IPC Class 3 Labs

Lab 1: Digital Input and Output

Here you can see that when the button is off, the yellow LED is on. But when I press the button, or it’s “on”, the red LED turns on.

This shows how I’ve connected a digital input circuit and a digital output circuit to a microcontroller.

The code is written to expect the button as an “input”, and change the “output” or behaviors of the LEDs depending on the state of that input.

giphy red and yellow leds.gif

Lab 2: Analog Input

When I turn the knob of the potentiometer, the LED’s brightness turns up or down, and those readings are sent to the serial monitor.

I did this by connecting a variable resistor to a microcontroller and reading it as an analog input. This means that the program is understanding that I’ve changed the conditions of the physical world (me turning the knob of the potentiometer) and converted them to changing variables (turning a LED’s brightness up and down, and printing the numerical change to the serial monitor).

The code:

There are global variables written for the analog value of the potentiometer, brightness of the LED, and the pin number of the LED.  The serial monitor is set up and the LED is declared as an output. Then we read the value of the potentiometer, turn that into another value that can control the brightness of the LED, and print that value of brightness to the serial monitor.

Questions: Why don’t we have to set the potentiometer as an input in the setup function? Why don’t we have to declare a global variable for the pin number of the potentiometer?

giphy potentiometer and led

Below you can see the value of brightness changing in the serial monitor. The numbers are between 0 and 255 because of how we translated the range of the potentiometer to something the computer could remember/process and send to the LED.  We did this by dividing the range of the potentiometer by 4, which fits into a BYTE…  which can only fit 8 BITS… which can only include up to 255 values. I don’t know why we divide by 4, or really fully understand base two or binary notation!

giphy serial monitor of potentiometer and led



IPC Class 2 Dinosaur Fight and Switches

If we were asked to make a project in Class 2 to use a switch, this is what I had in mind.

I would have a dinosaur fight.


I’d put these each on a separate piece of copper tape, and wire those each to the breadboard to light up a red LED.

I’ll do some more make-up and be sure to learn to solder, create a DC jack to a 9 volt battery, and hook this up with a voltage regulator.

Question: I’m not quite sure how to write this drawing as a schematic, with power coming in from one place, and the connected copper circuit through another.


IPC Class 2 Reading and Labs

Lab 1: Components

Some of the most helpful things I found in this lab:

Why microcontrollers are powerful: because they allow you to separate your object (or circuit) from its behavior. This allows you to leave your circuit the same, but change its behavior with a program.

Why the number 1023 is shown in the serial monitor: Your arduino’s microprocessor uses its Analog to Digital Converter (ADC) to take a changing voltage of 0 – 5 volts and convert it to a digital number range of 0 – 1023 (there is some mapping/translating math to arrive at this digital conversion.)

Lab 2: Setting up a breadboard

Question: My DC power supply is still on order so I haven’t learned how to solder to make the DC power jack connection.  However, I did these powered by my laptop.

Question: After going through the examples, I’m still wondering why the resistor and conductor row have the ability to bypass the LED, causing it to not light.





Lab 3: Electronics and using a Multimeter

Here is my work, notated at the top of each image.

Pictured here are 5 volts measured across power and ground in my circuit with my multimeter, powered by my arduino and laptop.



Below you can see two LEDs in series turned on by pressing a button, which connects the switch inside to allow voltage (or current?) to pass through to the 220k ohm resistor and LEDs.  While in series, the LEDs divide voltage yet the current is the same across them.

Question: I’m confused about when I should be saying voltage or current is passing through a circuit.

Note: Adding a third LED leads to none of the LEDs lighting up. This is because each LED uses up about 2 volts. Therefore, the 5 volts sent by my arduino & laptop is not enough to power 6 volts worth of LEDs (three 2 volt LEDs). Instead, about 6 volts would be necessary.

giphy two LEDs

Here you can the circuit uses up nearly all of the voltage in the circuit. My math compares the total voltage in the circuit with the combined voltages across each component.



Here, three LEDs are lighting up because they are in parallel. This parallel arrangement gives equal voltage to each LED, but divides the current among them.

giphy 3 LEDs to measure voltage.gif


Below I am measuring the amperage or current across a single component in my series. To do so, I removed one side of one component. In this case I removed the anode leg of one of the LEDs and completed the circuit with my multimeter.

It took several tries to do this while I figured out whether to have my multimeter set to which Amperage hole (200 milliAmps instead of 20 Amps) or which Amperage dial setting (20 milliAmps instead of 200 or 2milliAmps).

Also it was hard to press the button while I held the multimeter!

giphy of three LEDs connected by meter

I didn’t complete the potentiometer circuit because I haven’t learned to solder yet (soon!). But I did something similar during office hours and understand the concept and circuit.

Lab 4: Switches

Switches in parallel.  As long as you press the first one, you can press either of the second two buttons. This is because they are all connected by wires in such a way that both LEDs get voltage/current with whichever combination.

Can press either last two buttons to light lED


Switches in series. In this case, you need all three pressed to light up all three LEDs. This is because the third button is not directly connected to the first button.

Need all 3 pressed for LED



Question: I can see how the schematics are different for each circuit, in that parallel components are drawn going down, and series components are drawn across. Is this the way parallel and series are always drawn?

Connecting two of the last buttons to allow a different combination to be able to turn on both LEDs.

Question: Why is that the current/voltage passes through the third button to the second LED, even if I haven’t pressed it? Is it because current can pass through the bottom of a button even if it’s not pressed?

Can press either last two buttons to light lED



Create a dual pole switch, so that two separate circuits are turned on with the same mechanism. (I thought this had to be a special kind of switch, but turns out a momentary switch or button is fine.)

Question: I know the IC1 in the schematics are referring to the voltage regulator in the schematics, but why is it called IC1?

giphy LED and moto.gif



ICM Class 3 – Notes from Tutorials

Here are a few sketches made after following the online tutorials. There are lots of notes in the sketches on alpha.editor.p5js.org to explain my code so that I fully understand what’s going on.

Tutorial 3.2: Draw a ball that bounces up and down on both x and y, and changes color.

Question: How do I get the ball to move around more randomly? I tried using the random() but the ball went on the fritz : /

Tutorial 3.3: Use “if/else if” statements to draw shapes with colors as you move your cursor left to right

Tutorial 3.4 Roll over a button to make it appear, and press the mouse within the button to change the background.

Tutorial 4.1 Use while and for loops to draw squares and circles across the screen, while incrementally changing the color of the circles, too.

Question: What’s the best way to have changed the blue color incrementally? I found three ways to do it, found in my code.

Tutorial 4.2 Use nested for loops to draw circles that change color and repeat across the canvas as the mouse moves. Also, the background changes color when you press the mouse.

Question: The mousePressed didn’t work when I placed it after the circle for loops, but does when I place it beforehand. Why is this? Are the circles overriding this code?

Intro to Fab – Class 2 and Multiples


For this assignment, I created five boxes to hold pens and pencils. These also use negative space to show off the shape’s three-dimensional form. See below for how I imagine adding color to these in the future.

 All five pencil & pen boxes:
The front and the back, looking either quite professional or more hand-made:
I’ll add a photo of a box being used for pens and pencils shortly!

What went well
My boxes turned out very close to what I imagined! I also became comfortable with a lot of tools in the shop. Thanks, Ben, for the help during office hours.

The unexpected
Delusions of measurements. Why does Home Depot say a piece of wood is 1″ x 4″ but is actually .75″ x 3.5″? I’m now aware that wood is often sold this way. Is it some kind of hazing ritual? Home Depot is being sued for this in Illinois, for better or worse. I was really hoping for 4″ wood for slightly larger boxes to hold more pens and pencils…
Note: For anyone reading who cares, Home Depot locations in Manhattan won’t cut wood on site.

Next time
I haven’t glued these boxes together yet because I want to add some color. I’d like to paint each box in different two tone combinations & add windows to the circular holes out of colored acrylic. I plan to do this by adding a base layer of gesso, and then using acrylic. Open to other paint material ideas.

Summary of order of operations:
  1. Sketch out an idea.
  2. Get lots of help.
  3. Make many of drawings to figure out measurements. I had to fix my measurements later, but this thought process helped me avoid major mistakes.
  4. Go to Home Depot.
  5. Use miter saw with stop blocks to cut pieces and dados / slots.
  6. Use band saw to create bottom pieces.
  7. Use doweling jig and hand drill to drill holes for dowel pins.
  8. Use borrowed forstner bits with drill press to create circular holes.
  9. Use sanding machine to smooth edges.
  10. Use hands to assemble pieces with dowel pins.



1. Sketch out an idea. See original idea again here.




2. Get lots of help. I wasn’t sure how to go about affixing a bottom piece to the box. Ben suggested sliding a thinner piece into slots that are cut into the bottom of the box. I went ahead and did this, pictured below.


3. Make lots of drawings to figure out measurements. These drawings were based on my assumption that the wood would be 4″ across. Alas. I had to fix my measurements to account for a 3.5″ width, but this thought process helped me avoid major mistakes.

One other note: I spent a lot of time deciding whether to use through-cut or partial-cut dado (slots). I decided to go the easier route and use through-cut dados. (I’m not even completely sure how to use the miter saw to make partial-cut dado slots in small pieces of wood, that would truly not poke through on at least one side.)




4. Go to Home Depot. I bought cheap wood, dowel pins, and a tool box (not pictured). I carried it all back to ITP on subway two stops. Wish I had a picture of me on the subway.


5. Use miter saw with stop blocks to cut pieces and dados / slots. Ben showed me how to use the miter saw to create a dado or slot, whether a through-cut or partial-cut.
Top: Through-cut dado made possible with larger “sacrificial wood” piece, allowing the circular saw to have enough room to push all the way through.
Bottom: Partial-cut dado, on the left, made possible with a smaller “sacrificial wood” piece, which doesn’t allow the circular saw to cut all the way across.
After I learned how to use these switches, I was asked several times to show others:
Left: You can turn the black plate to the left or right to either push the blade all the way down or stop it short at a distance you can adjust using the screw.
Right: You can move this black switch up and down to either keep the blade in one place or pull the blade out towards you to make a longer cut.

6. Use band saw to create bottom pieces (I know this needs a photo).


7. Use doweling jig and hand drill to drill holes for dowel pins.

First, I made a visual plan for where the pins would go. I ended up putting twice as many.



A more detailed drawing.



Then I measured where the center of the holes would go on all four pieces. I settled on putting them either 1 or 2″ down from the top of each piece.

A test after much marking, measuring, and drilling.



For the smaller pieces, I was able to use the doweling jig to create holes in the smaller pieces.

doweling jig

But I wasn’t able to use the doweling jig for the larger pieces because they were too wide for the jig. Instead, I used a hand drill. I regret this, and wish I had thought of using the drill press… or something else. Even though my test piece worked fine, all the other pieces ended up with tears and broken edges, like below. Lesson learned.



8. Use borrowed forstner bits with drill press to create circular holes. In my mind, the circle would be just large enough to be a statement, but still not show the edges of the inside pieces next to it. I was lucky that a 2″ forstner drill was this perfect size.  The smaller 1 5/8″ drill made a circle that was safer in that it definitely did not show the inside edges of the other sides, but was not as visually appealing.






Cleaning up all the saw dust thanks to the drill press.


9. Use sanding machine to smooth edges and corners of 25 pieces for 5 boxes. This was a very satisfying step. I saved it for last as a way to relax after using so many machines for the first time.



10. Use hands to assemble pieces with dowel pins. This picture is missing the bottom pieces… but they are each made of very thin plywood in order to fit inside the slot, and cut quite small to fit inside all four dados of each box.



In total, I made 80 holes,  20 dados, and 25 wooden pieces. And all the boxes fit together!

Two more arrangements of the boxes!
These photos show off more of the imperfections of the connections and cuts. To me, these unexpected angles fit within the tone of the piece, as the pieces of wood are quite chunky and playful. For now in their plain state, they remind me of children’s wooden block toys. Once they are painted, they’ll have a  more energetic feeling to them. At that point, the angles may detract more from the boxes. We’ll see.

ICM Class 2 – Variables and Animating

I want to thoroughly understand the code I’m writing, so I made a very simple animation of circles and squares behaving randomly or in response to the cursor. Even with a simple sketch, I still have a lot of questions! I’ve listed them in the code itself, which you can see below. I had fun problem-solving my code when it didn’t run — especially when I was able to fix it.

Originally I wanted to be able to click the mouse four times, and each time a ball would behave differently, whether shy, clingy, bouncy, or frenetic. I’d like to learn how to have “four different clicks” and get further with shyness and bounciness.

Here is my sketch: http://alpha.editor.p5js.org/fergfluff/sketches/HJaD8moqZ

Here is my code:

Intro to Fab Class 1 – Flashlight

I built a prototype for a night vision flashlight to use while stargazing (most likely when outside the city where there are more stars!) . Ideally, a final iteration would be much smaller. With limited fabrication skills, this is what I came up with so far!

You can see my step-by-step process in the slide show below.

Final A – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing. Doesn’t show the base…
Final B – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing
Creepy Final C – Night vision flashlight for while stargazing
Side 1 – It works!
Side 2 – I had to leave this open in order to be able to still unplug and not drain the battery by powering the arduino.


Sketches Part II – I made a list of possible purposes for flashlights
Sketches Part III – But with my limited fabrication skills at the moment, I stuck to what I knew I could accomplish.
1. I went to the junk shelf!
2. I found a lot of this metallic paper and a clear plastic tube.
3. I also tested whether light travelled up the paper inside the tube, which it did (hard to document while using my phone’s flashlight to test).
4. I felt pretty confident I could make the cardboard form, so I focused on whether I could light up two LEDs with a pushbutton.


6. Testing the form. The sides are made out of toilet paper tubes.
7. Building the middle shelf to allow room for the arduino components to live on top, and the 9V battery to live on the bottom.
8. Making sure it fits.


I wanted this flashlight because recently I learned how important red lights are while camping at night in Yosemite National Park. The stars were incredible. And better yet with minimal lights while you might want to set up a photograph or telescope. Dim red lights are ideal to allow your eye’s pupils remain more open, which lets in more light and ultimately more distant stars. Red lights also produce less light pollution, making it easier for people around you to also see the sky. You can see red lights being used by stargazers at 1:40 in this fun National Park Service’s video.

In making this flashlight, I was also inspired by last week’s Applications guest speaker and astrovisualizer Carter Emmart from the American Museum of Natural History.  His renderings of the universe made me want to get outdoors to see the stars even more.

What I learned:

  • The junk shelf indeed provides great inspiration. The loop-like form of my flashlight was definitely influenced by the clear tubing I found on the shelf.
  • Building with cardboard was an efficient way to test and modify my ideas without too much frustration. I can see how prototyping first with cardboard can save a lot of angst in future projects.
  • Going with my first idea felt most natural. I had other ideas but they weren’t as clear in my mind. … nor did I know how to safely combine water and LEDs…
  • It was fun to hide my Arduino and breadboard in my flashlight. But the size of these components required that I create a larger flashlight than I originally wanted to.

Design issues/What I’d like to know:

  • How to build with other physical materials, such as wood to construct the flashlight’s body and other types of plastic for the lightbulb’s loop.
  • Obviously, the open sides are not ideal! I left this issue alone so I can unplug the battery and turn the flashlight on. Soon I would learn how to build switches myself so they can be built into the form of an object.

Video & Sound – Thoughts on a Soundwalk

Assignment: My classmates and I visited Central Park to go a soundwalk created by artist Janet Cardiff, titled “Her Long Black Hair”. The piece was funded by the Public Art Fund. 

To my surprise, I found myself very emotional in Central Park today. Call me jaded, but after living in New York City for fourteen years and working near Central Park South for eight years, I expected to have a walk through the park like all the others I’ve had over the years. Beautiful but overused. Natural but artificial. The lung of the city but congested with lots of people on a Saturday.

However, Central Park and I were lifted up into another realm through sound.  Thanks to Janet Cardiff and her soundwalk “Her Long Black Hair”, I saw the park in a new way as the past was replayed over the present, many times into the future.

First of all, Cardiff is a fortune teller. There really WAS a man reading the newspaper when she said “Turn to the right. There’s a man on the bench reading the paper.” (!!) Read on for my impressions on the rest of the piece.

As promised, a man reading the newspaper on a bench.


Here are three things that resonated most with me during Cardiff’s sound walk.

  • Common vs. singular: Several times, Cardiff transformed people’s common rituals in the park into singular and spontaneous performances. For example, I was certain Cardiff put the man reading the paper there just for me. But the piece was created in 2005. There must be countless men reading newspapers on that bench each month.  Cardiff must have done her research to know this. She certainly relies on them to be these unwitting New Yorkers if she features them so early on in her soundscape piece!
  • Overlapping layers of time: Cardiff says in Track 2: “Go towards the tunnel. Now we’re walking across where she stood. One time across another.”  Instead of time being a linear experience that can never be repeated, Cardiff’s soundscape makes the argument that past and present can coexist on top of one another, through replayed sound and memory.
  • The present moment frozen in time:  Cardiff wove together ancient and contemporary stories to explore how moments can be lost but still seared into one’s memory or in a photograph.  I found it incredibly rich and moving for Cardiff to fold a contemporary NYC story about a woman photographed by a man in Central Park into the themes of an ancient Greek story of Orpheus looking back at Eurydice in Hades.  Humans and memory don’t change much, but technology does! Would Orpheus have wanted a camera to photograph Eurydice?


As we prepare to make our own soundscape in class, here are a few  more thoughts Cardiff’s piece and the techniques we’ll be using.

  • Narrative arc:  Whether or not Cardiff drew a chart of her narrative arc, I’m sure it would be packed and detailed! I’m curious how much she planned in advance or built as she went.
  • Character:  I would describe Cardiff’s piece as a stranger who acts so familiar with you, that you unwittingly get wrapped up in her story. Other adjectives would be mysterious, a little urgent, contemplative, and revealing.
  • Context/Symbols/Space: There are many of these in the soundscape. For example, Central Park is a major context for the piece, signifying a more contemplative mindset than while walking down 5th Avenue. The soundscape’s map is a very familiar wayfinding tool that symbolizes where to walk. Lastly, the space around me was manipulated through the directionality of the sounds in the piece (for example, people speaking behind me, a golf truck roaring past me), leading to several very unnerving experiences!

With only two weeks to create our own soundwalk, we’ll have to see what we come up!