Monthly Archives: February 2015

Foam Kernow mini update

A short update on the things currently going on at Foam Kernow alongside the stuff I’ve been blogging about lately. We are near completion of a new version of the butterfly hunting game – this time being developed for the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, where it will be a citizen science exhibit to collect data on visitor’s perceptions of the wing patterns. A brand new Open Sauces web tool is under development as well, much conversation concerning database models for cuisines, menus, recipes, ingredients and flavours.

We’re planning our first ever biohacking workshop, in Cornwall led by the London Biohackspace. As part of that we need to construct a bunch of high power LEDs to expose yeastograms to UV light to create pictures. With all the precautions required for this (you don’t want to get too close to them), it seems like we’re constructing a giant space laser.

The beginning of the year has also been about moving long running projects on to their next stage. Mongoose 2000 has now had 4 months of parallel data collection in Uganda at the same time as their old system, and they agree by 98%, which is good enough for them to move completely over to the Raspberry Pi and android tablets. We’ve also incorporated a ton of feedback from this testing time. Symbai also has been improved ready for it’s next outing to India in May, mostly synchronisation fixes as this system needs to sync photographs and audio files as well. Also a bit of in depth reading about SQLite’s query planner has led to a dramatic speedup for both these applications.

Also in the workshop vein – this year’s Raspberry Pi Minecraft hacking workshop will be happening on April 2nd at dBsMusic in Cornwall College. Bring on the networked mayhem!

Minecraft Easter Taster2

New tangible weavecoding device – pattern matrix

We’re starting construction of version 2 of the flotsam tangible programming device, specialised to weaving – and henceforth known as the ‘pattern matrix’. This will be tested during May at our upcoming performance/workshop/residency at Munich’s Museum für Abgüsse Klassischer Bildwerke (Museum of Casts of Classical Sculpture) with the Coding weaves project, and then for later use in Cornwall (more on that part soon).

1

The first thing we are exploring is removing the need for physical plugs – although I like them a lot, they are problematic for people as it takes time to learn how to align the blocks in the current prototype. In order to get around this, and maintain the cheapness of the programming blocks themselves we’re looking at using magnetism to represent information. We can use blocks with no connections, painted white and black on different sides and detect their orientation and position via a magnet in the centre.

Initially this idea came from thinking about reed switches with Francesca, and playing with mobile phone magnetometers on the UAV project led to us investigating Hall effect sensors (the building blocks of magnetometers). We had a bit of a testing workshop with Andy from the Falmouth University makernow fablab who are helping with construction of this project.

halleffect

Hall effect sensors allow us to detect the polarity of nearby magnetic fields – and seem to be restricted enough in range that they can be very precise. Even with fairly weak magnets we found we could put the sensors right next to each other (see above) and still determine the difference between two opposed or aligned fields.

For the warp/weft weave pattern structure we only need 1 bit of information to be detected, but for future extensibility for the yarn colour programming setup it’s important to be able to read more (4 bits are encoded in the flotsam blocks).

Our plan is to try putting 4 sensors in a square which adds an intriguing possibility of rotating the blocks to change their meaning, as well as flipping them. The great thing is that this gets very close to tablet weaving in terms of the notation and the actions required. We can also represent all 16 states with only 4 blocks – if negative is 0 and positive is 1, and we read the code as binary clockwise from top left:

Starting state [0,1,5,6]
- -   + -   + -   - +
- -   - -   - +   - +

Rotate clockwise [0,2,10,12]
- -   - +   - +   - - 
- -   - -   + -   + +

Horizontal flip [15,11,10,12]
+ +   + +   - +   - - 
+ +   + -   + -   + +

Rotate counter-clockwise [15,13,5,6]
+ +   + -   + -   - + 
+ +   + +   - +   - +

Vertical flip [0,4,5,6]
- -   - -   + -   - + 
- -   - +   - +   - +

Here is Andy’s design for the PCB we’ll use under each of the 25 board locations:

hallboard