HIGHFIV3D: Autonomous Reassurance Device – Part 2

(I only had a small speaker on hand, please forgive the audio)

I started working on the electronics component to the HighFiv3D machine this week. In my previous post, I went from using a piezo senseor to an accelerometer; then this week I decided to do a tilt sensor before getting frustrated trying to debounce it. So ACCELEROMETER it is...!

The first step was gathering parts. After a bit of advice from Gian Pablo and Rob, I figured I'd need an Arduino Uno, a Wave Shield and the accelerometer to start. We have some Arduinos on hand at Pier 9, but you can get everything from Adafruit, retailing for about $60.

The Wave Shield is basically another circuit board that sits directly on top of an Ardiuno and allows for .wav files to be played from an SD card. Now I can record the audio with my laptop, convert to the proper file type (.wav) and store them on an SD card for random play when prompted; in this case, when the accelerometer is moved.

I used Adafruit's Wave Shield Kit, v.1.1, for which they have a great tutorial on soldering and building the actual board. If you can solder, it's very simple. You'll need a 2GB SD card (it can't use anything larger) that is formatted - I used the SD formatter that Adafruit suggested, but Mac's Disk Utility will work. Once the board was built per the instructions, I only added some female headers to make testing easier.

For the accelerometer, the only soldering that's required is the wire leads that will run from the Arduino to the Shield/Arduino. I chose Yellow/Blue/Red for my X,Y and Z motions, black for power and green for ground (my electronics aptitude has been dictated by motorcycle wiring). Just leave a foot or so of wire slack to test the sensor.

Once the shield was finished, I started working on the coding. My programming experience is pretty limited (I once made a light blink with an Arduino, but that's about it). Fortunately, there is a HUGE community with pre-written codes (Sketches), so you can get away with not having to completely write it yourself. I pulled from Adafruit's example sketches for the Wave Shield and the accelerometer. The Arduino forums are a good resource too. But, since I sit next to him, I asked Gian Pablo to help me with the shield code first.

From Gian Pablo:

The great thing about using the Arduino for DIY projects is that it is so widely used that you can almost always find an example or project that to get you started. For this project, we used the WaveShield from Adafruit (https://www.adafruit.com/products/94) to provide audio output. It is a simple Arduino shield with an SD card slot and audio output. We connected an accelerometer, an ADXL335 on a breakout board.

For programming, we just used one of the examples from Adafruit as a starting point, in this case the Play6_HC example (http://learn.adafruit.com/adafruit-wave-shield-audio-shield-for-arduino/play6-hc). We wanted to modify it so that instead of reading a button press to trigger the audio response, it would respond to sudden motion of the accelerometer, and allow for some time for the hand to settle down each time (if someone gave it a good whack). This only required 3 lines of code, and then we had to make some slight changes to the rest of the program so that it would choose a random response each time.

After a couple of hours we were good to go!

The only .wav files I had on hand were from Star Wars and Nacho Libre (don't ask), so I put them on the SD card, followed some directions, and voila... my little shield was talking to me. Incessantly.

Then, with the accelerometer tuned in - I was eventually able to activate random files by hitting the sensor. I was frustrated for 2 days because I kept getting an error, but we eventually realized that the file names were too long!! With just the shield, the file names didn't matter, it just played whatever is on the card. However, with the accelerometer and randomization, the same files wouldn't play because they were over 8 characters. Once I abbreviated them, it would play perfectly.



DIY Sound Circuit Comes To Life

New Orleans has Mardi Gras, Austin has SXSW, and here at the123D HQ we’re getting into the groove with our new musical theme: #LISTEN3D

One of the projects we’ve been working on is a theremin-like circuit that makes cool, R2-D2 style sounds that change pitch based on how much light it detects.  Move your hand in front of it, the sounds change - it's super easy to build and tweak! Twist or press a button and the sounds change even more! 

 Here's another video of the same circuit hooked up to an Oscilloscope.

This circuit is inspired by the designs in Nicolas Collins’ book Handmade electronic Music and you can build your own based off the plans right here in 123D Circuits. Nicholas Collins is “a pioneer in the use of microcomputers in live performance, and has made extensive use of 'home-made' electronic circuitry, radio, found sound material, and transformed musical instruments.” 

Update: We used 123D Circuits to turn the hands-on breadboard into a real, professional printed circuit board.  Here's a blog post on it.




HIGHFIV3D: Autonomous Reassurance Device – Part 1

During the month of March, there are a few different music-themed things happening: SXSW and more festivals you can shake a stick at (it's even Music in our Schools Month!), so we're thinking about sound and music here at 123D. There are tons of great related models in the 123D gallery that we'll be remixing and playing with for the next few weeks, and a couple of us will be focusing on sound-related projects using 123D Circuits - look for #LISTEN3D 

As an at-best-novice with electronics, I decided to step lightly and integrate Circuits with some other projects I've been wanting to try. The first is, naturally, a High-Five machine.  While it has nothing to do with music, per se, I think I'll learn a lot about the audio/electronics side and 123D Circuits.

The idea is this: a free-standing hand that you can interact with for a bit of reassurance when walking to get a cup of coffee.  When you give it a healthy palm smack, it will generate some positive words of encouragement - think "You're Awesome!" or "Oh Yeah!".  Within a cardboard-stacked hand, a sensor would register impact and trigger the audio. My first thought was a Piezo sensor in the hand, but after some words of wisdom (and a high-five) I decided to go with an accelerometer that would determine when the hand was moved, thus activating the audio output.

The Mona Lisa started out on notebook paper, btw.

The first step is building the physical hand and then we'll figure out how the passerby will interact with it - table mounted seems the easiest, but wall-mounted would be a little cooler.  I considered using 123D Catch to create a model of my own hand and arm, but while messing around on 123D Creature, I found a really great model by Mark Dollar!  It's a bit cartoonish and big, so it should be perfect.



I downloaded the model and opened it in MeshMixer to open up the fingers a bit more for a proper high-five.  Then took it into Tinkercad to work on the cut out.  I think a 1" dowel is a fine way to make the 'arm'.  I also made a little hollow for the accelerometer.  


Once I was happy with the cutout, it was on to 123D Make to generate the slices for the laser cutter.  I wanted to keep it close to human scale, so I made it about 9" tall.  Once cut, the only tedious bit was the fingers (hopefully they'll withstand some trauma).  



Now I need to go shopping, look for next steps and more Sound & Music posts soon.



Find us at SXSW!


This weekend in Austin, Autodesk 123D will be making a guest appearance at the Atmel Tech On Tour site as part of SXSW Create. We'll be cozying up to the Makerbot 3D printer inside the Atmel truck, which will be parked nearby the Create festivities in the Hyatt Regency parking lot (see map below). If you come hang out with us we'll hook you up with some sweet 3D printed goodies. 

If you don't already know, Atmel is responsible for making the chips inside your Arduinos and your Makerbots, so we have them to thank for helping bring to life the amazing things you design.

If you're at SXSW this weekend there will be lots of opportunities to catch us in the Atmel truck, starting on Friday March 7th from 9am until 8pm, then Saturday 9am-8pm, and Sunday 9am-6pm. 

  • But wait, there's more! You can also catch us at a few other events:
  • - Saturday March 8th 9:30-10:30 am: You don't want to miss Autodesk CEO Carl Bass' keynote speech on the Robot Revolution
  • - Saturday March 8th: TechShop CEO Mark Hatch will also be speaking about the Maker Movement and giving a book signing from 5:00 to 5:20
  • - Sunday March 9th from 3:30- 4:30pm come see Carl Bass speak with Shapeways CEO, Pete Weijmarshausen, about the future of 3D printing. 
  • - Stop by SXSW Create for TinkerCAD demo’s and 3D printing fun from MakerKids
  • - Be sure to catch up with our Friends at Shapeways and get a free 3D scan!

Looking forward to seeing you in Austin!

123D Circuits Contest Closes Tonight!

Just a few hours to go until the Instructables 123D Circuits contest closes!  If you haven’t already, check out the great entries so far and cast your votes for the winners.  Better yet, go to 123D Circuits and create your own entry, the prizes are AWESOME (like, oscilloscope awesome). 

There is still time! It’s free to design circuits, and you can get started with your 123D account.  We’ve certainly got our favorite entries, what are yours?

Enter the 123D Circuits Contest

Now that 123D Circuits is officially part of the family, we figured there's no better way to celebrate than to give stuff away! Submit any circuits-related project to the 123D Circuits contest on Instructables for your shot at winning prize packages valued at almost $1,500 each!! Protip: using 123D Circuits in your project is advisable if you want to win some of the special Judges' Prizes.


123D Circuits Contest


Go check out 123D Circuits now to start making things with this awesome new tool. Once you've documented all your hard work head over to Instructables to enter the contest. Folks of all skill level are encouraged to participate, whether you are brand new to electronics or a well-seasoned electrical engineer. 

Autodesk, Intel, Edison, and the Internet of Things.

Last week marked the beginning of 123D Circuits as an official Autodesk application. This coincided with the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a convention where 150,000 people congregate to see the latest in hardware.

If you’re an electronics nerd like me – one of the coolest products unveiled was the Intel Edison, an SD-Card sized computer.  Edison is designed to to be included in just about anything, giving whatever it's added to a powerful brain and a connection to the Internet of Things - where all of your gadgets work together.   Including an Edison in your project could save you countless hours since it's designed to do one of the most complex tasks in any system: get a device online and talking to other things.

Left side shows Edison's top, the lower right black IC is wifi. Right side shows the bottom, notice pads for a SIM card reader in the middle.

Our VP of Consumer Products, Samir Hanna, and Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, sat down in front of an audience to announce that Edison will be included in 123D Circuits library of components and that we’ll design a few boards around it.  Edison’s release date hasn’t been announced yet, but stay tuned for details…

Center left: Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich. Center right: Autodesk VP, Samir Hanna, talk about 123D Circuits and the Internet of Things at CES 2014.

Circuits.io is now Autodesk 123D Circuits!

Every January, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) hosts a cornucopia of new and futuristic products that are unleashed to the tech-hungry public.  We’re excited to be a part of the excitement this year by announcing that Circuits.io is officially joining the Autodesk 123D family as 123D Circuits!



123D Circuits will be joining the the free 123D apps on the digital workbench, making it easier than ever to get creative. With this acquisition, our users will now have integrated access to all their favorite online design tools, from 3D design and printing to circuitry, without ever having to leave the 123D site.

For those unfamiliar with 123D Circuits, this app enables people to design electronics online and repeatedly iterate on project ideas without encountering real-world obstacles. This program is excellent for beginners and experts alike, and we could not be happier about officially being on the same team.

Existing Circuits.io and 123D users will both get the benefits of the ecosystems.  Just go to 123d.circuits.io and log in with your Autodesk 123D account.  If you don't have a 123D account, don't worry, your existing Circuits projects will be merged after you've created one on the new Circuits.io page. Plus, those Circuits.io users with upgraded accounts will keep their benefits AND receive 123D Premium account status!



Celebrate with us by participating in the first ever 123D Circuits contest for your chance to win thousands of dollars in awesome prizes.  Welcome to Autodesk, 123D Circuits!

Read the full press release here.

TSA Loves 123D Circuits

A lot could go through your head when a day after your CEO leaves the office with a box of custom electronics you receive this email from the airport:

Uh Oh.  Would he miss the flight to Tokyo? Why couldn't we have made it look less like a Mission Impossible prop?  Don't cut the orange wire!

Then this tweet... Sounds like he made it!

So what's all the fuss about?  It turns out this little box of circuitry does something really cool: when you shake it, it's like rolling a die (singular of dice) and a huge 7-segment display on the front side cycles through numbers randomly until it slows down and stops on a digit between 1 and 6.  It was all designed with Autodesk software, specifically our brand new electronics design tool called 123D Circuits.  

Here's a link to the blog announcing the 123D Circuits launch.

Here's a detailed Instructable on how it was made so you can build one too.


In the end Carl Bass prevailed.  He and the die made it to the Tokyo Maker Faire unencumbered.



If you're interested in more than electronics check out our complete suite of 123D apps for 3D modeling and 3D printing.  You can even make 3D models using just photographs.  Autodesk 123D makes it easy from start to finish (even from an airport!)


Introducing 123D Circuits

123D Circuits Banner 

Autodesk... Electronics... Really?  YES.  It is with great pleasure and excitement that we announce the launch of 123D Circuits - today! 

At Autodesk we work hard to empower you with an ever growing lineup of free 3D tools.  But why stop there?  We were eager to help take your projects one step further.  To do so, we teamed up with Circuits.io to bring you what we think is the very best electronics design tool on the market: 123D Circuits.  But you don't have to take my word for it, see for yourself... (Note: 123D Circuits links will open a new tab on a separate website)



Here are some of the most compelling features:

  • Virtual breadboard based design, allowing to build and experiment with circuits just as you would in real life.
  • You can add an Arduino to your design, and edit the code right in your browser.
  • Real-time and interactive simulation of both your Arduino code and the circuit attached to it.
  • Full collaborative editing (think of Google Docs for electronics).
  • Powerful yet easy component editor, making it super easy to add new components to the shared library.
  • Easily create beautiful circuit boards with: free text, b-splice silkscreen art, arbitrary board shapes, …
  • Ability to embed your design, including simulation on your blog or in an Instructable.

123D Circuits is part of a suite of awesome 123D applications on 123DApp.com
Keep checking back for more exciting application announcements - this won't be the last...!