re-purpose our configuration for another interaction.

We ended up making the interaction be based on sound and distance. We mapped 3 sensors to a corresponding color value. We had each color go to 3 LEDs in series. Our idea was that we could get the colors to blend if we diffuse them at a distance.

One of the biggest problems we ran into was dealing with the noise of the environment and the circuit. We couldn’t get the sensor readings to zero or even close to it. So we ended up having to deal with low resolution values for our sensor range.

This is the proof of concept. Using one microphone to control the brightness of the LED.

We then expanded the concept to 3 microphone sensors.


We at the same time wanted to work on the serial communication with P5. We ran into some additional issues here. Most of which probably involved us not using a handshake for communication.


Serial Communication Labs 10/22/16

I first worked on the Async serial communication lab. This went fairly well. I didn’t use the accelerometer because I haven’t soldered the contacts yet. Instead I used 2 variable resistors as seen in the pic.



I then tried my first attempt at P5 and it was a mess. I tried following along with the directions, but the index.html file didn’t have the line that was referenced. “script language=”javascript” type=”text/javascript” src=”libraries/p5.js”></script”.

I ended up pasting both lines in it. The add file function doesn’t seem to work for me so after a blank file was added, I pasted the contents of the p5.serialport.js inside it.

At some point I was able to find out my serial port name but I can’t seem to open it properly at this point. I am showing the error below. I’ll need to ask for help getting this running.


Application of Labs

For my basic application I planned on making an alarm box. When someone opens the box when it’s armed, it will flash lights and make a noise. This would occur until a green button is pressed. A red button will be used for arming the alarm.

I think I would have pulled it off if I designed my circuit beforehand. However I was able to have an alarm triggered and and make lights and speaker cycle on and off. I made a lot of errors with running the wires in the wrong direction or forgetting to power the breadboard.


Labs: Eletronics v2

For the past week I worked on catching up with the lab assignments. This is the button switcher with LEDs in parallel.

The next lab involved a potentiate and LED to simulate variable voltage.


Then I built the Servo variable resistor circuit. That was fun and noisy.


Now the speaker with photoresistor.

The only issue I had was breaking off the lead wire in a Arduino pin socket. Luckily that led to ground. I also got to use a soldering iron to connect the wire leads to my speaker.

Now hopefully I can work on an application of these for tomorrow’s class…