We are slowly getting close to completing the first prototype of the Mutable Drawing Surface, so I decided to upload more pictures of our progress here. The mechanism is working and running smoother after placing in additional gears and adding stud lock to keep things in place. The actual surface that will be drawn on is covered with blackboard paint so it could be drawn on multiple times. Remaining tasks are mainly technical based, along with drawing on the actual moving surface. There are a few issues with the wiring that need looking into, and we also need more work on programming the motors that drive the rings. I have written a few simple Arduino sketches to test the mechanism and am noticing that the Arduino language is pretty similar to C++, which I have used many years ago. I am glad that my knowledge in programming is coming back to me and would never have thought I would be coding again.
Once more, our project has experienced yet another delay. Mike was unfortunately ill for a while, which meant our sessions were postponed. Not only he has to catch up with the work in this collaboration, but also with his PhD work and therefore is not able to work on the project for a while. We were scheduled to exhibit in the Collaboration exhibition in Camberwell(London), organised by Bad Behaviour in May, and we had to sadly cancel as the surface will not be completed on time. We are very grateful that the organisers were very understanding and again sincerely apologise for our cancellation.
For more information about the Collaboration exhibition, please visit: http://badbehaviour.london/exhibitions/collaborations/
We will reschedule and return later in the summer.
The build continues with us making the structure more stable, painting the external rings with blackboard paint and running a motor test to see it moving one of the rings (as you can see on the video). There are still more work and tweaks to be done but we are getting close to finishing. Seeing the motor running the ring was a good end of a long day for both of us. At least we now know it works.
Reflecting on the project so far
Due to our conflicting schedule and the fact that Mike is currently studying a PhD and working full time at the same time, we have encountered many delays so progress might seems slow. However I really appreciate his hard work and willingness to continue this project.
Assisting in building the prototype made me notice even more the differences between our working practices. Planning and accuracy are important when it comes to what we are building, all the components have to fit perfectly together in order for the design to work and run smoothly. I am used to improvisation, spontaneity and the attitude of there are no mistakes. I also don’t consider myself to be particularly neat so I was a little anxious when I was helping, worrying that I might break something. In this working process, which seems very different to mine, I am also trying to learn as much as I can, learning names of tools and parts and what they do. Mike even got me to connect wires to a motor controller. Even though to some it might be very basic stuff but they were new to me and I am happy to learn and this is why I am really glad to have received this bursary to enable me to have a chance to see another field, a different working process and most importantly learn more.
We also had a quick look at the Arduino codes that run the motors. Having a background in programming, I am interested to look into this further and see whether we could program the motors to do interesting things. In the past, I was never too keen on programming, but somehow it seems a lot more interesting when the code affects the physical world. We shall see how that goes.
Whilst on the same subject, I noticed [SPACE] runs two dedicated spaces for creative technology and runs workshops on Arduinos and other interactive design technology there too. Codasign, who, I believe, runs some of these workshops at [SPACE], also has some interesting resources.