electronics


Derek Hoffend, sound artist and teacher at Boston's School of the Museum of Fine Arts presented tonight at Boston's monthly Dorkbot get-together. He showcased video of four very cool art installations he created that can be found in his online portfolio.

Listen to his full presentation below. If you're following along at home, you might want to walk through his portfolio videos on his website.

Derek presented the following projects, in this order:

  • Untitled Arrangement for Steel and Feedback II
  • Vis(c)area
  • Haptigenic
  • ...and an outdoor project in Union Square that I can't find on his site.

Derek's projects allow participants to interact directly with his physical installations to produce and control manufactured, complex soundscapes. To create and manipulate sound, he uses a combination of transducers, mics, analog and digital circuits, and Max/MSP software (depending on the project). Above is a picture of his Haptigenic sound circuit, using pressure sensors connected to manipulatable latex sculptures to control a rich audio experience.

And now, for something completely dorky. I have begun to play with DIY electronics. This is principally because it's tremendous fun. You should try it. Seriously. The possibilities are endless. Here is a video of a range test for my prototype homing device built with an Arduino microcontroller module and an XBee radio transceiver. The portable, handheld device cost me about $60 to make, but theoretically could be a lot less if you designed a PCB and didn't rely on prototyping components.

 

Short-term, I hope to join fellow Boston Dorkbot members to build on this prototype and construct a location-based game. Stay tuned... My longer-term goal is to develop a standardized radio/microntroller platform on which to load and share user-oriented software applications (like the homing software shown here) for proximity-based device communications. The range for the "homing device" seems to well exceed the 300' that the XBee specs claim. Cool. Please send me suggestions for improvements, other ideas, etc.

 


A couple years ago, I wrote about Neil Gershenfeld’s cool MIT Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory). On Monday I was fortunate enough to join the Boston Dorkbot crew for a tour of the Boston Fab Lab. I’ve posted a photoset of a few machines. Pictured are three computer-controlled prototyping machines, including a room-sized router, a micro-milling machine, and a laser cutter. Missing from the photos is a sign/vinyl cutter, several non-computer-controlled tools, and a nicely-outfitted electronics workbench.

The mission of the fab lab is a noble one: to empower creative people to make things with the assumption that, well, we’re all creative. Exposing individuals to commercial prototyping machines encourages people to explore, learn and have a significantly wider range of choices – both in what we might envision and make, but also in how we view the world and imagine our role in its future.

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