Noah Meyerhans

The weblog

Hardware Hacking Like a 21st Century Sixth Grader

I’m not much of an electronics guy. If I was exposed to it as a kid, I might have gotten into it, but there wasn’t much going on back in those days. Certainly not in central Maine, anyway. By the time I was really exposed to it in college, much of my curiosity and excitement for such things had been crushed, so I avoided the opportunity to learn when I could have. In my professional career, I’ve rarely had the need or opportunity to touch electronics. These days, however, a lot of people are doing some neat things to try and introduce today’s bright and curious kids to this world. Raspberry Pi and Arduino are two hugely popular open platforms for beginning electronics hackers to explore, experiment, and build. So, channelling my inner curiosity, I delve into “physical computing”.

Project 1: Blink the Fibbonacci Sequence.

The standard arduino demos begin by blinking an LED light attached to one of the board’s digital output pins. Taking this one step further, I decide that a monotonously blinking LED is boring. Instead, I craft a simple Fibbonacci blinker. Flash the LED for the current value in the sequence, then pause. Repeat for the next value, etc.

Project 2: Lights on, Lights off.

Basically just one of the demos, the pushbutton changes the internal state in the Arduino program and toggles the light.

Project 2: Dial-a-scale

Play the c-major scale based on the position of a dial. Divide the full range of the potentiometer into eight steps, one for each note. Play a note based on the current position of the potentiometer. As it moves to another position, change the tone we play.

Project 2.5: Photoscale

Unplug the potentiometer from the breadboard and replace it with a photoresister. The output from the photoresister depends on the amount of light it sees, so casting shadows or shining lights on the component changes the note being played.

Project 3: Keyboards in C

Similar to the previous project, but using a pressure sensor. Divide it into eight segments corresponding to the eight notes in the scale. Play a note depending on where the pressure is.