Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The crit

This setup shows the model, the circuit, the probes and the main idea my project is based on.

This is my feedback:

Great to have a real time clock working.

Think about crafting the sounds. Decide on what these are. Take inspiration rather than direct-content from your probes. Have high quality sounds. Decide on whether it is MP3 or physical sounds and get prototyping.

Lights are horrid.

How commercial do you want this to be?

How will users set the time?

Very good comments and points to be getting on top off!

The device

I made this bird, named Jeffery, for the crit on Monday to show the lecturers how my form will differ from a generic alarm clock. I want my device to be used as a means of breaking your sleep cycle, to wake you up only and to be quite an important feature in the bedroom. (I don't want the user to read time) This i still need to work on but i feel my model shows this well, quite chuffed with the result!

Talks with Mike

I could not get my solenoid to magnetise which meant something was wrong with my circuit construction.

When i managed to speak to Mike, it turned out that my transistor was not powerful enough, so he gave me a MOSFET which seems to have worked.

He has also told me that i need to get a different solenoid to the one i have if i want it to act like a piston. He suggested trying to add a spring to my solenoid or to purchase a solenoid that has one included.

Bit of a set back as it took 1 week to recieve the last solenoid!

PLAYing around

When my order of solenoids arrived, i received a free changing LED thingy so I decided I would learn how to use it and use it as an indicator to show output control on a real time clock.

Wiring up was not too bad, easy to follow instructions came with the LED, finally i might add!

My only problem was actually turning the LED to the correct colour I had programmed.

Each colour had a corressponding pin to turn 'high' or on. When i stated red to come on, all available colours came on, not just red. I quickly realized that if i wanted red to turn on, i would have to ensure that green and blue were off.

digitalWrite(redPin, HIGH); // set red on
digitalWrite(greenPin, LOW); // set green off
digitalWrite(bluePin, LOW); // set blue off

However, when i did this, the red did not come on but one of the others. I PLAYed on the circuit i had made thinking that i might of wired up my pins wrong or got my colours confused.

It took me some time to understand that the LED was in fact inverted. This means when i command 'HIGH' to turn on, i really need to command 'LOW', usually used to command off. So my code simply needed to be turned upside down...

e.g. to turn on red:
digitalWrite(redPin, LOW); // set red on
digitalWrite(greenPin, HIGH); // set green off
digitalWrite(bluePin, HIGH); // set blue off


I want to find out what people are currently waking up to and what they would prefer so in this probe i have included 2 10 second recording devices to capture each sound separately. The booklet includes instructions of how to use the devices and enables the user to record and share information/ stories behind each sound.

I hope this will help me PLAY around with my potential output.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Talks with Jon

Thumbs up!!

Next step is to PLAY with the output, so i plan to give out some recording 'probes' to discover what people are currently waking up to and what they want to wake up to. I've also ordered some solenoids to PLAY with too.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Setting an alarm

My next step was to learn how to control an output based on my real time clock.

Baby steps...

To begin, i used the arduino examples and looked at using a potentiometer (analog input) to control an output; led. i set up this circuit.
This was a good example to follow. I needed to see the values of the potentiometer so i used a code from my real time clock and inserted it into the example;

Serial.begin(9600); //read value from sensor

void loop ()

Serial.pintin(name you have given); //show value in your COM

I could now turn the potentiometer and see the values change in relation to my blinking LED.

I then opened my real time clock file and started making adjustments, doing a 'save as' so not to muck up my original code.

baby step 2...

I opened another arduino example of using 'if else'. This code allows you to set an action to a variable, like my time.

My goal: to set a time for a red led to turn on, otherwise keep green led on.

if(minute == 1) { // == must be used to use an exact value! otherwise will not work!

digitalWrite(redPin, HIGH); //turn on red pin
digitalWrite(greenPin, LOW); //turn off green pin

else { //otherwise turn green led on
digitalWrite(redPin, LOW); //turn off red pin
digitalWrite(greenPin, HIGH); //turn on green pin

This was good but would not let me keep more than one minute on.

Baby step 3...

I removed my 'if, else' with 'case' again using an arduino example.

First thing i needed to do with my real time clock programme, was to define my constants for the red led to be on;

const int nameMin = value; // mine was minuteMin = 1: this sets the min value for red led to be on
const int minuteMax = 2; //sets max value for red led to be on.

in the 'void loop' section of the code, i added;

int range = map(minute, minuteMin, minuteMax, 0,2) //maps sensor range to four options.

switch (range) { //do something different depending on the range value.

case 0: //action when 1 min is reached

digitalWrite(redPin, HIGH); //turn on red pin
digitalWrite(greenPin, LOW); //turn off green pin

this allowed my leds to react to a duration i set.

I had completed my goal of controlling an output based on my time.

Friday, 4 December 2009

real time clock

I have written my first piece of arduino code and it works! My DS1037 is working well with arduino so i can now keeps time. Above shows my working model and below shows the schematic diagram i followed, from arduino homepage.

This is my very very first arduino encounter.

I found getting started quite hard. It has been a good couple of years since i last looked at and did coding, never mind building a circuit. Arduino language is new so finding the correct terms to use in the programme took ages as well as understanding the reading codes as i didn't know what i was looking at.

Once i realised what code i needed to write and found how to use the arduino site, i was rocking!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Talks with Pete

After speaking with Pete, feel a bit better now. He agrees that my project needs a focus and that i should be limiting myself. He also suggests that i should stick with what Jon says but do more to prove to him about my decisions and apply the bird song to noises to what i am suggesting to keep us both happy and keep things moving forward.

He has also suggested that i get familiar with environmental hapticks and apply this principle to my project to get sounds from the environment depending on the location of the alarm, using the alarm to create the noises from your environment.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Talks with Jon

Today was another tutorial session with Jon. He was updated about PICAXE so he managed to provide me with an arduino mini so i have started to make my 'real time clock'. It is yet to work but the chip is working so i suspect my programme is wrong. I have to just concentrate on this for next time.

Regarding sound, Jon doesn't like how i have moved away from bird songs to wake you up. I never did pick one idea and i never said it would play bird songs so I'm quite confused and annoyed as to what to do next. He did raise a good point about moving away from making it child based but i used that as inspiration so Pete is in tomorrow morning, so hopefully this will clarify things for me...

i need to have some sort of electronic prototype for next week... fingers are crossed!

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Some Clarity

Ok. My idea has developed into something I want to PLAY with.

I moved away from recorded sounds and live feeds to noises made through various materials. This gives me the experimentation factor i crave with any project. I will use some sort of electronics to 'knock' on my materials i will choose to act as an 'alarm signal' giving me the electronic side of the project. This signal will be activated at times you should be turning off to sleep and sounds to wake you up. The noises produced will not sound like an alarm clock. Just now, imagine a knock at the door. Curious, pleasant and attracting noises.

To 'hush' the device, you simply stroke it.
To put it on snooze, you turn the object.

The device will not indicate time, but will indicate a suggestion.

Mind Fuzz

Really not liking my project anymore.

I am strangely jealous of Callum K. PLAYing with ceramics with Sean. If i created my 3rd year project as my 4th i would be very happy.

I love PLAYing with materials, just recently i have been PLAYing with metal for my business module, bending, flattening and welding cutlery. Why is that not my final year project!!

I need to re-think and improve my idea. I do not want it to be like an alarm clock and i do not want it to be an air freshener!! I do not want to use recorded or live sounds as it is too similar to an alarm clock! grr! Feeling really down about it all, i still have nothing for Jon to see whilst everyone in the class is progressing and moving quickly. This has been a very bad week!

PICAXE hates me!

I have just wasted another afternoon trying to get this PICAXE USB download driver to install. It will not work, even Mike didn't know how to fix it.

I have however, manged to install Arduino 17 and it does work off my computer! Success!! However, I have ordered a chip from Ebay, it will take 2 weeks to arrive as it is shipping from Japan. I asked Ali if he had any spares going so i could work on it at the weekend and he doesn't so there is actually nothing i can do to progress.

Feeling pretty crap, i have nothing to show Jon on monday, I am losing the will and vision of my project.

Method 1: Fail

The scent did not wake me up, my room however did smell nice. I am thinking i need to PLAY with scents used to help you awake, as it has dawned on me that this might of failed with using lavender, a scent used to help you unwind and fall asleep... I must point out that I had the best nights sleep in AGES!

waking up, method 1

Scents on a Radiator

After a very stressful day of not getting PICAXE to work with the stress of other deadlines, I am going to use some scents that i have purchased to see if they can wake me up.

I placed lavender on my radiator and turned off my alarm clock.

Tutorial with Mike

I have yet to successfully manage to get PICAXE running of my computer. Mike and I went through some components i will need to order. After spending a whole day on it, I have failed to get it to download. Quite pissed off!!

Tutorial with Mike

In order to begin using PICAXE, we had to first assemble the PICAXE chips and download PICAXE software.

We split into 3 groups, 1 group of PC's and 2 groups of Mac's.

A circuit was assembled and ran off Lee's computer. The USB download was not successful to begin with, mine and Lee's chips both did not work, were Ross's did...it just took us a while to realise this. This took a whole afternoon.

We have arranged more tutorials on Thursday to have individual help with our projects. Our task first is to get all chips working and downloading from your personal computer.

Talks with Jon

So had my weekly chat with Jon and told him about what i had discussed with Pete. Thumbs are up but Jon wants to see some prototyping on my desk next week.

PICAXE chips have also arrived and Mike has arranged to walk us through the set up tomorrow.

Talks with Pete

I spoken to Pete, another lecturer, to ask for help about what i should do with my final year project, and in particular, what ideas to narrow in on and focus my PLAY around. We have decided to concentrate on 5 ideas that could potentially merge and start PLAYing with methods of waking up.

Pete has suggested i start my PLAY on waking up with scents by placing some on my radiator. The idea being when my central heating comes on at 7am, it should gradually make me stir. The point being that i moved away from a generic alarm clock.

Mind Fuzz

I am really struggling to grasp the area of sleep i will be PLAYing around with, as my idea choice is so vast. Although i know which technology to be playing around with, i do not know which technological idea to take forward and PLAY with....quite stuck!

Talks with Jon

After speaking to Jon, my lecturer, we have decided not to get hung up on which idea to take forward but instead PLAY around with the technology i will be using to MAKE my projects a reality. Jon has suggested to use PICAXE, a programming software that i used in high school, so i'm quite happy at that.

In order to start PLAYing with this technology, PICAXE chips need to be ordered and set up. Jon is arranging with Mike, to set up tutorials on getting started. Other than that, I'm not too sure what i can do, apart from narrow my ideas down.

Just Starting

This blog is going to be used to describe the progress i make with my final year project based around going to sleep and waking up.