Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Project 2: Noisy Sound Toy Hack

The sound toy that I had decided on hacking was the Taco Bell Chihuahua plush that was given away to children when they purchased a meal at a sponsoring restaurant. The sound board was encased in a plastic box, with a slitted disk in the middle that when pressed would activate the sound board and cause the toy to say "Feliz Navidad Amigos!" in a muffled Spanish tone. The speaker connected to the board was quite small and therefore I upgraded to a larger speaker. The sound quality was amplified two-fold. I spent close to an hour taking practice wires and touching the various solder points on the board and found that by by-passing the first resistor that I could loop the phrase endlessly. After soldering the wire to the points, I had unintentionally caused a short in the board and rendered it useless. At first I thought that perhaps I had used up all the power of the three watch batteries and tried incorporating the board to the oscillator board I had made in one of the class labs. I soldered wires connecting the terminals of the toy's board with two resistors to lessen the amount of power that the board would receive to the battery terminals of the oscillator board. Alas it did not make a difference. I strived to try and hack another sound board, so I went out and bought a cheap "No Bark" device that emits both a warning "beep" and a high-frequency wave to deter dogs from barking. The board inside the device was more complex than I had originally thought, but was determined to hack this board and incorporate it with the oscillator. I found that instead of having to press on the activator button I could simply touch a wire on any of the six points. I also found that by touching the solder point over the indicator light with the chip next to it that I could change the color of the light; however, by doing so I had yet again created a short, a puff of smoke emerged from the contacts, and the board smelled of burned circuitry. I knew then that I could not hack another board and focused the rest of my time to housing and creating a new interface for the still-working oscillator. The case for the "No Bark" device had the ideal space to house the main circuitry and I went to work altering it's purpose. First I had to remove the batteries and cut away excess material on the inside of the plastic to make room for the oscillator. The battery space housed the main board. Using an Exacto knife, I drilled five additional holes on the top shell for the contact wires to be threaded through. At first I had wanted to encase the speaker into the shell but found that I could not safely mold an extension of the shell without the risk of the board and plastic melting while the clay baked. That is why I attached the speaker to one end of the shell, away from the user and in the direction of the intented direction. I could not fit the battery anywhere into the small shell so I let it hang out the back end of the device, which provided to be useful in the case I quickly needed to turn the device off. I found a container of old copper-coated BB's and attached them to the exposed wires of the existing contacts. The final result of the device is mechanic in appearance; however, quite loud in its pitches and the BB's are close enough to each other for quick manipulation of tone and pitch of the desired sound429181_314743255248529_100001385713837_910673_248460513_n.jpg429820_314743168581871_100001385713837_910672_1870046220_n.jpg419331_314863091903212_100001385713837_910971_1462289580_n.jpg426792_314862558569932_100001385713837_910967_228516458_n.jpg396441_314863195236535_100001385713837_910972_943891070_n.jpg

Monday, February 27, 2012

Instructables Update

I have finally obtained the essential Mindflex system and have been using/playing around with it to get a feeling of how to control my thought processes. While I wait to purchase the remaining tail components, I am working on writing an Arduino program for the board I will most likely have to build to replace the original micro-controller that the Instructable Wolf Tail recommends. Once I have written the program then I can proceed with the construction of the tail-spine and servos.

Week 7 Flashback

This week was very "open" with no formal classes. I took the time Tuesday and Thursday to tweek my Sound-Toy Hack. The extra time was quite helpful due to a few complications I ran into on the final steps of incorporating the board into the new "body."

Final Project Inputs and Outputs

For inputs I am quite interested in the photodiodes and phototransistors, though if need a simple push-button switch will suffice. Outputs that interest me for the final project are a buzzer, a piezo if I can figure out how to incorporate it, and stepper motors.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Final Project Idea?

Well the Final Project I know has to have an Arduino and a sensor and be able to be interacted with by the people. I currently do not know what I am going to do and am at a bit of a loss on where to look.

Week 6 Lab?

Well we did not get to the Relay and Hello World labs, I don't think...but I did work on my sound-hacked toy and ended up frying the circuit by crossing the first resistor. (May Pedro rest in peace) Thomas and I tried to bypass what we thought was a dead battery and incorporate it onto the extisting circuit I created, but alas, Pedro remained silent. The learning of the Arduino though was very interesting and I look forward to more lessons on how to program it.

Week 6 Flashback

Learning about the Arduino was fascinating in that there is so much we can do and program it to do. I already know that I will need to purchase one for my Instructables project and figure out how to incorporate it into the whole tail system. Presenting my Instructables idea was fun, I loved how everyone reacted. The quiz was a piece of cake, and though we did not get to the Relay lab, I was still eager and fascinated to learn that one could possibly control an AC feed object wirelessly. So many outside the classroom possibilities.

Week 5 Flashback

Ah good memories on working in Google Sketchup...good times...good times...Mostly focused on planning out my Instructables Project and decided on a Mindflex-controlled wolf tail. I have already purchased a Mindflex kit on Ebay and awaiting its arrival to my house in a few days. I am saving up money to purchase the servo and spine components that should be taking place in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, February 13, 2012



Who: Me, Myself and I (Emily Duerrwaechter)
What: Intervention of public space with blinking light circuit

Where: Destin Commons

When: Early Evening, Monday February 13th
How: Incorporate circuit into a stuffed animal and place it in one of the planted ledges where high foot traffic is noted.

The Setup

At first I required a "body" for the light circuit, so while at Target I stopped in at the pet section and found a cute fox toy with a sqeeky ball in it. The space between the eyes was ideal for the LEDs so I went ahead and bought it. I made a 3 inch incision in the back and removed the stuffing, then made two small holes in the eyes for the LEDs to fit through. Once I placed the circuit into the body and the LEDs through eye holes, I sewed the toy back up and wala; a toy with blinking lights.

The Results

Well, it was quite interesting seeing what happened between the public and my toy. I had already surveyed the area two days prior to my intervention and found that the central area near the Rave Theater had the most foot traffic. While the people traffic was at a minimum and the Security not walking around I planted my fox toy just under one of the ferns slightly in the shadows so that the lights would be visible blinking on and off. I sat at the nearby Starbucks texting random people. I brought my digital camera and set it under my purse flap facing the fox toy. Once everything was ready, I set the camera to record and left it alone. After 20 minutes had gone by I shifted positions to face a different flow of traffic for another 20 minutes. At first, no one really seemed to notice the little odd toy. Then when the sun started to set, that's when I finally got some reactions. One of the more humerous moments is of two separate occasions where security personnel stopped and looked around right next to the toy, and just walked off. I also had a little girl pick up the toy and almost walk away with it. Thankfully she understood that I needed it and gave it back. A couple of older folks also commented on it, and most people either did not notice it or noticed it and pretended not to. Seems those people were just too busy either on their phones or talking to others. Interesting enough though, those people that came up to look at the toy were not already occupied. 

Instructables Update

After thinking about all the suggestions given to me by all of you lovely peers, I have decided to take the route of EEG controlled animatronics and make a tail that can be controlled by a hacked MindFlex headset. I have opted in using rabbit fur for aesthetics, since this tail will be saved for personal enjoyment. Currently I am waiting on an auction to end on Ebay for a new Mindflex set so that I can begin tearing it apart and hack the controls and sensors. I am also looking around for the tail spine components on various sites for the best deal. I can get the fur at Hobby Lobby easily when I have more money.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sketches for Sound Project

 Diagram of sound board to be implanted into one of either innocent objects shown below.

 If implanted into a hard-back/bound book, the main board will be hidden in the spine and the various touch points found on different pages. The device will be utilized while in a sitting position, appearing to be just casually reading said book and when a certain page is touched, a sound will be emitted.

If implanted into a simple stuffed animal, the various contact points will be located on the six extremes of the toy: the legs, head and tail. This toy will most likely be that designed for a dog's chew/play toy. The contacts will most likely be metal tabs that will have to be sewn into the fabric.

Final Decision

I will make my own hardback book, and design it to appear like a real one but in the pages hide contact points. The speaker will be hidden in the spine of the book facing out away from me. I will need to purchase wood to encase the book and decorative paper and design my own cover.

Instructables: Animatronic Tail


It has been a long time love affair of wolves for me. I have always liked letting out my inner wolf in the form of wearing jewelry with wolf icons. More recently though, my desire for them has grown significantly in the form of wearing a mock wolf tail. I wore it during a previous intervention project and loved every moment of it. Surprisingly, it felt natural wearing it. I looked on instructables and found one instructable for an animatronic tail, which utilizes a mini servo and a micro controller for a fluid variety of movements (http://www.instructables.com/id/Big-Bad-Wolf-Costume/step4/Animatronic-Tail/). Now, I plan to make and program my own board if I know how to by the time I get to that step; however, I can also make a pull string tail that is just as fluid and would be a cost friendly option to a mechanized tail. Separate supply lists will be provided for either a mechanized or a non-mechanized tail, along with a cheap vs. expensive list. I will also be providing detailed videos and images with step-by-step instructions for ease of use. Here is the main site where this person derived his instructable from (http://www.wolftronix.com/howto.htm).

Starting Supply List
  • Faux Fur or Rabbit Fur (In case you wanna be realistic or are obsessed)
  • Gauged Wire (Stronger the Better)
  • Servos
  • Micro-Controller
  • Various Components (Can be found on Wolftronix Website)
  • Bicycle link
  • More stuff coming

Video Reference


Week 4 Flashback

The construction of the soundboard was a bit challenging in that I had to clamp the components onto the board with my forceps in order to solder them together. Instead of using the same capacitors I changed one of them to a lower Farad reading and as a result, got a higher pitched arrangment of sounds from the touchpoints. I am now easily able to read sketches for soldering components; the map of them on the board, and differentiate each component based on their symbol. I am constantly playing around with the combination of touching certain wires and get a varied range of noises, from a low chirp to a nearly inaudible whistle that I feel is equivalent to a dog whistle.