06 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Final Project Ideas

This post was split off from the main Final Projects page so that you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. Sometimes ideas for projects comes easily, but sometimes (especially for beginners), that can be the most challenging step. The following is a list of final project ideas that I have compiled and you are welcome to choose from. You can or will be able to make these projects! Just pick the one that you find most interesting or fun and let me know via e-mail what you would like to do, and I will make sure you are able to complete it!

  1. Tweet-a-Pot: A coffee pot that is controlled via Twitter.
    This project is very, very simple and has been repeated by several people, so if you choose this project I would ask that you either add something to it or modify something about it to make it unique and demonstrates your knowledge from this class. The author of this tutorial used Python as the programming language that speaks with their Arduino, but I want to you to use Processing instead, and I can help you figure out how.
  2. Hack the Micorosoft Sidewinder joystick to control a Processing sketch.
    I found this Microsoft Sidewinder joystick at the Salvation Army and realized it would be fun to hack. Forget about all the electronics and software that went into the device, just rip it open and tear out the guts, leaving all the buttons and mechanical parts intact. Now you have tons of buttons and maybe some potentiometers that you can plug directly into your Arduino! This will test your soldering skills, so if you want to become better at soldering, this is the project for you! I would really like it if you found out how to get your Arduino to talk to Processing (its very easy, trust me!), so that you can use the joystick to mess around with something in your sketch (like the size of a circle or the color of a line).
  3. Hack some children’s toys to make crazy music
    I’ve got a few electronic kid’s toys that make noises, and they are ripe for something called circuit bending. Just take apart the plastic toy and get at the circuit board inside. Now push the buttons to make a noise, and then start touching the circuit board and see if you can make that noise warp and go crazy (its completely safe and easy!). Once you find a spot that consistently makes the same glitch happen every time you touch it, you can solder a wire there and plug your Arduino in. Now, whenever you tell your Arduino program to send electricity along that wire, you cause it to glitch. You can make some really cool and usable musical instruments this way! If you choose this project I will give you some resources and pointers while you’re hacking.
  4. Use conductive thread and fabric to sew a simple circuit into apparal
    As you know, electronic components are connected using conductive elements like wires and copper traces or really anything that conducts electricity well. We actually have some cool fabric and thread that you can use to sew components together! We even have an Arduino that is specifically designed to be sewn into clothing (just ask me about it)! This technique is often referred to as soft circuits, wearable computing or physical computing. You can find lots (and I mean LOTS) of examples at the following links, but be careful! I would like to see an original project or some kind of unique spin on an existing project, please don’t just follow someone else’s work exactly. If you are inspired by someone else’s work, that is OK, just please note that in your project proposal.

    - http://www.instructables.com/related/wearables
    - http://blog.craftzine.com/archive/soft_circuits/
    - http://www.instructables.com/technology/soft-circuits/
    - http://www.instructables.com/id/turn-signal-biking-jacket/

  5. Secret Knock Detecting Door Lock
    This project is slightly more difficult than other projects, but its really only about a 2 out of 5 on the overall difficulty scale. But I know that if you have the interest, you CAN make this over the course of this semester! Just feel free to ask lots of questions and seek advice whenever you are stuck. Instead of controlling a door lock, though, I would like it if you would control something a little more creative to make the project your own (this is very easily accomplished).
  6. Hack an RC car to be controlled by an Arduino
    All that is inside of an RC car is a couple of motors, electronics to convert radio signals into signals to turn the motors, and some clever plastic mechanics. As it turns out, its really easy to remove or bypass those electronics that deal with radio signals and control the motors directly using an Arduino. Once you figure that out, you can strap an Arduino on top of the RC car and write simple programs to turn each of the two motors on or off and run around the room all by itself! To do this project I will ask that you go one step further and also connect some sort of a sensor (like a distance sensor or a bump sensor) to your Arduino so that your zombie car can react to its environment in some way and have a little more personality.
  7. Create a simple musical instrument
    By using a couple buttons (or force sensors) and a speaker, you can create a simple musical instrument using the Arduino. You can learn more about this kind of project at the link below to the Arduino website article. If you choose this project, I would ask that you elaborate on the basic idea a bit by adding something unique and creative. Maybe you can find a way to plug your instrument into a PC to generate more impressive sounds (using Processing this can be pretty easy). Another idea would be to choose an existing instrument (like a trumpet or saxophone) and try to create a digital version of it as best you can.

    - http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Tone3
    - http://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-Trumpet/
    - http://alandtech.blogspot.com/2007/12/arduino-theremin.html

  8. Create an artistic program using Processing
    Processing can be used to create all sorts of wacky and unique visual effects, so if you’re more interested in exploring code for your project then this is for you! Its a lot of fun to hack away in Processing and let your creative process take over, but since this is a class for school, you need to be able to plan it out and document your progress for grading. Therefore you will need to come up with a specific artistic vision or theme that you’d like to explore using code and explain how you will execute that vision. For example, perhaps you’d like to create an application that can be projected onto a wall and influence the mood of the viewer. You might propose to achieve this by manipulating the colors, shapes and sounds that the viewer is experiencing to correspond to different emotional states. The sky is the limit here, but here are some resources to inspire you:

    - http://openprocessing.org/
    - http://vimeo.com/search/videos/search:processing/58b681cb

  9. Create a multi-touch program using Processing
    Multi-touch is a really hot topic right now, and the CS department actually owns a multi-touch system for students to mess with! Creating an MT program is really no different than creating a program that uses the mouse to draw. All you have to do differently is using more than one mouse at the same time. If you choose this project, I can help you out with finding resources and pointing you in the right direction for things to learn. Furthermore, a student over in Art created several MT program designs for us, so if you don’t know what you want to create, you can work on one of his ideas!
  10. Explore the world of super creepy animatronics
    If you take apart a plastic doll you will find that all the limbs are really just hollow, molded plastic pieces fitted together so they can rotate. All you have to do is attach servo motors (controllable motors) to these limbs, inside the doll itself, then put it back together and use your Arduino to wiggle the arms and legs!
  11. Find a project or idea from MAKE Magazine or other DIY resource
    In the bookshelf in OTOL 117 you’ll find a nearly complete collection of MAKE Magazines, which are full of fun, unique and mostly simple projects. Feel free to take a look at them, but please don’t take them out of the lab (they are my personal collection). If you don’t find anything of interest in those books, I’ll also link to a couple websites that have tons of project ideas you could read about. Find something that interests you, then propose to me a way you could go a step further or modify the project in a way that makes it a little more unique and demonstrate your skills.

    - http://www.makezine.com
    - http://www.hackaday.com
    - http://www.instructables.com

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