Arduino Experiments: Moving Diorama
For this week’s experiment, I decided to combine a physical component (improvised diorama), a potentiometer (as input) and a servo motor (as an output).
My goal for this semester is to create an interactive installation, where, among other things, a digital game sends input to a physical component that is in the same space as the player.
I love the Japanese art of Tatebanko, which is about making dioramas out of paper. How cool would it be if your performance in a digital game would directly affect and move pieces in a diorama right in front of you? Much like old model or paper theatres from the late 1800s, with many moving parts.
|A 19th Century Paper Theatre (credit: http://www.victoriana.com/antiquetoys/papertheaters.html)||The Art of Tatebanko – making dioramas out of paper (credit: http://beautifulday3000.seesaa.net/category/7698326-1.html)|
So, with my improvised diorama (see below), I wanted to move a boat back and forth using a potentiometer.
I soon realized that this motion was more complicated than it looked like. With my Arduino Starter Kit, I only have one servo motor, and not many parts to build a slider with. So, after at least an hour of frustration trying to build a MacGyver set-up for this boat to move back and forth, I decide to make something with the tools that were available to me.
I also wanted to try and combine more than just the potentiometer and the motor, just to see how I would make all things fit in one breadboard. As you can see above, I added three blue LED lights to the sky. A terrible idea. If you look closer, my diorama ended up covering the potentiometer. I could probably move it around but I did not want to rebuild my circuits. And talking about the potentiometer – those that come with the Starter Kit are absolutely terrible. They’re made of cheap plastic, and get very loose when attached to the breadboard. (Note to self: GET BETTER POTENTIOMETERS!)
Anyway, here is a small video of how it all ended up looking like. Very exciting stuff.
I’ll give you some time to reflect on how amazing this was.
Some notes that came out of this not-so-successful experiment:
- How do I combine several components into one single Arduino? Different breadboards? How do you approach a small system made of different parts? How do I wire everything? Color-coded wires for better troubleshooting.
- Before jumping into building the circuit, it’s probably wiser to start by sketching out the overall architecture of the system – figuring out which parts that will be needed, how to physically set-up all the components, etc.
- It’s time to start figuring out MECHANICS, Gabriela. And refine your ideas. These will help you focus your experiments on the things that matter, and on solving the right problems.