Unknown Domain

Cowzaki DIY Display

YouTube user cowzaki has posted a few videos of a display his built which works fairly well although it’s limited to showing one word, and cannot switch the characters separately. Also there is an amount of roll back on both unit, the display works nicely though.

This is his first version:

More recent second version:

I haven’t seen a good explanation as to why he was working on this other than some kind of project called “Destination Imagination” in 2011 presumably at MIT by the video.

Split-flap Research Dump

In the next few posts I am going to dump all the research I have done on split-flap displays over the past few years that I can still find, this is videos, diy projects, and more stuff on split flap displays.

I am back on the war path again, this summer I am making serious moves to building one, and getting funding for a 140 character twitter version. I need to make a prototype first so I have been looking initially at materials to use for the flaps as the previous two versions have been constructed using polypropylene sheets supplied by Sea Whites of Bristol which have a mixed texture which is not ideal.

Amélie: Tricks

Amélie learns at a young age to play psychological tricks agains people who are mean to others, starting with her neighbour as a young girl where he caused her to believe she had caused numerous disasters including a car, plane, and train crash because she took photos with a  Kodak Instamatic camera, in turn she did the following:
  • Interfering with the neighbours TV during an important football game at the pivotal moments.
In her adult life Amélie plays psychological tricks on another neighbour for bullying his employee for being stupid, slow and like a vegetable, she begins a campaign against him:
  • Changing the neighbours slippers for a size smaller (same design).
  • Cutting the neighbours shoe laces shorter so they can’t be tied.
  • Switching the position of the foot cream and toothpaste in the neighbours bathroom.
  • Switching the door handle on one side of a door with the door knob on the other.
  • Adding salt to the neighbours drinks canister to make it taste foul.
  • Setting the alarm clock to wake up the neighbour two hours earlier.
  • Switching 60w bulbs for 40w in the room.
  • Inserting a pin in a fabric lamp cord and leaving it unplugged so as when the neighbour plugs it back in the wire explodes with sparks from the short circuit.
  • Reprogram the telephone quick dial so he calls a phycologists number.

Amélie’s tricks unlike those played by the computer in my Robot Home project have a slapstick undertone but are primarily psychological. The computer in my Robot Home project was more slapstick than psychological, and this time the interventions need to be far more designed, and considered. Additionally the automation aspect should be more centralised.

Initial ideas for a current day system include:

  • Moving the light switch to the other side of a door, or hall way, or flipping it upside down.
  • Changing the location of the bus stop to the other side of your house, left instead of right of your front door.
  • Causing a blackout only until the person gets up out of their chair during television.
  • Causing slow internet the make BBC iPlayer, YouTube buffer during your favourite show.
  • Creating TV interference which leaves the picture okay but makes the audio pop and squeal from compression artifacts.
  • Creating a positive and negative pressure in parts of the house using the AC to cause a draft to flow through the house.
  • Change the pitch of the stairs.
  • Create a annoying tapping sound by turning the tap on just a might.
  • Add dust or pollen to the atmosphere to set off allergies.
  • Change the white balance of the lighting to create a stark environment.
  • Quickly drop and raise the temperature in a room to create a chill up your spine.
  • Adjust blinds and windows to reflect the sunlight into your eyes working at your desk.

1st Meeting

So the first meeting went really well, everyone had a good time, so much in fact that after when we were eating dinner we spent so long I nearly missed my last train home!

Regardless found out that the three packs of resistors were wrong, looks like someone at Rapid made a bit of a mistake counting out the parts and we ended up with weird resistors in packs, they have resolved to send out replacements as soon as they unpack all the packs at Rapid and remake them. Glad I don’t have to do that job!

On the bright side we did 3/5 experiments from the first section, and we are ordering the next batch next week so we can hopefully do 3 more and be onto the second section.

I think the plan next time is to meet up in Soho, so perhaps we will end up at the Diner again?

WordPress: Another day, another plugin…

So, way back when I released a plugin called Broadcast MU, well it turned out it was really useful but it wasn’t well written, eventually someone took over that with their own plugin based on the same idea, so Broadcast MU was discontinued.

However recently I wrote a new plugin called Switch Theme using all that I have learned about good WordPress coding techniques since and it did one very basic function for WordPress Multi-site users, it allowed you to switch all blogs on your site to use the selected theme. Very useful as I have found on the GDNM.org website which I run, consisting of some 500+ blogs.

Well today I released my second plugin called Issuu Embed, its again based on demand from the GDNM.org website, and it allows WordPress users to embed a Issuu document into their post without the requirement for a shortcode like the current plugin requires.

I hope this new plugin will be as stable as the last however I suspect it will be more in demand than the last so it will get a proper going over and testing by people.

Learning Electronics

A couple of months ago I got really frustrated at my lack of knowlege of electronics, and so I tried to come up with a few ideas on how to get better, one person suggested an Open University course, but they take up a lot of time which I don’t have as I am studying full time for my masters and also working part time.

I had bought (and soaked) a book called Make: Electronics which was “A hands-on primer for the new electronic enthusiast” so I though ‘Hey, why don’t I go through that?’ but then looking at the list of stuff needed I only had half of it and it would be costly to keep ordering small amounts online and what if I give up?

I knew a few other people who might be interested so I though well if I do all the leg work getting orders together and collecting money perhaps we could form our own little book club where we go through 1 section each month or so, meet up and either work together or share thoughts, chat and socialise.

Well I didn’t hold much hope but I emailed out to a few people and we are now here a few months later with the first delivery on my door step, I have kitted, labeled and checked all the parts and we shall be meeting up in the coming weeks. I am so excited I thought I would do my first blog post in nearly a year about it.

The first section is experiments 1-5 and the biggest issue I has was finding a parts list for the UK, or rather there wasn’t one so I made one, and to save any fellow Brits from having to do this I have a file attached with all the part numbers for ordering from Rapid Electronics, as I do each order I will post up to the blog with the parts lists for those sections, this isn’t necessarily a completed list nor will it ever be but it will help in finding the right stuff…

Continue reading…

The Automated Home

The automated home has been a part of the vision for the future for a long time, from its earliest incarnation in devices like the Clapper people have been looking, wanting, needing their home to take away the hastel, bother, and annoyance of getting up out of the chair and turning the lights on and off.

Today we are seeing more and more the consumerisation of this technology, starting with products like X10 moving on to even cheaper Bye Bye Standby and Domia Lite systems, now you can’t walk through the electronics isle in B&Q without walking past the Home Automation kits, or bumping into the Energy Saving remotes in Robert Dyas.

Although all these systems propose to make your life easier and your home more energy efficient, the one thing they don’t offer is automation, a automatic some might say robotic home is a home where your every need is precalculated and enacted ready for you to enjoy.

Detecting you’re just around the corner from the drive, your house turns on the flood lighting to the drive way, and if your a tea or coffee drinker will have the kettle filled and boiled ready for your arrival.

Depending on your behavioral patterns, the environmental conditions and other factors the home makes decisions based on probablities:

  • Is he likely to make a coffee?
  • Does she want that light turned on before she enters the room?
  • A stranger is walking towards the front door, should I close the front door before he arrives.
  • The phone is ringing and the pasta is about to boil over, should I turn the gas down.
  • The dog is barking, shall I let him out?
  • The cats are congregating near the food area, shall I feed them?

The system using various sensors inputs is able to make intelligent decisions to preempt your needs and allow you to focus on living rather than doing.

MIT News

Source: MIT News & Endaget (video)

Idea #1 – Brief 2

How could we / the home adapt to robot needs?


  • Painted features
  • Tattoos
  • Plastic Surgery
  • RFID tags
  • Barcodes
  • IR implants


  • Velcro walls / floor

Bill Gates – A Robot in Every Home