posts tagged with the keyword ‘teaching’

2016.12.17

Samsung Presenter

When I teach at UWM we’ve got this presentation camera at the front desk that can be used to show the Arduino and a breadboard and how things are connected. I believe it’s a Samsung SDP-860. It was probably awesome in its day, but the quality is not amazing. It does have a number of controls to zoom in and adjust the brightness, and has a built-in light and multiple outputs, but I still am not impressed with the image quality. When I did use it, I just connected it via USB to my MacBook and used QuickTime Player to get a video window and then showed that with the projector. It allowed students to see the tiny components I was using… so yeah, it worked.

But then I thought to myself, “Why not just use a webcam!?” and that’s what I’m going to do. Since I’m not teaching in the Spring semester I offered to do a Beginner Arduino Class at Milwaukee Makerspace, so I built my own camera thing… the Raster Presenter!

Raster Presenter

Yes, it’s basically a desktop microphone stand. There’s a long gooseneck to allow positioning the camera to point directly down at the desk. (It’s similar to the gooseneck rig used on Time Lapse Bot III.) I’m using a Logitech C910, which I’ve had for years, and which outputs some decent quality video.

Raster Presenter

The Raster Presenter is not quite as pretty as the Samsung model, but I dare say the quality is better, and it may even be more adjustable. It’s also lighter, can be disassembled, and does not require an external power supply. (Just a single USB connection!)

Raster Presenter

The camera mounts to a small piece of wood using zip ties that fit into notches. The wood slides into half of a mic holder that came with the mic stand. There’s a little bit of gaff tape to stop it from rotating on the gooseneck, and Bob’s your uncle!

QuickTime

When you launch QuickTime Player you just choose “File” and then “New Movie Recording” and you should see some live video. If it shows the computer’s built-in camera you can change it via the drop down menu.

QuickTime

After choosing the proper camera you can also choose to change the quality. I found that “Maximum” gave much better results than “High”, although it did seem to enable the auto-focus in the camera, which can occasionally be an issue (at least with other webcams I’ve used.)

QuickTime

Once you have all your settings you can move your mouse off the window and the controls (and title bar) should disappear. As long as you’re connected to a projector your students are ready to see the small things you want to show them! In the sample shot above the only light I used was daylight from the window to my left. I could see a bit of static in the image, but even in low-light it looked pretty good. I’ll do some testing to see if I can get away with existing light or need to augment it with another light source.

2016.08.31

facilitator

I recently heard someone I know say “Yeah, I used to be an artist…” and they sounded disappointed when they said it. I’m not sure I know many people who are full-time artists and have the time/money/resources to just create whatever it is they want to create.

What I do know is that many of the artists I call my friends and colleagues spend time teaching, and sharing, and organizing, and basically facilitating things so others can be creative, and do things, and learn things, and make art…

And I’m fine with that.

Art can be a selfish thing, and it can be hidden away, but facilitating others to be creative usually fosters a community, and sharing, and working with others, often in an attempt to make the world a better place.

And I’m totally fine with that.

2016.02.08

LED PWM

Somehow the folks at UWM’s Peck School of the Arts convinced me to become an Adjunct Lecturer and teach a Physical Computing course titled “Electronics and Sculpture”. Okay, I’m being a coy, I jumped at the chance, and I’m pretty excited about it!

I’ve been playing around working with Arduino microcontrollers for a little over five years now, building all sorts of strange projects, and truth be told, I did a lot of weird electronics projects when I was a kid, and even took electronics classes in high school. As for the sculpture part, I think a bunch of these projects qualify as sculptures.

Potentiometer LED

I’m still designing the course as I go, so this semester is extra hard. (I taught a digital art lab class last semester, but the material was all provided for me.) Developing curriculum is hard! Luckily I’ve got a great group of students are we’re figuring it all out together. I’m also trying to bring in bits and pieces from the world I’m used to; un-conferences, open-source, hackerspaces, maker culture, DIY, etc. So far it seems to be working.

Photocell LED

As for these diagrams, I did them all with Fritzing. I also recently used Fritzing to design and fab a circuit board. Since it’s proven so useful to me, and using it has somehow become part of my job(s) I wanted to contribute. I donated some euros to the project. I wish I could do more, but perhaps in the future I can contribute more than just cash. Still, it’s a start!

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