Category Archives: projects

Project Proposal: Who did we pass by w/ Wireless Arduino​



There’s an old saying in Buddism that even brushing past a person is one’s karma.

My final project will be on our daily interactions with strangers. Using a near-field communication (NFC) sensor or a radio frequency identification (RFID) sensor, I want to create a device that keeps track of people I passed by unconsciously. Though the premise of this idea is that everyone has this device, I find this interaction very interesting.



  1. Build a 2″x 2″ device that interacts with another device.
  2. Make a 6″x 6″ box that lights up (green or red).
  3. Put the Bluetooth or NFC sensor inside of the device.
  4. Before you go to bed, you will be able to see the list of people who passed by throughout the day.


Draft parts and tools list


Functions I wish to explore

  • IoT
  • The unconscious human interaction



IN/OUT : Vibrations

#chris rand



The input & output of the piezo sensors were set to their maximum value for this demonstration video. The camera microphone captures both the sound of the water falling onto the umbrella and the tones emanating from the output piezo.

OBJECTIVE : an Arduino project that senses physical vibrations and produced audible tones.

INSPIRATION : personal experience listening to an umbrella act as a vibration amplifier during a rainstorm or by feeling the vibrations from audible environmental noise in NYC.

APPLICATION : 1) Similar to the computational command (c:rand),  a random generator that convert the vibration of raindrops on a surface membrane into numbers or tones. 2) Explore how an INPUT/OUTPUT sensor can be applied to tree branches to reduce limb breakage due to the buildup of wet snow- reducing damage to old growth trees and avoiding power outages.


I began by researching if piezo sensors can be used simultaneously as input and output sensors and found only written reference to guide my exploration. The difficulty is to use the Arduino board’s digital and analogue pins which are normally used when more that one sensor is present in the circuit.  In theory this is possible so I built a split-leg piezo, realized it needed a resistor to protect my board, soldiered a few other versions, and tried to write the code to map both functions. img_5337


(above) Don’t cross the circuit when adding a resistor LOL !


CODE : looks simple enough but as a beginner it took me 3 1/2 hours and help from 3 people to get everything correct. It combines two different codes; one for knock and one for tone with a map function that sets the parameters between the two. I included technical descriptions in the code below (grey text) to exhibit what I learned.


I adhered the output piezo inside of a plastic cup to increased the amplitude of the tones and protect the sensor.


(Below) Here is how it looked when the circuitry and code are functioning properly.



I would continue experimenting with the one piezo sensor to execute both functions with help from more people and more trial and error. I would also create a small scale model of how this can be applied to my second intended application;

Explore how an INPUT/OUTPUT sensor can be applied to tree branches to reduce limb breakage due to the buildup of wet snow- reducing damage to old growth trees and avoiding power outages.

This process was a difficult but rewarding investigation into understanding and writing code. As a person who learns best by tactile and experiential methods, I was shocked in awe of the varieties of sensors and circuitry available when visiting Tinkersphere store ( 304 East 5th Street, NYC 10003). I have so many more ideas now of Arduino projects to build.


TEAlight : diffused by fabric





Between a Teardown and a Hack: exactly where I like to be !

For my second iteration of light diffused by fabric, I continue exploring how physical interaction with an object can change the illumination of a single LED without varying the current or digitally changing the diode.  As per the assignment, this project uses no Arduino circuitry and an abundance of hand-sewn stitches to join fabric.

For those that remember,  I just can’t shake the notion that this is strangely similar to the 1980’s trendy craft of cross-stitching.


I tested and selected this synthetic fabric, called Shimera: 78% Nylon and 22%Spandex, because of the soft and even glow it produced. It was stubborn to work with until I provided the tea strainers as a base structure. Beyond stitching, the majority of the effort was applied to reshaping the stainless steel hoop as described in the following video; TEAlight : process video

The plastic packaging from the stainers is another iteration in layered light shades. Each side of the spherical wrapper can be frosted and tinted which will allow the user to mix their own color of light.

All in all, this was very enjoyable! Big UPs to Becky for a great assignment.

TEAlight : in process from Chris Rand on Vimeo.

Octavio the Octopus

This is Octavio.


He is a young octopus, just trying to figure out his place in the big blue sea.


He has eight tentacles. He uses them to move around, interact with his environment, and wave hello.


When it gets dark, his bioluminescent spots make him fun to be around. Here he is with a jellyfish, a recent acquaintance and new friend.

He is also very soft. So, even though he does not think of himself as a pillow, he will sometimes let you use him as one—provided you ask politely.


Thanks Octavio! And good night, Octavio.

~ ~ ~

Now, for some BONUS *~*MaKiNg PiCs*~*

the pattern (internal lines were for measuring in Illustrator):


tracing on our stretchy velvet…


all cut out…




and stitching is underway!


not shown: some soldering, tedious insertion of LED wires and stuffing into eight separate legs and a plastic orb. But now, the finishing stitches…


et voila!