posts tagged with the keyword ‘art’



It’s been a while since Decagon Light (Part II), but we’re here with Part III! Thanks to Jason we (mainly he) finally got around to do the CNC work for this monstrosity. Becky then wired it up while I worked on the programming. (Thanks, Brinn Labs!)


Below is the small prototype again…

A post shared by Pete Prodoehl (@raster) on

Besides adding some new patterns, I modified the code so you can use any consecutive pins. For the LEDs I use pins 1 through 10, but for the lamps we’re using 2 through 11. (Don’t ask why.) I also added an logic flipper, because LEDs and relays work opposite, HIGH is LOW and LOW is HIGH, depending on which you are using, so yeah, a lot of the code writing was just to deal with the differences between two version of this thing. Anyway, I squashed the last bug today, so it’s all good. (I think.)

And here’s a short video of it in operation. There’s still work to do, but we’ve made great progress in the last two weeks. (And yeah, I really wanted it done before Maker Faire, but didn’t quite hit that deadline.)

You’ll notice the design of the lines changed a bit. It’s still a decagon (a 10-sided polygon) but it’s no longer a 9-simplex. It’s almost a 5-orthoplex, but not quite. If you can figure out exactly what it is, let me know.


Claw Machine

Dr. Prodoehl was telling me about a colleague of hers that collects animal parts, and mentioned a claw from a pheasant, and I (sort of jokingly) said “Hey, I want a pheasant claw!” and then forgot about it until she brought one home for me! She also brought home a baculum, which is a raccoon penis bone, and while I haven’t found a use for that (yet) I did manage to use the pheasant claw. Obviously I built a Claw Machine.

Claw Machine

I often find weird little motors at Milwaukee Makerspace and keep them around for projects. This one had a strange gearbox and spring and belt. It also had some weird angles which made it difficult to mount, so I 3D printed a mount that worked well enough with it that I could screw it down into a piece of wood. There might also be some hot glue involved.

Claw Machine

I also ended up 3D printing a gear and some arms. Those are the sorts of parts that it makes a lot of sense to laser cut, but I wasn’t around a laser cutter at the time, so I just 3D printed them. I really do enjoy digital fabrication…

Claw Machine

There’s a few extra holes in the wood because I seemed to have a hard time finding the right position for the pivot point of the arm. I managed to find one that worked and left all the previous holes as a reminder than you don’t always get things right the first time. There’s also an abundance of nuts on bolts, because spacing is an issue best solved with washers, or nuts, or whatever is lying around.

Claw Machine

Speaking of first times, besides wood, I tend to not include natural materials (like, animal parts) into the things I make, so that was interesting. I attached the claw with the simplest of methods… zip ties. Also, this is called “Claw Machine Version 1″ because I intend(ed) to make some improvements, but I might never follow through with that idea.

Claw Machine

The claw is really interesting to look at. Is this piece some sort of cyborgian statement about the future where animals and machines are combined into some sort of terrifying nightmare? Probably not.

Claw Machine


Claw Machine


The Noisy 85s

I posted just a bit about the ATtinyNoisy boards I had made from OSH Park, but there’s plenty more to tell.

My original plan was to use CR2032 batteries with these, but I found it just didn’t have enough juice to make noise, so I tried using two CR2032 batteries and that didn’t work much better. I ended up grabbing a nearby 9 volt battery to test with, and that worked well, and since I had a bunch of 9 bolt battery connectors, I chose to use those ordered a bunch of new 9 volt batteries from Amazon.

When it came time to program and assemble all the boards, some of them worked, and some didn’t. I wondered if it was because some of the chips I got were from different vendors, including some on eBay that were probably counterfeit. I spent way too much time chasing the wrong problems until I figured it out. (Maybe you’ve already figured it out!)

When I originally tested with a 9 volt battery in the shop, it was an old 9 volt battery that was down around 7 volts. Do you know what the voltage rating for the ATtiny85 is? Well, it’s 2.7 V ~ 5.5 V. Yeah, I was trying to feed it too much voltage!

At this point I had soldered on the battery connectors and was staring at a dozen brand new 9 volt batteries. The board didn’t have room for a LM7805 voltage regulator and I didn’t have time to get new boards made. I ended up taking the 9 volt batteries and shorting them with jumper wires until the voltage dropped to about 7 volts, at which point they worked fine. Yeah, I just wasted lots of electricity to get them working properly. NBD.

Below is an example of what they sounded like.

The idea was to make a bunch of these, and put them in a space, and then interact with the space and experience the sound coming from different directions. You can’t really experience it through a video, as you need to be in the space and move through it to participate in the piece.

The code is dead simple, and just does an analogWrite to a PWM pin on the ATtiny to generate some noise.

// ATtinyNoisy

int piezoPin = 0;
int randomPin = 1;
int randomValLow = 0;
int randomValHigh = 255;
int interValLow = 1;
int interValHigh = 3000;

void setup() {
  pinMode(piezoPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
  analogWrite(piezoPin, random(randomValLow, randomValHigh));
  delay(random(interValLow, interValHigh));

The Noisy 85s

Each ATtinyNoisy unit was placed in a paper bag, and hung from a piece of monofilament fishing line with a binder clip. (I had plenty of binder clips around!)

Here’s a few more photos from the installation that I did at UWM’s Kenilworth facility during SHiN|DiG on Friday, December 16, 2016. With many of my installations (and work in general) I focus on cheap things, often simply presented. I tend to go with the theory that if you can’t make something large, make a lot of little things.

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

The Noisy 85s

Big thanks to (former) student Maks for helping with the install and uninstall of this piece.




Here’s an old project I never wrote about… Every now and then I just experiment with things, and this piece started with using Inkscape for an illustration of a rocket. Here it is. Pretty boring!

Rocket digital

I ended up creating a scene for the rocket. Look, it’s going to Mars! Someday I’d like to go to Mars…

Since I tend to think of any illustration as cutting paths I tend to avoid strokes and just use solid objects, which comes in handy, especially if you decide to use digital fabrication techniques to create things.


I next took my illustration, which was essentially a two-color design on a black background) and created color separations. One for the silver, and one for the red.

Cut lines

I then created DXF files I could load into Silhouette Studio so I could cut stencils and paint the scene onto an 8″ x 8″ canvas. (Yes, sometimes I mess around with paint.) You might also notice I added registration marks, these are things you learn from years of working in the print industry and printmaking.

Rocket on canvas

Here’s the result of cutting two stencils and spray painting them onto a black canvas. It turned out okay, but I didn’t love it. (Probably because I don’t love painting.) What I do love is the fact that with vector artwork it’s easy to scale things, so I did.

Rocket on wood

Here’s a 12″ x 12″ version of the artwork, but this time I used a piece of painted wood and just applied cut vinyl to it. I really like how this one turned out. In fact, it’s hanging in the shop right now.

Sometimes I get so caught up in creating 3D (or 2.5D) work that I forget how much I like doing 2D stuff. I should probably do more in the future.



“Sometimes we don’t understand the significance of something until we create it.”

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