Notus – Networked mechanical lamp

Notus is my final project for Networked objects and the Materials class. Building the lamp is part of the materials class and networking it is for the networked objects class.

Lighting has been my passion for quite some time now, and I keep finding myself coming up with more and more lighting design projects. There just something about making lamps that is very exciting.

Notus was first conceived as part of the materials class, as it would involve casting, mold making and working with various materials. The form of the lamp is derived from a lotus, and it can mechanical open and close itself. It has two rows of 8 leaves each, which are hinged at the bottom to a circular gear. Now as the gear is rotated, on a threaded rod, it rises up, and hence the leaves open outwards. The inside of the lamp would have LED clusters both facing upwards and downwards to light up the lamp evenly.

I first started with a form core board model to get my concept clear, and also to make sure that the mechanism would work.

For the construction of the final lamp, I first made a 3D model in Solidworks.
The image below shows a 3D model of the lamp and gives an idea of how the lamp would look like once its completed.

Heres how the lamp would look like when it would be closed.

The 3D model was then used to make a rapid prototype of the two different leaves. These were then used to make the molds in silicone.
The image below shows the 3D printed (Rapid prototyped) leaf and the mold.

The molds were then used to create all the leaves using liquid plastic. I added an orange pigment to give it some color. The interesting thing here was that the natural texture of the rapid prototyped model gave the final leaves a translucent effect which looked nice.

The images below shows the LED cluster that forms the light source inside the lamp.

On the networking side, the lamp is connected to the internet and has an online configuration web page. Users can control how the lamp behaves from this page. The image below shows the online interface.

There are various options for controlling the lamp

Direct Control: Users can directly control how much the lamp is open or closed through a slider.

Local ambient response: The lamp reacts (opens and closes) based on the light conditions within the room

Remote ambient response: The lamp reacts to weather conditions outside

Alarm clock: Users can also choose to use the lamp as an alarm clock, so that it would light up and open at a preset time in the morning.

The images below show the final working lamp:

The winding wire here was later resolved by use of slip rings.

Spinning Notus as it opens at the ITP Spring show 2008

Notus in its fully opened state





Networked pong

Last week in networked objects, we were required to make a physical interface for playing a networked pong game. There existed a server for the same running in processing, which would accept multiple incoming network connections. We were required to make an interface which would allow us to connect to the server, pass ‘l’ and ‘r’ values to move the paddle left and right respectively and to disconnect from the server if required. The main purpose of the assignment was to understand how to connect micro controllers to the internet without the use of a computer.

The interface that I came up with, looked like a big pulley, with a string on either side. The pulling of the strings on either side determined the direction in which the paddle would move. Also there was a single button used to connect to the server. Once connected an LED would light up show the connected status. The same button would be used to disconnect from the server if required.

Pong pulley

On the technical end, the pulley is mounted on a potentiometer, which in turn is connected to the arduino input pin. The arduino regularly reads the value from the potentiometer to determine the position of the pulley. Based on a threshold, it would understand in which direction the pulley has been pulled. The arduino on the other side communicates over the internet using the Xport. There are 4 LEDs (controlled by the arduino) on the board to signal the status of connection, and the direction of the pulley.

Physical Computing Improv

Last week we had a quick physical computing assignment for networked objects class. We had to combine an action with an object to create one or more responses from a given list for all three of them. I came up with an idea of a game where, you have a bouncing ball on the screen, with other particles around. White particles giving positive points and red ones giving negative ones. There was a physical ball which the person can squeze to make the size of the ball on screen bigger. The objective of the game was to collect as many white particles as possible and avoid the red ones to make a high score in a given time. Hence the user would have to regulate the squezing of the ball.

Problems encountered:
1. I didnt add a voltage divider circuit with the FSR (Force Sensitive Resistor) which created fluctuating readings.
2. The ball was filled with a synthetic material which accounted for a lot of static electricity giving a full reading all the time.
3. FSR works best when kept on a solid flat surface……..


Bouncing ball setup

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