We went through a lot since the last blog post. By “a lot” we mean a lot of changes, a lot of frustrations, few office hours with Benedetta and ITP’s resident Pedro, again a lot of frustrations.

To be completely honest, we got stuck: we did a great research on kids development, did an amazing playtesting, but got stuck with electronics part.

We could stay stuck and write much more about our frustrations, but it’s better to focus on finishing the project and moving forward.

We listened to Benedetta’s advice: go back to a simple circuit with a couple of LEDs and make that work.

We chose to not fabricate any new pieces until we make it work with what we’ve got now.

For the circuit we had two options:

I. Keep the battery in the ground piece and LED in the middle and top pieces.

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We tried working on it but realized that we cannot really continue the power and ground to the top piece once we have first two pieces connected (because the circuit closes and there’s no way to differentiate power and ground again).

So we went forward with the second option.

II. Have the battery in the middle piece and LEDs in the ground and top pieces.

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It works like this:

The legs of LED in the ground piece are wired to the copper on the ladder of the piece. The copper goes through to the outside of the piece and acts as a connection point to the middle piece.

The battery (power and ground sides) is wired to the copper plates on the bottom of the piece. When two pieces touch, connection happens and LED in the ground piece lights up. At the same time there are two more wires extended from the copper plates of the bottom of the middle piece to the ladder of the piece to another two copper plates that act as a connection to the top piece.

In the top piece there’s another LED with legs wired to the copper on the piece background. The the piece is put on the middle piece, connection happens and the second LED lights up.

We first made the circuit on Arduino to always have it in front of us and see how it works:

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Then moved into making our own switches and connecting it to the breadboard.

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Then added the second switch to act as a top piece and finally made it work!

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(yes, chocolate helped a lot and often)

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This is how the switches look from top:

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One lesson learnt hard way during the work: never solder directly onto the battery! We just had one exploding into Ruta’s face.
After we had the Arduino and switches version working, we moved onto making a prototype. We used the same wooden pieces that we had from before and also found some acrylic in the junk shelf to cut for the covers.

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Next steps:

  1. To figure out the best way to connect the pieces: we want to use copper, but we need to find a way to hide it in acrylic and make it stable as it’s still very loose now.
  2. Once we have connections working 100% choose final components for the outcomes: whether stronger LEDs or change one LED to the speaker, etc.
  3. Do the final fabrication.

All before this Thursday when we’re presenting it in the class.

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