Introduction: The Shooting ArteFact

About: Currently a student enrolled at MFA Products of Design, School of Visual Arts, NYC.

The Shootings ArteFact is a speculative design piece. Its purpose is to raise awareness around the number of shootings that happen in the United States annually. Every time a person is declared dead on, Shooting ArteFact will play a sound and flash the screen. The number of deaths are also displayed on the artefact. The Shooting Artefact can be placed in public spaces in order to increase its impact, or in busy private spaces such as a lobby or an elevator.

Materials needed:

  • 1 x Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board
  • 1 x Feather Huzzah Wifi board
  • 2 x Speakers - 3" Diameter - 8 Ohm 1 Watt (depending on your need)
  • 1 x Adafruit 0.8" 8x16 LED Matrix FeatherWing Display
  • 1 x A container for your hardware. I made a box, but you can customize this to your preference.
  • 1 x Power bank (3500 mAh @ 3.7V) with USB to mini USB.You will also need the usual electronics bits like wire and cables.

Step 1: Hardware Setup

Bring out your Wifi board and make sure to complete the first three of the “IoT” classes on Instructables.
To be found here.

Assemble your new Matrix display and audio board by soldering pins on them. Solder wires onto your speakers and connect them to the stereo output.
Further instructions on assembling the parts can be found here:
Matrix display.

--I highly recommend running the sample code that goes with the hardware before running the code from this code. This way you will be able to verify whether your hardware is functional.--

Our output from the audio board will come from PIN 12 on the Wifi board and go to PIN 0 on the Audio board.
The soundboard and speakers are powered through the Wifi board's power supply (PIN 3V) and GND.
The Matrix display will sit directly on the Wifi board which is powered through the micro USB port.
Your power bank or battery will power the artefact through its USB-port.

Step 2: Code

The code is a mixture of different sample codes and others' brilliant projects

The code is created for Adafruit HUZZAH ESP8266 WiFi microcontroller, but can also work on other ESP8266 boards. The numbers are provided by When a death is registered it plays audio and blinks. This is based on the web scraping example by Phillip Burgess and combined with simple triggers for the Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board: Source 1 and source 2.

The code scrapes the website and searches within the site's HTML code. Here, it looks for the correct category and subcategory. See picture. It then finds the number (5 digits only) and turns it into a integer.

Make sure that the direction of the display is as you want it to. You can change this with the matrix.setRotation(1); command. Just change the number between the parenthesis. The number can be between 1-4.
Furthermore, you should adjust the font size depending on how you want the text to scroll and the direction of the numbers. If you are using the same direction as me, then you are limited to two fonts: TomThumb and Tiny3x3a2pt7b. You can find them here and some are included in your Matrix library. You read more about fonts in general here.

When it comes to the sound board keep in mind that it can only use WAV and OGG files. You can find an online converter if your file is MP3. Now that our WiFi board is connected to PIN 0 on the soundboard remember to name the sound file T00.FileType.

I have done my best to describe the code as you go through it. Please let me know if you have questions.

Now, there are two hurdles:
1. I cannot figure out how to make the sound turn on. I have tried to change the HIGH and LOW values but without any luck. My hope is that you can help me by correcting the code - please write this in the comment field.

2. The code will only work for 5 digit numbers. It looks for a specific subcategory, ignores the first words and returns the next five digits. Therefore, the code will only work when the number of deaths reach a five digit number - Lets hope it never does so again!
I have not found a workaround to this issue. Please comment if you have.

The code is attached.

Step 3: Put It in a Thing

A great thing about this project is that you can change the form and expression as you prefer.

I made the Shooting ArteFact into a black box because of its neutral and interesting affordances.
I used wood because it is very forgiving and easy to work with.
Please keep in mind that the shape and form of your project is addressing a very sensitive area.

Making the box:
1.You will need a piece of wood with the following measurements: Thickness: 1/4", Side1 12", Side2 18".

2. Cut out six pieces (6"x6") of wood.

3. Make a circle (3" in diameter) in the middle of two of the wooden pieces. These are holes for the speakers.

4. Make a hole (1 5/8"x 7/8") in the middle of one of the other wooden pieces. This is the hole for the display.

5. Paint the wooden pieces. I used spray paint.

6. Screw the speakers and display onto the sides. Make sure the direction of the components are as you prefer.

7. Attach velcro or another closing mechanism to one of the pieces. This is the backside of the box.

7. Assemble the box. I used hot glue. Attach the other side of the velcro (if relevant) to the edges of the back.

8. Make sure that the sides fit nicely together.

Remember that you will want to have EASY access to the WiFi board or the USB cable in order to adjust the code and the WiFi credentials.

Step 4: Place It

Now that it is done you should place it in a location where it will drag the attention it deserves.
You can even place it in an outdoor location. As long as it has WiFi connection and power on the battery. You can even create a WiFi hotspot on your smartphone and the WiFi board will be able to connect to it.

On a sensitive topic like this, you should think much about the potential consequences.
Think about who you want to expose it to and why exactly them. What possible outcomes are there?

Now, lets bring awareness to the horrible consequences of gun violence!