Intro to Phys Comp: Spooky Midterm

Halloween isn't scary enough these days. My partner Rogue and I wanted to create something that would shock and frighten. We created something not of this world. We created... a ghost.

AKA a silhouette of a Halloween mask that follows you around. Spooky!

Since the midterm project was to be Halloween related, I wanted to make something that would primarily be used in the dark. We ended up deciding on a device that detects a user walking along a surface, and depending on where the location the user is currently at on the surface, project a shadow at a corresponding location on the wall.

Our main component to detect the user interaction would be several FSRs embedded underneath a cardboard walkway. The input data from these FSRs are then used to light up specific blue LEDs. The LED will light up depending on which FSR the user has currently applied pressure to. The light from each LED would then cast a shadow off of a central mask, creating a silhouette on the wall.

The circuit design of this project was fairly simple, however the hard part was implementing it into something tangible that a user could use. Our project required a lot of space which was something that Rogue and I were not too accustomed to in our past physical computing projects. The most difficult part was probably the angling and positioning of the lights in order to cast a nice silhouette on the wall. Below is a short montage video that details the process of how we built this project.

Issues/Stuff we wish we could have done better

Rogue and I ran into a lot of issues that we had to compromise with in order to finish the project. We had originally intended for the mask to also move by using a servo motor. The motor would then move as the user walks through the cardboard path. Unfortunately, when using the Servo library in Arduino, two pins are disabled (9 and 10). This loss of real estate would not allow us to use the four LEDs, so we decided to do without the motor for now. A solution to that problem was to perhaps use another Arduino board. 

We had also originally wanted to use Red/Yellow/Orange LEDs to cast the light since it fit more with the theme. However, the silhouette created by these warmer colors were not as clear as the blue LED lights, so we had to again scrap an idea. Jeff mentioned how a stronger light source would have made the project much better and I agreed. I hope we learn how to implement stronger components to our projects in future classes.

Overall, the midterm project was an amazing learning experience for me. Being able to turn a kind of silly idea into a working prototype in such a short amount of time was something I had doubts on. But now I know I can do it! Thanks again to Rogue Fong for being a great partner.