Author Archive

Interactive Construction Kits

Posted in 11. Project Final Reports on December 14, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

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:

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.


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.


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.

Final Project Proposal:P.L.P (Point.Line.Plane)

Posted in 9. Project Proposals on November 3, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

1. Description

The objective of this project is to create a kinetic and tactile interactive interface that consists of a set of moving wire units. Every unit has a cube embedded sensors and motors that enable the wire sense and move. Units communicate with each other. When one of units has been triggered by the user (ex, use the flashlight to spot the photocell), others move, too. A single unit is like a point, and the movable wire makes it a line, several lines construct a plane. The project aims to explore the miscellaneous ness of this simplest geometry in terms of tangible interface.

2. Sketches



3. Parts list

– Hardboard Laser Cut Structural Parts
– Wrapping Tube
– Copper Wire
– SMA wire
– LEDs
– 3 Photocells
– 3 IR Sensors
– 3 Microphones
– 3 1.5-4.5VDC Motors
– 3 L293 (H-Bridge)
– 3 LM358 (OP-AMP)
– 3 ATmega328 chips (Microcontroller)

4. Work plan

Week 1:
– Define the Interaction State Machine
– Integrate the Photocell, Microphone, and IR sensor with motors and SMA wires.
– Build the First Version of Single Unit (With Arduino Board)
Week 2:
– Add the Communication Part (between units, using LEDs and Photocells)
– Build the Second Version of Single Unit (With Arduino Board)
Week 3:
– Build 3 Units (Without Arduino Board)
Week 4:
– Build 10 Units

5. Related Project

Kids Power generator

Posted in Brainstorming on October 18, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

The concept is to design a trampoline which collect the energy. While the kids jumping on the trampoline, it change the magnetic field of springs and produce electricity. The power will be stored and can be used for other need.

kids power2

kids power1

Growing wire

Posted in 7. A Mechanical Automaton on October 18, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

“Making Things interactive” assignment 7:Mechanical Automaton. I use two rows of wood wrapped by plastic pipe in parallel to pull the wire up. Beside raising the wire, the big gear in the bottom also make the wire spin. So the wire raises and spins just like a growing plant.

I made the gears using Laser Cutter Machine


the small gears and the box are made of  hardboard, the big black gear is acrylic, and the stick is brass rod.

The two wood cylinders are wrapped by clear PVC pipe.

Finally, Super Glue is always a good friend.


HIS ARMS SPIN – Sound Triggered Robot

Posted in 6 Form & Motion on October 11, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

The robot is turning its arms when someone speaks to it.
It mainly consists of a microphone and a microphone.
when the microphone detects the sound, it sends the signal to the Arduino. When the sound is loud enough, the DC gear motor will be triggered.

moving roboT

The microphone is connected to an OP amplifier to enlarge the signal, then send the output to the arduino.

Arduino Sketch: sound_triggered_robot

Posted in 5. Treasure Hunt on October 1, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

Flex Sensor 4.5″ 9K-22K ($12.95)

2″ Flexible Stretch Sensor ($8.95)

Electroluminescent “wire” (EL-wire) ($46/9.2cm)

Alcohol Gas Sensor MQ-3 ($4.95)

SOLENOID,12VDC/.26A,45OHMS, ($2.95)

6″ Stroke Tubular Actuator 150 lbs force ($129.99)

Air Actuator 10mm ($4.94)

Corning 9/125um/3.0mm Single Mode Simplex Cable – Yellow Color – OFNR Riser Rated($0.68 /meter)

100 OHM TRIMPOT, NON-STD. LEADS (10 for $1.00)

Stretch Conductive Fabric ($59.95)

Schoeller Conductive Yarns

Application ::
Nm 10/3 80/20 Pes/Inox @ Euros 36.00/kg (3,333 metres/kg)
Email to this guy

Blue Thermochromic Temperature Color changing paint ($22.99)

NITINOL 55 Robotics Trigger Spring activates 45°C / .5A ($15.00)

CuPro-CoteTM PAINT ($29.95 /4 oz)

0.125 inch x 0.125 inch x 0.125 inch Neodymium Iron Boron NdFeB Cube Magnet ($0.24)

1 in x 20feet x 2mil Conductive COPPER FOIL TAPE ESD ($11.95)

Tilt ball switch ($2.00)

Tellurex – CZ1-1.4-127-1.14 peltier junction ($12.95)

Extra Material

Habu Silk Stainless Steel Yarn ($13)

conductive gel ONE 2 oz (60ml) tube. $2.99

Carbon Dioxide CO2 Sensor ($19.90)

His Face turns red and green

Posted in 4. Analog Input-Output on September 24, 2009 by Kuan-ju Wu

Pulse LEDs

Color Mixer

Pulse+Color Mixer


Green LED*1

Red LED*1

DC Motor*1

Film Container*2

Arduino Board

Pulse Led:pulse_of_led
Color Mixer:color_mixer
Pulse+Color Mixer:Pulse_Color_Mixer
Finding Sensor Value Limit:detect_sensor_value