Open Electronics Workshops Continue Every Tuesday Night at 7pm at Civic Space


Every Tuesday night at 7pm at Civic Space, our open Electronics Workshops continue with host Paul Anderson.

They tackle basic electronics, micro-controllers, building guitar pedals and a binary clock, and a whole lot of other electronic magic.

It’s free and open to all skill levels. Come nerd it up with artists and electronically-minded thinkers and doers. No registration required!

New Workshop Series Starting in January: Building Electronics / Designing Originally


Starting on January 15, 2013, we’ll be offering a new workshop series for anyone and everyone interested in learning about electronics and  physical computing.

Hosted by Paul Anderson — a man of too many hobbies who holds the advanced qualification for ham radio in Canada, and has been working with electronics on and off since childhood — the workshops will offer a basic introduction to skill sets and then move into building a number of small projects together.

The first workshop will be covering the basic theory. Ohm’s Law, how current flows in a wire, what resistors are, how transistors and diodes work, etc.

With the second workshop, we’ll start playing with the Atari Punk Console circuit. We’ll start with a schematic, and build it using breadboards and experimenting. Eventually we’ll solder them together so they’re ready to be put in a project box.

The workshops are free and open to the public, but registration is required by January 9. Please use the form below to sign up.

We’re also working to get a hold of 10 electronics kits to play with over the course of the workshops — but these will be limited, so register ASAP!

Sorry, registration is currently on hold as we’ve filled up our available spots sooner than we thought! We’re going to see if we can expand them, in the meantime, please get in touch if you’re interested in attending.

Interactive Window Installation, progressing beyond the Max/MSP solution

After our post a few weeks ago about a new interactive window installation, we had some interesting and helpful suggestions, but one email in particular stood out.

Paul Anderson wrote to us briefly with an offer to help and after a quick introduction of his incredible depth of knowledge of all things electronic shortly thereafter, he showed up yesterday with the sensor pictured above. Basically, it’s used for industrial automation and I can’t recall the name of it, but see that red light, that’s the important part.

Pictured above, Paul is holding up this device to the window on the inside of CIVIC SPACE and our artist-in-residence, Sam Lefort, places her hand on the window from outside, and that little light turns from green to red. I can’t recall exactly what it’s detecting (I’m hoping Paul can fill in some blanks in the comments), but essentially by dialing in the right sensitivity, you can get this thing to act as a trigger when someone’s hand is in front of it through the window. This gets us past trying to use computer vision in Max to detect the presence of a hand, which would have run into some challenges dealing with the range of lighting conditions we deal with at the window (pictured below).

Still assuming that  we’ll use Max to record the audio (as Stephen had suggested in the comments) and add some other useful automation like date/time, possibly some early EQ or amplification, and maybe even setting this thing up so it will tweet us when it’s recording and automatically upload it to our servers, or maybe something else entirely.

Anyways, I’m confident in saying that I’ve never been so excited to see a little red light turn on.

More Arduino + LCD + PHP fun

My work on this ongoing LCD Arduino project has been continuing over the last couple of weeks, I just haven’t had the time to update appropriately.

So, I switched over my plan of attack from Processing to PHP. I figured this made sense for a couple reasons: first, I’m already very well-acquainted with PHP, I’ve written and hacked together a good amount of code in this language before and so I feel like I’ll spend a lot less time just figuring this out and more time actually doing; second, I don’t think I was really going to use Processing for its strengths, and instead, I was going to rely on its string functions, which pale in comparison to PHP.

I’ve made quite a lot of progress over the last week or so — all of which is detailed below. There are still some major problems I need to sort out, but for the most part things are about where I’d hoped them to be at this point.

Continue reading “More Arduino + LCD + PHP fun”

New LCDs and Serial Ports and some Max/MSP for good measure

I haven’t posted on this project for a little while, partially because of the preparation for the ongoing Save the City project, and partially because the little time that I’ve had to work on this has only resulted in small increments. So, I figured I would wait until I had some more significant updates to make to post, and here they are.

Basically, I’ve been working on a couple parts of the project. I’ve been updating a Max/MSP/Jitter project that BCL had previously used for our projection performances to try to automate some of the scaling of text depending on what the input is, while also continuing with the Arduino and LCD integration.

Continue reading “New LCDs and Serial Ports and some Max/MSP for good measure”

Getting Things to Talk: Arduino + LCDs

I spent the better part of the day on Saturday doing some more basic research into connecting an Arduino and LCD for this ongoing project. For the most part, it’s pretty basic and following the wiring diagrams and tutorials online is fine.

I ran into a problem with getting text on two lines, which I’ll detail below. Next on the to do list is to order a different LCD, maybe a 4×20 display and maybe something even smaller and then do some work on the text processing part of this whole thing.

Overall, it was a good start and I’m anxious for later this week when I’ll have a block of time to continue with the next steps in this early research.

Continue reading “Getting Things to Talk: Arduino + LCDs”

Starting New Projects: Researching the Basics of Arduino + LCDs

As part of a Canada Council for the Arts Inter-Arts Research and Creation grant I received, I will be documenting my work on the project through here, as I anticipate it will cross over into other projects we work on and came out of past projects we’ve completed.

This project comes out of Broken City Lab‘s previous work on Text In-Transit, where I’m hoping to open up a continuing flow of those kinds of texts in relation to a public space like a bus, or bus stops, or the downtown terminal. It’s likely that we’ll be working with Transit Windsor again on this project as it moves along. The project will connect this kind of publicly-engaged work I’ve done with BCL with some of my digital work I’ve done in the past.

The project is going to involve a lot of experimenting with Arduino-controlled LCD screens, and efforts towards capturing sms text messages, twitter updates, and emails and pushing them all into an LCD display. This will be the foundation of the project anyways.

I’m assuming this is going to involve a combination of interfacing Arduino with Max or Processing and using Perl or maybe PHP to do the text processing (depending on how involved it is), though it may end up taking another route altogether, but that’s what this time is for. I’ll be spending the next few months working through these aspects of the project, while also building towards an approximation of a public installation. I’ll spill more details as time goes on, and I’ll be documenting my progress, as I’ll undoubtedly need notes of my own, and why not keep them on here?

For now, I’ll be working through some basic tutorials, and eventually heading up to InterAcces for some of their workshops.

I would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts for their generous support in this project. I’ll be acknowledging their support with their logo on each post that I write while documenting this project.