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Category Archives: processing

Something new for Cornwall!

A hacker space for anyone, based at the Tremough Campus University College Falmouth.

If your interested in joining us here is a link to the site:


Roughly two years ago there was big hype around Augmented Reality, the main driving force behind this was the transition from augmented reality being bound to desktop software to the ARToolkit being ported for Flash and therefor able to run in the browser. I jumped on the band wagon and wrote some samples in AS3 using the FLARToolkit which is an as3 port of the ARToolkit and the results were very nice. Thats pretty much where it ended.

In the last couple of weeks I have had more and more request for code that involves augmented reality. Most notably a project involving a wide open space being mapped as an AR maze. The challenge is to have a persistant 3d virtual maze to walk around. I am not sure if it is even possible with the equipment we have here but I have begun testing some ideas.

The video above is the first experiment in a long time involving AR. I wanted to check how well processing would handle the ARToolkit instead of Flash. I used the wrapper class of the NYARtoolkit as a base but I found the adaptation by who has added multiple marker functionality to the library. The end result is a lot slower than i remember AS3 to be but I am loading an .STL file with 97000 triangles. I am using the unlekker library to load the .STL file but I am thinking about using the  OBJLoader library instead because of the texture support.

The .STL was a download from I can’t find the name of the person to credit anymore but the  file is called doneShell.stl

Zach Lieberman is one of the smarts behind the openFramework software. Here he is talking about some of his projects. The main reason I have posted this video is for the project that is introduced 6mins in.Zach has been collaborating with an old school graffiti artist who goes by the name of Tempt. The twist is that Tempt now suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and is paralysed. Zach Lieberman and a few others created a system for tracking Tempt’s eyes and relaying the movements back to a drawing package. The accuracy is really quite amazing and the project is very inspirational.

I learnt so much in the home brew CNC workshop and I am very aware that if I don’t do something with my new found knowledge soon then I will forget most of it. I am a collector of broken junk and in my collection I have an A3 scanner and an A4 scanner. I have decided to turn these deserted and tired old pieces of equipment into a homebrew plotter / engraver (if all goes well.) The first step was to take the Grbl ready Arduino from a previous post and make it control a stepper motor. I have been leant 3 stepper motor drivers to experiment with, the documentation for the drivers can be found here. The A4983 stepper motor driver is a very compact driver perfect for smaller CNC projects. The documentation for the A4983 is very good so it was very easy to connect it up to the Arduino and the stepper motor. The pictures below evidence my setup with the driver running full steps. I have not experimented with micro steps yet but the results are very promising.

The wiring:

mac to arduino - arduino to a stepper motor

A morning spent murdering Nirvana – come as you are.

A couple of months ago a good friend bought me a stylophone for my birthday. I had a blast snarling out noises that were close to songs we all know and love. unfortunately due to my clumsy inaccurate nature I have never managed to play a whole song at the correct tempo with out playing wrong notes. The novelty soon wore off and the stylophone was left to gather dust on a shelf in my office.

I have a list of tasks as long as my arm to do at work but this morning when I got in the motivation levels were at an all time low. Instead of doing anything useful I decided it was time time to put the stylophone to good use. Knowing that my ability to  manipulate the stylus over those circuit board keys was never gonna improve I decided I would cheat and automate the circuit connections that are made when the stylus connects with one of the keys.

The video attached shows the result of todays procrastination. So far I have only automated 10 of the keys direct from the arduino.if I get time in the near future I will extend its functionality using an 8bit shift register so that the arduino can play all the keys. I also intend to write a processing sketch interface so that inputting songs is easier and more intuitive (and not murderous to classic rock songs).

Written using swype on htc feature hd

Its been a while since I have used processing for any of my projects so today I took some time to have a good look at some of the new libraries available for the framework. I was amazed at far processing has come, there are now libraries for everything from sound to reading the accelerometer built into a Mac book. I was very pleased to see that box2D has been wrapped to integrate simply into processing as this is a very powerful 2D physics engine. Here is the link to the libraries section of the processing site for anybody that is interested.


project by Georg Reil and Kathy Scheuring, January 2010
University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt

This project was built using Arduin and The project has a beautifully unique and playful take on sound manipulation. I especially love the bucket but you will have to watch it to know what i mean!

Try to keep up! The statement I have been telling myself a lot recently. The shift to HTML5 and CSS3 has left me scrambling for browser support comparisons and video encoding specifications. Web technologies like tectonic plates are shifting, some struggling to find their place while others are emerging powerful with claims of modularity and future proofing. All this change has rekindled my love for web development but there have been a couple of changes that I really want to shout about so here it goes:

Starting with the most obvious first – jQuery

This JavaScript library is an awesome alternative to the Flash based websites of the past. Don’t get me wrong I am addicted to AS3 and spend a lot of time tinkering with FLAR Toolkit (Flash augmented reality), Papervision 3d and APE (Actionscript physics engine) but the idea of having to install a third party plug-in to view a standard web page seems a little outdated. jQuery is a very capable library allowing tweening, DOM manipulation (Document object model) and AJAX capabilities all in an easy simple to implement package. I am not convinced that Flash will be run out-of-town by this JavaScript alternative, instead the technologies will settle in their own rightful places.

I love the power and ease of use that the java framework provides so I was excited to hear that an evolution of this framework has been developed, again utilizing the power of JavaScript. is a port of processing that runs within the browser without having to install a third-party plug-in (Are you starting to notice a pattern here?) The port has most of the important features of its parent and renders them within the HTML5 canvas tag. I have not had time to experiment with but if it’s as addictive as processing is then my schedule is about to be ruined. This is also a good example of why the move from HTML4 to HTML 5 was so important.

The last few changes that I find interesting are still based around the wonders of JavaScript but this time focusing on mobile technologies. If you have experience with jQuery then you will probably enjoy using jQtouch. The official site describes jQtouch as a “jQuery plugin for mobile web development on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and other forward-thinking devices.” I presume by forward thinking devices they mean other touch screen equivalents to the iPhone. This plug-in allows a developer to emulate a lot of the UI style and functionality of the iPhone within their mobile website. This means that a developer can bypass the rigmarole of getting that app accepted and published in the app store as long as they don’t mind it being run in the browser of the phone instead of installed on the phone itself.

Last but not least I want to talk about PhoneGap. PhoneGap allows you to write apps for many different smart-phones using HTML and JavaScript. I recently spent some time experimenting with the iPhone SDK and learning a bit about xCode (from what I can see xCode is another name for objective C.) The process is very bloated and slow, probably due to my lack of experience in objective C. There are a lot of well written tutorials around though so eventually I managed to get a couple of apps running reasonably well. This being said at the time I had not heard of phoneGap but if I had then I probably would have achieved my end goal in half the time. Not to mention the fact the finish article could have been exported for not just the iPhone but also Android, Symbian and Blackberry phones. What a breath of fresh air.

The underlying theme here is most definitely that 2010 is a good year for JavaScript. There are still some issues with browser compatibility and these are mainly down to Internet Explorer none the less I am excited to see what else can be achieved with a language that has been built into browsers ever since Netscape in 1995.

I have been busy running through ideas for automated instruments I could use to enrich my performances at open mic nights. One of the main points of interest for me is percussion as it is usually quite over looked at open mic nights apart from the occasional set of bongos. I have been drawing up sketches for a snare drum played using dropping marbles and also for a cassette player hack. The main hurdle for any automated instrument is how will it be sequenced to play itself. Last night I sat down for a while and coded a very very basic sequencer in processing that controlled an Arduino with Firmata installed. There is nothing fancy about the code but I believe this will be a good solid starting point for most of the automated instruments I could ever imagine. There are some images below of the basic setup and a video of the sequencer on the screen and the Arduino carrying out the sequence using LED’s. I am quite happy to publish the source code on request.

If you don’t know what a scanimation is then here is a youtube clip by the creator –

If that has got you curious, excited or you are just plain bored then check out a little tutorial i wrote on how to create a scanimation. Please ignore the indexhibit sites style for the moment i have not had the time to style it yet.

Scanimation Tutorial.

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