Arduino Final Project

For my final Arduino project, I wanted to expand on the LED musical cue project and create an experience around the song that I chose. I was inspired by the artwork for "Me and Your Mama" by Childish Gambino (below). I really loved the contrast of light and dark in the photograph and the woven headdress around the figure really appealed to me. So I decided to create an enclosure that was similar in style and woven.


I also wanted the lights to flash blue and white to simulate the lighting in the cover art. 


I started with the enclosure which I cut from chicken wire. I cut six pieces and made a roughly 3.5x5 inch box 

Next, I took cotton twine and wove the pieces through the squares of the chicken wire. Once all of the pieces were woven I connected them with zip ties.


Before I closed the box, I built the bread board with the lights and circuits connected to the arduino. I placed the arduino and bread board in the enclosure and surrounded it with stuffing and a cut crystal candle holder to better reflect the light. I ran the USB cable through the weave and closed the enclosure. 


This is the finished product with the musical cues. 

Ideas in Forms- Immersive Storytelling

Ideas in Forms- Immersive Storytelling

Ideas in Form is a design challenge to present a concept in five different forms:

  • 1D= project narrative
  • 2D= sketch
  • 3D= physical prototype
  • 4D= the passing of time
  • 5D= interaction

My initial concept for Ideas in Form was to explore storytelling through a social impact lens. My goal was to design an interactive experience that fostered empathy through stories and demonstrated the shared human experience. I decided to do this by creating an immersive experience. Every culture throughout human history has used storytelling to share their experiences, consolidate their culture, and interpret the world around them. I'm particularly interested in storytelling as it relates to anthropology and how it can be leveraged to demonstrate our shared humanity.  

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1D- Narrative

Talia is the granddaughter of immigrants. Her grandparents met in the US and she has grown up identifying as an American. She's seen so much hate and fear directed towards immigrants in recent years and it disheartens her. It seems that people just don't understand how similar their experiences really are. She decides to share some of the stories she recalls from her time with her grandparents to show just how normal they are: the time she broke her leg climbing a tree and her grandfather carried her home and bought her ice cream for being brave, the times her grandmother made her wash the dishes by hand and use the dishwasher as a drying rack. 

Talia's stories join hundreds of other stories in an immersive experience. Mark has never met an immigrant but he comes to the experience and chooses the theme of "grandparents." Marks finds dozens of stories from people who look very different from him. He selects one of the stories and it is Talia's story about her grandmother and the dishwasher. Mark enjoys the story and the immersive. Talia's grandmother reminds him of his own mother because she never let him use the dishwasher either. Mark walks away feeling he has just made a new friend.


Initially, I considered facilitating the experience with a chatbot that compiles a trans media experience. I was inspired by Ben Hoguet's article "How to Tell Stories with Chatbots." I'd like to gather stories from a group of people on a common theme ("tell me a story about your parents") and ask for them to submit artifacts that relates to their story (photos, videos, tweets, text messages) and then allow the chatbot to pull from an API of all of the artifacts to send to the user when they request a story. The user texts the chatbot and is given the choice of the story they want to receive. The user can then choose to hear another short story or see artifacts from the story.

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2D and 3d

In the 2D and 3D iterations of my idea, I envisioned a gallery-like setting where I could build an art installation. The installation would have wall to wall screens that would come to life with artifacts (photos, maps, scenes, video clips, and music) to accompany the audio and video of the person telling the story. I pictured visitors following a story visually across the space of the room. To demonstrate, I made a paper prototype. 

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For the 4D iteration we were tasked with adding time and movement to our concepts. I decided to rethink my initial chatbot idea and give the experience an app interface. I designed a mockup tablet app to demonstrate how the artifacts would supplement the storytelling. The video below is the mockup in action. I kept with the theme of grandparents and used a story courtesy of The Moth



In feedback, I received questions about how one might share their own story so I decided to prototype the interface for recording, uploading, and sharing your own story. I also wanted to better demonstrate how users could discover others' stories and browse stories based on shared themes that are central to the human experience and relatable across cultures. 


Interaction Diagram

The final iteration is a prototype of the user interface to upload and edit your own story. Link to Prototype

Resources and inspiration

"What is interactive storytelling?" - Benjamin Hoguet, Medium

The Art of Storytelling - Pixar in a Box, The Khan Academy

"The Technology of Storytelling" - Joe Sabia, TED Talk

"The Science of Storytelling" - Steve Denning, Forbes

"Babushka's Revenge" - by Ivan Kuraev for The Moth

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Arduino + Firmata

This week's project required us to use Firmata to either control a function in Processing with Arduino or control a function on Arduino with Processing. I chose to use build an example given to us in class- using beat detect in the Processing Minim library to control LEDs on my breadboard. 

You can find the source code and the original project instructions here.

Step 1:

Connect the GND to the negative rail on the breadboard. Arrange the LEDs on your breadboard and connect 220 resistors to each of the LED anodes.


Step 2:

Connect wires from the negative rail to each of the cathodes on the LEDs.


Step 4: 

Connect the anodes on each LED to 2, 12, and 8 on the digital pins of the arduino on the left side of the resistors.


Step 5:

Upload the Standard Firmata to your Arduino. Add your audio file to the BeatDetect file in Processing by dragging and dropping into the Processing GUI. Change the .mp3 file name to the name of your file and run the code.

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Arduino Pt. 2

My goal for this project was to combine an analog and digital interaction using Arduino. My original concept was to use a digital and analog input to create a digital output in the form of an LED pin lighting. I wanted to make the turning of a potentiometer knob and motion sensed by a PIR trigger an LED to light up. My idea was that it could mimic the arming of an alarm. Turn the knob to arm the alarm and the motion sensor will trigger an alert. If the knob isn't turned, the motion sensor won't trigger.

However, I realized once I tested my PIR that it was too sensitive and it was constantly sensing motion even without a visible source of motion. My classmate suggested that it may have been sensing the overhead lighting. I abandoned the PIR sensor and just went with the potentiometer triggering the LED.


Step 1: Setup the Circuit


Connect the power to 5V on the bread board. Then connect the Ground position on the bread board to GND.

Step 2: Connect the Potentiometer

The potentiometer has three prongs: power, output, and ground (see diagram).

potentiometer diagram.png


Connect male-female wire to each prong. Connect the power prong to the power on the bread board and connect the ground to the ground on the bread board. Connect the output to A1 in the analog.

Potentiometer connected to wires

Potentiometer connected to wires

Step 3: Connect the LED Pin

Insert the LED pin onto the breadboard. Connect the anode to the digital 4 on the Arduino. Connect the cathode to the ground row on the breadboard.

Step 4: Connect the PIR 

When I connected the PIR and read the serial line, I saw that it was rapidly switching between 0 and 1 even when there was no motion around it (see the video below). I tried covering it completely and it still wasn't registering the motion so I decided to scrap the PIR input.


Final product

The link to the code can be found on Github. Special Thanks to Chris Stuart for helping me code this one from scratch.

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This is my documentation of my 5-in-5 project. The goal was to create five different projects- one per day- for five days. I wanted to try things that I had never done before but had had on my to-do list for a while. I wanted to try my hand at music production, learn After Effects, and practice my photo editing.

Song Writing

I decided to try and write a song. I'm an out of practice musician and at my height, I studied the flute, trombone, guitar, drum set and vocals. I don't have access to instruments anymore so I wrote the song using pre-programmed loops in garage band.


I started with a drum pattern that I liked. I didn't know what style song I wanted to write (and still don't really know what genre it would land under) then I added the bass line. The first bass line had a very 70's pop rock feel and I liked it. I wanted to add some strings and I found a really cool harp riff. It wasn't in the right tone so I changed the key to B flat and sped the tempo up to 70bmp. 

After that, the song had a different feel and I switched out the drum pattern again and added vocals.

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Photo Tour 

I live with two really awesome photographers so I am developing an appreciation for photography. I find myself trying to refine the photos I take and create more composition. Since I moved here, I've wanted to do a walking photo tour of the city. I always notice really cool details in architecture and kitschy things that make me love the city. I walked around the villages and Soho for an evening and snapped some shots. 


I walked around with my friends as we went from place to place and tried to remember to pause and shoot when something looked cool to me. It annoyed them at first but then they got into it and started pointing things out to me. 

Photo edits

The next day I revisited the shots that I had taken and chose three that I really liked because of the perspective. I started thinking about how I wanted to edit them and landed on playing off the perspectives to make them look more surreal. 


At first I wanted to edit the images to make them more like collages. I was inspired by the artist Travis Bedel or Bedelgeuse. Their collage work is very surreal and emotive. Below are some of the images that inspired me. 

Open Anatomical Heart by Travis Bedel

Open Anatomical Heart by Travis Bedel

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown


I started with the images I liked, found stock images to use as masks from and clipped and cropped the sections that I wanted to overlay with the masks. 

Original Doorway

Original Doorway

Courtesy of Nathan Anderson

Courtesy of Nathan Anderson

Original Tree People

Original Tree People

Courtesy of Jay Dantinne

Courtesy of Jay Dantinne

Original Roosevelt Island

Original Roosevelt Island

Courtesy of Jay Ruiz

Courtesy of Jay Ruiz

Clipping and finished products

Clipping woes

Clipping woes

Tree people. Star people by Danielle Beecham

Tree people. Star people by Danielle Beecham

Nowhere Island by Danielle Beecham

Nowhere Island by Danielle Beecham

Gateway by Danielle Beecham

Gateway by Danielle Beecham

Moon Cycle Gif

I wanted to learn AfterEffects so I took a few tutorials on Youtube. You can check them out here, here, and here.

I decided to make a gif because I use them all the time and wished I could do it myself. I've been thinking about the moon a lot lately with the recent eclipse and thought it would be fun to animate the phases of the moon. 


Day & Night by Prekesh Chavda

Day & Night by Prekesh Chavda

Moon Phase Inspiration.jpg


I created vector icons for the moon phases and background. Then I uploaded them into an After Effects composition and set the keyframes for each phase to scale one second each.

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The finished product



Succulent Garden

This was a purely for fun project that I found on Pinterest a while back and had never gotten around to doing. I love plants and currently have around 20 houseplants. My long-term goal is to make several of the box gardens, hang them, and turn a wall in my room into a green wall. 

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To start you'll need: a shadow box, soil, small succulents, chicken wire (the smaller the grid, the better), wire cutters, staple gun, and needle nose pliers

set up.jpeg


 Take a shadow box and chicken wire.

Fill the box with soil

Cut the chicken wire to fit over the top of the box and use a staple gun to secure it down. 


Separate the succulents from their potting soil by gently squeezing and shaking them until the roots are exposed.

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Stick the succulents in the middle of a square and use the pliers to poke the roots down through the square and as deep into the soil as they'll go.

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Here's the finished product. I realized that some of the plants were too big to fit through the grid so I'm going to try to breed some smaller ones from them to add later.


It was nice to be forced to take the time to just make things for the sake of making them. I was happy to be able to learn new skills at the same time.