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Author Archives: kAi CHENG
A Piece of Drum Machine_kAi
It’s a drum machine fabricated in a piece of fabric. It’s an exploration in soft circuit and new instrument. I wanna create a new drum machine that helps musicians (users) break through their habits to create music.
This drum machine is a brainstorming tool for musicians to create new sequence patterns quickly for their creations. Besides knobbing each modules to trigger sounds, they also can switch the modules for making new sequence.
For the technology part, there are 4 potentiometers and 1 press sensor cooperating through Lilypad Arduino. Each potentiometer connects the main circuit by magnet. Arduino can send signals to GarageBand for creating sounds. This drum machine can loop sequence of sounds. By knobbing potentiometers, it can change different sounds in each position for creating new sequence patterns. By pressing press sensor, it can switch the 4 sounds to another 4 sounds. We even can pull potentiometers out from the main circuit and put them back to different positions for making new sequences. So it can help us create more different sequences for fresh music.
FEED BACK REFLECTION
I got critiques from Dasha, a student from Artisanal Tech in Paris. Her critiques are useful for me. We have similar ideas. When knobbing potentiometer, the pitches of sounds can change. I finally fulfilled this in my final piece.
CODE IS HERE, https://github.com/pekingkc/fabricDrumMachine
I also download a MIDI serial software for Arduino sending signals to GarageBand from here. It’s just like a bridge for Arduino and GarageBand.
DOCUMENTATION OF PROCESS
The video below is testing the function part on breadboard.
Testing connection on soft circuit.
Testing the potentiometer on soft circuit.
I tried 3 ways for connecting potentiometers with the main circuit. Finally I find the most suitable one in my 3rd prototype.
I choose magnet for connections, because it is easier to pull out and put on. I have tired using snaps for connecting circuit in my another project. But snaps are more hard to pull out which is not convenient for this project.
Making potentiometer modules and putting them on the main circuit.
When done the main circuit, I connect modules on. The drum machine basically works.
But as I use conductive thread to connect potentiometers, the threads in different holes on potentiometer often touch each other. It makes the modules work awkwardly. I can’t have the value I should have when I rotate the potentiometers. So I use copper tape (conductive) instead.
I also connect a press sensor, which is made by myself to the main circuit. Later when I press this sensor, I can switch to another 4 sounds.
When all set, I seal the circuit with a cover leaving holes for connecting modules.
I choose Epic Electro in GarageBand for triggering sounds.
It’s a drum machine fabricated as a table runner. It’s an exploration in soft circuit and new instrument.
I wanna create a new drum machine that helps musicians (users) break through their habit to create music. So hopefully it can give more opportunities for creating fresh music. I have made a MIDI glove last year. It is more for easy playing. But after that project, I realized instrument is not for easy playing, It’s more for fun and providing more opportunities to break existing habits.
For the technology part, there are 4 potentiometers and 1 press sensor cooperating through Lilypad Arduino. Each potentiometer connects the main circuit by magnet. Arduino can send signals to GarageBand for creating sounds. This drum machine can play sounds in sequence and loop. By rotating potentiometers, it can change different sounds in each position for creating new sequence patterns. By pressing press sensor, it can switch the 4 sounds to another 4 sounds. We even can pull potentiometers out from the main circuit and put them back to different positions for making new sequences. So it can help us create more different sequences for fresh music.
In Class Feedback
I was suggested to use one potentiometer to set sounds for each position. For example, I can set a value on the first position by attaching and rotating potentiometer. Then set another values for the second and following positions. That is a interesting way for triggering sounds. But I think if I can use multi potentiometers to change sounds on each position, that will be faster. Besides, I am also limited by time. So I keep my original idea.
Here is the documentation for my design process. The video below is testing the function part on breadboard. The drum machine can trigger sounds like this finally.
The video below is for testing the connection on soft circuit.
The video below is for testing the potentiometer on soft circuit.
Then I changed the way for connecting modules. I tried 3 ways for connecting potentiometers with the main circuit. Finally I find the most suitable one in my 3rd prototype.
Now I have done the main circuit. I’ll make the potentiometer modules in the following days.
In the future, there is no rain in the world. The only things we have are the extreme hotness of day and extreme coldness of night.
People desire the memory of rain. This box can convert sunshine to the memory of rain. When we put this box under sunshine, the drops on the cover can show themselves by changing color. When putting it to shady area, it can play “Singin’ in the Rain” for helping prayers enjoy the beauty of rain.
At the beginning, I use shower curtain to make speak. The volume of sound it triggers is too low.
Then I change it to wax paper.
But for the final piece, I replace it with a manufactured speaker attached with magnets for stronger volume.
My final project is a cape drum machine. Literally it is a wearable MIDI for drum machine. It is a instrument and toy for introducing drum machine and electronic music to children.
[ A drum machine is an electronic musical instrument designed to imitate the sound of drums, cymbals or other percussion instruments. Drum machines are most commonly associated with electronic music genres such as house music, but are also used in many other genres. They are also used when session drummers are not available or if the production cannot afford the cost of a professional drummer. In the 2010s, most modern drum machines are sequencers with a sample playback (rompler) or synthesizer component that specializes in the reproduction of drum timbres. Though features vary from model to model, many modern drum machines can also produce unique sounds, and allow the user to compose unique drum beats and patterns. ]
Coming back to my project, the interface is a cape. When sticking the modules on, the cape can trigger sounds and loop them through GarageBand (a musical software in computer).
Prototype for testing the code:
It’s a group project by Daruswat Wattanarojjananikorn, Jaeyoung Ha, Kehui (Carrie) Liu and kAi Cheng.
Our Project is a Critical Lamp for Future Human (cyborgs)
In the future lamp is not only for lighting the environment, but also for creating personalized experience. This lamp we designed has human’s mind. He is a buster who loves to explore the world and hear stories. Future humans (cyborgs) have been implanted with technology. They are able to experience the virtual world by five senses (sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste). Based on that, No. Kiddo can narrate the stories he has heard to future humans through the virtual environments he created.
The Scenario We are Prototyping
No. Kiddo was born in the night on October 30th, 2015. He just heard Carrie’s (one of our groupmates) story about freeing animals from circuits and zoos. He was moved and decided to spread that story to us. He grew his freakenstein costume. I guessed he was influenced by the creepy atmosphere of Halloween. When the environment getting dark, he lit up the bulb. When someone getting closer to him, he began to tell the story. As we were not cyborgs, he had to show the story through a projection which we could see with bare eyes.
The story he is telling is: If we keep zoos and circus, there will be no wild animals in our environment. Dark spirits will come out as our nature needs wild spirits. They replace animals. They are not as peaceful as animals. Oppositely they are evil and their hearts are full of revenge. The whole world is covered by darkness and horror…
No. Kiddo in Our Eyes
“Can we named our lamp “No. Kiddo”. I like its creepiness. It reminds me the man-made-human No. 8!” (by kAi Cheng, quoted from our group email) Man-made-human No. 8 is a character in Dragon Ball, a Japanese Manga. That’s why we named him No. Kiddo.
“The guy looks like a unique and unusual creature, but it is not weird but quite familiar. I think it is because his appearance looks like a combination of a human being with an alien. He might disguise himself as a human being wearing human clothes. People may be able to discover his identity when they take off his cloth by analyzing the programmed small hardware inside the bottle. The shape of his head might represent the planet where he lives. His eyes are not on his face, but on his body, and the eyes seem upside-down. He might be able to look at the space in different views, unlike human or another creepy creature might live inside his body. “ — Jaeyoung Ha
It’s a pillow lamp.
In my original idea, this lamp could light up automatically when environment getting dark. When users laying heads on it, the light turns off.
But there is some problem with ATTiny. Finally the lamp can be turned off when laying heads on it. But it can’t light up automatically when environment getting dark.
This is a prototype for enhancing walking experience. Although we can feel the changing force on the bottom of our feet when we waling, we can’t see it or hear it. I want to use technology to rich that experience, so as to have the sense of touching, seeing and hearing.
There are a press sensor made by myself on the sole of this shoe, a LED and a LilyPad Arduino. When users step on it, it can trigger sounds through GarageBand.
Full project at,
I am a designer, artist, storyteller, maker, craftsperson who is not only keen to solve problems but also create problems. I respect my occupation and the designers who care about their works and enjoy polish details.
Except for my Apple mouse and Apple keyboard, my favorite tool is the very cheap and common ball pen. When I design, draw or think, I always sketch on paper at the very beginning. Sketching on paper gives me magic and inspiration. I can’t think when facing my computer. That makes me sick and dizzy. I feel freedom when I sketch. When I feel depressed or anxious, sketching on paper also help me relax.
For learning the new crafts, I feel I like the handmade process, although they’re time consuming. The most frustrating thing is that I can’t use command + z anymore. That’s why I still love to use computer… But I like the handmade looks. They are so natural. For weaving, I may change the process a bit. Maybe combine with knitting to make some more stereo looks.