Tag Archives: Adafruit

How I Built It: Spaceship Or Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture?

How I Built It: Spaceship Or Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture? New Piece To Glow At Columbus Museum of Art

by Daric Gill

{Time-Lapse Video of Process Above}

“The Circadian Machine”

The Circadian Machine” is a fully mirrored geometric pod that can sense motion, displays undulating lights and sound, tells time, and alters its actions based on each day’s sunlight cycle. In late 2019, I set off on the most ambitious challenge in my portfolio. To do this I spent the next 10 months sketching concepts, writing 50+ pages of codes, learning new CAD software, designing custom circuit boards, composing music, and blending together all the areas in my artist utility belt. As the late winter and early spring of 2020 unfolded I dug deep into my soul, hunkered down in my home, and worked from sun up to sun down on this single project. As the summer turns to autumn, I’m emerging with what I think is my finest sculpture yet. It is truly the single most challenging and accomplished work I’ve ever made–and all during a global shutdown. I’m so grateful that you’ve taken the time to land on this page. Please check out the video, browse the gallery, and share.

{ Click To Skip Article & Go To Image Gallery }

{Explore the creative Easter Eggs behind this sculpture here}

Continue reading How I Built It: Spaceship Or Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture?

New Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture Shifts Time

New Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture Shifts Time: “The Circadian Machine”

by Daric Gill

{Feature Video Above}

“The Circadian Machine”

After 10+ months of engineering, coding, and building, I’m ready to debut my latest interactive robotic sculpture! “The Circadian Machine” is a fully mirrored geometric pod that can sense motion, displays undulating lights and sound, tells time, and alter its actions based on each day’s sunlight cycle. The idea started when I saw a note left in a museum during my time at an artist residency in Dresden, Germany. It said, “I wish time slowed down when I was having fun.” Although the pandemic has veered the original concept into a totally different direction, I’m exceptionally proud of the regenerated ideas and execution that came to fruition in this piece.

Through an amazing partnership between the Columbus Museum of Art and the Greater Columbus Arts Council, it will be on display at the museum’s Greater Columbus exhibition soon. There are so many fun Easter eggs packed into this piece that they each deserve their own explanation. Let’s dive right in!

{ Click To Skip Article & Go To Image Gallery }

{Explore the entire build process here}

Continue reading New Interactive Light + Sound Sculpture Shifts Time

Elevating Your Business Practices: When Building Yourself Means Building Others

Elevating Your Business Practices: When Building Yourself Means Building Others

by Daric Gill

Let’s Get Personal
Most of my articles are written through an art-centric viewpoint. We are all mutually looking for little rays of business positivity in an otherwise grey sky. Today I hope to contribute to the sunlight. We have an unprecedented opportunity to re-envision how we as artists, entrepreneurs, community members, and even corporations operate from the ground up. The following article spells out the single most important (and possibly the only) real bit of wisdom I know. By sharing this, I hope people can apply it to both their personal choices and professional business practices.

The One Truth I Know:
For a relationship to flourish, be it professional or personal, each party has to have the other side’s best interest in mind. If you take care of me and I take care of you, the needs of both are met. However,  if one side doesn’t do their part, the road is one-directional. All benefits are weighted to one side which leaves the other side exhausted and starved for balance. This is how I measure my personal as well as my professional relationships. If you’re looking to elevate your business and yourself, these are a few questions you could ask:

“Chair” by Kumi Yamashita

-Am I the kind that protects myself, my bottom line, or my motives over others?

-Are they the kind that protects themselves, their bottom line, or their motives over mine?

If you answered ‘yes’ to either one of those, the road is one-directional. One party will be the taker, benefiting off of the work of the giver. If this is you, I encourage you to find ways to elevate yourself beyond this and perhaps consider how you could change going forward. If it is the other party, it is not in your best interest to engage in this partnership.

Another way to look at this through a business mind is, “Before entering in this partnership, deal, or arrangement–“

Are they more people or profit oriented? (Profit could equal financial or other type of self-seeking gain). Align yourself with businesses that focus on their people first. Profit is the side-effect.

There’s been a vast shift in the consumer mindset recently, where we passionately back companies and entrepreneurs who showcase sincere commitment to the wellness of their employees as well as their customers. This mindset champions that the best business practices don’t merely rely on an end-product profit margin, but rather a whole transaction of internal and communal reputation as well. If there’s any silver lining to be seen when things look so dim, it’s that there is a surge in this people-first model. We are actively supporting those that equally support us back– my definition of a positive relationship.

From Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Pulse” series

To highlight some examples: In the past few weeks, I’ve seen some true heroes pop up in the world that exemplifies the very apex of mutually beneficial human partnerships. NYC-based technology manufacturer, Adafruit Industries, have re-aligned their services to distribute/make some PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as face shields. There are no layoffs for 130+ Adafruit team members.

Additionally, countless businesses around the world are rebuilding their models to become more flexible, mobile, and uniquely people-based. Among so many examples: musicians are holding live concerts, museums are giving virtual access to their exhibitions, artists (like myself and many others) are providing free resources or critiques, and food vendors are becoming mobile and centered around the fundamentals of standing for and by their community. If you’re anything like me, you are watching these leaders very closely and vowing to spend the next round of money on those businesses before anyone else.

In my city, Middle West Spirits (makers of OYO Vodka, Middle West Whiskey, and Vim & Petal Gin) are using their unique distilling process to make hand sanitizer for frontline responders, including EMS and shelter staff. This is a massive undertaking and should be reciprocated by support. On a smaller level, Staufs Coffee Roasters are constructing an ice cream shop styled pick-up window out of a former entryway/pay-phone stall so that people can enjoy their great coffee outside, with less risk for all, and with greater ease. This will be both beneficial to their bottom line as well as the good of their customers. It comes as no surprise, as Staufs has a reputation for community engagement that reaches outside of the needs of a simple cafe.

Globally, we see people finding unique ways to sing, show movies, and romance their ways into better lives. This week I’ve had friends from all over the world check in with me, just to say hi and connect. It is the artists, musicians, health care professionals, grocers, truckers — and all those tuned to human nature that are getting us by. And it is exactly the sort of shared partnerships we can bring back into the business world. If I look out for you, you will look out for me.

You can find more free articles like this on my Artist Resource page. My mission is to provide free and accessible tools for artists, educators, and enthusiasts. I encourage you to share and refer people here as often as you wish. Naturally, these articles take many hours to thoroughly research and write. If you’d like to support me as an artist and advocate, please consider donating whatever you can. Thank you!

How I Built It: Old Airplane To Contemporary Light Sculpture That Connects To NASA & Rest of The World

How I Built It: Old Airplane To Contemporary Light Sculpture That Connects To NASA & Rest of The World

by Daric Gill

{Time-Lapse Video of Process Above}

Installed at the Columbus Museum of Art

The Imagination Machine is an interactive sculpture that communicates with NASA, is motion sensitive, tells time, and has a feature that can be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world. It’s made from one of the two wings of a Flying Flea aircraft, strips of individually programmable LEDs, and the brains of a Wi-Fi enabled robot. Part of The Living Machine series, this responsive sculpture takes a look at the emotional intelligence of imagination, as displayed by a robot.

A wooden truss supports the wings, lights, and electrical controls from above. There are two acrylic cases that are packed with brains, power supplies, and sensors to make this sculpture work. In this article, you can explore the build process from start-to-finish.

About The Wing

The plane without the wings attached.

At almost 19 ft long ( ~5.8 m), this wing is one of two pulled from a real bi-plane. The Flying Flea, or (Pou du Ciel literally “Louse of the Sky” in French) is a large family of light homebuilt aircraft. The plane was a generous donation by Mark Curtner in connection with the Historic Grimes Field Airport in Urbana, Ohio. Ohio’s only airport with 3 Museums on Field: The Champaign Aviation Museum, the Grimes Flying Laboratory, & Museum and the restoration wing of the Mid America Flight Museum of Texas.

As you can see from the photos in this article, the wing is segmented into 3 parts (two shorter wing ends + longer middle section). This allows the wings to fold up and inward for tighter storage.

In truth, this wing is actually the ends from one wing and the center from the other. The remaining middle section had some primer on it, rendering it no longer translucent enough that light would pass through. Any pilot will notice that the wing is also flipped upside down, showing the sexier rounded edge to the viewer below.

The Electronics

While the wing itself is split into three parts, the electronics are split down the middle in halves. Each half has a separate Wi-Fi enabled brain, corresponding lights, and electronic hardware. The brain holds around 27 pages of codes that loop over and over. These codes calibrate and get feedback from 4 separate motion sensors, activate Wi-Fi and make frequent requests of data from NASA and a server (called MQTT) that holds any communication until a valid Wi-Fi handshake is made, control various pins (that do anything from trigger a relay switch to direct electricity from a large power supply, to modulating the signals that change each LED on the light strips, to telling time, and more). The main brain is a 2-layered stack consisting of an Hazzah32 micro-controller and Adalogger + RTC board made by a successful female-owned company called Adafruit.

Huzzah32 Feather with ESP32 wi-fi board & Adalogger RTC

This paragraph is jargon-heavy (sorry): The Hazzah32 is an Arduino friendly ESP32-based Feather, made with the official WROOM32 module. At the moment, it is meant for intermediate and above developers, as the documentation can be a little daunting. To its benefit, each of the pins can be hard coded to do several different functions. Truthfully, much of the time working on this project was learning how this new board worked and growing into the shoes worn by such an ambitious project.

The light strips are RGB WS2812b 5050 LEDs (often rebranded as Neopixels ). While the strips look simple, each bright spot is a module comprised of a tiny red, green, and blue LED + a little driver. This means that each color and light bulb has 3 uniquely addressable lights that can be controlled independently. In total, The Imagination Machine has 2,700 individually addressable LED lights and can modulate many colors with ease. I used a reworked version of the adaptable open source FastLed codes.

You’ll notice that I go through several iterations of designs, homemade boards, LED configurations, and layouts. The great size and technical scope of this project was purposely outside my normal comfort range. What you’re seeing is the honest proof that I really came up with the final goal and had to truly learn what I was doing along the way. It was an exciting and deep journey through many unknowns. I’m appreciative of all the new knowledge that was born from so many trials along the way.

The Imagination Machine
June 2019
Medium: Reclaimed airplane wing, LED lights, Wi-Fi enabled Adafruit Hazzah32 micro-controllers, Adafruit Adalogger with Real Time Clock, PIR motion sensors, electronics, and poplar.
226” x 48” x Dimensions Variable

{To see the finished piece in action, click here}