Tuesday, May 6, 2008

080505_bellows - working prototype

video video

got two wires working on once using a variation of Elegon's circuits. Got the bellows working (on right). Very close to code that will make the bellows step through a series of values from the Beijing API data


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Graffiti Research Lab, the movie

This video kind of explains Living Architecture to me. I think some of this was in the Visual Studies lottery :


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

080421_Bellows prototype

videoAdd Video video

Two videos showing the bellows working with "analog input".

I was unable to make the flexinol power the bellows. It needs to be a different point for leverage. It might also be a power issue. It takes some force to make it inflate.

Goals for the bellows:

- Make seven of them, one for each level of the PRC's air quality scale. They would form a column like the audio readout of a stereo. If the worst level of airquality is reached, then all seven pillows are inflated. If the best, one is inflated etc. This will require a system of relays.

- Visually, the scale will be treated with the brand identity of the Olympic countdown billboards in beijing - as an urban information node it will broadcast airquality at it's location.

- My version will be a timelapse of air quality data over a whole year leading up to the date of the Living Architecture final.

- Ideally, an LED would be embedded in each pillow and it would go off when the pillow inflates. Light would support the reading.

- Another valuable output would be a simple "digital clock" display showing the corresponding date as the pillows show the data.

- Finally, an added bonus is that the bellow really does breathe. It wheezes as it inflates and deflates.

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up and running

making the motion sensor work with a LED:


first we tried using the a circuit loop with the relay but that did not work. so we stripped down the breadboard to see the simplest circuit loop. once that tripped we added the LED and it work!

it is important to note that program code we used [we downloaded it from the parallex website] needs 40 sec to warm up so that the motion sensor can adjust to its surroundings.

output study:

fire in the disco!



For this prototype, the rod was changed to a larger aluminum tube that could accommodate sand inside of it. I attached a steel rod to give the whole thing more weight. This is documentation of the Basic stamp pulling on the rod in different ways as sand flows out of the bottom.

Some things that Greta and I talked about were what if there was a segment of colored sand layered within the tube. That would draw a kind of line within the white sand. Also it would bring entropic principles to the table (you can never separate out the colored sand again).

And when the sand is released the system changes because there is less weight. For instance, if I did not have the heavy steel rod attached, the whole system would stop when the sand was gone because without the weight of the sand, the aluminum is too light to engage the flexinol.

Finally, the question of how to refill/restart this system (which in this configuration lasts about 2 minutes but could be stretched out long with a more precise sand "nozzle" like an hourglass.) The refilling could take on the kind of "manual reset"/user interaction that we discussed with our earlier prototype, some how turning the hour glass. . .

Here are some videos of experimenting with filling one of our swinging rods with sand.
(too fast) video
the wires moving up top. video
close-up of the mound video

here are the resulting formations with different code:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Olympics signs in Beijing

Beijing is gripped by Olympic Anxiety. One is reminded that the clock is ticking, the games are coming, one world, one dream. And the frantic preparations continue. If you consider "time" to be a kind of environmental data then these olympic "sensors" are well dispersed throughout the city.

Beijing has committed to installing an array of air sensors throughout the city. What if the air sensors had the same kind of presence as the Olympic countdown signs? What if these signs provided real, timely air quality information to Beijing residents? And what if, through this kind of data presence, an incentive was created, especially after the games to continue to improve air quality?

I'm proposing this for the siting of my piece: an alternative version of the Olympics countdown sign that measures air quality. It is distributed throughout the city at a variety of air quality condition sites - in traffice, in the hutongs, at the Great Wall. In sum, they form a sensor network that provides a public image of the city's air quality.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

INSPIRATION: Flight Visualization


check out the animation

flights in and out of jfk on Sunday from 1:30pm to 3:30pm

Monday, April 14, 2008

Beijing API - 2007 Chart

this chart was generated from Beijing API (Air Pollution Index) data from the PRC's State Environmental Protection Agency. The average number of 100 is scary. I found the data with the help of Tat Lam, a chinese student in my class. I now have a long term data set which will comprise my "input". The intention is to transform the different values into voltages that will move my system proportionally (processing and output)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Article about metrics for childbirth and metrics in general


Article about carbon footprint


Carbon Footprint scenario

Joke scenario:

The hanging line of rods (or perhaps field of rods) obstructs the passage through a hallway. Pedestrians are instructed in the basics of carbon footprints by watching the shaky red lights from the bottom of the hanging rods.

It doesn’t seem the rods are moving much but the red lights move according to average American impacts on carbon footprints (simple pre-input obtainable from a site such as http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx). Pedestrians can read the rods’ display of the effect of heating, car usage, flight patterns, etc, on carbon footprinting until at some point they become a part of the reading themselves by walking directly through the obstruction to where they need to go.

At this point the participant him/herself manifests the excuse of carbon footprinting. (i.e. “I am important,” “I am busy,” “I am a normal person for god’s sake”) for the benefit of onlookers on the opposite side. Nearly everyone eventually passes through the carbon footprint hyper-calculator.

Partial list of API for China

A part of the list of cities sampled by the State Environmental Protection Agency of China for /04/08/08.

Beijing is having a really bad air day. But it is called "Light Pollution"

Monday, April 7, 2008

HK vs. PRC air quality charts

the fascinating, disturbing, orwellian difference between Hong Kong and the People's Republic of China vis a vis air quality.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


1 microcontroller –
2 output using 2 relays on one breadboard we were able to control 2 outputs:

light and flexinol:

2 flexinol wires:


using the flexinol to generate movement on our mirrored surface:


for more stability we created a support system with a slit.
the slit would act as a track to guide the flexinol wire while the mirrored surface would rest on top of the support system to maximize contract and gradate the effect.
unfortunately, before this last step could be tested the flexinol wire burnt out.
although we had not changed any wiring or input data, each times we hooked the flexinol wire to the microcontroller it ‘cooked’ – [it gave one big movement, smoked, and stopped working.]
after ‘cooking’ 3 new pieces of flexinol wire we were still unsure what was causing the wire to overheat.

Latest prototype

Greta and I have worked out another basic unit of movement that attempts to transfer the small movement of the flexinol into a larger object. This time the tension comes from gravity and the mass of the object that is moving plus the weight of the power source, which we thought had some potential for being an interesting move. In these versions the battery that is the weight is not hooked up but we did get that working in the end.

There is a potential for this unit to be aggregated at different densities to produce a field which could form a shifting volume or become a subtly moving screen. 
video video

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

wavy lines


I wish we had gotten a better video before the 9 volt battery fried the flexinol... but here's the attempt to create a butterflyish movement with steel wire, coat hanger, and flexinol.



so, we wanted some mirrors that could react to a moving flexinol wire. we liked the effect from last time, so tried to recreate a more refined prototype. two types, one with many pieces on a sheet of latex. we want this one to register movement from one area in other parts of the field. still need to figure out how we want to attach the flexinol...at one point? at many points? via some other material? the other type is a vertical stacked set of mirrors on latex, with the idea that the flexinol would be directly attached somehow, registering a 1 to 1 movement/bending of the strip.

here's a little video of it doing its thing, with the help of a finger. one thing we noticed was that there was more limited movement towards the outside when we continued the mirrors over the frame. guess that makes sense.



ok, we've been playing with the mirrors too long. on to the input/processing. went to the shack of radios and picked up a few essentials based on last class: main things were the power adapter, some 9-volt battery attachment heads, a couple of relays, a blank breadboard, and a tri-colored flashy led light. oh, and some other led light looking thing that turned out to be something else, so we blew it up. only half kidding. read on...

we wanted to see if we could set up the circuit board to move two pieces of wire at a time. since our flexinol set up was broke, we used our led as a test to see if the circuit worked. we copied the layout of a circuit diagram from last semester, and rewrote the basic stamp code. here are some pics:

so we have the circuit board set up to connect to two batteries and two sets of alligator clips for two pieces of flexinol. instead of the wire, we used the one led light on one, and just closed the other circuit by putting the alligator clips together. we get a very lovely glow from our light, as well as some smoke coming out. not good, but the led kept working, so we continued...tried the other circuit, worked too.

next, we used our 'led' light (it was actually some infrared output thing) to simulate the other flexinol wire. so led light on one side and 'led' thing on the other. hook it up. 'led' sparks and starts smoking. then turns black on the inside. the last picture is of the poor little guy in the aftermath. but, this means that it worked. right? we got something from both sides.

it's too bad we didn't get that on video, but here is the led light working:


so we know we can get two pieces working at the same time. next, how do we get that circuit on the new breadboard we bought? and, how do we control the juice and not blow anything else up? or, do we care? flexinol is supposed to be 'robust,' right? after that, we connect our disco strip and disco field to a piece of wire, connect it to our little circuit system, and watch it go. cake.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

lightbulb moment

The wire loop's movement is interesting because it acts with a release, a spring effect. The closer you get to upsetting its position, the more it wants to jump into its new position. I think this "desire" could be graphed like bell curve. What we want to do is to find the right position for the flexinol so that it brings this wire to its critical position.

The video below shows the construction and our attempt.


butterfly iterations.

there was a lot of futility in this natural selection.


We are using a store-bought flexinol creation to investigate the movement below. The movement of the butterfly depends on the natural tension of the material's curvature. This involves the thickness, coat, and resiliency of the material. We looked at card paper, thin plastic, and mylar, and found that mylar was the best imitator of the original butterfly's maximum movement.




we're thinking....



fulcrum drawings and calculations

3 drawings and a spread sheet. an attempt to precisely calculate mechanical advantage for flexinol based on an expansion coefficient.

the pump mechanism is two concentric tubes that seal together.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

interactive architecture


An example, albeit cheesy, of a project that attempted to use a spring with flexinol but later opted for a relay.


Monday, February 25, 2008



Thursday, February 21, 2008


There are a handful of novel applications of flexinol out there, from making doll eyes blink to fine art applications like moving the wings on ren-fare elf and pixie sculptures. Here are a couple of "wing" uses that may be of help to us and our desire for leverage.

These are space wings from the robot store.

And here's a butterfly whose wings flap with flexinol from not the robot store. My monarch is on its way! 

Here is one in all its pulsating glory.

Prototype 2

This was our first attempt at using the flexinol to move a panel. Originally we had the setup mounted on a window, but the below freezing temperature outside made the flexinol retract very slowly. The movement used the piano wire "spring" from prototype one to force a creased square of corrugated plastic to move. It was a very slight movement which was mildly disappointing. But, listen to the sound and you will hear Greta's breakthrough. Here are some more pictures:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prototype 01



Prototype 01



Prototype 01



Monday, February 18, 2008

Prototype 01



Prototype 01



Prototype 01

Input: ' {$STAMP BS2}' {$PBASIC 2.5}
Output: 9 different color CLCs in off state. Their tincture is modulated with a potentiometer.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

some new ideas...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

brian and greta -- research topic

Research Agenda

ScreenScreenWe are interested in the screen, not only as an 2-dimensional architectural element that modulates spatial effects (such as light and change in visibility) but also as a means to transmit information through a legible change in properties. The screen is a reference to common architectural elements, such as partitions, window shades, and Japanese shojis. It also references the technological screen by processing information and representing it on a surface to be read. It is an effort to conflate the two meanings of “screen.”

One possibility is to transmit the electrical impulses through the screen by triggering a series of movements.

Placeless/PlaceableWe are also interested in developing a prototype that can easily be setup and/or deployed in a relationship with an existing architecturalelement (ie a small screen that can quickly be mounted on a glass curtain wall), whose output would re-mediate the experience of insideand outside. There will be a potential to create a parasitic, symbiotic, or even destructive relationship between the elements. For instance, a parasitic prototype could steal power from the host architecture or it could symbiotically collect wasted heat energy that would somehow feed into a window washing unit.


The series of prototypes must be a physical experiment for the possibility of these effects. Our set-up will be a test-case for future implementation of the apparatus on to a host architecture.

Research Topic


Our prototype series will focus output. For this research, the mechanism will be triggered by a very simple input, but should later be repurposed to support a cultural or political agenda.

We are skeptical of the idea of ubiquitous computing and much of its common application and would like to create a response/effect that is visible/conscious.

The best possible screen for the first assignment may be a lightweight plastic screen. This would be a simple way to offer the translucent visibility we are looking for. For the first assignment we create a simple push-pull motion with sliding squares connected to the flexinol wire. Their movement will create an effect in the space beyond.

research propsal-esque

Our research topic will actually be a series of experiments to investigate the capabilities embedded within the flexinol wire. The first step we will take is to critically analyze the past blogs and experiments of the course to identify aspects of projects that will further our research/prototyping in the following categories:

1. MOVEMENT: trying to maximize movement
-testing mechanical systems to augment movement (springs, pivots, pulleys, etc.)
-methodically documenting maximum/minimum movements of the wire in relationship to various pivot points
-testing strength of the wire

2. SENSORS: exploring the responsiveness of various sensors to the flexinol wire
-a precise documentation of relationships of sensors to environmental elements

3. MATERIAL OUTPUT: how does the flexinol wire respond to fabric?
-testing different fabrics
-testing various attachment strategies (wire/fabric)

4. SCALE: limits of project scale
-building scale, room scale, human scale, smaller?
-strong desire to have final prototype interact with the individual

Monday, February 11, 2008

brian and greta, first impressions

Due to our previously unbloggy habits, here are the distance memories of our first impressions with BASIC Stamp and the breadboard:

We began to understand what was going on only after making a few mistakes in the scripting portion of the assignment.

Only when we connected the basic stamp program with the microcontroller did we begin to understand how the process works. By experimenting with the number after "HIGH" we realized that this number signifies the place of electrical input. Because of the configuration of the wires, we could read the breadboard's function in connecting one wire to the other: it has a built-in ability to send electricity linearly. Depending on the placement of your input, you have a whole row 'lit up' for more connections. The other small equipment only serves to manipulate the original electrical input.

Later in class we realized the reason for an apparent decrease in movement in the flexinol wire. By putting the wire in more tension you can get more dramatic results. (In order words by putting the wire under too little tension you won't be able to see its full effect.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

proto_one .. argot and b. (brian and greta)

Here is a picture and an infinitesimal video of the little weekend robot.


Research Proposal Guidelines


Monday, February 4, 2008

PRONG - Proto 01 experiments

PRONG here,

Lindsey and I (Josh) have been working with Little Guy (AKA the circuit board) and we've gotten a grip on how it works in a few important ways:

- The Flexinol wire's natural state is contracted. Current makes it expand. You can conclude from this that the system that is controlled by the Nitinol will be one that works by the materials expansion. That may mean that the system would be in a contracted state which then grows or expands with environmental input into an uncontracted or relaxed state.

- The way the breadboard works: The circuit logic is horizontal. Everything communicates along horizontal paths. It doesn't matter where that path is vertically on the white grid of the board.

- Wherever there is an input on any row in the white grid it needs to travel along another wire and continue and complete a circuit.

- It looks like the Horizontal and Vertical Black components of the board need to both be plugged in to to make a complete circuit

- Alligator clip order, one way or the other, doesn't matter. the circuit still works.

- We were having trouble because the battery was weak. A new battery fixed everything

- An important experiment might be to measure the precise percentage of expansion for a given length of nitinol so that we can fabricate a system that exploits it. We will probably need to use mechanical advantage to make it show up. That means using the Nitinol as if it were a small gear on a big wheel...like a ten speed.

- we played with PBASIC - a little about debugging and the important command RCTIME which controls the conditional logic of the wire

- the amount of milliseconds used for the looping or IF statements matters. 4000 looks like a good number for the wire to fully expand and contract. But we say quick oscillations with as little as 500. After that we couldn't see it. This is nice because we might be able to control velocity or speed of reaction in a project

- I sketched a fabric membrane idea and Lindsey and I discussed it. A possible experiment based on Proto 01

Saturday, February 2, 2008

PRONG - Prototype 01

http://hackedgadgets.com/2006/04/12/what-to-do-with-blue-bawls/3/ - This showed how to put our 3 pronged transistor into the breadboard. We weren't sure what to do with it's middle prong.

Our groups name is PRONG. go PRONG!

We made the prototype work. Here's a video of it in action:


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Dynalloy Flexinol® Technical Data


BASIC Stamp Syntax and Reference Manual


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Prototype 1 Instructions


World Changing: Interview with Natalie Jeremijenko


Res Magazine: Article about Art and Technology, Natalie Jeremijenko


Living Architecture Fall 2007 Pratt: Class Blog


Living Architecture Fall 2007 Columbia: Class Blog


Living Architecture Spring 2007 Pratt: Class Blog


Living Architecture Spring 2007 Columbia: Class Blog


Living Architecture Fall 2006 Pratt: Class Blog


Living Architecture Fall 2006 Columbia: Class Blog


Living Architecture Spring 2006 Pratt: Class Blog


Living Architecture Spring 2006 Columbia: Class Blog


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