The following is a post detailing the last two PComp weekly assignments, the construction of our fantasy device and the stupid pet trick.
Today I want to view them through the lens of consumer electronics, particularly those from our past.
We grew up with them, they mean something to us, they are close to us, and have been forming our perception of the world, since we were wee tykes. I am interested to see how our consumer electronically mediated perception works when its intersected with the experience of other people (not their experience but the our experience of them).
Bonus! Older electronics are easier to hack as they use larger components and are actually designed to be reverse engineered and/or maintained by humans.
The first sensor I made was the galvanic skin response sensor.
In it’s most simple form it comes down to just two copper terminals and wires going to the arduino.
I used it to push on the buttons that changed the channels on my tv. Controling the TV with my emotions.
I am interested in making my own sensors because it’s magical that we can make computing devices and components out of things that are just lying around. They are that accessible and that close.
the gsrs can be tweaked and tuned with the use of various resistors and capacitors
I also made a lie detector to see if that worked better
The values of resistance depending on human tension come in inconsistently so you have to measure for rate of change when using these kind of sensors, rather than amount of resistance.
I brought the tv to school and plugged it in, it let loose some smoke and called it a life. Maybe my emotions were more than it could bear, and it resided with a whimper and the smell of chemicals.
Depressing, because since this particular model specified of its tuning frequencies with button pushes, it was really possible to tune in and drop out, let your body do the reasoning, and watch it go.
So I decided to hook up to my alarm clock radio, but wanting to try something new I made a heart rate sensor. The idea behind this was to play my heart on the radio and have the time change according to its rhythm.
To make a heart rate sensor, hook up a photocell opposite an LED isolate them so no extraneous light seeps in, stick your finger in, and voila. As blood pulses through your finger, it gets darker and the photocell registers the change. Its better to use the tip of your finger or a thinner finger, so that the pulsing of blood is more clearly detectible.
Then I connected this to various speakers to hear what different effects of heartbeat I could achieve, I even made one out of a piezo and foil. The best speaker turned out to be the one from my wii, which had been previously taken out because of another project.
Hacking into the speaker was easy, I just replaced the cables. I wanted to have my heart go over this and interfere with the tuning of the radio somehow. But hacking into the variable capacitor on a commercial radio was a bit too overwhelming for me. They integrate three capacitors and something else that might be a pot to tune to the different frequencies. So I’m not there yet but its a project to look into.
Bonus Info: The circuit board on this radio is the same as one I found in an alarm clock radio from the 70’s! It’s nice to know not everything has to be the latest model.
Lastly I hooked into the clock. This is pretty straight forward, since by pressing on the “time button” one is able to further change the time by pressing the minute and hour buttons. So by correlating the presses to my heart rate, it looks like the clock advances with the rate of my beating heart.
But as you can see, I am still having some problems for the code so the hour is not changing quite rightly.
The radio alarm clock is my stupid pet trick, I was thinking many people used stuffed animals for their pets. They were their friends that they wished alive when they were little. My friends were the clock the radio, the tv, they told me things and they had mysterious workings inside them that made them like unto living things. So the stupid pet is the clock, it’s a personal object that I have a relationship with now acting like it knows me back.