Category Archives: pcom

serial: grow-poem [w.i.p]

(this is project #2 for this week. I focused more time on experiment #1, “tamagotchi party,” but wanted to get this idea out of my system too.)

My friend L thought it would be fun to use the plant sensor towards something virtual. I thought about things that take in water, sun… things that grow.

Today in ICM, we learned how to manipulate strings. I was struck with this image of a poem which is generated…. so slowly… over the period of days. And even better if it took on a life of its own, and like all other organisms, grow using water and light.

the p5 sketch (in progress):

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 2.23.47 AM.png

the bare bones hardware (in progress):


Like everything else, this project is an under-going process! Will update more later.



new toys: rain sensor, LCD [bloopers]

For this week, I wanted to make a plant interface which could tell you if the plant needed water. (I have a soft spot for this “Internet of Plants” future…)

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 12.53.13 AM.png

Here are all the parts at play. Note that it doesn’t work (yet.)


I definitely upped the ante on myself this week! This post will mainly be about my process and struggles.

I spent most of my time playing around with these two new sensors….

This lovely rain sensor:

… and this very finnicky 16×2 liquid crystal display (LCD):


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follow up: 4×4 matrix piano, servo fun!

4×4 happy birthday!

Just for fun, I tried playing a full song on the 4×4 I set up last week.

As someone who played the piano for 11 years, it was pretty difficult to conceptualize the notes “wrapping” as they increased. I found myself remembering the “shape” of the sequence of notes, much more than the distance between them.

Many takes later…

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the opposite of a gun

[open in p5.js]


In his poem, “The Opposite Game,” Brendan Constantine describes the experience of teaching antonyms to kids—translating each word of Dickinson’s famed “My life had stood a loaded gun,” verse into opposites.

My Your
Life Death
Had stood Will sit
A Many
Loaded Empty
Gun ?

But what is the opposite of a gun?

I became obsessed with this poem after my friend N shared it this morning. I must have read it over a half-dozen times since.

(Sometimes the best refuge against the news is poetry.)

In the poem, the school kids tackle this question in earnest:

Flower, says one. No, Book, says another. That’s stupid,
cries a third, the opposite of a gun is a pillow. Or maybe
a hug, but not a book, no way is it a book. With this,
the others gather their thoughts

The discussion goes on and on.

Well, maybe. Maybe it’s everything we said. Maybe it’s
everything we didn’t say. It’s words and the spaces for words.
They’re looking at each other now. It’s everything in this room
and outside this room and down the street and in the sky.

It’s everyone on campus and at the mall, and all the people
waiting at the hospital. And at the post office. And, yeah,
it’s a flower, too. All the flowers. The whole garden.
The opposite of a gun is wherever you point it.

The opposite of a gun is wherever you point it. Such a good line.

In fact, the the whole poem is just so beautiful, through and through. Read it!

By the end of it, you’ve just imagined this world entirely made of NotGuns; the retrospective possibility and wholeness of that world…

All the life and beauty that might have filled an inverse-gun-space.

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4×4 matrix piano (simple demo)

This week, we were tasked to do something with analog input, and a tone-based interface. 🎵

I worked on something which I felt was technically challenging from an Arduino software stance.  (I would have liked to make a container for it, if only I had the time. The interface itself is more bare bones!)

I was inspired by the form factor of Launchpad-type interfaces. You can see Shawn Wasabi using one here:

On my last trip to Tinkersphere, I found one of these 4×4 button matrixes. It’s like the cave-man version of Shawn Wasabi’s instrument.


There are 8 pins total. 4 pins correspond to columns, 4 pins correspond to rows.

I wanted to build something where each button would correspond to a note, so you could play different songs. Like a puny, gridded piano!

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