Archive for March, 2008

Reconceptualization as a Robot

Test bed

I was able to locate an open-source MP3 kit. My original thought was to have six senors with crude control circuits controlling six MP3 circuits. The MP3 player did have the ability to be controlled by a serial connection. I dug back into the robotic sites where I found the IR sensors and found a number of controller boards. I was able to streamline the design by incorporating the sophisticated control features of the robotic controller (ooPIC-R). My current plan is to have six sensors in two groups of three controlled by a pair of ooPIC-Rs – each controller with its own MP3 board. This is my prototype – the MP3 board is being assembled by an electrical engineering student (thanks Terg).

Humble Start of a New Project

IR sensorMy first IR range finder

control circuit first tryA very rudimentary control circuit that did not work

A few years ago, I came up with an idea for a conceptual piece that consisted of a hexagonal column with sensors embedded in each face. As objects (people) cane within range of the sensors, each side would produce a different note of the Mystic Chord. I had originally conceived it as an outdoor installation run by solar power, but that was way beyond by electrical skills and budget. Until a few months ago, I did not even know how the sounds were to be produced.

I began by finding a robotics store that sold Sharp IR range finders. I tried to create a simple control circuit with a switching transistor, but it did not really work very well. I was still struggling with the sound generation part of the project. I wanted something that sounded like syth voices and thought that I might have to do some circuit bending on an old Speak-and-Spell. Then I heard a track from Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports while driving back from a trip to the Met Museum (thanks Elise and Chris). I realized that I could use MP3 files and a MIDI composer for the sounds – the project was off and running.


Esher stairsEsher-like stairs

stairwellAnother interesting space

Warhol SoupSomething a little more touristy

In Like a Lion

Icy Window
True to form, the start of March was a little stormy. I am probably posting too much about weather. I never realized how much I mark the passing of time by the seasons. (Photo by Claudette Martin)