After a few weeks of experimentation, I think I can now write sensible notes on how to cut and tune the chimes for a glockenspiel (metal xylophone) out of metal conduit. This is the first step of my Robotic Glockenspiel project, which I hope to end with a network-connected, Arduino-controlled set of chimes that can play Christmas carols.
I’ve successfully assembled my second soldering kit: The Velleman MK130 ‘3D’ Christmas Tree. It’s a set of blinking LEDs that sit atop a 9V battery… or you can add some long wires and hang it as a Christmas ornament.
At any rate, it was good practice for soldering, and the result is kinda cute. See my YouTube Video of the Kit for the whole experience.
I figure I’m ready to build an Arduino proto Shield next!
Since I’ve been doing Arduino work, I’ve accumulated a few board and Shield kits that I need to put together. I haven’t soldered since college, so I decided to brush up on my rusty skills by buying one of those little electronics project kits: a Velleman MK102 Flashing LEDs kit.
Check out the really, really boring video of the finished board blinking away at YouTube – whee!
The front of the board doesn’t look too bad; only a few parts pulled away from the board a bit:
The back is the real giveaway that I’m a newbie: most of the soldering looks pretty good, but I see a couple cold solder joints, a couple dirty solders, and one pair of soldered points that are a bit too close for comfort – fortunately they didn’t short out.
Not bad for a first effort, and on par with the handiwork on many cheap electronic gizmos you might buy. Next I’m planning to solder one of those little Flashing LED Christmas Trees, which has many more components. Then I think I’ll be ready to have a go at one of the Arduino board kits!
Comment Spam is the bane of blogs: fake comments that are nothing more than links to sites offering high-fashion shoes, purses, and porn (curious set, no?)
I’d love to accept real comments from anyone who is not anonymous, but unfortunately Spam Comment robots happily provide fake identities. So I’ve had to restrict comments to people who have created an account on my site.
…but even that doesn’t take care of the problem. As this WordPress FAQ explains, the WordPress comment settings affect only future posts; existing posts are still targets for spam.
So now I’ve set up comments to work only for people who have accounts on this site, and have turned off comments for all my old posts.
Hopefully my new posts will welcome your comments, as long as you create an account with me. Sorry for the trouble; blame the Comment Spammers.
Periodically I record a favorite poem that’s in the public domain, because I believe poetry is meant to be read aloud. Today I’ve recorded W. B. Yeats’ “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death” on my old Spoken Songs page. It’s a brilliant poem, with so much packed neatly into so little space.
The Co-Presidents never put much stock in rural folks tales of very wooly caterpillars predicting a bad winter… until one year when we noticed a squirrel had made a huge pile of fir-cone nibbles, a few months before we were snowed in for a couple weeks. A similar thing happened before the last bad winter: we noticed a squirrel tossing down hundreds of green pine cones, to stash the goodie-parts away for the winter.
So a few weeks ago when we noticed that a squirrel had dropped hundreds of these Douglas Fir cones onto our deck, a suspicion grew within us that this winter could be a doozy.
So here’s our prediction: 2014-2015 winter in the Portland Oregon area will be unusually cold. There, we’ve put our bet down. Let’s see how winter turns out.
You may notice that when you visit Needhamia, your browser now says that you’re using https instead of http. Needhamia now has a site certificate, so that you can be sure you’re talking to the real Independent Nation of Needhamia. Whee!
The project nicely ties together the cause (electricity for rural areas) and the form (a jar that lights up when you put coins in it). I also love the feasible simplicity and clarity of the mechanics of the piggy bank and the donation system. I want one!
I first heard of Tim Hunkin when I watched his TV series The Secret Life of Machines: a whimsical but thorough explanation of how various devices, from elevators to fax machines, work. I was hooked.
More recently, I’ve been following Tim’s work at his site, http://www.timhunkin.com/, which shows and describes his fantastic (and fantastical) projects. I love his animated collection boxes / vending machines. My all-time favorite is Nobby: a sculpture of a lifeboat man, who rattles his box and, on receipt of a coin, nods his head in benediction. It’s a nicely understated and sympathetic experience – I look forward to seeing it one day.
My definition of Mad Science:
- It must be based on actual technology, vs. pseudo science.
- It must be provocative, causing an initial reaction of horror or revulsion.
- The horror or revulsion must be based on the concept rather than being simply disgusting.
- It must have an artistic element, vs. being just science.
An April IEEE Spectrum story covers a work that wins on all counts: Dr. Hirotaka Osawa’s Wearable Eyes, designed to let you look like you care when you are phoning it in or even asleep!
So let’s go through the checklist:
- Check. It’s based on academic work on anthropomorphic robot faces: how we perceive emotional cues from faces. It is also about the stress of “Emotional Labor”, performed by e.g. healthworkers, who have to be nice to people all day.
- Check. The idea of literally putting on an attentive face horrified me, and the photos of the wearable eyes gave me The Creeps.
- Check. I’m horrified by the idea of a future where service workers literally wear masks to convey happiness rather than reveal their uncaring, drab reality. Once the initial revulsion passed, I started thinking seriously about how a mask-of-attentiveness might in some cases be beneficial or stress reducing.
- Check. The video is pure Performance Art. I truly can’t tell whether he’s serious about this or not – I believe he is.
Now that I’ve teased you, here’s the photo. Note how in most of the photos, he’s wearing the same expression – except for his cyber-eyes.