Tag Archives: Nano

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?

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.

WaveForm: The sleek new Simpler Simon with free play

The latest in the suite of Simpler Simon games is


WaveForm: sleek new design and now with “FreePlay”

WaveForm is a sleek new design of the Simpler Simon game with large illuminated “arcade-style” buttons, the same great game play, a fully programmable volume control, and the addition of FreePlay.

WaveForm: new thinner style

Free Play was suggested by my recreologist friend who is using versions of the Simpler Simon with clients suffering from dementia and other cognitive challenges. Free Play allows users to play the five notes – arranged as the first 5 notes of the key of C major – to make up their own melodies. This play mode allows clients to make up tunes with the familiar notes of Doh, Ray, Me, Fah, Soh. It’s amazing how many tunes you can play with just these 5 notes!

WaveForm: game play with musical notes and bright illuminated buttons.

WaveForm is constructed from smooth white and black plastic and feels smooth and sleek to the touch. It is designed to sit comfortably on the client’s lap, and the wave-shape is styled on the increasing pitch of consecutive piano keys.

WaveForm: One of the Simpler Simon series from SENSE-i.ca



Surround Sound: The latest edition to the Simpler Simon series

Introducing Surround Sound, the latest member of the Simpler Simon interactive games.

Surround Sound:Sporting bubble lines and large arcade-style illuminated buttons.

One of the comments from users of the original Simpler Simon was that the sound effects were not loud enough. In addition, those users who had some musical background, found the “circular” sound aspect of the game somewhat confusing. They were more used to the idea of keys and corresponding notes being presented in a linear fashion; much like a piano keyboard…

So, voila!

The Surround Sound offers a new look and feel, with large illuminated arcade-style buttons that can take a lot of pounding, and up to 4 watts of sound for those with the hardest of hearing. And, there is a simple-to-use volume control built in!

As my recreologist friend noted…

“The staff in my activity department tried the new and improved Simpler Simon…. The longer design allowed the device to rest on the lap comfortably.  The volunteers tried it too.  It is a hit!  “

All the great games of the Simpler Simon with a new look-and-feel – jumbo buttons and lots of volume for game-play sound effects.

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