Applications and implications

To create, one must first question everything’ -Cameron Sinclair

Assignment: Propose a final project that integrates the range of units covered, answering:

  • What will it do?
  • Who has done what beforehand?
  • What materials and components will be required?
  • Where will they come from?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What parts and systems will be made?
  • What processes will be used?
  • What tasks need to be completed?
  • What questions need to be answered?
  • What is the schedule?
  • How will it be evaluated?

Learning outcomes:

  • Define the scope of a project
  • Develop a project plan

‘Bureau crazy’: Going nowhere fast

The goal of this project is to craft an interactive award/ installation for fighting against bureau-crazy occurrences by means of interactive physicalisation.

This idea originates from the Dutch saying ‘van het kastje naar de muur gestuurd worden’ (literally: going from cabinet to wall). What it means is going back and forward in a fruitless manner, going from pillar to post (nowhere fast) while occasioning much frustration in the process. Adding to the frustration is that such bureaucratic processes often lack tangible means to improve and visualize such situation and a clear party one can blame.

To address this, using and exploring (visual) digital fabrication techniques, the envisioned interactive design of Bureau crazy is meant to physicalize such frustrating processes, allowing the public to have a means to direct their frustration in a tangible way or at least demonstrate such situation.

What will it do?

The project entails a wall and a cabinet (either miniature or real life size), which will react in an endless loop by pointing you (using LEDs and sound) to either the wall or the cabinet. When close to the cabinet, you will hear, "ga naar de muur" (go to the wall). When close to the wall, you will hear, "ga naar het kastje" (go to the cabinet). You could leave your bureau crazy stories on the (wailing) wall or in one of the drawers (though due to the bureaucratic nature you may not be able to open this).

What materials and components will be required?

Technical components: The project will use one or two ultrasonic distance sensors (for measuring the proximity to either the wall or the cabinet), a LED array (making continuous flashing movements from cabinet to wall) and a board (with micro sd card reader) and speaker for (mp3) sound output. It will also need a battery and to communicate between boards and act stand-alone.

Physical components: A wall. A cabinet.

Real-life version: For the wall, the idea is to make an interactive frame (so that it can be flexibly moved and hung on every wall) with a 3D wall piece (such as plaster casted in the molding and casting week) and hidden electronics (i.e. distance sensor). For the cabinet, the options are to use and technology-enhance an existing one (already in the organisation's space or upcycle) or make one using digital fabrication processes (such as the one I made with the Shopbot or somehow with used fabrics).

Miniature version: 3D printed wall and cabinet (such as explored in previous weeks). Needs to be made / remodelled to properly fit electronics (distance sensor, LEDs and sound boards and speaker). Could include a miniature person (such as made during 3D printing and scanning week) to somehow move between cabinet and wall.

Where will these come from? What would it cost?

My goal is to source as local as possible. Luckily, there are a number of specialized shops in the neighbourhood (Radio rotor for electronics, etc) and I already have most components. The given restriction is where possible, we should make rather than buy the parts of your project. However, I also want to act sustainable and upcycle/use as many existing parts as possible. Bit of a conflict, as at the big second hand market 'de IJhallen' in Amsterdam this weekend, I saw a lot of beautiful and interesting material (e.g. cabinet for 35 euro, vintage picture frames) with a lot of character, and that would be more expensive to make while also using more resources. My rough estimate is that the project should not cost more than 150 euro, while we should also think more about environmental and labour costs...

  • For economic, quality and sustainability reasons, I mostly want to use material already in my posession, particularly:
  • From the lab, I got (1) electronic components (such as LEDs, resistors and ATTiny44) for the Charlieplexing board (See BOM list in 'Files'), (2) a hc sr04 ultrasonic ditance sensor (±E2,-) and (3) LiPo battery (±E15,-)
  • To experiment at later stage and be generally prepared, I got
    • (1) Paverpol and Crackfree for hardening material
    • (2) Sudoku like Protoplast material for shaping and molding
    • (3) Electronics, particularly the Adafruit mp3 sound shield (E30,-) from Kiwitronics online as potential back up for the mp3 Touch board
  • The most expensive material is the filament for the Dimension 3D printer which at my university is more expensive than the Ultimaker filament, but you also save waisting material due to its robustness (model material: 0.25 per cm2, Supportive material: 0.25 cm2 - Ultimaker 0.08 cm2). Discussed potential of recycling this plastic to save costs.

What is the schedule?

The schedule is very tight; will focus on the basic needed elements first, also as more complexity will not necessarily improve the concept.

Week 17: Work out concept details and questions.
Project research (Location context, materials and related work)
Start coding with distance sensor and sound volume action.
Week 18: Make the main components (remodel miniature 3D design Cabinet-Wall, communication between boards, LED action, Sound action). Code and prototype: Make it work (initial version).
Week 19: Make potential extras (framed wall picture, mini-figure, make it run without battery, other big elements and refinement if time). Final project + description. Make video & slide.

Project presentations: 15 June, 2016.

What might it be able to do? (Future work)

The miniature version could be (re)produced and awarded by the public to parties that contribute (or fight?) against bureau crazyness, so as a physical means to empower the public and fight against this.

The installation could be connected and react to bureacrazy occurences on the internet. For example, it could search for certain bureacratic keywords on Twitter, or people could vote for the most bureacratic party online, which would then appear on the real wall of shame (through framed screen).

Other potential direction is to physicalize more sayings (e.g. with motorized elements and remote control), such as "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain." This could also become part of an interactive educational textbook for playful language learning.

How will it be evaluated?

At the beginning of the Fab Academy I set up specific requirements, which are important for me in terms of success.

My design conditions:

  • Make something that you can not buy in stores (no mass-production product)
  • Make something that serves a non-commercial > public goal
  • Make something personal (it has to be mine - not a copy)
  • Make something physical (materialize and fight against the disappearing computer)
  • Make something interesting / different/ new / invent!
  • Make something interactive (as the outcome of digital fabrication is often not)
  • Make something I can learn from
  • Make something useful > worthwhile > meaningful > empowering
  • Make something smart
  • Make IT work

Most importantly....

  • Make something... / anything!

What parts and systems will be made?

The parts that are already there and/ or are needed plus questions are:

  • Wall piece
    • Someone broke the plaster wall I made from mould in the Waag, while I left it to dry; Will need to make another wall piece
    • Needs to be made fit for potential framing
    • Make interactive wall piece or frame
  • Open cabinet (big)
  • 3D model and print kastje (cabinet) and muur (wall), in miniature
    • Needs to be remodelled and printed to fit electronics
  • Arduino (and Processing) code for serial communication with ultra sonic distance sensor
    • Need to figure out how to connect between (which?) boards
  • Fabkit (board and resoldered components)
    • Really needed?
    • Needs retesting, initialisation, burn bootloader, run code
    • Adjust boards/code for Fabkit
  • Charlieplexing board (with 4x5 LEDS and ATtiny44 microprocessor, FTDI connection and battery source option)
    • Make it work stand-alone (thus with battery and resonator)
    • Write code to individually control LEDs
    • Connect with distance sensor(s)
    • Connect with sound output (board)
    • Is this board/ microcontroller sufficient?
  • Simple LED Chibitronics sticker circuit (extra, if time)
    • Extend and make copper LED circuit
    • Experiment and test with its ATtiny 85 microcontroller sticker
    • Use this or Charlieplexing board? (This is more original and flexible than Charlieplexing board, but less suited in terms of final project and board requirements)
  • Mp3 sound fragments "ga naar het kastje" and "ga naar de muur"
    • Make global audio version?
  • Touch board which plays mp3 sound from board (micro SD card), based on touching different locations
    • Connect to distance sensor
    • Make it (code) work with distance and sound volume
  • Processing code that adapts sound volume mp3 sound fragment (on computer with Processing) based on proximity (using "please don't stand so close to me" song by The Police)
    • Make it work from touch board (if possible? with Arduino instead of processing code)
  • Working code and wireless rf connection between Arduino Uno boards
    • Make it work together with other code and distance sensor
    • Make it work with other types of boards than Arduino Uno
    • How to make it work between other, varying types of boards (such as ATtiny board for Charlieplexing)?

What questions need to be answered?

How to connect and let all the components work together from a technical perspective and in a conceptual meaningful way.

- What to do first, in order of priority (e.g. Whether to make miniature or real-live version)

  • What processes will be used?
    • 3D printing, Computer Controlled Machining, Laser cutting, ...
  • What tasks need to be completed?
    • See parts and components
  • (How) should I make the concept more suitable for a global audience?
  • How to use/connect the Touch board (or use Adafruit board for sound output?) with other microcontrollers (Charlieplexing LED board with ATtiny 44 or use Chibitronics LED stickers and board?)
  • Do I really need the fabkit (what for?) or can I use my Charlieplexing board with ATTiny44 microcontroller)?
  • How or whether to connect microcontroller of different types via RF (or serial communication)
  • How to write Arduino code to best control individual Charlieplexing LEDs (with sensor)
  • How to power the board(s) so these can run stand- alone
  • (Extra: How to use Arduino as ISP programmer)
  • How to make with the least toxic exposure as possible
  • How to make this work for for more academic (international) conferences
  • How to exhibit this work in the (Stedelijk) museum (I already spotted, some great places where it could fit...).

Who has done what beforehand?

The concept was initiated in coversation with my colleague Gideon Bazen and then I explored further from there. Concept-wise I have not seen (m)any interactive physicalisations, let alone of sayings. But then, I always tell me students, if you have not found anything, then you have not searched long enough. So here is one artistic installation also based on a similar, from pillar to post idea.

Naturally, from a technical perspective, fellow Fab academy members have previously explored charlieplexing, ultra-sonic distance sensor and alike (such as for running), which I hope to built on.

The upcoming field of data physicalisation is particularly noteworthy here. My recent trip to the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam and CHI2016 have also been inspirational.

Random cool projects and themes using physical, tangible means:


To be made and continued...

How to exhibit...Think big!
How to exhibit...Think big!
Kastje at Stedelijk
Kastje at Stedelijk
Kastje at Stedelijk
Kastje at Stedelijk
Frame inspiration at Stedelijk
Frame inspiration at Stedelijk
Kastje stijl
Kastje stijl
Kastjes at Stedelijk
Kastjes at Stedelijk
Cabinet and frames at Stedelijk
Cabinet and frames at Stedelijk
Good spot to show my work at Stedelijk...
Good spot to show my work at Stedelijk...
Plenty of opportunity and space to show my work at Stedelijk
Plenty of opportunity and space to show my work at Stedelijk
From pillar to Stedelijk!
From pillar to Stedelijk!
IJhallen -2nd hand market
IJhallen -2nd hand market
Great cabinet for sale: 35 euro (IJhallen)
Great cabinet for sale: 35 euro (IJhallen)