Sketching with Hardware 2013

Auch im letzten Sommersemester durfte das Blockpraktikum „Sketching with Hardware“ nicht fehlen. Zwölf Studierende tauchten ein in die Welt der Elektronik und bauten sechs tolle interaktive Prototypen. An dieser Stelle finden Sie eine Zusammenfassung der Projekte. Sollten Sie sich für das Praktikum selbst oder ausführliche Projektbeschreibungen interessieren, besuchen Sie das eigene Blog von Sketching with Hardware.

Das Thema in diesem Jahr war „Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“ und eigentlich ziemlich simpel: Nimm dir etwas völlig Unbrauchbares, Altes und Kaputtes und verwandle es ein etwas völlig Neues und Zweckentfremdetes. Haben wir Ihr Interesse geweckt? Dann auf zu den Projekten:

The Real Dropbox

The Real Dropbox is a interactive scanning device directly connected to the users dropbox account. Initially the concept suggested further functionality such as implementing the ability to make phone calls using a skype account and a earphone. The goal was to produce something out of an idea, that could indeed be useful to someone. Even if it was only ourselves.

DJ Teddy

Fulfilling this year’s topic „Reuse, Reduce, Recycle“ we searched for some old, used stuff and found three things: An old teddy to reuse, a shopworn MP3-Player to recycle and finally (to reduce the amount of junk in our homes ;-)) an unused step machine, but what to do with those parts? Our first thoughts were „everybody likes music, everybody loves teddies and of course everybody would go crazy seeing his teddy dancing to his favourite music while motivating him with a step machine”. So our idea was born, a music playing teddy or as we named it: „DJ Teddy“. Some additional special effects should allow it to become the perfect entertainer on every party. In the end the final result surprised us and I promise, it will surprise you, too.

Melody Bakery

This project, „Melody Bakery“, was made from an old toaster. We equipped it with an Arduino Mega, took advantage of the toaster’s convenient, useful physique and transformed it into something totally different with completely new functionalities: A MIDI sequencer loop station, aka. „Melody Bakery“. This device can read a set of eight notes, making up two four-four times at the range of seven notes adding up to one whole octave. Furthermore, you can feed the toaster with a set of an instrument which the notes are to be played with and a background beat to make the produced music loop more enjoyable and usable for playing along with e.g. the bass or the guitar. The notes, instrument, and background loop can then be sent to an audio program on a connected PC.

Gameboy 0.5 beta

First of all, we needed something to work with. It was pretty clear that it would be most fun to take an old thing – whatever it would be – and make it behave in an unusual way. Luckily, we found this at a flea market: It says oscilloscope on it and was once used in medicine for graphing the human pulse. The oscilloscope consists of two main parts, the left side holding a revolving paper roll, a spring and mechanics to move the paper stripe. „Gameboy 0.5 beta“ – our idea of how gaming might have looked 100 years ago. We built an arcade game for the advanced. You don’t play one level, you play two. At the same time. With a joystick. The two needles are arranged vertically, so the game is split into an upper level and a lower level. The upper level is always the same, collect the golden coins by going over them and loose one each time you crash into a wall. The y-axis if the joystick directly maps to the position of the needle.

Walkman Remote


The idea we have chosen for our project started with a walkman: many of us have one at home and it is hard to throw it away, because it often has good childhood memories attached to it. On the other side a walkman has all controls that are needed to control a music player (Play/Pause, Next/Previous Song, etc.) so our plan was set: let’s build a remote for your computer’s music player that is inside an old walkman. It should contain all the basic functions needed for that: play/pause a song, switch between songs and adjust the volume.

The Workout Orb

The Workout Orb (formerly: Weather Orb Muscle Cool Trainer) is a device that allows you to keep track of the progress in your workout (such as lifting weights) as well as to improve its quality. It consists of a wristband worn near the elbow that measures the rotation and muscle activity of ones arm. It then sends this data to the Arduino and thus triggers the feedback in the second component, the actual orb. This component cosists of a translucent orb that is filled with water, which, when turned on, is nebulized to form mist. It is then illuminated by LEDs to give visual feedback. The orb also harbors a small piezo element that additionally allows feedback in the form of sounds an melodies.

Sketching with Hardware 2012 6/6 – GPS Box

In August, our workshop “Sketching with Hardware” took place for the 6th time. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Outdoor Electronics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience six extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 6, GPS Box! Have fun 🙂

When thinking of outdoors, one of the first things that came into our minds was GPS. We use it nearly constantly in our everyday activities – from locating your own position to finding the right directions to your goal. From this concept an idea started to form, and soon the GPS box was born.

What is it?

A box with a secret locked inside. The only way to reveal it is to bring the box to a specific location. Only then will the box open and allow you to access its contents.

The box lid is equipped with a distance meter (here the four LEDS), a needle and has a compass rose engraved on it. Once the box closes, the needle spins on itself and finally stops to point at the direction of the goal. As you walk, the less blink or turn off to signal when you are getting closer.

Overall, it is a very versatile object that can be put to several uses. One of them would be to use it for a sort of „inverses geocaching“, only instead of having to find a certain object, you have to bring the object to the location. Once you reach the destination, you can let to world know of your success, and then re-program the GPS coordinates for the next person to take up the challenge.
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Sketching with Hardware 2012 5/6 – PEO – Personal Energy Orb

In August, our workshop “Sketching with Hardware” took place for the 6th time. In 7 days, 12 students learnt to use electronic components, to create new creative user interactions and realized their own physical computing projects. The overarching topic for this course was ”Outdoor Electronics”. Again, at the final presentation the crowd had the chance to experience six extraordinary experience prototypes. During the following days, all projects will be presented on this blog. Today: Part 5, PEO – Personal Energy Orb! Have fun 🙂

PEO is a little energy device that limits your computer usage time to a value generated from the distance you traveled with your bicycle in advance. It raises awareness for the amount of time spent in front of computers nowadays and forces its users to seek physical exercise in compensation for their „screen hours“.

The Idea

the concept poster

The excessive use of computers is a common problem in todays connected world. Many jobs require the use of personal computers throughout the work day and also our spare time is frequently spent at home in front of computers or similar technical devices, whereas our time spent on physical activities decreases. This can lead to a lack of social interaction and can ultimately cause health problems.

While it is not possible to simply reduce the time of computer use for anyone, e.g. computer scientists, a way of mitigating this problem is to find the right balance between computer use and physical exercise. However, as is generally known, regular sportive activities require a certain level of self-control, therefore our idea was to create something that supports people with keeping that balance between computer use and being outside and doing sports.

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