Interactive Construction Kits

TOPAOKO is a set of circuit embeddable construction kits. It enables the players not only create the construction building through assembling the kits but also design the interaction through embedding the electronic components. TOPAOKO is designed for players from 10 to 80 years old. While playing with TOPAOKO players can learn the basic electronic knowledge and also develop the concept of 3 Dimensions structure. TOPAOKO can be a media to inspire player’s creativity. It can be used as a quick prototype for designing a building, a robot, or a tangible interaction object.

The additional value of TOPAOKO is that if in the near future everyone has a laser cutter at home, then players can download the patterns of TOPAOKO and print them out to make their own kits, moreover, they can even design their own pattern.

There are four elements in a TOPAOKO set: Chi, Li, Hsin, Guang. Each element represents a kind of electronic component. Chi means power, which, Li means force, Hsin means mind, and Guang means light. Just like a human being or a computer which are consists of power, input, output, and the processor, TOPAOKO has four basic function boxes which enable the players to create infinite kinds of combination.

1.Download the TOPAOKO pattern pdf file and use the laser cutter to print the kits on the 3mm thick hard board.


TOPAOKO pattern sets

2. Pop the kits up and start assembling them. (Favorite part!)

3.Build the Hsin Box(microcontroller).


The circuit is based on Carlyn Maw’s instruction:http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/Tutorials/ArduinoBreadboard

Circuit and components are the same as in Carlyn’s webpage, the main difference is that I used the hardboard and a piece of PCB board as the base but not the breadboard. As in Carlyn’s instruction, I plugged in the Atmega168 chip on the Arduino board to program. Don’t forget to burn the bootloader before you start programming. For the connection ports I used pin 5,9,10,11 as output , analog in pin 1 as input. In the last picture you can see there are two copper foil connection ports on the top for connecting to the power box(power and ground). Three copper foil connection ports in the front are for the motor box (From left to right: Pin 11, ground, power). Three ports on the left side are for sensor box (From front to back: Analog In 1, ground, power) .

4. Build a Li Box (Motor)

As we learned From the External Power Section, I use an npn transistor to control the 18mm*15mm*11 mm Motor.

5. Guang Box (Sensor)

6. Chi Box (Power)

7. LED Box

8. Muscle Wire Box

After building all the boxes, now is time to have them do something.  I plugged in the ATmega 168 microcontroller to the arduino board to program the chip. The first attached code is the first application in the video. In this application I used a Chi box, an Guang Box, a Hsin Box, a Li box and a muscle wire box.  When the distance sensor senses something is approaching, the motor or the muscle wire moves, depands on the distance of approaching object and the sensor. If the object is close the motor moves, in contrast, if the object is far from the sensor box, the muscle wire will be actuated. The speed of motor, the amount of banding angle and direction of muscle wires are random.

TOPAOKO_Application_1

The Second application is the last part in the video. The Muscle wire moves according to the the distance between the approaching hand and the sensor box.

TOPAOKO_Application_2

Part List:

3mm thickness Hardboard/ Laser cutter/ATmega 168 20 PU/ Arduino Duemilanove/AVRISP MKII/ 9V power supply/9V Battery /RGB LED /red LED/ 0.010″ Muscle wire/ Photocell/ Copper foil / Wrapping Tube/ Bronze Tube/ PCB board/ 3*3*3mm Magnet/ Resistors(220 , 1k, 10k ohm)/ Capacitors (22pf, 10uf)/ 4.5-9V Motors/ IR sensor(16cm-20cm)/ Transistors (KN 3904, TIP 120) /Solder/ 7805 Voltage Regulator/Diode/ Pins Terminal seats/ Sand Paper/

Lists below are TOPAOKO-pattern pdf files.

chi box

Hsin box

Guang box

li box

li box2

LED box

Muscle Wire Box

**TOPAOKO was a toy box or a curio chest of emperor in ancient China. It makes the process of possessing varied and continuously interesting while also making the result of one’s collecting uninhibited by spatial constrains.

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2 Responses to “Interactive Construction Kits”

  1. Hi,

    I’m one of Mark’s PhD students (based at CU Boulder), and I just had to express my excitement after seeing this. I liked the very elaborate construction, and the whimsical muscle wire application is astonishing! I must say this has just become a favorite project.

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