PUSH-UPs… 2×8 pixel unit

After the design and build of the prototype PUSH-UPs articulated display panel, I have now built the first of 4 identical modules, each containing 16 controllable rods.

The four modules will form an 8×8 “pixel” animated surface display system to create a dynamically changing topography.

Stimulus for this display unit will be derived from a camera, an arrays of sensors, or purely from software that simulates different surface topologies.

PushUps: Top view of the 2×8 design

The design of the 2×8 unit parallels that of the 2×4 prototype. However, I changed the design of the servo horn and connecting linkage to ensure that the “pixels” fall onto a 33.34mm pitch (2 times the 16.67mm pitch of the LEDs on a 60 led/metre strip) for both rows and columns.

PushUps: side view showing the thinner servo horn and offset connecting linkage

In addition, the underside of the top plate was cut to allow for a simpler installation of the LED strip, that now contains a total of 34 LEDs.

PushUps: showing LED illumination for each “pixel” element

PushUps: all 16 units pictured in mid-articulation of a sine wave

PushUps: closeup of the servos

PushUps: closeup of the nano, 16-channel PWM/servo multiplexer and buck power supply

PushUps: close-up of the underside of the top plate showing installation of LED strip


Getting there!

PUSH-UPs: an articulated display panel

Introducing PUSH-UPs, an articulated display panel.

PushUps: a prototype for an articulated display surface

This is a 8 “pixel” prototype of a animated surface display system. The final goal is to create a surface with a hundred or more separately articulated “pixels” to create a dynamically changing topography. Stimulus for the larger unit may be from a camera, an arrays of sensors, or purely from software that simulated different surface topologies.

I’ve been talking about designing an articulated tabletop for sometime now – taking my inspiration from TRANSFORM, from the Tangible Media Group at MIT Media Labs. While I am not trying to copy their design, the key to this idea is in the design of a moving “pixel” that is small, provides several inches of “travel”, is able to be illuminated and, most importantly, cheap! This allows the design to be scaled to whatever size is desired. As this “pixel” element is actually a linear actuator, I have considered and experimented making all sorts of actuator designs but nothing I came up with is satisfying these criteria. In the video we can see that the table-top part of each pixel is a small square-section plastic tube connected to a wire or plastic linkage that connects to the control box below. But what is this control element and how does it provide the 4″ of travel that the video shows?

In a telephone discussion with Doug, an engineering colleague of mine, we noodled through some simple design ideas that would use cheap and readily available servo motors to articulate acrylic rods that can pass light.

So, the seeds of this prototype design were sown.

So, voila. PUSH-UPs.

I have made many designs using servos (see PopUp Clock, and Flipper) and I had plenty of the small metal-geared MG-90s on hand. In addition, I have created lots of clocks recently (yet to be posted) that use acrylic rods as light pipes for colourful displays so I had lots of 1/4″ and 3/8″ rod stock. And of course, I always have yards of addressable LEDs.

PushUps: going through the motions. Picture captured the unit articulating a sine wave

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KeyNotes: A Play-Along Keyboard

Here’s one of my latest projects, still in development:  KeyNotes

KeyNotes: A full octave of Illuminated keys

KeyNotes: showing the full keyboard octave of 13 notes from C to C

KeyNotes is a illuminated keyboard that sports 13 notes that span one complete octave: from C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, and C.  Each key is connected to a micro-controller to sound and illuminate each note.

While still in development, the intention is that KeyNotes joins the other www.SENSE-i.ca products that are designed to offer users the opportunity to engage with their environment through self-guided proscriptive stimulation to assist in decreasing responsive behaviours. KeyNotes players will be encouraged to play short pre-programmed sequences of commonly recognised melodies through both sound and light prompts.

The size and shape of each of the keys is modeled on my 88-note Yamaha Clavinova and cut from 12mm thick HDPE. The “white” notes and cut from one piece, while the “black’ notes are made from a sandwich of two pieces.  Each key pivots on a common brass bar that runs from dide to side.

KeyNotes: Photo of the design in progress. The two strings of LEDs are connected to discrete WS2811 chips mounted on veroboard strips. They are connected together to make one continuous string.

Each key activates a microswitch and is illuminated from below with a full-colour RGB LED. These LEDs are connected into one continuous ‘string’ that is controlled by the Arduino Nano.  The Arduino is responsible for sounding each note and to output key information to the MIDI output.

Neat, huh?

Fish for all the family!

As a welcome distraction from CNC machining of HDPE, I made a whole lot of little fish for a colleague of mine.

Can you spot the difference?

Fishes: cut out of 13mm red oak and “flap-sanded” smooth

Each of the fish is about 65mm (2 1/2″) long by 45mm (1 3/4″) tall with a through-hole eye and a small detail cut to a depth of 25%.

As these little beasts will get a lot of rough handling, I cut them from 13mm red oak, with the grain oriented along the body to protect the tail from breaking off. I sanded the faces and flap-sanded the profiles so that they were all nice a smooth.

In use they will be painted and used as clues to solve some part of an escape game… To keep the mystery, I won’t say moire than that!

Fishes: close-up-detail

Fishes: close-up detail

… And it’s not even Friday!

LIGHTWave: the latest member of interactive light devices

It is said that “a picture paints a thousand words” so a video should tell a better story?

Here’s a video of LIGHTWave

LIGHTWave is the latest member of the SENSE-i.ca range of multi-sensory interactive products.

LIGHTWave is an interactive light display with animated light patterns that respond to hand movements and gestures.  Motion and distance is detected by a circle of six sensors that control different areas of the display, its light intensity and speed of the light animations.

LIGHTWave: showing light display surrounded by the six sets of ultrasonic seosors

LIGHTWave boasts six HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor that detect movement and distance surrounding nearly 100 individually addressable LEDs arranged in five concentric rings. Animated light patterns respond to input from the sensors to modulate colour, light intensity and animation speed.

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seXY Machine: Now sporting a new head!

I designed a new head for the seXY Machine to raise and lower a pen or stylus, under software command.

seXY Machine: The new head to raise and lower a pen or stylus

My friend, Doug Commons (a real electronics whiz), built a new controller board for the seXY Machine that runs GRBL software so that the machine can execute gCode directly from my CAD/CAM applications. In real English, it means that the seXY Machine can now be controlled using standard software that is widely supported by most computer-controlled design tools.

So it was time to give it a head!

The new head comprises of a modified end cheek that pockets the travel rods and a new face plate housing two brass rods and a metal-gear servo motor. These rods align with holes in a pen holder assembly to allow it to slide up and down. Two simple 6mm thick pen holders clamp the pen or stylus to the slide assembly using M3 screws.

A spring on the end of the servo horn lifts and lowers the assembly. The alignment of the servo is such that when it is in the lowered position, there is light downward pressure on the pen to keep it in contact with the drawing surface.

seXY Machine:showing adjustable pen / stylus holder

seXY Machine: showing servo motor and spring connection to the pen/stylus slide

All of the pieces of the head were cut on my CNC machine out of 12mm and 6mm HDPE and assembled using 3mm brass rod and M3 stainless steel hardware.

seXY Machine: closeup of the pen/stylus slide in its lowest position

Now, to do some drawing with it…

FLICKER: controllable intensity random flickering LED

An artist friend of mine asked me to create a light effect that he could use as part of one of his sculptures. The effect was to simulate bright white lightening that would illuminate a long thick clear acrylic rod.

I designed a unit to create random timing, random intensity light pattern that illuminated a 1W white LED.  In addition, I added a control that allowed the user to modulate the intensity of the effect from turned off all the way to full on.

The unit is based on an Arduino Nano that creates a random timing, random intensity light pattern to drive the 1W LED using a power FET.  Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is used to modulate the intensity of the LED. The software also takes an analogue input from the  potentiometer to allow the user to control the intensity of the light pattern; ranging from all off to full on.

FLICKER: small two-part HDPE housing with intensity control and input and output power jacks

FLICKER: connected to the 1W LED assembly. Note that the miniUSB of the Nano is accessible for future software loads

The FLICKER electronics is housed in a small two-part HDPE enclosure with also contains the input and output jacks, a rotary intensity control and an opening onto the miniUSB port of the Nano.