During the first week of the exam period Rueben and I were able to get the structure built over a day and a half (mainly thanks to Glenn letting us in over the weekend!). I may never have known there were so many types of screws to choose from…
Richard and I also developed an ‘if/elseif’ code that would control which lights would be on depending on the value of the potentiometer. Initially I was planning to have 8x push on/push off switches, however the pot created that linear motion I wanted, simplified the code and minimised the components. We also found an 8x input module relay for the remote which was convenient for the 8 stages I’d been planning for! We found that it makes a clicking noise for every relay the pot passes which differentiated the stages (this was something I had been worried about). All the lights I’d ordered finally arrived as well! All that was left after this was adding the hooks to secure the lights on the structure, arranging the lights and wiring the remote.
There were quite a few things I didn’t get time to do before the submission time that would have made quite a big difference to the final product for the submission date. These included:
- Applying the mirrors to the surface of the roof and base to create the light tunnel I’d envisioned from the beginning
- Tidying the wires going from the remote down into the base
- Ensuring all of the lights were securely fastened
- Repainting the beams
- Adding markers to the remote to indicate the stages
- Fixing the pink and orange lights so both sets would activate at one time rather than one set
- Finding a way to conceal the masses of wires running along the perimeter of the roof and base
Of course these elements might have been completed with better time management skills, a tamed indecisive nature and a higher priority focus (Strawberry Boogie). Despite these facts, I can’t beat myself up over it because the skills I learned from diving out of my comfort trumps that. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to finish it to the full extent, but I got comfort from the fact it would be in full bloom come grad show.
One thing I will take from this endeavour is that research is key. If I’d conducted some proper, in-depth research before investing I might have been scared off by the workload and things I had to learn. I think I was very lucky to have such helpful and qualified friends that gave so much of their time to steer me in the right direction and that my ambition and determination blinded me with the illusion that I could do all of this myself. I have never been one to plan ahead a great deal and this impulsive trait of mine tends to make things more difficult for me. I think this project might have been the final straw for my ‘deal with it later’ mantra.
Overall I feel like I couldn’t have learnt more if I’d tried. I’m sure if I’d settled on this idea at the beginning of the semester rather than 5 weeks before it was due I could have given this project the time and concept it deserved, but that’s just too easy. I was really proud of the environment we built and the euphoria it created and I just hope I can get it all together in time for the grad show so it can live up to my own expectations.
Although I didn’t have much to show on the last day of class, I felt like I knew what I was doing and wasn’t feeling to time-pressured to knock it out in the coming weeks. I sat down with Matt in the class time to explain my concept and gather his thoughts on the direction I was headed with the code. He gave me some pointers and a little attachment to test how I might apply the code to the control I was trying to build.
Keypad from Matt
Rueben could only help out on weekends at this point so I tried to get access to the building through security but miscommunication about the request process failed me and I was denied 😦
During the recess I went in a few times. The first time around I had to sort out where I was going to start building as it would have been difficult to move it around once I begun and the 2nd year projects were occupying the gallery. Colin gave me the dock area and I convinced him to sling me some spare beams he had so I wouldn’t have to purchase them all, so that was nice of him!
I had some more pre drilling, painting, testing and planning to do before I could work with Rueben so I got that out of the way this week.
I picked up the goodies from Joe’s this weekend. They had been nice enough to chuck some biscuit slots as extra support for the plywood, as they didn’t have ply large enough for it to be in one piece (top and bottom).
I had already been to Bunnings to get some supplies for when it was ready and I got straight into gluing those biscuits in because it needed about 12hours to dry. In the meantime I began pre drilling holes in the acrylic for when I would attach them to the plywood roof and base.
I wanted to have it all at the innovation campus before class that Tuesday so I asked my friend Rueben if he could help me move it in his van on the Monday. He happens to be a carpenter and he had some concerns… He informed me that despite what the gentlemen at Joe’s and my builder friends thought, the acrylic would not be strong enough alone to hold up the plywood roof. As well as this, the roof would need some reinforcement beams to ensure it wouldn’t cave. He suggested I make a small platform for the base as well so it wasn’t lying flat on the ground. He was actually really into it (and slightly doubting my capabilities) so he offered to help me put it together when he had time (y)
That night I sat down with my housemate who just finished honours in electrical engineering and got a crash course on C++ to get the ball rolling. He went through some of the examples in Arduino and taught me how to complete a circuit with an LED. Although this doesn’t seem like much, I feel like I went from zero to Thomas Edison in one night. This was enough to get me excited and not feel so out of my depths.
By the time I got to class I had decided I wanted to build a transparent enclosure that people could enter that would become more enclosed as the user increases the amount of light. I realised I had a lot to do in the time I had left but I was confident I could pull it off. I’d researched the variations of lights I wanted to use and had some numbers to call to get quotes on the acrylic and plywood I’d need for the actual structure.
I rang Joe’s DIY because they had both materials I needed and I was blown away with how eager and helpful they were to get me sorted. After a phone chat I went in and saw them with some sketches I had to sort out the specifics and a price. They gave me heaps of advice on building it and helped me modify it so it was within my price range. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to be ready in time for the next class but there was plenty of other things for me to do in the mean time.
Working out dimensions, angles and pricing at Joe’s
At this stage, although I had been doing a lot of hands on research, I didn’t think I was getting anywhere with this project. In addition to this, my friend had been told she was not allowed to collaborate which I feel would have made the work either unbalanced or almost forced. At this stage, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted it to be interactive and a total experience. I thought that once looking at the space, an awesome idea might come to me.
It was suggested that Liam and I submit our project from Strawberry Boogie, but I wanted to create my own project. After speaking with Jo and Matt, I realised I needed to pull something together quickly and have something tangible to show next class. The tiered stairs in the outside courtyard provided an interesting canvas and I began researching how I could light it up with EL wire and LED strips that would be controlled by the audience’s whereabouts.
This week I was picking up where I left of prior to the Strawberry Boogie event. Just in time, I get an email back from Chris Anderson. He was doing some VJ work for the Yours & Owls fringe festival and told me I could pop into the tech tent to have a chat and see what goes on. I ended up going down to check it all out but I feel like it probably wasn’t the best setting to have a conversation. The tech tent was an abundance of cords where I knew a slight bump could upturn the whole operation so this made me nervous. Also he was getting really into it and I felt like I was interrupting when asking what/how he was doing it. In saying this, I definitely got a feel for it and info on equipment, programs and the general gist of the process. I felt a little overwhelmed from what seemed like a lot to learn/apply in the couple of months I had to get it all together.
Shot from the fringe festival Source
At this same event I ran into Matt where he had his artbots on display. It was good to have a chat out of the classroom setting and debrief on where I was at. The following day I attended the Jetpack Beluga short course (another fringe event) called Creative Coding to which I had unknowingly enrolled in Matt’s workshop. Since MEDA102 had a different curriculum when I took it, I had never encountered an arduino before MEDA301 so it was a fun introduction and opportunity to fiddle despite some technical difficulties.
Similar to last week, week of the exhibition I was focusing on little other than our installation. We were pretty on track with everything apart until the glitchy nature of the maker makes caught us off-guard when we were setting up prior to the event. We ended up sticking around for an hour and a half attempting to troubleshoot the problem only to have it fix itself – very frustrating. Other than this, it worked almost seamlessly throughout the night!
Although this project detracted some time I could have spent working on our major works, it was extremely rewarding and beneficial to be able to develop this project we had and create something we were both really proud of.