Travel – Day 2

This was our first day of actually doing things on the tour. In the morning we visited the Hollywood walk of fame and did a lot of the tourist parts within this area.

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We visited stores such as El Capitan and saw a movie premier being set up within the Chinese Theater. This was a great experience because we were able to see the theater in action and also visit the very famous Disney theater. It is incredibly interesting to see a lot of these places in real life especially after hearing and seeing so much about them. In some of these areas, it was very tourist based and it seemed like everything looked a bit run down. But I still enjoyed this part of the tour and I am glad I was able to go and see it.

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I also got to experience public transport within Los Angeles. This was a much smoother process then I expected and we were guided by some very helpful Americans.

In the afternoon, we caught an Uber out to Warner Brothers to be apart of a live studio audience for Conan. This was a fantastic experience as it gave us a look behind the scenes of a television show. It was a great chance to understand the amount and effort that goes into preparing and shooting a show. This also gave me a chance to observe how a shot is made and what works and what doesn’t. I really enjoyed the show and being able to see how the stars responded to a live audience was something I had never seen before.

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After viewing the show and experiencing Warner Brothers studio, it has increased my interest in learning more about how film studios are run. While it has assured me that film and directing are not areas of interest to me; I am definitely enjoying seeing them in action.


Weekly update for the week of the 19th

This week I wanted to focus on finishing my project by Friday to allow for all the work to be complete by the end of week 13. Earlier in the week I focused on finishing the Shadow Birds.

Last week I had been told that my laser cutting was finished, so on Monday I collected it and then assembled it. I modified a piece of foam into a branch to hold the laser cutting and neopixels. I also painted a piece of foam to make it look more like a branch. Due to the painting I could not attach the neopxiels to it on Monday, instead I will do this on Tuesday.  I also spent time using a hot glue gun to attach neopixels to the acrylic. I had previously tried doing this last week but had been unsuccessful and this week I tried a different approach. This method was successful and later in the week I will also glue the wires behind the acrylic.

One of the issues I encountered was my arduino ceasing to work halfway through the day. I tried fixing this myself but was unsuccessful and I had to refer to my supervisor. I also had a conversation discussion power options for the arduinos and what would be suitable for the project.

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Other activities which I accomplished throughout the early part of the week was the soldering of a new arduino, the glueing and positioning of the wires, testing that the setup is working correctly, positioning the acrylic and sticking it there. These activities I completed which have then lead to new goals for later in the week. These goals include positioning fabric over the back of the acrylic to cover the wires and neopixels. This will also tidy up the space a bit. I also have to cut the piece of acrylic due to it falling and cracking resulting in the end piece being broken. The way I am going to fix this, is to cut the end off and just shorten the piece.

I have also made the choice to stop work on the owl. The more I logically think about it, I do not think it is a wise choice to have a motion sensor with sound and lights operating in a research area. Not only is it likely to provide annoyance to the students but it will also decrease productivity. I do have a working demo and code for the Owl but after thinking about it for two weeks, I do not think it is a wise choice for this situation.

I completed the previous tasks mentioned earlier in this post, with the piece being cut today along with fabric being placed. On Wednesday I also positioned the neopixels on the branch and solved my issue for the second arduino. This means that my project is nearly complete. I am very excited about this and I think it will be finished tomorrow. The finale jobs I have to complete include placing the branch and acrylic in position, along with programming the second arduino with the code I have already created and then doing some finale testing to make sure everything is working properly.

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On Thursday, I planned to finish the tasks mentioned above but due to unexpected circumstances I was unable to. I then was unable to work on the project until Saturday. On this day, I finished the project with both pieces of acrylic and sensors in place. One of the last issues that appeared with my first piece was the sticky taped cardboard was not going to work. To combat this I have removed the cardboard and instead have stuck the sensor to the glass. Both of these installations work well, with both responding to my hand and my phone’s torch. I have specifically designed the wall bird to respond to a brighter source of light just to increase the reaction. I think this works well. I am also spending some time commenting and tidying up my code before posting it here. I should have the two full pieces of code posted soon.20151024_140009 20151024_140004 20151024_11224620151027_11290520151027_11290420151027_11285120151027_11283820151027_11283720151027_112830

Weekly update for the 12th of October

During this week I have focused on completing the shadow birds. Earlier in the week, I soldered and tested all the parts to make sure they work,  before I connected them to the acrylic.  All of the parts worked and I finished soldering all of the connections together. I was quite happy with this, as it meant later in the week; I could just focus on assembling it together. The one issue I ran into was with the coding. It took many iterations to split the neopixels into different strands, as the previous code I had created did not have this change. I also encountered a problem with one of the sensors and how they were interacting with the code. This resulted in the removing of a delay from the code.

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The next step I took focused on attaching the neopixels to the Acrylic along with the sensors. After re-soldering a couple of wires, I cut out some cardboard and made sure that the sensor was able to fit into the acrylic circle. I placed the sensor into the cardboard and used tape to secure it and darken the area around the sensor.

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I then glued the neopixels to the acrylic and placed the two frosted pieces together. To create a fully working test, I placed the sensor into the circle and connected the arduino. While everything worked, it did not create the effect I was hoping for. The laser cutting proved to be too superficial to actually be seen even with the neopixel light. I am disappointed as while I was happy that everything worked and looked okay, it did not meet my expectation. After thinking about how to solve this issue, I tried to draw on one of my test pieces to make the etching more obvious. This looked much better and was a closer result to what I was hoping for. I also tried moving the neopixels around and for them to be further back but this had little to no effect. The other method I tried was using a saw to create a deeper cut into the Acrylic. I discovered this is possible but I have no idea where to attain the necessary tools or machinery to do such a thing. In the end, I think I will use a black marker to outline the birds and to highlight them when the neopixels change color.

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I also sent my shadow birds off to be laser cut and will hopefully have the results to show you soon.

I also spent a day focusing on trying to create a deeper outline. I experimented with laser cutting and making the laser out of focus, spray painting and various markers. These techniques and moving the neopixels lead me to discover a way to solve some of the previous problems which I had encountered earlier in the week. I also have made decision to move the placing of the neopixels, along with adding more to create a slightly different effect for the second panel. This effect can be seen in the photos below. I have also taken the white screen off the acrylic and spray painted it silver. This has created a larger distinction between the neopixels and laser cutting. I have also added multiple lines of laser cutting to this panel to create much deeper cuts. I will keep the design for the first panel the same as I think it will be nice to have a slightly different design but I wanted to try and improve for the second panel.

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Towards the end of the week, I tried to glue the neopixels to the acrylic sheet but sadly this did not work. This led me to try and think of a different way to apply them. I did not get to pursue this much as I had other commitments to complete before the week ended. I also was waiting on the laser cutting and I did not receive the other birds until the end of Friday. This has meant that this weekly goal of fully completing the shadows birds has been delayed. This has meant next week, I have to sandblast both birds then attach the acrylic to the Neopixels and position them in the room. This should be done fairly early in the week and I should have it completed by Tuesday. This leaves the rest of the week to complete the Owl.

Update for the Week stating the 5th of October

So last week, I had another look at my soldering work. While the pieces worked, I realise that I have to undo all my previous soldering work. This set my goal back and I have now pushed it back further. I redid my soldering and split the photocells sensors. I also ran into the problem of running out of Neopixels. This prevented me from finishing my soldering work and completing my goal.

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This week while I wanted to focus on trying to get everything else finished, while I located the Neopixels. This involved updating my code to reflect the splitting of the shadow birds and working out the placing of the acrylic on the glass. I also managed to discuss my progress with my supervisor, this was helpful as they provided answers in relation to how I might get more Neopixels. I will hopefully be able to get more Neopixels before the week is over. I am also planning on visiting Bunnings this week to find an owl. Before I take this step, I would like to focus on finishing the shadows birds.

During the week, I collected more neopixels and then soldered them together. After having a discussion with my supervisor, it was revealed that two separate strands of neopixels will not work on one arduino. So I have decided to fix this by how I solder wires. I could also split it up into three parts, but I feel that would just make the job more bulky and harder. While the wires will be longer, I feel that this is a better way then splitting the design up further.

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The design of the laser cut shadow birds, will also be happening in the next couple of days as I trace the outline of another common Australian bird. This design will be laser cut on Monday and will be sand blasted to create a slightly frosted effect without becoming as dense as the other pieces.


I will also be positioning the neopixels onto the acrylic and testing them. By the end of next week, I will have the shadow birds finished.SupriseBird

Update for the Week starting the 28th

This week I have laser cut and constructed my shadow bird panels. These panels will be sitting behind the glass of the window and will have the Neopixels and sensors placed behind them. At the start I thought I would cut my birds out of a white acrylic, but after looking at how much the white acrylic stood out against the glass; I was unsatisfied with this effect.


I wanted another panel which was a little more subtle and more suited to the large airy windows. I then investigated a couple of different techniques to make the transparent acrylic more cloudy. This was to make sure that the wires were unable to be seen through the acrylic. These techniques included using sand paper to create scratches in the surface, sand blasting the acrylic to create a more frosted look, a combination of the two and placing a thin layer of a sticker substance to give it that color. After testing was completed with my sample pieces seen below, I decided to go with the frosted sand blasted look.

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After spending many hours sandblasting the acrylic, I finally ended up with this result.


After realizing that I could not get this acrylic much darker, I decided to double layer this acrylic. I felt that this would end up producing an even pattern and would create a really interesting effect. After another round of sand blasting and laser cutting, I then was able to combine the two to create the effect seen below.


And here is the two pieces in the window. I really like the 3D effect that can be created when the pieces are held in a specific spot. I also have tested these with the wires and they cannot be seen through it. I am really happy with these pieces as they took me a while but I think the results are really great.

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I also spent time testing the arduino with my soldering work. My sensors and neopixels all work which is a great sign.

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I have also realized after placing the panels into the space, that I will have to split up shadow birds even further. This is due to the space and wiring within the room. I cannot have wires within the room running from one side to the other.

The first part of the shadow birds, has one photocell, one of the panels and 6 neopixels with 3 on each bird. The second part of the shadow birds will have the other two photo cells with the other panel and 2 other 3D acrylic cut birds sitting on the side of the room. This panel will have only one neopixel per bird and 3 neopixels for each of the 3D birds. By the end of the week, I will have either the shadow Birds complete minus the 3D birds or very close to finished.

Update for the 21st-25th

During this week

  • I completed my soldering on the Shadows birds. This was to attach the wires to allow for further prototyping with the Arduino. I also completed my soldering on the PIR sensor wires.


  • I created and soldered my own microcontroller. This will allow me to program it and be used in this project. I was extremely happy with the result, as I had never surface mounted soldered before and I was successful at my first attempt. I have not integrated this part yet into my circuit, but I will do so probably in the next week or two. I will have to find a USB to connection for it as it did not come with one.

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  • I also got a larger copy of the laser cutting. This was a much nicer size and I really liked the ability to see the detail more clearly. I still think the transparent does not work but I am talking to J block about the possibility of making it less transparent.20150918_154030
  • After thinking about it, I do not think that a 3D printed owl will provide me with the outcome I am looking for. I think it will be incredibly labor intensive for an average looking piece. Next week, I will research other options including the idea of buying a pre-made owl.

Weekly Update

This week I focused on soldering the parts together for kits.

The first soldering that was completed on the shadow birds. This took a little while, as I was trying to work out what was the best way to minimize wires while making sure it reached the parts of the birds. I have yet to test it with the Arduino, but I think it will work fine.

After receiving my laser cutting and testing it with the wires, two things became clear. The first that the laser cutting I had done was far too small for the wires and the actual glass. To fix this, next week I will do a new laser cutting with a larger piece. Each bird will be about 10cm tall plus the space in between.

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The pattern is quite nice and I do like the shape. I do not like how the wires are able to be seen through the clear acrylic. This can be fixed by either doing the full area in a less transparent piece of acrylic or just having the birds in the white. I am thinking I will try the larger version in a less transparent version just to see the difference. I will send this design to get cut tomorrow, so I then can try it out with the wires that I have soldered.

I have also started to solder the owl parts. I will 3D print the parts this week to hopefully assemble these parts by the end of the week.