CategoryLab Documentation

Lab 4: Zoetrope

This week we built our own zoetrope animation devices. The spinning device has slits in the side and a sequence of images can be seen through the slits. Because of persistence of vision (POV) our eyes believe that the image appears to be moving.

Step 1: Wiring the breadboard

First we added two switches to the breadboard, one to control on and off, and the other to change directions. We also added a potentiometer to control the speed of the motor. This was all achieved using the H-bridge integrated circuit that came with our kit.


Step 2: Adding the motor

We attached our motor and a 9 volt battery to our breadboard. The battery is responsible for powering our DC motor, while the Arduino powers the switches and H-bridge.


Step 3: Building the zoetrope

We used a CD as a ridged platform to mount our zoetrope. A wooden assembly was used to mount the zoetrope to our motor.IMG_3253


Step 4: Testing the animation

We tested the zoetrope and, though a bit fast, we could see the animation playing through the slits in the side of the zoetrope.

Lab 3: Spaceship Interface & Love-o-meter

In this lab, we created a simple circuit to control LEDs simulating a spaceship interface.

Step 1: Setting up the circuit

We wired up the breadboard with two red LEDs and one green LED, wired in series through 220 ohm resistors. Next, we placed a switch on the breadboard to control the operation of pin 2 on the Arduino. We used a 10k-ohm resistor for the switch which connected to ground when the switch was open and read “low” when there is no voltage coming through the switch.



Step 2: Writing the code

We wrote a short program to control our spaceship LEDs. First we setup pins 3-5 to control output, and pin 2 to accept input. Then, in the main loop of our program we created a condition to check for low voltage output on the switch (input 2). If low-voltage was detected, the LEDs would flash in the proper sequence.



Step 3: Testing the program

We connected the Arduino to the computer and launched our program in the Arduino software. When we press the button on the breadboard, our lights flash in sequence just as we intended.

Step 4: Adding a temperature sensor

We added a temperature sensor in place of the switch. Now, when the temperature sensor is touched, the LEDs will flash in sequence. This is also known as the Arduino Love-o-meter project.


Lab 2: Creative Switches

In this lab we created different types of switches to control LEDs on our breadboard. First we discussed Ohm’s law, which is:

R = Resistance
V = Voltage
I = Current


Step 1: Powering an LED

We created a simple circuit to power an LED with 5 volts. Using Ohm’s law, we calculated that our 1.7V LED will require a 220Ω resistor so that we don’t burn out our LED. The resistor reduces current flow, which in turn reduces the overall voltage.


LED powered by 5V using 220ohm resistor. Don’t forget to connect the LED with correct polarity.


Step 2: Adding a switch in series

Next, we slightly changed the configuration so that we could add a simple switch inline with the circuit. When the circuit was powered back on, the LED would only light when the button was pressed.



Step 3: Adding creativity to the switch

Then we got more creative with out switch. I brought in an old telephone, which I wanted to use to control my LED. Aluminum foil and lead wires were added to the phone so that when the phone was hung up it would complete the circuit and light my LED, and when it was off the hook the LED would turn off.



Step 4: Testing the switch

I tested my switch and to my surprise, the switch actually worked! There are many other creative ideas for making a switch. It would be interesting to work with some of theses ideas to create interfaces for users to interact with.

IMG_2287 IMG_2288

Lab 1: Building Bristlebots

This week in lab we built Bristle Bots, tiny robots made of toothbrushes! They were really simple to make and the result was very cool. Anyone can make one of these simple robots.

Parts Required:

  • 3v battery
  • small magnet
  • toothbrush head
  • double sided foam tape
  • tiny motor

Step 1: Attach Double Sided Foam Tape

Stick some of the double sided foam tape to the top of the toothbrush head. This will give us a platform to stick the other components on top of in the next few steps.IMG_2095

Step 2: Attach Battery and Motor

Make sure that you stick one lead from the motor to the bottom of the battery, and one lead will remain hanging on top of the battery so that we can make the connection on and off using the tiny battery.IMG_2097

Step 3: Place magnet on top to start the motor

Once you place your magnet on top, the motor will start whirling away. The motor basically makes vibrations, similar to when you put your cell phone on vibrate or silent mode. These vibrations transfer through the toothbrush bristles and cause the Bristlebot to move around.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 2.41.33 AM

Step 4: Optional, Add an LED light to your bot

You can optionally add a light emitting diode to your bot. Be sure to follow the correct polarity of the LED when you attach it to the battery. Unfortunately, the LED draws some of the power from the battery, so the motor does not vibrate as strongly and your bot moves around much slower, but it gives your bot a really cool looking effect.


Final Result

This is what your bot will look like in action! Stay tuned for more fun and interesting labs in the coming weeks, and please comment if you have any questions.

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