Adventures in Smartsurfaces

Just another weblog

It’s coming together… September 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelboswell @ 6:37 pm

Project three is well underway, and in theory our design is solid. The assignment was to design a heliotropic field that follows the movement of the sun, which would be beneficial for energy collection for example. Using Digital Project (awesome!), we will create a simulation of the working field in motion, and using our arduino kits and electronic knowledge we will construct a few prototype cells.

Our design may be pushing a little past the requirements of the assignment, which I think is a good thing. We have decided to use mirrors to reflect solar light to a solar cell (perhaps, this is still in the works a bit) in order to concentrate the power. Each cell in our field consists of three mirrors in a row that can angle on one axis and are mounted on a rectangular box platform. This platform in turn rotates on the horizontal over top a stationary cylindrical box on the bottom. When the field moves in unison, the rotating rectangles create changing shapes and patterns throughout the day for visual appeal.

So far, the code has been written and we will be laser cutting the structure out of foamcore today (black for added chic-ness). Since we have detailed drawings already, assembly should be a breeze. All that remains to be worked out is the Digital Project simulation (fun stuff! if you ask me), and troubleshooting of course, which could make or break us.

Pictures of work in progress and the finished model to come. Aren’t you excited?


A Giant Leap Forward September 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelboswell @ 5:28 pm

Since the successful blinking light assignment, we have learned loads more about arduino, electronics, and now digital design.

Our second group project required us to incorporate LDR photo sensors into our codes and circuits in order to track a moving light on at least two axes. It took a lot of trial and error, but in the end our device worked! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the final project, but I promise to document our next project much more effectively.

With the LDR project we encountered MANY issues, most of each were, unbeknownst to us, easy to fix of course :S, and caused us much craziness. We learned that the USB ports of our laptops don’t have enough juice to power more than very simple circuits. When we added servo motors and cross read different components, it was too much for the computer to handle. In the end, we had two arduinos hooked up to two external power sources and two laptops (which were used more for information processing than for power). Needless to say, our device was not exactly energy efficient, but now we know what our mistakes were and what we need to do differently next time.

This week, we are adding another design variable into the equation: Digital Project, which is a 3D parametric design program from the makers of Catia. The possibilities of this program seen endless, and I can’t wait to use them to design a field of sensors that follows the path of the sun.

More to come later when we’ve started working through the task!


Mission Blinking Light: Accomplished September 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelboswell @ 2:35 pm

So the Arduino lessons took a bit longer than I expected, and I now know to check for faulty wires before stalking my teacher, but all in all working with the Arduino software was pretty user friendly. And I also felt like a brain as I was writing in computer speak.

So here are the results! I made a paper shade beginning with an origami balloon and wrote a code for a somewhat erratic light pattern (but intentionally so).

And there it is! We have class again today, so here’s to learning more about Arduino!

’til next time 🙂


Hello world! September 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — rachelboswell @ 11:41 pm

This is officially my first post for Smartsurfaces!

The first day of class was everything I expected and more. I have an optimistic view of the semester ahead, and I am already learning a lot about working in teams and group dynamics. This is exactly the kind of class I need to get some hands-on real-world experience as a product designer, rather than the over-conceptualized classroom projects that art students are often required to do. Yay! Super excited! I really hope what we end up creating lives up to my expectations, but I guess that’s all up to us isn’t it?

And now I shall start on my Arduino lessons… just unpacking the box was a tad bit intimidating, but I always have a lot of fun with electronics and I LOVE resistors. They are so interesting and colorful, but without trying to hard. I think that’s the designer in me speaking there.

Well, here goes nothing!