"Trigger" is built inside one of the infamous Hanging Chad voting machines (that threw into disarray the 2000 presidential elections). It was modified to read-out right or left wing propaganda, depending on user interaction. Towards what side of the political spectrum it swayed, and how extreme it became, depended upon three factors; the direction that the case was rotated after it was picked up, the severity of the degree to which it was turned and also the amount of time in which it was rotated to that position. In this way, users could pick up the case and choose their own adventure through the political spectrum.
In the fall of 2004, "Trigger" was on display at Parsons School of Design as part of the "Voting Booth Project." It was surrounded by artwork submitted by much more reputable artists like David Byrne, Christo, Frank Gehry, Milton Glaser, John Maeda, and Diane von Furstenberg. To this day, not a single one of them will return my calls.
"Trigger" was made in collaboration with Raoul Rickenberg.
Step 1: Go Get Stuff
- A Hanging Chad voting booth from the 2000 presidential election.
- A Dinsmore 1490 digital compass
- A 2 axis accelerometer
- SPST switch
- Small portable radio
- 20mhz resonator
- SPDT switch
- A cheap radio
- An iPod
- An iPod remote
- Some circuit boards, components, batteries and stuff...
Step 2: Compass
If you happen to be in Manhattan in 2004, like I was, you can find North by determining which direction is uptown.
When you are done, solder the compass and LEDs to a PCB. The LEDs are important because it will be near impossible to troubleshoot later without them.
Step 3: Accelerometer
The reason this is not easy is because left and right is dependent upon your orientation when you pick up the case. In other words, walk up to an object and pick it up. Note which side is left and which side is right. Put it down. Turn 180 degrees and pick it up again. Notice that left and right has changed.
So, how did I determine which way was left and which was right? If you read the step heading you would know... acceleration. If you knew in which direction the case accelerated when it was picked up, you could guess 9 times out of 10 which way the person was facing. From there you could use the compass to assign values for left and right.
Thing I learned about accelerometers:
- they don't work well on breadboard/prototype boards
- they like a long "leash" as you have a tendency to toss them around while prototyping (even if you don't need to)
- They can be a pain in the neck sometimes.
Step 4: IPod Remote
Anyhow, the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to control iPods at the time was to hack a wireless iPod remote and use a PIC chip to hit the buttons (via 3 relays - forward, backwards, pause/play).
So, I opened the remote up and added two wires to each of the buttons and put the case mostly back together.
Step 5: Intermission
Step 6: SPDT Relay
Remember, this is 2004 and audio storage and playback is not yet a solved problem. However, radio noise is a solved problem. A "static machine" is basically a $2 radio radio that is tuned to a frequency with no signal. It makes a noise that sounds like "SSHHHHHHHHHHH....."
Step 7: Put It on Cardboard
Step 8: Insert the Chip
A note on the program:
I don't have the code for this project any longer and couldn't even begin to tell you what it looked like other than it being a heckuva-lot of MBasic. However, to give a brief summary, the code calculated the initial relative position of the case when someone picked it up and then calculated the relative direction it moved from the initial position. All of this data then triggered the case to flip through dozens of audio recordings of political speeches on the iPod. When the case was put down, the iPod would be re-centered.
Step 9: Put It in the Case
One last detail! Install a SPST momentary switch into the bottom of the case. This will determine whether or not the case is being held or sitting on the ground (I was initially planning on using an FSR, but the switch worked better).