MTID Final Project Proposal (WIP)

Nearly finished but not yet; I just wanted to make sure something was posted before class Tuesday in case I’m called on to pitch. The missing components (storyboard diagram and parts shopping list) will be here by Thursday (if not Tuesday).
Gliding/Retrievable LED Throwies

Briefly, I’m interested in embuing LED Throwies with the ability to return to their owner via “gliding” mechanisms. LED Throwies are traditionally a small watch battery, an LED and a rare earth magnet taped together. The resulting item can then glow and be thrown onto a magnetic surface such as a bridge in large quantities (owing to its cheapness and ease of construction). Creating a simple gliding mechanism would both reduce the environmnal impact of unretrievable LED throwies and begin my experimentation into DIY electronics that can “navigate” the urban landscape. (The long-term reach goal is to use this process with a heavier object, a key-chain camera – we start with LEDs for simplicity and to build fluency in the medium.)

My only concern is that I’m not yet sure in what venue it could be published (to meet the paper requirement of the 12 unit course.) Despite its simplicity, I suspect there are many interesting things that you can do with this concept. By keeping the scope constrained, the applications can be better polished. Potential applications include sensor placement, long-term art installations, leaving messages for strangers, etc.

This project feels on the small side to me, which I take as a good sign (as final projects have a way of expanding). This feels both achievable and polishable.

Parts Diagram:

Parts Diagram

Storyboard Diagram: (coming soon)

Shopping Parts List: (coming soon)

Base Goal – Design a LED Throwie, sans magnet, that can be tossed out of a 4th story window, which will glide, float or flutter down to the ground. Initial wing design will attempt to emulate the shape and flying pattern of the common Maple Seed (Whirligig). Make a bunch of them, toss them off the Margaret Morrison courtyard balcony and post the resulting light show to Instructables.

Target Goal – Design an LED Throwie, with magnet, that will stick to a magnetic surface for a certain amount of time. Then, a timer on the throwie (within an ATtiny or similar IC) will release the throwie from that surface at a particular time, floating downward. Mechanisms that might be considered for this sort of action include “pushing off” by buckling SMA, popping loaded springs, and creating a reverse magnetic field. Make a bunch of them, film myself tossing them onto the base of the Walking To The Moon statue with them all slowly detaching themselves and fluttering off at the same time. Post the resulting light show to Instructables.

Reach Goal – Design a throwie (or at least a “sticky”) with the same properties, but with the strength and capacity to hold a keychain digital camera, and the gliding capacity to return a camera safely without breaking it. (Perhaps use a pulley system to get the camera up – I’m more concerned with the retrieval than with the throwing for the camera, since cameras may be too large for traditional throwing placement.) Film myself tossing a keychain camera up to a street pole, bridge roof or other urban surface, let it take pictures for 24 hours, and then return 24 hours later, at which time the camera will glide safely to the ground without being destroyed in the process. Recover the pictures and post the entire process to Instructables.


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