Experiments in wearable electronic art.

Running out of time, so scaling back


Note: The recent dearth of posts has been a result of a little vacation to Florida. I’m back, and working away.

I must have this project “done” by August 18, 2011. So that means I’ve got about five weeks to go. As a result, I’ve decided to scale back on a few of my plans. I designed a pretty good user interface for this project with a 20×4 LCD, bend and analog joystick inputs, finger buttons, and an encoder wheel. Sadly I have to shelve some of those plans for now, along with some of the more ambitious control mechanisms. I’m going to use something much more straightforward, but still ultimately satisfying.

For display, I’m going to revert to colored “mode” LEDs mounted in or on the computer enclosure. It will be enough for me to tell what the thing is doing. I expect three modes:

  • Automatic which just plays animations continuously
  • Communication which plays one of a small number of special animations that have some semantic meaning
  • Utility which has some diagnostics that I can use to check the functioning of the suit, such as turning on all the LEDs to make sure they’re plugged in correctly. I will also have extended diagnostics available when the suit is connected to a computer via USB.


Weatherproof keypad

For control, I’m using the weatherproof, five-button hand controller seen here. It has four directional buttons and a center button. It also has a red computer-controllable LED backlight. Over the weekend I wrote a nice class that I can use to get input from this controller and set the LED state and brightness. My class also allows detection of certain button combinations such as center+up and center+down which will allow a bit more control. Here it is connected to my little Arduino Uno for testing.

I also modified the protoshield to accept the new connection to this device. It will run under the right arm straps to my hand. It’s kind of rubbery and has a nice feel to it.

Protoshield mods

Protoshield mods

Another big piece of work over the weekend was the creation of a Beats class that implements a flywheeling tap-tempo system. I can tap the middle button of the controller in rhythm and my Beats class averages the taps to determine a tempo, then flywheels at that tempo. Since I have computer control over the backlight on the controller keypad, I set up a task to flash the red lights on the keypad in time with the beat.

Now what I’m working on is making the animations time-scale to the current tempo. This is surprisingly easy, and it’s already partially implemented. I will probably be able to post a demo video of tap-tempo-synchronized animations Thursday night.

Author: regenesis

Seattle New Media artist.

2 thoughts on “Running out of time, so scaling back

  1. I’m trying to use the same wearable keypad for my EL wire project. Would you be willing to share the source for the keypad (the “nice class that I can use to get input from this controller and set the LED state and brightness”)? Thanks! Your project looks great!

  2. Sent! Thanks for the props on my project…looking forward to hearing about yours.

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