Mechatronics Art: Media Archaeology

Note: this page is my submission for the DXARTS 471 Assignment #1: Media Archaeology.

Before Hacking:

 An old, black and white TV/ radio which takes in video/ audio input through RCA.

An old, black and white TV/ radio which takes in video/ audio input through RCA.

After Hacking:

 A (hopefully super cute robot) which has a heartbeat and looks around.

A (hopefully super cute robot) which has a heartbeat and looks around.

I selected this old black and white TV because I remember playing around with it as a small child and seeing it stored in old boxes while cleaning the garage - it was the most memorable piece of old/ classic/ obsolete technology. The moment I saw it, it looked like a head of a robot cute robot, and that founded the inspiration for making it look like a robot. Moreover, my intention at the beginning was to create something people could empathize with, hence why I gave the robot a beating heart.

My future directions with this project are to imprison the robot in a metal cage, as it shows its perspective being locked inside. I hope to elicit feelings of sympathy from viewers, and through seeing the robot’s perspective, hopefully they can do more than simply feel sympathy: hopefully they can empathize with the robot. I want to do this in order to show how simple it is to be empathetic towards issues in prison - something which happens 24/7 but rarely crosses the minds of us “responsible” citizens. It’s then funny how people would feel more sorry for a barely-functioning robot than for two-million people in basically the same scenario.

Circuit Schematic:

NOTE: Missing from the diagram is that the Arduino UNO is powered by a 9V battery; it can also be powered from other sources.

 A rudimentary, hand-drawn circuit diagram. It’s good enough such that another person can reproduce the same circuit by reading the diagram, but it isn’t too neat or professional.

A rudimentary, hand-drawn circuit diagram. It’s good enough such that another person can reproduce the same circuit by reading the diagram, but it isn’t too neat or professional.

Arduino code

For the Uno (controlling the servo):

#include <Servo.h>
Servo myservo;
int pos = 0; // position of servo  

void setup() 
{ 
  Serial.begin(9600);
  myservo.attach(9); // attach the servo to digital pin 9
} 

void loop() {
  // turn the servo one way
  for (int i = 0; i <= 180; i++) {
    myservo.write(i);
    delay(30);
  }
  // turn the servo back the other way
  for (int i = 180; i >= 0; i--) {
    myservo.write(i);
    delay(30);
  }
}

For the ATtiny (controlling the LED, only powered by the 5V supplied through the Uno):

int led = 1; // the PWM pin the LED is attached to

void setup() {
  // declare pin 9 to be an output:
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {
  // beat once
  for(int i = 0; i <= 255; i++){
    analogWrite(led, i);
    delay(3);
  }
  for(int i = 255; i >= 0; i--){
    analogWrite(led, i);
    delay(1);
  }
  
  // beat twice
  for(int i = 0; i <= 255; i++){
    analogWrite(led, i);
    delay(3);
  }
  for(int i = 255; i >= 0; i--){
    analogWrite(led, i);
    delay(1);
  }
  
  // wait
  delay(1000);
}

I was considering adding user interaction - such as the potentiometer or similar sensor controlling/ affecting the camera view - but I wanted the robot to have a sense of autonomy. In the future, I’d like to add some randomness to the camera’s movements; perhaps I could add two to three mics so the camera would look at a source of noise using some basic triangulation.

Anand Sekar