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  • Archive for November, 2009

    Media Controller Midterm – Documentation

    2009 - 11.30

    For the midterm in Physical Computing our group created a media controller that would allow a user to control the various everyday sounds of New York City.   We spent many meeting brainstorming about how the user will control these sounds.  We finally decide to use individuals pods to control the volume of different sounds discretely.  We broke up the project into the following task:

    1. Record the sound of New York City and edit them
    2. Construct and wire the pods
    3. Programming for both the Arduino and Processing application

    Subway RecordingsThe first thing we did was to go around New York City recording different sounds with a boom unidirectional microphone and a digital audio recorder.  We went from the village to Time Square recording construction sounds, ATM beeps, people walking, conversations, fire trucks, musicians at the subway stations, and water at the piers.  We then edited the sounds into seamless loops.  Having the loops be seamless will allow us to keep the sound files small and also have the sound replay seamlessly creating a rewarding experience for the user.

    Our next task was to find a suitable pod that would represent the urban feel of New York City.  We found these metal food containers that fit our idea of what they should look like.  All the circuits and wires fitted perfectly inside the pods.


    The last task to our project was creating the serial communication between the the Arduino board and Processing, as well as programming the logic for how the user with use the pods.  We used accelerometers for sensing the gestures of the user.  I found that it was hard to read the gestures of a person over the noise of the sensors and the environment.  The resolve of this issue was gestures that were abrupt and jerky.  We were initially thinking the gesture for controlling the volume of the sound would be like a conductor waving their wand.  We tried to do the same but the gesture were very hard to trigger the volume up and down of each sound.  I was able to refine the code to allow for a more gentler gesture for controlling the volume.  The result is a much easier and pleasant experience for the user.


    We used the Minim library in Processing to control the different sounds.  We have all the sounds playing at a low initial volume.  The user will then shake a pod to increase a sounds volume.  Then can then either turn the pod upside down or suddenly drop the pod in there hand to volume down.  We have one 3-axis accelerometer and one Super Bright white LED in each pod.  The pods are wired to a Arduino Mega board.  We are using a Arduino Mega because the Duemilanove did not have enough analog pins.  We initially  wanted to have 8 pods but due to a bug in the Mega firmware we could not use 8 pods.  Instead we used 4 pods for our presentation.  We wanted to use the LED’s in each pod to indicate the volume level of that sound.  We ran out of time to implement this feature.  Instead we have the LED’s blinking.

    I am satisfied with the outcome with this project.  I learned a lot about how to filter the noise out of the accelerometer sensors.  The final behavior for controlling the sounds is acceptable.  I would like to spend more time in refining the gestures for controlling the sounds if I were to continue working on this project.

    ICM – Final Proposal – Psychoacoustics

    2009 - 11.19

    I have been fascinated with sound for as long as I can remember.  I do informal presentations on psychoacoustics.  Psychoacoustics is the study of how humans perceive sound.   I would like to build an application that helps me demonstrate the different topics of psychoacoustics.  I want the application to be both a teaching tool and a testing tool.  The application will have both visual and audio elements.

    I want to include the following features:

    • A frequency generator with a visual slider control to select different frequencies in realtime.  I will also like to be able to input a specific frequency directly
    • Pink noise generator
    • White noise generator


    Week 10 – Final Project Concept

    2009 - 11.17

    The helper is an assistive technology for a person with muscular dystrophy who can not pinch. It is composed of an arm and a controller. The controller is composed of 2 round objects the control the arm sided to side and around itself.  The controller has 2 buttons one to open and close the grabber and a preset button that will bring the arm to bring object to the user.


    Week 9 – PHP Time Changing CSS

    2009 - 11.10

    For this assignment I create a website using PHP.  I used the “date” function to get the time from the web server. I then wrote a switch case statement that will change the CSS file based on what time of day it is.   I also included a manual override controls in javascript to show the different CSS styles, so that you don’t have to wait all day to see the different scenes.

    I am also using PHP to get the current year and current domain name and displaying them in the footer of the page. This website features a login page, a favorite website links page that get links from a MySQL database and displays those websites links.
    Click here to goto PHP Time Changing CSS website