Soft circuits: most basic of basics

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I ran I tiny taster in soft electronic circuits for fashion students today that was a part of the minor Textiles of fashion school AMFI. In a small hour (goes by so fast!) students were introduced to very basic concepts in electronics by making a super simple circuit consisting of a power supply and an LED (with on-board resistor) or piece of LED-strip. This simple exercise allowed them to get some hands-on practice and understanding of how to connect up a circuit and avoid shorts using conductive thread, knits, textiles and steelwool. A couple of students even managed to add a switch or a sensor in the short time available. Nice.

Additionally there was a short demonstration of the materials and techniques that are available to work with soft circuits, such as:

  • conductive threads, paints and textiles as well as materials with variable resistance
  • creating basic switches and soft sensors
  • silkscreening with thermochromatic paint
  • working with programmable AVR chips

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Homemade Arduinos & AVR Programming

tinylily

Because I needed a project to figure out our PCB milling machine, I set out to make our homemade version of the wearables Lilypad toolchain developed by Leah Buechley. I had to replace all the footprint for the ones that fit our inventory went on to produce the electronics from scratch. Today I was finally able to hook it all up and program the chip with an IC test clip and a USBtinyISP AVR programmer by Adafruit. Super fun and cheap way for the fashion students to explore electronics without having to order expensive stuff from overseas. This way they can start easy and hopefully feel more confident adjusting their own electronics board to their needs by designing their own sensor boards or adding components to the existing layouts. I’ve always found it easier to modify existing files and the sewing pad library that is available freely is quite useful for designing electronics for textiles.

First steps in metalworking

As part of my work in HvA’s Makerslab I’m also learning a number of conventional techniques. Recently I took my first steps working with thin brass and copper plates and pipes. Really nice material to work with obviously, and I was really enchanted with the accuracy of those gorgeous old hand operated machines. I made two bookstands and a tea light for now, to be continued.

Techniques: cutting, angle bending (zetten), roll forming (walsen), pipe cutting (pijpensnijden), riveting (klinken), pop rivets (popnagels klinken) and spot soldering (solderen).

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Playful Learning

Bandjes is the result of the Playful Learning project I coached in the spring semester of 2015. In collaboration with Orion (Amsterdam’s organisation for special needs education) we developed a game for teenagers with cognitive disabilities to improve their communication skills, collaboration skills and the level of intensity of their exercise in the gym classroom. The game offers a playful way to increase the level of self-reliance, by practicing social skills.

The game consists of 4 bluetooth enabled head bands with an RGB LED that can change color. The basic elements of each game is that a player cannot see his own color, only those of the other players. The logic of the game changes with the different variation (eg. “tag” or tikkertje is one of them), but each game requires the players to communicate in order to navigate the playing field and reach the goals of each game variation. Bandjes comes with 7 documented game variations that can be initiated through a desktop application.

Franz – Fabacademy project

Franz is a wall mounted bumblebee. Although impressive in size and spirit, he has indeed grown slightly overweight and tired. Franz was developed to show skills I developed and techniques I mastered during the FabAcademy training program I followed between Februari and June 2015.

Maybe you can’t help but wonder if Franz is already dead or not. Blow at him to find out if he still has some life in him. He might have some light in his eyes and some movement in his wings.

Techniques and Materials:

3D printed ABS (Rhino), Lasercut acrylic (llustrator, Inkscape), Lasercut wood and acrylic. Electronics: Attiny84, unipolar  stepper motor, microphone, bulbs (Eagle, Arduino, Fabmodules).

Made at: Fablab Amsterdam

One Minute pitch and demo during international Fabacademy finals (HD demo coming:
Workfiles and documentation via Fabacademy archive

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial ShareAlike  4.0 International License.

Bird Machines Snapfit Construction Kit

As part of FabAcademy week 3 I had to design and produce a snapfit construction kit with the lasercutter. Requirement was that the kit can be put together in many ways (without glue or other things, just by snapping it together). I created an iteration of my steampunk bird machine, and I love the crazy result! Especially the shadows it casts. Find documentation here (not all parts work as intended)

My birds were features in the Makezine article about Fabacademy! NOICE hey :)

http://makezine.com/2015/03/09/fab-academy-adventures-7-press-fit-construction-kits/

Some pictures:

And the SVG file :) It won’t show until you open it in Illustrator. Or in Inkscape (be sure to set the view to “outline” otherwise it will look like there’s nothing because the lines are 0.001pt thick).

Oh yeah and then a few weeks later for the Make Something Big assignment I decided to redo the birds but scale them up to 1x1x1 meters…hehe

FabAcademy 2015 – learning learning learning more

Two weeks ago I started the long anticipated FabAcademy training at my local fablab in Amsterdam at de Waag. I think the last time I learned so many new skills and concepts in every week was when I was doing my Master’s at Goldsmiths. Amazingly good to have the brain and the hands fired up to 100 again.

A large part of the course is about programming and electronics (PCB production from scratch!) which I absolutely love and am so happy to advance my understanding of. But of course all the usual suspects like Computer Controlled Cutting, Machining, 3D printing, 2D and 3D milling, molding & casting, composites, machine building, you name it. Pretty fantastic and quite an intense program.

The training lasts 20 weeks and teaches you everything you need to know if you want to work in a maker space or want to run a Fablab. Great because that’s exactly what I plan to do more at work (at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences). I am keeping records of everything I’m learning on my local fabsite, which I won’t post here. But feel free to have a look at what I’m up to here.

Games4Amnesty: Mr. Powerful

For Amnesty Netherlands, one of my student teams developed Mr Powerful in fall 2014: a game that let students experience, in a playful way, how Amnesty International takes action against the violation of Freedom of Speech and persuade students to contribute to this cause. In the game you play the oppressor who violates Human Rights and is therefore criticised by different channels. As a player you experience the rising pressure. It is up to you to withstand the pressure and remain calm.

 Play the game!

Interactive Cinema

How can you create an interactive story with 360 degree footage for oculus rift?

I coached a team of students who worked on this project in collaboration with Lectorate Games&Play’s researcher Mirjam Vosmeer. AVROTROS and their cultural hub VondelCS, and VR pioneers from WeMakeVR.

Using live action 360 degree footage the team created an interactive narrative experience for the Oculus Rift to explore how stories can be told in virtual reality. During the experience, you are not just passively watching a story, but you are a character who can actively influence how the narrative unfolds.

In A Perfect Party you, as the main character are hosting a get-together for your best friend who wants to propose to his girlfriend. Everything depends on you to make the party a success: potential disaster is everywhere. By looking around and interacting with the environment you may try to prevent things from running out of control. It’s up to you to make this party perfect.

A perfect party was featured at LISFE Leiden International Short Film Experience 2015:

http://www.lisfe.nl/lisfe-2015/

Tinkering vs. Prototyping workshop

Tamara and I tried out a different format to get the students to think about tinkering and prototyping. Both have in common that they celebrate early failure as a way to learn quickly and deeply about your ideas and prototypes. We asked the students to create paper prototypes – always a big hit and a huge surprise – and to tinker for an hour with a prototyping tool they were unfamiliar with and report back what they learned. I really enjoy facilitating these sessions and using whatever comes up in the room as an opportunity to learn something about the creative making process together. Awesome day, always too little time awwwww. We can’t get enough!