Nathan Dennler: Everything Working

After these past two weeks, the project’s end has definitely been coming into sight. The week following this should be just finishing up some final things and getting some pictures.

At the beginning of this period. I finished the final “tailoring” things with the clothes. In terms of the Leo outfit, I cut the dress’s skirt to the appropriate length and attached an ‘invisible’ zipper so now it can actually be worn. I also pulled in the sides slightly to make it a closer fit. In terms of the cancer outfit, I heavily steamed the jacket, pants, and shirt to give it a crisp look.

here is the shortened dress

The main focus of this week, however, was the helmet for the Leo outfit. I had to form the base of the helmet and position the individually addressable LED’s in an even way. The last step was to attach the flowers around the outside of the helmet to diffuse the lights.

To form the helmet, I attached a colander to the top of a bowl with duct tape (hopefully the colander holes will allow for some air cooling as well as ventilation). I then used a Dremel to cut a hole in the bottom of the bowl to fit my head through. At this point, I noticed that when I put the bowl on my head (besides getting strange looks from the Foisie staff), the helmet rested a little lower than I was hoping for and basically eliminated the neckline. To combat this, I put in some spacers toward the top of the bowl so it sat a little higher. Once I was satisfied with that, I moved on to the planning of the LED positions.

pre-spray painted bowl and colander combo

I wanted the LEDs to be even and close enough to make animations possible. I also wanted them to be arranged in a way that would make it easy to interface with them. In the end, I settled on a series of four circles of 4-8-8-4 LEDs. They were offset from each other by about 45 degrees, and they were placed on standoffs so that they are closer to the paper flowers but far enough away to illuminate a good portion of the flowers. The soldering took the better part of around three days. I encountered a couple of issues with the power supplies of the Foisie soldering irons, resulting in irons that do not solder at all and some that would get way too hot and melt the casing of my LEDs. I ended up using the ECE soldering stations to do the majority of the soldering which worked out better. Once I got all of the LEDs soldered and glued to the helmet, I started testing the “strip”.

You may have noticed in the previous video that the top row was not lighting. This was due to a bad LED, so I just replaced it and the top row worked again! I moved on to the coding part to try to see if I could interface with the strip. I defined each LED with a height and theta value and formed a sort of space in cylindrical coordinates. I then interfaced into this space by creating functions that map HSV values to different coordinates in this space. I then made a quick “anger” animation that has the red LEDs slowly rise from the bottom.

This morning, though, I realized that I essentially re-implemented the processing library, and instead of having pictures move across the pixel dots on the screen, I am trying to visualize a seven-dimensional plot (RGB values in 3D space over time), which is way more prone to error. At least I derive at least some satisfaction from thinking about these things, so it wasn’t a total loss :). I also try to make myself feel better about it by saying it probably takes up much less space than processing would, and these microcontrollers don’t have oodles of memory.

The last step was to attach the paper flowers. This is also pretty time-consuming, and I am still in the process of this, but I got enough on to see how the diffusion works with the LEDs. It seems to be pretty bright and noticeable even in a well-lit room. I still have to power the helmet with a battery so that it is mobile, but from the preliminary power-supply method, everything is working as I expect.

So far I have the two emotions “mania” and “anger”, though I hope to experiment with a few more before the presentation day. In terms of a list of things that are left to do (in decreasing order of priority):

– attach the rest of the flowers
– attach the fiberoptics
– attach the batteries
– take pictures

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