Energy Final Project Proposal – More Honk Detection

Tentative Project Name(s): Sound Leveler, Honk Box, Traffic Monitor

Short Description: A physical street sign that detects and reacts to car horns.

Long Description: Building off of software I wrote last semester, this project will be a physical street noise calming solution. My goal is to take a highway grade speed limit sign, replace the miles per hour section with LED boards and have animated emoji-style reactions to noise pollution displayed to drivers. Since this sign is not official and will not have access to the power grid portable power will be a central part of the project. After building and testing the core functions I will try to develop a power system that will allow this sign to run for a full 24 hours without being plugged into a wall. To achieve this I plan to use a combination of batteries (stored power from the grid) and solar panels.

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I currently expect the project to use 5 volts at approximately 2-4 amps depending on the number of illuminated LEDs and the difficulty of processing the audio.


1-2 Arduino(s), 1-2 microphones, 4 bi-color LED panels, 1 Speed Limit street sign, 2 6V 9W solar panels, battery capable of up to 30 watt output for 12 hours (possibly this one),  case for electronics, wires + hardware.


Week of 3/24/16 – Test honk detection on arduino and functionality of LED panels

Week of 3/31/16 – Develop first stage electronics prototype with dumb sound detection and simple LED response + measure the power consumption

Week of 4/07/16 – Finalize functionality of sound detection and LED response + begin building the sign and mounts for components

Week of 4/14/16 – Rough version of final product running on grid power

week of 4/21/16 – Begin construction of battery + solar power system and mounts.

Week of 4/28/16 – Finishing touches, test, waterproofing, pole mount.

Week of 5/5/16 – Documentation


Current Progress:

Click for Video


Frankenstein: “DeadFlowers” – Nature of Code

This week’s Nature of Code Assignment (posted here) was to incorporate as many previous lessons into one sketch as possible. I ended up expanding on a previous assignment that involved oscillation (Flowers).


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In the Oscillation assignment I ended up with these multicolor dot-ed polar roses. I wanted to try and make each of these roses a particle system and give them something of a life cycle. The roses already used both oscillation and noise techniques which I expanded on in this assignment. I started by making a system of flowers which contained relatively little code but I thought could be helpful If I wanted to do something to every flower simultaneously.

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This wound up including a timeout function for each flower in the system that was loosely based on the frame rate since I had some issues there later on. The actual flowers were also a system of petal particles which is where most of the animation takes place.

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Once I was able to rebuild my original sketch but as a system of systems I tried to refine it a bit and this is where I added some throttling based on the frame rate. As things started looking more and more similar to the original sketch I started adding new behaviors, such as each petal particle aging individually and eventually dying and some anti-gravity for the dead particles.

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Lastly I added in an interactive force of wind with can blow the particles back and forth as they float away.

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I considered a flow field or some flocking behaviors for the particles as they blow away but after trying some out I decided that a more simple behavior look nicer to me. I’m not sure exactly what this project is about but I did have a lot of fun making it. I could see making a sort of virtual garden going forward.



New Dense City – Everything is Physical: the Art of Digital Mapping

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As my final for Everything is Physical, I decided to map new construction in New York City alongside the subway system. The goal was to allow users to explore the relationship between subway crowding and new construction. Ultimately I was able to get the data I wanted into a Mapbox map and style it in a way that made it functional, however I had difficulty adding in interactive features and putting in elements like a legend. Here is the final product:

New Dense City


I spent a lot of time working with the NYC pluto data and attempted to map it with leaflet, Mapbox (in its many variations), and cartoDB. The combination of dealing with a very large data set and my unfamiliarity CSS made it difficult to troubleshoot when I ran into problems. Ultimately I am happy with the result but would have obviously preferred to include the legend and some more interactivity and data exploration.

Having used ArcGIS extensively in the past I think I approached this project the wrong way. It seems to me now that, in terms of my own understanding, it would have been better to plan out what I wanted the interaction to be like first and then considered data second. That being said I think I have a good foundation to keep learning from.

Energy – Solar Bot

This week Nicola Carpeggiani and I worked on a simple solar powered BEAM robot for out energy assignment. We started with a schematic for a BEAM project that stores up solar energy in a capacitor until it has enough voltage to pass through a voltage regulator and trigger a motor through a transistor.


We added a Potentiometer which combined with a capacitor seemed to create a RC timer with the smaller capacitor charging and releasing voltage at a relatively constant cycle. Ultimately we had some difficulty getting constant performance but we attribute this to some mechanical and fabrication issues as our testing on a breadboard suggested that the circuit was working as intended.

Breadboard Circuit Video

We were able to get it to work briefly out in the sun.

Solar BEAM in the sun

We used two 2200 microfarad capacitors and a smaller 47 microfarad capacitor for the RC timer. With each panel under well lit conditions we wear able to generate 6 Volts and 40 milliamps.


The original schematic came from (Solarbotics) as part of Jeff Feddersen’s Energy class at ITP.

Nature of Code – Autonomous Agents

This week for Nature of Code we were asked to work with autonomous agents. I started with an example Sketch by Dan Shiffman designed to keep a vehicle within a boundary. I played with this sketch for a while and eventually ended up making a sort of flocking type behavior. I really wanted to try and work with prototyping again so I spent a good deal of time getting that to work the way I wanted.

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I ended up with three slightly different vehicles. The standard prototype Vehicle basically follows the same rules as in the example, It turns around once it passes a near edge boundary. One of the child vehicles that I called shyVehicle will tend to follow the same path as any other vehicle that passes it. These shy vehicles tend to form flocks. The other child vehicle is called soulmate (misspelled as Souldmate). These vehicles have a predetermined mate, until they meet their mate they act like the standard vehicles but once they find their mate they try to flock with it. One of the three vehicles is randomly generated each time the users clicks, up to a maximum of 50.

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Using the prototyping was still tricky for me but I eventually figured it out which should be really really useful for creating more complicated sketches. I would have liked to spend more time on the appearance of this sketch but I was happy with the work I was able to in the structure of the code.


Vehicle sketch