#1 Big Button

Due in class on January 23rd

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!

— Donald J. Trump, January 3, 2018

On January 3, 2018, President Trump tweeted about his button size. A button that would kill innumerable people, and likely set off a cataclysmic chain reaction of political, economic, and environmental collapse. A button which by some accounts, would end the world, or at the very least, create a considerable catastrophe.

Your assignment is to create a device, triggered by a button, that causes a (hopefully metaphorical) catastrophe. So far we have discussed the basics of the Feather, and how to use LEDs and buttons. And while you might not be able to cause a real disaster, you should think of how you can use size, touch, and form along with vivid use of metaphor, hyperbole, and narrative to make a compelling object. For this first assignment, you are limited to using no more than 2 buttons, no more than 5 LEDs, and/or simple audio using the tone function. It is our first project, and starting with a tight and constrained project will help you get going as things get more complicated, and they will!

You can use any enclosure you can come up with, custom laser cut, foamcore, cardboard, or found objects, the only requirement is that you consider the enclosure as a key part of the overall experience. If part of your narrative is to have the wires and circuits exposed, you need to be prepared to explain how that works with your concept. One gotcha that many students encounter: Give yourself room! People often underestimate how much space an electronics project will take and make their enclosures too small which causes countless issues down the line.

In addition, you are expected to read Ted Chiang's brilliant short story “What's expected of us” for another way of thinking about the power of the humble button. You may also find inspiration from looking more deeply into the "Nuclear Football," its reality, and how it is depicted in film and television.

There are a few steps necessary to complete the project:

  1. Create 5 sketches of ideas and objects. Make at least one of them as fantastical as you can, even if it is not technically possible.
  2. Draw your circuit, this helps to clarify your thinking and gives you something to refer to later on. As you build your prototype go back and update your drawing as things change.
  3. Make an outline of how the software component of your project is going to work. Be able to tell the story of how your code runs and responds to the user.
  4. Build your first prototype of the circuit. Planning a project that uses both hardware and software takes time, get started!
  5. Iterate and refine your idea based on your prototype, design your enclosure and make sure everything will fit!
  6. Complete the build!

We will have an in-class critique on January, 23rd bring your object and be prepared to present it to the class.

In addition to presenting the project in class, you must upload documentation here by midnight on January 31st.

#2 You+=many

Due in class on February, 20th

For this project you will create a wearable device for two or more people that embodies an idea about how people relate to one-another. It can be strapped, zipped, or slung on, something on the neck or wrist or finger, anything that sticks with the everyday definition of “wear.”

Start by talking with your partner about your experiences using single word concepts like: argue, hate, love, command, control, care, deceive, celebrate, protect. Then deepen and expand that one-word idea into something that can be performed or embodied as a device worn by multiple people.

A simple example might be those child-leashes you occasionally see, a perfect embodiment of fear, control, protection, etc.

You should make use of sensors to get input from the world, and sound, light, motion, etc to express a response. And as always, carefully consider the form your device will take. How are you going to fabricate the pieces, and what does it look like? What is it made of? Is it sewn? 3d-printed? carved?


Due Tuesday February, 4th

We will discuss these in class.

Due Thursday February, 6th

We will have an in-class critique on February, 20th bring your object and be prepared to present it to the class.

In addition to presenting the project in class, you must upload documentation by midnight on February, 27th.