Reflection Post

IMG_2367When I started this subject I hadn’t really known what I was getting myself into, but now with this being my final week I’m wishing I had more time.

The first half of the semester we look into how the Arduino board worked and its capabilities while complete various exercise with LEDs, servos etc. Each fortnight we would complete and hack at the Arduino sketch to better understand the code. These exercise were very helpful in learning the basics about physical computing. It was very satisfying getting the examples to work. During these weeks we were to also think of a final project idea. The first one that came to my mind was ROLLER DISCO SKATES!!

I had these really cool high top sneakers that I wanted to making into some new rink skates and thought why not add some flashing LEDs and make them DISCO.  And so that process of turning my sneakers into skates began.

The concept was that I had these attachments on my sneakers called Sh-wings and they had studs in them. If I could somehow replaces these studs with RBG LEDs and be able to control them by the movement of my skate that would be ideal. First step was being about to understand how to work and accelerometer and then how that information can be used to control a RED LED. That took me about 3 weeks to crack as the accelerometer had me stumped, but with some help of my tutor I was able solve that problem and move on.

Once I got one LED going it was time to expand to 16 with the help of shift registers. I had to do a lot of googling to find a few examples to wrap my head around daisy chaining 6 shift registers but I found one that did the job I needed and modified it to suit my needs.

Next was wiring the LEDs to the wing, minimising the overall components and fitting it to my skate. I tried to be as methodical in my wiring as possible but did have a few minor issues in the wiring. Also I had purchased an Arduino Mirco and tried to upload the sketch to it but it didn’t seem to work as I believe it has something to do with timers. I didn’t have enough time to look into it further as the project deadline was approaching and I had to get it up and running. So in the end I just attached the Arduino Uno I was using to the bottom of my casing. In theory all the components should be able to fit inside.

  • Basic lighting patterns
    General skating = colour wave
    Top stop = red flash
    Turn left = blue wave
    Turn right = green wave

Below are some videos on the process as well as lots of photos in previous posts. I still have quite a few bugs in the coding to sort out. Main ones are:

  • I placed the accelerometer in the tongue of sneaker but it seems a little touchy so the light patterns don’t work as well as it did in the breadboard prototype.
  • Once the accelerometer changed axis the new light pattern didn’t start until the current light pattern had finished. Eg the colour wave had to end (magenta is the last colour) to then be able to flash red or turn left or right. I think that has something to do with my coding but again I didn’t have time to sort out. I do hope to figured it out in the coming weeks as I want to be able to wears these then I next go skating at a roller disco!!

In conclusion, I found the whole unit fun and great learning experience. One improvement could be having a bit more contact time in the second half of the semester when working on individual projects as having to be able to show advancement every week would help if you did end up getting stuck on a simple thing that another set of eye might be able to help with. I’m not sure who this will influence my architectural background, but my interest in roller skating I see an exciting future. I planning on continue working on this idea, after this prototype I’ll be able to start the next one, hopefully more refined, smaller and less wires. And maybe one day in the future you’ll see them on peoples skates at every disco night 😀

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