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.

Interactivos? re:farm the city

re:farm sensors

re:farm the city is a low-tech urban / community garden project of sorts. The image above is a part of that low tech. This is a simple monitoring system developed using Arduino and Processing that will track humidity levels in six planters and alert the gardener if they get too low (essentially broadcasting that they are in need of watering).

The project is aimed at developing a series of tools that would enable city-dwellers to grow and monitor an urban garden using open-software and open-hardware and as much recycled materials as possible. It also focuses on new ways of visualizing and understanding relationships between plants situated in close or distanced proximity to one another.

I’ve been anxious to get into learning more Arduino for a while, but we haven’t seemed to have an appropriate project as of yet. Maybe there are some ways to include some technology that would aid in the educational element of our community garden…

[via  we make money not art ]

In The Air

In the Air - a data visualization project initiated at MediaLab in Madrid

In The Air is a data visualization project initiated at MediaLab-Prado in Madrid. The project has taken a large dataset consisting of a year’s worth of air quality readings from Madrid and is beginning to realize a number of ways to make visible the invisible agents of the city’s air (gases, particles, pollen, etc). In The Air is using both web interfaces and physical prototypes for representing the data, and while the web component looks very slick, I’m considerably more interested in the physical parts.

I’m not sure how well the images read above, but those are some examples of their process as they work their way through Arduino-controlled contraptions that will spray out different colours of mist depending on the air quality data. There’s a video of one of their failed attempts on Serial Cosign, which is where I originally saw the project.

Seeing people do stuff is inspiring.

Open Source Hardware

Team Arduino: Gianluca Martino, Massimo Banzi, and David Cuartielles Photo by James Day

There’s a really good story over at Wired about the idea, business models, and inventors behind open source hardware. Pictured above are the founders of Arduino, three pretty relaxed looking dudes, making knowledge open and free. It’s really incredible to realize that there are companies and projects that are based on open source hardware and profit from it in one way or another. We could build an exact copy of the Arduino board, call it Broken City Board and sell it, as long as we kept the same Creative Commons licensing as the original Arduino board. Walmart could also do the same, but of course, would also be subject to the same licensing requirements.

Open knowledge and the potential to make things more open, more accessible, more functional is the future. Again, it’s a great read and just goes to show how important it is for us to document and share everything we do.

Plant-Reactive Robots Make Music

Plant-Reactive Robots Play Bamboo, Chinese Instruments at Royal Botanic Garden, Scotland

An installation in Palm House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland where a variety of traditional Chinese instruments and chimes are controlled robotically in response to people and plants. The sounds produced by this are incredibly beautiful, watching the video of the installationis highly recommended. Built using Arduino, the installation reacts to the presence of humans and changes in the soil of the plant beds.

Similar and equally cool—Botanicalls, an open-source project that uses sensors to determine when plants need to be watered and then automatically calls its owner to ask to be watered.