Netscapes: Building

Today we focused on finishing developing the physical side of our project.

ledhead

The LED ring powered glass head. Colours are being chosen by a mobile phone (off screen).

The second Neopixel ring arrived, so we soldered in some headers and built a circuit board for it. We installed the necessary drivers into the Arduino IDE and programmed it to output different colours.

We then merged this code with the Bluetooth code Chris made earlier.

We mounted the Arduino, breadboard and Bluetooth module to the interior on the plinth. We drilled holes into the head base to accommodate the wiring for the RGB LED ring.

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The Arduino & Circuitry mounted inside the plinth.

This LED ring is brighter than the other, even inside the diffuser, so is even better for our finalised build!

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The LED ring mounted in the plinth.

Our next steps are to:

  • I will develop an app to send characters across a Bluetooth connection, enabling us to remotely change the colour of the head without the need for the Bluetooth Terminal.
  • I need to build server connections for our visualization, input sliders and MySQL Database.
  • Gintaré and Chris need to complete the visualization for the IVT theatre.

 

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Netscapes: Development Process

Creating a project is an organic process that contains many twists and turns. Below I will outline some of the changes we had to make during the development of our project.

Before Christmas break, Chris built a wooden plinth to mount the glass head on & house all the electronics. He also designed & 3D printed an inner diffuser for our lighting. This will be displayed in the IVT theatre, as the interactive front-end of our project.

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Glass head mounted on plinth (without diffuser). The gap at the front will house the Raspberry Pi & GPIO Touchscreen.

Modified Slider/LED control for Arduino

To further improve the LED lighting part of our piece, we decided to modify it by removing the serial connection and instead using a Bluetooth connection. Chris purchased a Bluetooth module and began to program it to take inputs from mobile.

Chris and I worked together to program the RGB LED code with Bluetooth. We tested the connection using Bluetooth terminal on our Android devices; sending simple “a” and “b” messages to turn an LED on and off remotely. We discovered that this will only work with one device at a time, so we will need to account for this when the model is on display.

We decided on making a mobile app to control the colour of the LEDs, which I will build in Processing over the next few days.

Resolving LED brightness issues 

We found that with the 3D printed inner diffuser in place, The RGB LEDs were not bright enough to light up the glass head.

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Original setup, with multiple RGB LEDs, Arduino & Bluetooth module.

We tried an LED ring (that I have been using in another project) since it is considerably brighter than the individual LEDs. This worked much better; the colour was visible even in the brightly lit room, and the ring diameter was a perfect fit for the base of the diffuser!

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Glass head with diffuser and LED ring.

We purchased another LED ring and cut new holes in the mount to accommodate the wiring.

Switching and Setting up databases.

Due to issues connecting to our MongoDB database, we decided to switch from MongoDB to MySQL.

I set up a new database on my server with access to the necessary tables. I sent Gintaré a link to instructions on how to set it up, along with the necessary details, so she can get to work building the data visualization.

Next Steps
Our next steps are to:

  • Wire up the LED ring and program it to respond to Bluetooth messages (modifying earlier code)
  • Develop an android app
  • Connect the visualization and the slider inputs to my server/Database.