February 2011 Archives

eLight documentation

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Post the documentation of your eLight prototype in this category prior by Monday 3/7.

You documentation includes:

  • photo [or video frame] of your eLight prototype as presented

  • edited video clip of your presentation

  • code for your project

  • wiring diagram / sketch

  • short statement of what you are happy with with your eLight prototype

  • short statement of next steps as you imagine them at this time

Textile Sensors

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Arduino Programming

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Fellow Newbies: I find this helpful.ARDUINO_NOTEBOOKv6.pdf

How To Get What You Want

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How To Get What You Want is a well organized resource for crafting the technologies that you want to use to develop your concepts. I think of think of this as a glossary of resources for constructing diy electronic components that have qualities that differ from manufactured components.
When conceptualizing interactive installation scale is interesting to explore. As with all diy resources, be sure to tune them to you conceptual interests and aesthetic sensibility.

Arduino Programming Notebook

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Brian Evans has written and made available a pdf of his book, Arduino Programming Notebook. arduino programming notebook v.6

This helpful guide describes the basic structure and language used to communicate with the arduino.

My sketch-Boyuan Yang

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conductive textiles

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less emf is as good source for conductive fabric and thread ... including a helpful guide to the selecting the fabric that would be best for your purposes.


Crude prototype

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shoe in flat (off) position. Incomplete connection


Toe of shoe tilted up (on) position. Complete connection.


Exploring Color through Movement

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Project Idea Simon Says

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For my project, I wanted to make something that can actually be interacted with as entertainment. With the idea of touch and light this game I played as a kid came to mind. With different color lights and switches I can incorporate the two aspects together.

Icy lights


I'd like to explore the idea of waiting with my sketch, by creating something that responds to the time of your interaction with it. I'm imagining an LED that is embedded in an object that you can pick up and hold, perhaps a paper mache ball or an ice globe. The LED lights when you pick up the globe, and turns off when you set it down, but it's not a simple on and off -- instead the LED fades depending on how long you held the globe: a slow fade if the globe was held for a long time, a short fade, if the globe was held briefly. I may play with animating the light in some way while it's on -- making it pulse or flicker or change color in some way. I may also try the reverse -- having it turn off when you pick up the globe, and slowly turn back on.


Feb 15, 2011: I've been testing the program, as well as the ice and parts. The circuits aren't seeming to work when encased in the ice (the water is shorting them), so I think I'll need to use heat shrink around the leads. The LED illuminates the ice in a really nice way, though.


Feb 18, 2011: Yesterday I got a couple of version of the program working. In one, the LED starts dim, becomes bright when you hold it, and fades out when you set it down. In the other, I tried a suggestion of Teroy's and flipped it so that the LED starts bright and gets dim when you hold it. I've just been prototyping it with a small paper globe, and I haven't incorporated the tilt sensor yet. I know that will change things... The tilt sensor is still a little finicky, so I think I need to play with the pull-up resistor value (perhaps?). This is the biggest challenge I'm facing at the moment.


Project Discription


I've decided to go with an idea I've had for a while about exploring city lights, the urban environment and scale. I am interested in the aesthetic of city lights and am also interested in imagining the interactions behind the light we see. When first brainstorming ideas for this project I did a little bit of research about light theory to generate ideas and I revisited pretty basic concepts that I learned in 9th grade but found myself fascinated in a whole new way. This notion of the disconnect between what we see and what we can feel-- we can touch things of the physical world and actually be connected to it, but what we see is never actually the thing itself, but the light reflected.

So I am going to create a miniature urban environment that produces light when some interaction takes place on a human scale. I imagine eventually building multiple life size environments in which such interactions can take place, but for the sake of the prototype for next week it will be perhaps contact mikes embedded in objects that get touched.

There will also be a mirror that will reflect the light of the miniature environment onto the ceiling so that the interactivity can be enjoyed by those directly involved in the process. The light that is seen is not directly connected to the physical interaction, but a reflection of it on the ceiling. A third party (not directly involved in the interaction) can also enjoy the miniature environment as well as the behind the scenes interaction producing the light that they see.

This concept is something I hope to build on throughout the semester, but for next week I will have a prototype of the urban environment and at least a single successful interaction producing light.

I will attach a few images that have been an inspiration for this concept

Accidental Violence

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I'd like to explore the idea of light as a metaphor for life, and the feeling of accidentally causing harm to it whether or not you intend to.
The sort of object I'd like to use would be some sort of faintly lit soft object, and I've been looking at paper lamps due to their light weight and the way they absorb light.

The object itself will have to be created as I go, but there are some goals I have for this project. I would like to examine and exhibit some of the feelings associated with empowerment, and also with the destruction we cause in our everyday lives.
To detail, I would like the participant to have some feelings of being like a terrible giant, who can only destroy, even the things he/she cherishes. The light-emitting object should communicate fragility, innocence, nature, and life.
Ideally, the participant will kill and witness the death of something they see as a good thing, but hopefully without getting caught up in symbolism.

The concept of the piece would be for it to fade and "die" essentially in a way due to the overwhelming 'power' of the presence of the touch of the participant.
I'm interested in looking into making color and flickering effects help make this communication of feeling more effective.
Some potential flaws in the concept are that it relies on empathy which may or may not be present, and the connection is subtle enough where it may be missed altogether.

My project idea-Boyuan Yang


For this project, mainly I want to make a LED balance which use different color of light for weighing a object. The ordinary one will be like use a weight for balance, now I will use color for balance, and on the emotional and interactive aspect, different color will bring people different feeling, so like red color give people a feeling of alert and intense, blue color bring people a peace and quiet feeling, yellow give us a warm and neutral feeling and the green color gives us a feeling of right. So like when we want to weigh a pen(usually, it weigh 50g), red color weight can represent very heavy weight which around 100g to 200g, so if we first try use red color weight, when the LED light feel inbalance, it will blink the red light at a very very high like ambulance, and now we know this is over heavy, so we change to a more netural yellow LED light, which represent like 50g-100g, since this LED light is a little bit more heavier than the weight of the pen, it will blink at a very very low frequency, then we choose to use green, which represent 20g-50g, at this time, we see the LED green light almost have no reaction of blinking, which we can have a result like the pen weigh around 20g to 50g. This is just my first idea, now I'm trying to think about how to make the LED balance as more accuracy as possible.

in [switch] + out [led]

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The arduino homePage links to tutorials that introduce the switch as an INput that sends a signal to the arduino which you can then program to affect an OUTput such as the led.

The pushbotton and the button

Limor Fried's tutorial # 5 introduces the switch as an INput into the arduino. She provides the basics that will help you to successfully include a switch and provides as much technical background as well.


These Make videos guide you through the process of combining the IN [led] and Out [pushbutton switch.



soldering tips

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.. this is Andie Nordgren's comic adaptation of Mitch Altman's soldering tips.

The 'curious inventor" offers an accessible, video introduction to the everyday hows and technical whys of soldering

Jamie's Project Description


My project consists of LED lights incorporated into clothing accessories, in this case a hat, that responds to a trigger in the sole of shoe that responds to added pressure. Initially I'm interested in developing this light system on the most simple level, meeting the stipulation of touch through the pressure trigger in the shoe. But then, by incorporating the Arduino I'll explore how I can pre-program this system to respond to levels of sound and patterns of touch.
I plan on using this shoe-hat LED accessory for the purposes of complementing a live performative piece. A stand-up comedy act, or musical performance, for example, may be enhanced through the manual or pre-programmed/automatic use of colored light.

Eventually I'd like to transition to sound as the trigger and, in a separate idea, sound as the output from a touch sensation trigger.

Bright ideas...



I'm interested in the playful connection between the expression of epiphany and illumination-the traditional image of lights turning on when one has a bright idea. This can be realized through the gesture of touching graphite sticks (or fingers with sensors) to a conductive surface vis a vis drawing or writing. Thus, connection of graphite or sensors--an expression of realizing epiphany--would effectively complete the circuit to illuminate space. This would be somehow mapped to luminosity, color, opacity, etc.

The ultimate goal is to reward physical expression of creative gesture via illumination.

Another possibility could include two graphite sticks to remotely interface two users. The circuit configuration could facilitate a process of "finding each other" via completing circuits and triggering light responses. This is could be contextualized in a generic way to reflect on the ancient art of letter writing.

- How is the drawing/writing moderated?
- Is there a directive, motivation or purpose that would encourage a certain kind of expressive engagement?
- How does the expression of epiphany correspond to the linearity of using a pen-like object like a graphite stick or finger?
- What is the connection between light-epiphany and writing/drawing?
- How can creating "graphite pathways" be engaged via gesture in interesting ways and in ways that will encourage deeper levels of interaction?
- Conceive of ways to map regions on the conductive surface that correspond to different LED responses.

First project on a cold winter day

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My plan is to make an illuminated LED American flag. That can be attached to the back of a person's shirt. The LED lights will go on and off displaying a lighted American flag. The display will be turned off and on when the straps are attached on the front.

electricity +

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artist links

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Ken Rinaldo's links

Stephen Wilson's links

sources • electronic components

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Tiffany Field writes about our sense of touch - our first sensory mode.

To stimulate discussion about touch as it relates to our eLight + touch prototype, we will discuss the chapter on Touch Messages to the Brain on Thursday February 10th.


more arduino examples

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oomlout has a series of introductory examples that include wiring diagrams and code samples.

experiment with:
multiple [8] leds
rgb led fade cyle
fading colors with pwm

SAD lightlet

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This mock up is for a new product called the SAD lightlet. It is uniquely designed with special led light to emulate the sun when you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder. It will automatically come on upon putting the lightlet on, and will adjust its strength based on the light around you. It comes with a calibration button and is turned off by either being turned upside down or taking it off. This product will be guaranteed to keep you from severe depression and suicide. (As long as you maintain a fresh battery at all time.) The artist in charge of designing this product will not be held responsible for the misuse of this product. We guarantee our product and do offer a full refund if you are not satisfied, but only with an attached death certificate...official release date TBD.

sads lightlet
View image



The eLight prototype introduces the basics of concept, circuit, code and construction that are common to the projects that you will be engaged in throughout the New Media: Making Art Interactive course.

eLight is an invitation to explore the emotional and affective aspects of light and the relationship of touch and light. Framing the project in this way encourages each person to think about the role of sensory experience in interactive art and to probe our understanding of personal and collective responses to light.

A project prototype suggests that you will present eLight in a form that enables people to experience your concept of the emotional and affective aspects of light and the relationship of touch and light. A prototype successfully conveys the concept that you have in mind; it does not assume that everything will look exactly as you imagine it to be or constructed in its final form. Focus on the experience that is central to your project concept and present it in a form that enables people, other than you, to experience it.


In the process of developing your response to eLight you will explore how to:

  • make a circuit that will light LEDs

  • think of a switch [the opening and closing of the circuit] as an expressive medium

  • add the arduino to this circuit

  • use code to design the behavior of the light and interaction with touch

  • investigate the relationship of light and touch

Use the arduino tutorials authored by Limor fried on the Adafruit site to get to know the arduino, the software that you will use to design behaviors, and the leds that are part of your getting started kit.

Refer to the: Intro • Starting • Lession #1, #2, and #3

Using this guide to the arduino and leds, create varied modes of illumination that help you to communicate your eLight concept using the expressive vocabulary of steady light, blinking light, fading light, colored light, etc.

Add to this a tangible dimension that conveys the affective or emotional experience of your concept of the eLight. Materials that transmit, block, reflect or diffuse light may help you to create the experience of light that you have in mind.

Keep it simple. Describe your concept clearly and as you are in the process of making the many decisions required to realize you concept, imagine the experience of the eLight and let this experience guide the choices that you make.


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"Fritzing is an open-source initiative to support designers, artists, researchers and hobbyists to work creatively with interactive electronics."

You can use it to document the electronics in your arduino project.

The magic combo of your .pde code file and your .fz fritizing files will provide you with sharable documentation for your reference in the future and as inspiration for others.

projectshas some project examples ... including an example using a tri-color [RGB] led


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a graphical resistor calculator helps to decode the color bands on the resistor.



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// tri-color LED *common cathode*

int ledpin1 = 2; // red LED connected to pin 2 via 1K ohm resistor
int ledpin2 = 3; // blue LED connected to pin 3 via 1K ohm resistor
int ledpin3 = 4; // green LED connected to pin 4 via 1K ohm resistor
// LED cathode connected to ground
void setup()
// nothing for setup

void loop()

// turn on and off red LED

analogWrite(ledpin1, 255); // turn on the voltage on pin 2 to 5 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds

analogWrite(ledpin1, 0); // turn off the voltage on pin 2 to 0 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds

// turn on and off blue LED

analogWrite(ledpin2, 255); // turn on the voltage on pin 3 to 5 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds

analogWrite(ledpin2, 0); // turn off the voltage on pin 3 to 0 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds

// turn on and off green LED

analogWrite(ledpin3, 255); // turn on the voltage on pin 4 to 5 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds

analogWrite(ledpin3, 0); // turn off the voltage on pin 4 to 0 volts
delay(500); // wait for 500 milli seconds


getting started with arduino

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All about arduino:

getting started
learning guides
• programming language reference
where to buy
arduino hardware family



Limor Fried's tutorials provide a very detailed and multi-layered introduction to the arduino.