fab w4 hw: enclosures

This enclosures assignment was pretty good timing, as I needed something to bring for play-testing in ICM. I’ve been extremely wishy-washy on what the enclosure should look like, but I knew what components needed to be included, so it was enough to get to work with this renewable resource:

The best part about these (aside from being free) is that they’re literally box templates, so I just adjusted the dimensions to suit my needs, ie two essential oil diffusers and one Arduino:

My box ended up being 11″ x 4.25″ x 5.5″. I added little compartments to hold the diffusers in place, then laser-cut a lid for it. This is what I brought to play-testing:

Of course, finding a box with those exact dimensions wouldn’t be as easy as stealing from the US Postal Service, let alone finding one that could also either be machined cleanly or laser-cut safely. I had this cable organizer on my nightstand which was devastatingly close:

But after hours of scouring the web for a better fit (plus a false alarm at Muji), this turned out to be the best option. The cut-outs at the bottom meant that I didn’t have to worry about machining it at all.

The box is a little short, but better that than water vapor getting trapped inside and condensing all over the electronics. Plus, the extrusions will be less noticeable against white acrylic, which the lid will eventually be cut from.

The cardboard lids have flaps that fit into the box and keep it in place, but for the final I plan on lining the inner walls of the box with a layer of cardboard that the acrylic top could sit on.

pcomp help session notes

Playing sound with Arduino without a mp3 shield:

  1. Another device can access your local host as long as they’re on the same wifi network
  2. IP address, then path to the file
  3. can play music this way (through p5) without a shield!! (functionality is through p5)

fab w3 hw: laser cutting

I’ve laser cut for projects before, so for homework I wanted to run some tests on the laser cutter’s capabilities. But first…

…I needed to laser cut this for my bathroom faucets. I tried sanding the acrylic down for that frosted look, but it came out looking a little scratch-y instead.

Plus, something easy if all else fails:


… except this tiny 3×5″ template (from Thingiverse) took 10 minutes, and needed 3 passes before it actually cut through the acrylic. Luckily, I booked 3 hours on Monday (which ended up only being about 2.5 hours, since the person before me was struggling), so I had plenty of time to play around.

What I really wanted to know was how well the laser cutter would engrave raster images, because I’d only ever used vector paths. I heard that bitmap images were ideal, but wanted to see for myself. Here’s a test with both a bitmap tif and grayscale tif:

Both came out with a kind of moire pattern, but it was more pronounced in the greyscale tif (bottom). Unhappy with how faint the engraving was, I went for more passes:

Until it started to look a bit goopy…

My last test was with living hinges—I was so curious about them. Unfortunately…

This wood kept catching on fire! I adjusted the settings to prevent this, but even after a solid hour of passes, it was never able to cut through the wood (which was only 1/4″ thick).

The calendar was booked up by then, but thankfully I had booked another hour for Wednesday, since I knew I was going to need it. Of course, it ended up only being 45 minutes because the person ahead of me was struggling.

I wanted to try cutting the “live hinge” on cardboard. Sadly, halfway through the second pass, the board shifted—I’d forgotten to tape it down.

It ended up not mattering in the end, because the live hinge was totally shredded up:

But at least I have my spirograph:

Which apparently I am incapable of using…

Laser cutting

Laser cutter:

  • Test engraving/cutting settings with small squares first
  • Do not alter frequency setting
  • Speed can be adjusted
  • dpi is set in printer setup
  • cut in sections; the laser gets weaker the further it gets from the origin

fab w2 hw

For my repeatability assignment, I wanted to make a desk organizer like this:

It looked simple enough—I mean, I didn’t know how to make those giant slots in a piece of wood, but I figured I could cheat it by making each section individually and gluing them down to a separate base. Turns out, I’m the worst wood-worker ever, so my results weren’t nearly as nice.

I bought a nice douglas fir 2×4 at Home Depot, along with some forstner drill bits. Then I made a little schematic in Illustrator, along with instructions that optimized my workflow:

Great. So the first order of business was to chop up the wood with the miter saw into 2″ pieces. It’s a scary tool, but what proved to be even scarier was how inaccurate it was…

Maybe I just can’t subtract.

My first attempt at the miter saw yielded three useable 2″ blocks from a length of 12″.

I then tried cutting out the base of the organizer:


Clearly, that wasn’t going to work out. So I drew up plan b (complete with a dowel for keys):


And introduced myself to the drill press:

And the bandsaw:

The next day, I happened to find some thin slabs of wood in the dumpster downstairs:

Potential base material? 

So I dragged that sucker upstairs and onto this crazy contraption:

And my old friend, the miter saw:

The bases were ugly, so I spent the next few hours fretting over finishes:

I hate painted wood.

I hate everything.

Alright well, in the meantime, I had five sets ready to glue:

They were pretty modular looking, so I couldn’t resist putting them in different configurations. Sorry, Ben! I also ended up cutting a couple bases from the original douglas fir with the bandsaw (at the expense of some skin) because I really hated that wood I found.

Pretty okay.

I’ll update later with pictures of them in use!

ICM/Pcomp final project

For my final project, I would like to make a brain entrainment pod wherein the user can choose two states: relaxed or focused. Each state will trigger light and sound settings that emit at frequencies associated with either the Default Mode Network or Task Positive Network, respectively. The concept is basically an updated and elaborate dream machine: the user’s exposure to pulsating light and sound will reproduce those frequencies in their brain. I will attempt to lead the brain into either the DMN or TPN by replicating the dominant frequencies present during either open monitoring meditation or focused attention meditation, respectively.

As a result, the user (theoretically) will not have to actually meditate in the traditional sense, but instead receive “treatment” that hopefully will yield the same results of meditation by an advanced practitioner. I would like to corroborate this theory by including an EEG device that measures the user’s brain activity while undergoing “treatment”. Because there is such disappointment over the reliability and price-point of open-source/consumer-grade EEGs, we will attempt to design our own device tailored to our purpose (while also preparing to purchase one if that proves to be an impossible task).

I believe light and sound will be the most effective sensory inputs for entrainment, as you can define their frequencies, but I also hope that we can hide these pulsations underneath visualizations and music that are actually aesthetically pleasing, so as to not alarm or disturb the user. Once we receive the user’s mental state via serial communication, we will generate visuals/audio based on their data. However, the stimuli won’t be a reflection of their state—it will be a response to it and their decision to either be “relaxed” or “focused”.

The visuals—generated in p5—will be projected on the walls of our dome (likely a purchased geodesic dome), and the audio will be combination of binaural beats and actual music (TBD), also generated in/played through p5.

I first became interested in brain entrainment when I discovered the Dream Machine, and kinetic light sculpture by artist Brion Gysin and engineer Ian Sommerville, circa the early 1960s. The Dream Machine was originally a cut paper cylinder placed on a record player and illuminated from the inside; the frequency of its pulsing light produced alpha activity in the brain, which is associated with relaxation.

So it should follow that we can use this method to produce any sort of activity in the brain. I’m especially interested in deactivating the DMN as a long-term therapeutic tool for depression, but for this project the user will decide what they want. (Generally, the DMN is associated with increased lower-gamma levels in the prefrontal cortex, but we will be grabbing the settings of advanced meditation practitioners for this project).

Another example is the vibroacoustic recliner (used therapeutically by Dr. George Patrick):

Image result for somatron vibroacoustic recliner by Dr. George Patrick

I became interested in EEG devices after seeing ITP alum Lisa Park’s thesis project:


Mood board for visuals:


Our project will be for users who are anxious or stressed out and need reprieve. The Winter Show is pretty chaotic, and our entrainment pod will totally immerse users in a completely different environment. Barak has dreams for it to stay at ITP permanently, so students have a nearby retreat from the floor/their crippling self-doubt.

fabrication w1 hw

My lithium ion battery charged up last night, so I set off to make what would be possibly the ugliest thing I’ve ever made in my life.

First step was to figure out how to actually use such a battery. After several warnings against soldering directly onto the battery, I decided to snap off the component below:

And solder my circuit onto it:

The next question was how to secure the component to the battery. Turns out, not like this:

A lifetime later…

ICM class notes

function deviceMoved();

function deviceTurned();

function deviceShaken();

rotationX and rotationY

touches is an array

navigator.geolocation.getCurrentPosition(); pulls GPS coordinates

windowResized(); and resizeCanvas();

*requires https://

face recognition: https://github.com/auduno/clmtrackr