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Sean Kingsley – Thoughts from the hiCraft launch event – Part 2

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There are a few threads being sewn at the same time. Getting started on the IoT equivalent of the potter’s wheel; Education in IoT; and Teaching pottery:

  • Metaphorically, start on the potters wheel by going through the exercises in the Arduino Genuino starter pack. The challenge here is to really learn the principles, since just copying the code out by rote isn’t necessarily the quickest way to learn, even though patterns and understanding are likely to eventually come out of the process.
    This means lots of notes; and attempting to have a first guess at the code before correcting it, so encouraging moments of insight and learning. It means trying to understand this:-

…rather than rely on these images. The diagram, if it is understood, frees the maker to build the circuit in any way they would like.

I am sure this will be familiar with many people circuit building and coding – trying to figure out what they have done wrong. (Why can’t I get the clay to lift up?) This is the story of trying to read the diagram and not the picture, so the wiring in this circuit is not the same as the image above. It was an attempt to build on the lessons from the last project. The code was then written, uploaded and … it didn’t work. Thus one is left with a troubleshooting exercise: – is it the circuit, the code, or both?

Having checked the code very carefully it was decided to rewire the circuit, without understanding what was wrong with it. If the picture is followed, it must be right, right?

The circuit looks correct and yet the code still doesn’t work. Is there a mistake in the manual? Comments online would suggest there are some. I also wonder why no pins are defined as INPUT. Is that not what we learned last time? Is part of ‘sensorPin’ code specifying it is an INPUT? Where is the dictionary?

In searching around the problem someone had posted the complete code online. I grabbed it, tried it out and my circuit worked. Scrutinising the difference between my code and the person online, both of which appeared to be the same as the book, did not reveal any differences. And I still haven’t got to the bottom of it. I think I will take another lump of clay and try again.

  • Education in IoT: thinking of how to communicate to millions of people about IoT? This seems to be one of the more important aspects of this project in getting more people to make IoT, in order to create the environment where unique solutions emerge. Perhaps by being mindful of the learning processes I am going through, there may be something that would be useful to another beginner?
    • Take notes in such a way that will help me as a novice. This seems ridiculous, considering the resources available with Arduino and their open source community. However, the amount of information is slightly overwhelming, perhaps in the same way there is an overwhelming number of books and videos on ceramics. My experience suggests people new to ceramics don’t actually look at books or videos very much, possibly because they don’t know where to start. Once they have got their hands dirty, with some rudimentary instruction, they then move forward through a tactile experience and then start referencing other sources. I suggest an overview in IoT, circuit building and code could be paired right down.
    • Draw out infograms about Arduinos.
    • Conduct a small survey with existing students about how they ‘got into’ clay…?
  • Education in pottery: Thinking of Sensors training Senses, so how to usefully extract data that can be used to describe the pressure needed in throwing clay on the potter’s wheel.
    • Looking at Kinect technology (suggested by Justin and Phil).
    • Looking at ‘Squishy Circuits’ (suggested by Phil), from Dr AnnMarie Thomas at University of St Thomas. Can similar methods be applied to real clay?

Here is a quick test of resistance of wet clay. I’m not sure, but I think that looks like we might have some conductivity there! However, the fired clay has none… Consider circuits on ceramics using gold lustre. Check online this is being done correctly. Yes! As expected gold lustre conducts. (I can’t have been the only one that has thought of this. Michael Shorter and I discussed it during his PhD.