Video Mirror

We recently visited the NY Hall of Science in Queens to see the exhibitions there as part of our Pixel by Pixel class and it was pretty fascinating and inspiring. One of the simplest and funniest things that we saw was the use of a mirror, where in one person would stand on the side of a mirror so that you see half of the real person and the other half has his reflection. And even though we now that it is a reflection, when that person raises his visible leg our mind tells us that he is flying……

So based on this I came up with a simple application which would again work off a live camera feed, and mirror half of it on the screen. The person sitting in front of the camera can then interact with it by moving around and creating various different looking versions of himself.

The video below is a screen capture of the application.

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.

Mousetrap Car

Last week the assignment for the Mechanisms class was to make a mousetrap car. A mechanical car that is powered by the spring of a mouse trap. The objective was to compete in a race over 10 feet. I worked with Vikram on this assignment, and we came up with what’s shown below. It uses three bearings(two at the back and one in the front). The mousetrap’s spring is attached to a nylon thread, which in turn is wound around the axle of the rear wheels. Hence once the mousetrap is tripped, it pulls the thread and in turn makes the car go forward.

As our car was made in wood, it had become too heavy to gain initial speed, so we tried reducing as much weight as possible by making cut outs in the wheels. Other problems faced during the assignment include:

1) Finding the right sized shaft for the bearings
2) Attaching the bearings to the chassis and the shaft to the bearings.

Although we lost the race, we were pretty satisfied with our car. (Am sure if it had been a race over 15 feet we would have won šŸ˜¦ )

Top view

Line People

This was just a small exercise I did sometime back while playing around with image manipulation in “C”. In this piece a live image is captured using a webcam, and then a simple mouse movement of up and down decides the threshold for the image, and left to right decides how much “hairier” a person becomes !!

The video below is a screen capture of the application.

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

Rube Goldberg Machine

Last week we had our first assignment for the Mechanisms class, where in we were supposed to make a Rube Goldberg machine(Similar to the popular Honda Ad) which would have five energy transfers from the point where you initiate the system and eventual would crack an egg!!! Another requirement was that complete egg should be collected in a container with not more than 50% of the egg shell.

On the first day of our group meeting we all started coming up with ideas as to what we wanted to do for it, everyone had really great ideas, which involved everything from lighting a fire, poping a balloon, using water somehow etc.

Below is the photograph of one of the mechanisms that I worked on. It is necessarily an energy amplifier, wherein one incoming marbel would cause more number of marbels to be released. At this point we werent sure have we were going to get that first marbel and also what we were going to do with so many marbels, but none the less we had this thing working.

EnergyĀ amplifier

So after having finished this, our final mechanism came into place, the following two videos show the explaination of the mechanism and working run of the same.

And here’s one of the working run’s of the machine. We broke many eggs that day, but I only managed to take a video of one run šŸ˜¦