17. Applications and implications.¶
What will it do?
It will function as the last one in a long obsolete line of semaphores, transmitting remnants of messages. Or, more practically speaking, it will have a moving beam with two moving arms, taking on certain positions corresponding with a database of words from the 19th century codebook. It will not only ‘gesture’ these words, but speak them as well. A button at the pedestal will trigger a random position change.
Who’s done what beforehand?
The people at Toysfab built a similar model, but theirs is mute, doesn’t communicate words but single letters, and is controlled by phone. Toysfab
What will you design?
I will design the structure, meaning the beam and arms and pedestal, the position of the servos and the electronics. I will also design a board to control movement and speech, and I will write the code to steer those.
What materials and components will be used?
Wood, servos, gipsum, maybe wires to operate the ‘arms’, electronics (a pcb, an adafruit, an arduino), a speaker, a cable.
Where will it come from?
The wood, microcontroller and other pcb related things will be provided by de Waag. The servos and Adafruit I will buy.
How much will they cost? Something in the order of 80 euros max: the servos only cost around €4,- each (with one spare totals €16,-), and the Adafruit MicroSD breakout board MP3 etc. around €35,-; a speaker is €2,-. Roughly €50,- together. Cost of wood and board and wire added: yes, around €80,-
What parts and systems will be made? A light wooden mast with two controllable arms, and a pedestal with the electronics inside.
What processes will be used?
3d design, lasercutting, cnc milling, ~~moulding and casting~~, cad design, pcb milling, soldering, programming.
What questions need to be answered?
How to make it not flimsy, how to present it.
Initially I was preoccupied with building the actual object - I experienced earlier I have difficulties making it practical, envisioning something with actual dimensions in weight and height and what not. Later on I found that the largest obstacle was integrating everything. Digital input steering coupled speech and movement, randomized, was quite a thing. Flimsyness was the least of my worries by then.
How will it be evaluated?
Is it sound enough?
This question is the hardest of all. Most components I managed to produce, but integrating them failed. An engineer will not approve. But as a reminder of a historical invention, or even as a story - with my addition to the original- it can be seen from a different perspective. In my own personal evaluation: I never made any object like this to reflect upon - if I speak from the field of storytelling, then this is a totally new medium for it.
Possibly inspired by Ray Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains animation by Nazim Tulyahodzhayev