MP1: City Light from Windmills

Seokbin Kang, The University of Maryland, College Park
Philip Dasler, The University of Maryland, College Park
Link to Github

Overview

City Light from Windmills is a interactive and visual art that displays how our city turns up the lights with electricity generated by windmills. The user can light up city building by blowing windmills and change its color/brightness. Each windmill is equipped with a photo interrupter to estimate the rotational speed of axis. Arduino interprets the rotational speeds of windmills and map them to back-light LED strips to illuminate city buildings. The colors and brightness of LEDs are adjusted according to the rotational speeds of each windmill.








Materials and Parts


Part
Describe the Part's Role In Your Project
Count
Cost
Total Cost
Decorative Paper
Decorating overall painting, diffuse LED light, and display the shape of city buildings
3
$5.00
$15.00
Foam Board
Used for the base panel
1
$3.00
$3
LED Strip
Used to illuminate city buildings' windows
1
$24.95
$24.95
Metal Sheet
Used to build windmills
1
$3
$3
Photo Interrupter
Used to sense spinning speed of the windmills
3
$1.95
$5.85
Bearings
Used to allow windmills to spin
2
$2.19
$4.38
Wooden dowel
Used for windmill shaft
1
~$2
~$2
Arduino Leonardo
Used to control the system overall
1
$20
$20



Total
Cost:
$78.18
parts_desc.png

Schematic

circuit.png

Challenges

  • Making the base panel and implementing back-light LEDs to illuminate city buildings.
  • Wiring 12 wire strips with different data components
  • Making windmills and sensing the rotational speed of their axes.


Future Work Ideas

  • We would add different input-devices from windmills, which provide diverse interactions and illuminations
  • The current implementation of back-light LEDs is over-complicated, and this could be minimized with a new layout.

Thoughts about Project

  • From the outset, our project idea was about turning art works into interactive one. We tried to incorporate user interface and visual/acoustic feedback to many different objects and reached the final theme with painting, City Light from Windmills. Windmills are perfect for reminiscing our childhood and to play with. City Light is beautiful to catch user's eyes. Moreover, the idea behind it is scientific and educational. "See how electricity comes and light up your house".

Links to Inspirations, Code Libraries, and Code Samples

What Makes a Weed Not Be a Flower? - Jie Qi, MIT Media Lab
Adafruit Neopixel LED Strip (API)

References