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Showing posts from 2009

Green Noise Experiment

This post relates to my " Green Noise Experiment " at Uncraftivism, Arnolfini Bristol, 12-14 December 2009. An experiment will be carried out producing 3 devices capable of inducing hallucinations through sensory deprivation. A CD player and headphones containing 20 minutes of green noise, and some ping pong balls and sticky tape to cover eyes. I'm considering creating a second CD with some natural green noise collected from around Bristol. a white mask with an arduino microprocessor and 2 piezoelectric buzzers producing white noise near the wearer's ears. Current status - the white noise device and white piezoelectrically modified earmuffs are ready. I've decided not to use the mask. It fits and works, but is easy to break and difficult to put on Two simple white and pink noise circuits (made with the help of other dorkbot members) one using Linear Feedback Shift Circuits and Xor chips, and the other using an even simpler "good enough for me"

Electronic Ideas and Experiments

LED lights. This is a simple idea which has already led some local artists to make shiny balloons to light up a pier, and has inspired a teenager to start a business and win various entrepreneurial and inventing awards with something that leaves most open hardware or electronics enthusiasts cold and blank. Basically the most simple thing you can build using electronics is an LED attached to a resistor, and both ends of those two, attached to a battery. Another simple variation on this is the throwie, which is LED + Battery + magnet (so it sticks to what you throw it onto). To many this is old stuff, far too simple to be interesting any more, but to me the simplicity of the design is beautiful: But it's actually a lot more fluid than that picture, made of bendable wires that could go anywhere, and could be arbitrary lengths really. LED light can be very directional and will project really nicely on to things, so an LED tree made of wire or pipes that you can position seems a

Beyond the netbook: Making the simplest open source arduino based microcomputer

Today's arduino based microprocessors are no match for the computing power of an ARM chip. Most of these chips can easily run Linux, or proprietary systems like WinCE, and they power most of our phones as a result of much earlier electronic experimentation, as show by last week's Micromen BBC program , about the Acorn vs Sinclair battles of the 80s. A fully capable ARM chip able to control a complex thing like a mobile with it's full color displays and wifi, 3g bluetooth etc will cost a minimum of 150 pounds(and that's just for the chip), and so for hardware hacking isn't really worth the investment, as no-one will buy it for £150 when you can buy a proper ARM based phone at Tescos for 15 pounds. But an arduino can still be the basis for some kind of cheap system, perhaps one that costs only around 50 pounds to prototype. What I'd like to see though isn't a project to make something that mimics phones, but is to make a functional leap and create the simpl

A weekend building an arduino based robot

[The bot itself, looking sombre] Last month, I went away to Stourbridge, a great centre of technology and robotics in the UK's scenic midlands. Here are some notes, pictures and film from that journey. (I lied about Stourbridge). The little train that brought me over from the main rail routes felt like a mix between the Totoro cat train and the slowly chugging train of death that inevitably carries away dead steampunks. I later learned it had been built with very little money, so the health and safety was very minimal, and it was always breaking down. But my friend Mat lives on the side of this sleepy town. He said that to one side of his house there was wasteland and empty industrial buildings. The other side, he warned was a land of chavs with blue neon underlit cars, there were also pubs and strip clubs, and lots of nurseries. For a long time, Mat had been collecting arduinos and sensors of all kinds, hoping for a weekend of calm in which to play with it all. He invited

Dorkbot's New Hackspace

Here below you see a miniature, or pocket version of what was recently displayed at a large event in Bath by the newly hacktivised dorkbot bunch, who were given the challenge of providing a musical experience for a tech related arts event. They had to build a smaller version for testing, so they say, or most probably, because they could and because it was fun. So Dorkbot has finally grown up from being a show and tell of the media, design, internet, engineering, musical and generally creative dork-peoples of Bristol. It has now gained much attention from event organisers and maker faires, as popular electronics has it's second rennaisance in arduinos and strange inventions, and as the closet sound benders of Bristol started messing with all that, so they are booked to play quite a few places , in the sense of course, of playing strange new-millennium unicycles that generate sounds by bending a microprocessor's own vibrations. Tonight, we plotted the needs for the upcomin

Where's the Salad?

A while ago, I put on an event in which people from Bristol grew and made a salad , based on Alison Knowle's " Proposition No 2 ": It was very nice, and I made a preparatory video: as well as there being a radio interview and a sound art play with radio and some homemade chopping noises(with poet Andres Andwadter ), lots of photos of the event itself and some graphics about it. But I want to make this, as well as more audio, this time of the live chopping duet between lollorosso and improvising trio, into a video and tell the story that way. So I'm really sorry, but it's going to take me a while. It was an incredible experience, and thanks to all who came, and to the better food company who gave us loads of tasty tomatos and lettuce. And to everyone else who brought us salad!

A list of future physical/virtual computing arts projects

I have to write up so much from recent events, but as usual at these times, my head is buzzing with ideas for other stuff to do next (all based on a long weekend of messing with arduinos, robotics, Puredata and Max/MSP), so I thought it best to document that first. So. I would like to make: An enactment of a score I wrote a long time ago, involving dancers/actors performing with a box, that follows different parameters based on what stage the performance is at. It would be a black box, interacting with the movement and words only through sound. It would be capable of "jamming" or following music in some way or other . (Link suggested by Mat) A dance based implementation of the MaxMSP script that my friend Mat quickly put together last weekend, which allows webcams to interpret visual data as audio samples(more on that in the next post). I want to invite a duet of dancers to perform with this webcam audio, in December, but mostly scriptless, just a result of trying things out

A tree spirit for Opensim / Burning Life

I want to make a self replicating distributed bot + attachment system, which is coupled with a physical computing version of itself which my friend Mat Dalgliesh is making as a physical creation. Here is the spec: The tree idea is a reflection of a physical computing tree, created using arduinos, sensors and motors. Leaves are attachments with a built in fall script. When they fall, they slowly degrade, becoming darker until they become a particle effect and delete themselves. New leaves take donations from users. If they get donations, they grow bigger and live longer. They pass this donation to the trunk who divides it around the rest of the plant. Here is a little bit of a proto-leafgen script: // Rez an object on touch, with relative position, rotation, and velocity all described in the rezzing prim's coordinate system. string object = "Leaf"; // Name of object in inventory vector relativePosOffset = <2.0,>; // "Forward" and a little "abov

A quick look at Second Life and Opensim

I just wrote this blog post as a generic look at the history and uses of virtual worlds, with focus mostly on SL, but I'm about to change it drastically to just be about SL and it's uses to most of the clients we have at work - mostly quangos, charitable organisations and meta-academic groups. Meanwhile, here is it's full original and sometimes unfinished text I Robot These days I have been mostly building some robots. To be precise, I am making a few Victorians, some roman slaves, and a roman tour guide and host. They will be there to welcome visitors, and to provide entertaining commentaries as a backdrop to a historical reconstruction. But these are not your "ordinary" robots, made of metal and silicon: they will live their slightly repetitive existences only within the confines of the Second Life virtual world. The project I'm working on uses this 3d environment to recreate a Victorian model of an earlier Roman building - the Pompeii Court, which wa

2 weeks in - a google phone review

So I was at a funeral 2 weeks ago, and feeling pretty sad and in need of distraction. Also while at the funeral, my phone broke, so the next day I went down the road and spent a good hour telling all my life and family data to the sales guy, who then signed my life off in blood for the next 18 months on this planet. Midlife crisis? T-Mobile says it's £30 a month for a famous "Google Phone" or G1, but actually this works out at 45 for most people if you throw in the data plan (which for a G1 makes little sense without), and the 10 pound insurance the phone shop was very very into flogging to me. I declined, saying they should seek alternate revenue than insurance - I see that as a dead market in these times. They should concentrate on providing services like repair or home made application development. Much more money in that, and value to building a community of phone users around a shop etc etc... But I didn't waste too much time telling him that. Rooting it up Afte

Sustainable Communities Bill

Here is my submission to the sustainable communities bill call for suggestions. I hope that others feel motivated to publish their SCB suggestions. I think there's a huge lack of dialogue in the current process, and the more we share what we know the more we can counter this -- 0 -- Walking through Bristol in mid recession, there are many many more empty properties as businesses close, homes are repossessed and places become derelict. This reminds me of what happened during the Great Depression in the US: Thousands of properties lying empty while people are homeless or crammed in social housing, or having to endure various hardships due to living arrangements. This conundrum led to considerable social unrest both then and in the recession of the 70s. To solve this problem some turn to squatting, or artists sometimes ask administrators of empty properties for their temporary use for exhibitions, and many positive results have come from this. The arts/community group Artspace/Life