Pursuits of Design and Robotics

The documentation of concept development and general processes

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Sing To Me Physical Process

The first model of the flower was too stiff for the servo to work. Also the box was ugly. I did really like the idea of wood, though, because of the warm ambiance it gives off. I thought the ribbons might look nice but they look terrible and desperate. The flower was too big to get a lot of movement out of a small servo, and I hadn’t considered until after seeing this that the string should not be out in the open like that all the way down to the base. There should be some kind of protection.

I redid it to make it look a bit more planned and smooth. See the final product in the final post for this.

Elevation view, closed.

Elevation view, closed.

No hardware could fit down here. I did not plan well.

No hardware could fit down here. I did not plan well.

Flower Opened

Flower Opened

Flower Closed

Flower Closed


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Sing To Me Code

Just a brief of the code before showing the gold. HAH! Rhymes. Didn’t really make sense since they’re referring to the same thing..anyway. 

With the FFFT library I can use the microphone to pick up sound across the spectrum and store each frequency value in an array. From the tutorial, this array is size 64. I decided to reduce it to half that size by adding every pair of numbers in the array, which also allows for higher tolerance of sound input.

Next step was to figure out the prominent note which was a simple find max value loop with some smoothing thrown in there to, well, smooth things out.

For the buttons I have one to set a new password and one to test new input against the password. This was done by recording the loudest note for 30 frames and saving that to an array. The saved array from the set password would then be compared to the new input. There is an error tolerance to accommodate for offsets in timing or being off-key.  If you are too off in timing or too off key, you’ll get a point, and after 5 points out of the 30, you got the password wrong. This makes the input pretty picky, considering how sketchy the microphone seems to be with ambiance and the like.

I could have done more with the buttons. I wanted to have a light turn on to indicate that a password is being set and stay on once it is set. A light for the new input as well, which would blink a couple times to celebrate your correctness. I wanted to incorporate protection around the premise of inputting a password before setting one, which currently means that you automatically got it right. There are a few other simple situations I could have delved in to to enrich the experience and make it more fluid, easy to understand, and functional. But hey, at least writing about it shows awareness. 


Here is my very, very messy code. Stick THAT in your Arduino and run it.

#include <stdint.h>
#include <ffft.h>
#include <Servo.h>


volatile byte position = 0;
volatile long zero = 0;

int16_t capture[FFT_N]; /* Wave captureing buffer */
complex_t bfly_buff[FFT_N]; /* FFT buffer */
uint16_t spektrum[FFT_N/2]; /* Spectrum output buffer */

#define IR_AUDIO 0 // ADC channel to cap


const int fftNum = int(FFT_N / 2);

const int smoothFrames = 5;
int sIndex = 0;
uint16_t readings[smoothFrames][fftNum/2];
uint16_t average[fftNum/2];
uint16_t total[fftNum/2];

const int totalFrames = 30;
int thisFrame = 0;
int indexRec[totalFrames];
bool recorded = false;

int passFrame = 0;
int indexPass[totalFrames];
bool passworded = false;
int worked = 0;

//int ledPin1 = 12; // choose the pin for the LED
//int ledPin2 = 13;
int butPin1 = 7; // choose the input pin (for a pushbutton)
int butPin2 = 6;
int butVal1 = 0; // variable for reading the pin status
int butVal2 = 0;

Servo box;
int boxPint = 13;

void setup()

pinMode(13, OUTPUT);


void loop()

if (position == FFT_N)
fft_input(capture, bfly_buff);
fft_output(bfly_buff, spektrum);

position = 0;

int ind = 0;

for(int i = 0; i < fftNum/2; i++)

total[i] = total[i] – readings[sIndex][i];
readings[sIndex][i] = spektrum[ind] + spektrum[ind + 1];
total[i] += readings[sIndex][i];

average[i] = total[i]/smoothFrames;

ind += 2;

// Serial.println(“THIS IS A SPEKTRUM”);
// Serial.print(“[“);
// for (byte i = 0; i < fftNum/2; i++){
// Serial.print(average[i]);
// Serial.print(“,”);
// }
// Serial.println(“]”);

sIndex ++;
if (sIndex >= smoothFrames) sIndex = 0;
int thisNote = getNote(average);


// if (recorded) digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH); // turn LED ON

butVal1 = digitalRead(butPin1); // read input value

if (butVal1 == HIGH) { // check if the input is HIGH (button released)
// digitalWrite(ledPin1, LOW); // turn LED OFF
else {
// digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH); // turn LED ON
if (thisFrame < totalFrames){

indexRec[thisFrame] = thisNote;
thisFrame ++;
Serial.println(“DONE RECORDING!”);
recorded = true;

butVal2 = digitalRead(butPin2); // read input value

// if (passworded) digitalWrite(ledPin2, HIGH);

if (butVal2 == HIGH) { // check if the input is HIGH (button released)
// digitalWrite(ledPin2, LOW); // turn LED OFF
else {
// digitalWrite(ledPin2, HIGH); // turn LED ON


Serial.println(“INPUT PASSWORD”);
indexPass[passFrame] = thisNote;
passFrame ++;

if (passFrame >= thisFrame){
passworded = true;
Serial.println(“PASSWORD ENTERED”);
for(int i = 0; i < thisFrame; i++)
// Serial.println(“RECORDER:”);
// Serial.println(indexRec[i]);
// Serial.println(“PASSWORD:”);
// Serial.println(indexPass[i]);

if(abs(indexPass[i] – indexRec[i]) > 2)
Serial.println(“THIS WAS WRONG!”);
worked ++;
Serial.println(“DID IT WORK?”);
if (worked < 5) {

passworded = false;
passFrame = 0;

Serial.println( worked<10);
passFrame = 0;


// free running ADC fills capture buffer
if (position >= FFT_N)

capture[position] = ADC + zero;
if (capture[position] == -1 || capture[position] == 1)
capture[position] = 0;

void adcInit(){
/* REFS0 : VCC use as a ref, IR_AUDIO : channel selection, ADEN : ADC Enable, ADSC : ADC Start, ADATE : ADC Auto Trigger Enable, ADIE : ADC Interrupt Enable, ADPS : ADC Prescaler */
// free running ADC mode, f = ( 16MHz / prescaler ) / 13 cycles per conversion
// ADCSRA = _BV(ADSC) | _BV(ADEN) | _BV(ADATE) | _BV(ADIE) | _BV(ADPS2) | _BV(ADPS1) //prescaler 64 : 19231 Hz – 300Hz per 64 divisions
ADCSRA = _BV(ADSC) | _BV(ADEN) | _BV(ADATE) | _BV(ADIE) | _BV(ADPS2) | _BV(ADPS1) | _BV(ADPS0); // prescaler 128 : 9615 Hz – 150 Hz per 64 divisions, better for most music
void adcCalb(){
Serial.println(“Start to calc zero”);
long midl = 0;
// get 2 meashurment at 2 sec
// on ADC input must be NO SIGNAL!!!
for (byte i = 0; i < 2; i++)
position = 0;
midl += capture[0];
zero = -midl/2;

int getNote(uint16_t thisInput[])
int index = 0;
uint16_t note = 0;

for(int i = 4; i < fftNum/2; i++)
if (thisInput[i] > note)
note = thisInput[i];
index = i;
return index;


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“Sing To Me” by Yeliz Karadayi

The MTI Blog has failed me, or I have failed it. I could not log in this night.

Flower from Yeliz Karadayi on Vimeo.


There is a common myth that plants will grow faster when you sing to them often. This flower guarantees you its blossom, that is if you are able to sing it the right song.

Well, luckily you get to pick that song. You can be that special person to make this flower blossom. You can put this flower next to other flowers so that you can get that instant blossom gratification from your beautiful singing efforts, and simultaneously test out that myth…I think my basil plant grew faster this week?

On my window sill please!

On my window sill please!

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“Ishin-den-shin” by Yuri Suzuki, et al. Disney, Pittsburgh (2013)

This project is an incredible manifestation of the technological capabilities we have reached today. The ability to use your own body to contain a hidden message and, by simple touch, deliver it to another, takes interactivity to another level of true immersion in the activity with the technology. The whole system seems very low tech but of course that is because the actual technology working here is unseen, adding a layer of complexity that goes completely unnoticed- except for when you touch someone’s ear!

“A Drifting Up” by Syed Reza Ali (2009)

A Drifting Up is a project I was shown over the summer of a flocking particle system that responds to sound. Its response creates particle sub-systems within the larger whole. It is a complicated system that yields an interesting visual effect, but to take something like this a step further and manifest physically somehow could be even more intriguing.


“Acoustic Barcodes” by Chris Harrison, el at. Presented @ Cambridge (2012)
The thoughtfulness of this project is appealing as an object identification device. Though it is difficult to consider a realistic application for this, it is intriguing to imagine a world physically marked with identification that you can hear, feel, and see. The requirement of a haptic interaction with an object in order to get feedback from the audio effect is the true function that entices me.

Interact with one thing, produce a resulting sound from it, then that sound is heard. The indirect relationship between the “input” object and the direct input to the program is where I find inspiration.


“Mogee” by Bruno Zamborlin, et al. (2012)
This fourth precedent is being posted because Ishin-den-shin was already used and I wanted to be sure to have three new ones. This technology can turn anything into an instrument by picking up on the way that the object being used as an instrument is being touched. Like Ishin-den-shin, this project has something seemingly low-tech do something unexpected and truly immerses the user in the experience by having them be directly involved.


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Intro To Assignment 1

I am getting excited about the things I can do for the first project, but I want to keep things technically simple for my first project. Thusly, I have decided to take on the assignment of learning more about Arduino and Processing Libraries to understand the efficiency of the Electrit Microphone Amplifier MAX4466 with Adjustable Gain.

To test this, I will start by singing a tune into the mic. This tune will be recorded. Then I will sing the same tune and my program will determine how accurately I could match my previous song. Knowing this data should match up if I get it right, I would like to physically manifest this diagnosis into a mechanical plant.

The plant could be inflated or mechanized to respond to the proper singing, such that for each right note it blooms just a little bit, and for each wrong note it shrivels up and dies.

How exciting! I think this will be a cute, funny little learning experience.