Inspired by MIT Media Lab's "Living Wall", we created this interactive wall to imitate a living circuit at the University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab Hackerspace. Functionalities include lit up grapes, capacitive touch sensors to toggle lights on selected grapes, homemade butterfly speakers, and removable LED butterflies which we like to call butterflights!
Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress! We've been able to work out some parts of the wall so far, however this in an ongoing project that will hopefully be done sometime in the beginning of February. We wanted to offer the instructable community of how to do what we've done so far! :) I'll be providing updates on how to do each part once a section is finished. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below. We'll do our best to help out! Happy hacking. :)
A bit about the "why":
A project like this takes quite a bit of planning and customizing depending on the amount of space you have on your wall/canvas. You may find yourself changing certain steps, like the circuit diagram, to adapt it to your wall. The main idea behind this project is to merge the hardware and circuitry we often work with in the hackerspace with the outside world. Our hackerspace has windows, but these windows don't lead to the outdoors. So we decided to bring the outdoors...well, indoors!
Since the circuits looked somewhat like vines, we thought it would be neat to make grape vines out of the circuits, and simultaneously make them interactive. Fun!
You'll find that many parts of this projects were taken from open-source code, instructables, and tutorials from other people. We'll link you to all of these sites as we move along this instructable.
Let's get started!
What you'll need:
Art supplies (all can be found at Michael's or any other art store)
- Various colors of acrylic paint (you can customize this, but we used different shades of green and red)
- Small, round paintbrushes
- Modeling paste
- Artificial grapes
- Artificial grape vines with leaves
- Artificial butterflies (we used both small and large sized butterflies)
- ATtiny85 (1 for each capacitive sensor created)
- LM386 audio amplifier (1 for each speaker created)
- Arduino Uno
- Mosfet Transistor (x3)
- Voltage Regulator (x2)
- Heatsink (x3)
- Clear, white LEDs (we used about 155 of them)
- Various resistors (will discuss how much is needed)
- Various capacitors (will discuss how much is needed)
- Copper Tape (make sure both sides are copper; some have silver on one side)
- Copper wire
- Neodymium magnets, tiny(about 1cm across) and large(about 3/4inch across)
- 15v AC/DC power adapter (you'll need to strip these wires, so use one that you don't need for anything else)
- Audio cable (you can use an old pair of headphones)
- Soldering iron
- Wire Cutters
- Wire strippers
- Some AA batteries for testing
- Painter's tape (we didn't use this, but it would be very helpful to have some)
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue
- Pencil (one that can easily be erased)
- A good eraser (we don't want smudges)
Step 1: Draw and paint the circuit/vines and grapes
We drew everything from the circuit to where the grapes would be. Keep in mind that our circuit looks like a real circuit, but essentially we're treating it like vines that grapes grow on. This mixture of themes seemed to work well for a hackerspace.
Drawing the design:
Start with drawing the circuit/vine diagram. Basically you'll want to create a variation of perpendicular lines (90 degree angles). Make sure they are random so they give the affect of looking like a real circuit.
Next you'll want to draw out the grapes. Draw circles as close to one another as possible in sort of a triangle shape where there are more grapes at the top, attached to the vine, than there are at the bottom. Again, you'll want these grapes to be of varying sizes. The size of the individual grapes can be the same. Add more grapes to a bunch to make them look bigger.
Once you've drawn everything out with pencil, you're ready to start painting the circuit/vines onto the wall.
Finding the right color green:
We mixed a darker, grassy green with some light green. You can mix and match to see what color green you prefer. Keep in mind that the color you create will show up darker on the wall when it is dry. Try testing out the paint on a piece of paper first before painting on the wall to see how the color will look when it is dry. Depending on the concentration of the acrylic paint you buy, you may want to add some water to your paint to ensure that you don't use up all your paint quickly. This will be ok since acrylic is water based. Generally, the less expensive acrylic paint that you can buy at Michael's will only need about a teaspoon of water mixed in for every 2-3 teaspoons of paint.
Painting the vines:
We recommend using painter's tape to create straight lines on your wall. Place some tape above and below the line you'd like to paint. This way, your lines will turn out nice and clean. We didn't use tape as we didn't have any at the time. But here's how we did it...
Once you've created the right color green, take your round tipped paintbrush and begin to paint over the circuit design you drew with your pencil. These circuit lines can be of varying sizes. We generally made the lines thin. If some lines were crooked, we painted over them and consequently made them slightly thicker. This is ok since not all vines are the same size, thus making the circuit/vines look more realistic.
Finding the right color purple:
For the grape colors, you'll want to mix several colors together:
- 1 teaspoon of Crimson red
- 1/2 teaspoon of a normal red color
- 1/8 teaspoon of blue
- 1/8 teaspoon of yellow
Mix in about 1/2 teaspoon of water to ensure that your paint isn't too concentrated. Again, remember the color you create will show up slightly darker on the wall. Try testing out the paint on a piece of paper first before painting on the wall to see how the color will look when it is dry.
Painting the grapes:
Start to paint in the circles you created for the grapes on your wall. It's ok if you have white spaces in between each grape since this will be covered over later. The edges are what are important. Make these edges look as round as possible.