Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Jedi Mind Trick

"The Jedi Mind Trick" started with a Star Wars "Return Of The Jedi" soundtrack cassette I found at a thrift store. Playing around with the case, I realized that playing cards fit almost perfectly inside, if you remove a few plastic stubs from the interior. The stand is a soap container from Walmart. A strong LED lights up in the center. The sound is from a musical greeting card. Everything, including the rise of the card, is perfectly synchronized to the music, with the help of a micro-controller.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

War, Love and Peace

"War, Love and Peace" was made using the shell of an old RCA radio. Using a web application (Processing) and an Arduino micro-controller, I was able to create a sort of online hit counter. The computer goes online to a specific website - I used - and counts how many times the words war, love, and peace appear. It returns the result to the web application. The application translates the data to the micro-controller. The micro-controller displays the value on the analog gauges and the red LED. The large gauge is for "war," the small gauge is for "peace," and the red LED is for "love." There is also an LCD screen that displays the words "war," "love," and "peace" every time it receives it. The program updates every ten seconds. If the New York Times blog posts something new, the machine will also update. Mechanically, what once controlled the tone of the radio now controls the contrast of the LCD screen. What controlled the volume now turns the hands of the clock backwards and brightens the large lightbulb. This project was inspired by the last chapter in Massimo Banzi's book, Getting started with Arduino. I chose to make this piece interact with the New York Times blog page, because it is one of the most current world news sources on the web. I tried the project with several major news sites, in fact, and concluded that war is consistenly the most common word in news out of "war," "love," and "peace."