Archive for October, 2011

The illusion of color



Focus at the cross in the middle and notice the circles disappear.

ICM Seasonal Calendar

For my ICM midterms, I thought of things to make that would look cool but at the same time, represent me or at least the artistic side of me if there ever is one. I decided to make a season clock.

I come from a country where the only sesons we have is hot and rain. Not much to choose from there so it always facinated me when I travelled when we encountered different seasons. It was only when I was working when I encountered fall and winter which always seemed the most interesting in photographs.

Last year, my father and I went to Yosemite National Park, it was my first trip to the park and of course we brought along a 4×5 camera much like Ansel Adams did.

We went there almost one year exactly to date and I took inspiration from these pictures that I shot while I was there.

and this

The whole park was practically yellow and yellow leaves were falling all around us the entire time. It was beautiful. I decided to make seasonal clock after this.

Depending on the month on your computer, the season changes. For the fall, I made an approximation of yellow leaves falling. Winter is represented by snow and spring is shown in the form of cherry blossoms taken in reference from this photo.

nagasaki  055

Taken at ground zero in Nagasaki.

There is a lot of potential to add to the sketch by adding Christimas lights between Thanksgiving and January, Halloween decorations for October and so on. You can see the seasons change by changing the internal clock of your computer. Note: seasons are based on the Northern Hemesphere.

Seasonal calendar

Future versions planned:

  • Holiday decorations for holidays like Christmas, independence day and so on
  • Near real time weather based on loocation
  • Photographs from my flickr collection
  • Webcam?

Why you should not jump the turnstile.

One the first things they tell you as a foreign graduate student in New York is that you shouldn’t jump the subway turnstiles and I’ll tell you why.

Sadly, the New York subway is my current form of transportation to the city and therefore have had lots of experience with it despite only having lived in the city a little over two months.

I first rode the New York city subway in 1994 when I first came here. Back then it was powered by tokens. They were easy, just pop them in and enter. No need to get a confiramation that you paid your fare.

When I came back in 2002, metrocards have been introduced and it took my father a bit to figure out how it worked. There wasn’t any indicator on what direction we were supposed to swipe it in until a stranger got the card the swiped it for us. Whew!

In my station, there are two ways to get to the Manhattan bound trains. One is through a regular turnstile and the other is through the more secure rotating type door that you can’t hop over.

I’ve noticed that regular commuters, when faced with urgency (like the train is on the platform) will make a dash for the first vacant entrance they see.

For months I used the rotating door turnstile and not the regular turnstile though it seemed faster.

People would swipe their metrocard on the sensors which are a pain for me sometimes towards the end of the month when for some reason the sensor would not recognize my card which is annoying. There are those who will swipe their card twice and they’ll get in. But usally if it hits 3 times, you can’t use the card at that entrance anymore which is a pain.


With the exception of families with strollers, I’d say that most people use both entrances equally. People would go to the first available one or the easiest to access. Much like electricity, they head to the path of least resistance. Those with children would gravitate to the much easier traditional turnstyles compared to the swivel type.

Of course those without a ticket, will jump over the turnstyles unbeknownst to them of the plain clothes policeman who is known to linger in the station from time to time.


More often than not, most users would not look at the indicator to pass unless they couldn’t. Those with stored value cards would occasionally look at the amount remaining on the card while others will just run by.

It’s actually interesting to watch people handle the subway metrocard shuffle. I’m more used to the RFID card type of transportation and I asked a friend to send me pictures from Singapore about their underground system.

Using whatt they call an EZlink card, they use it for a variety of items such as paying for public transportation (including taxis), toll fare, and even buying stuff from 7-11.

The method of using the card is effortless.

Just tapping the card om the sensor and off you go.

II wonder when New York will catch on to this?

Business card study


Business card studies

Serial Part deux

There’s always something interesting when programming a microcontroller and the instructions don’t exactly tell you when to switch from one program to another. It was quite challenging at first but just read carefully between the lines, it’s all there.

This reminds me of the first word that was on the original Macintosh in 1984.

Serial conenction

Hooked up the arduino to the mac via USB and using Processing to show a visual reference to the connection which I’m manipulating via the potentiometer.

Servo and Tone

I think I’ve just made my own Theremin Machine. Or at least something to annoy the neighbors.

Stupid Pet trick

As part of every student in physical computing is to complete the stupid pet trick and mine is the “belly monitor”.

After some unusual ideas deliberated over in class, I’ve ended up with a belly monitor that monitors your eating limit. Since this varies from person to person, I’ve decided to proceed with a two inch velcro bench to attach the device.

I first thought of using a flex sensor and that didn’t work. The numbers the felx sensor was giving me is just too random for my taste and it kept falling off the female connector even when I taped it together. Soldering is not a good idea since it may melt the sensor.

I ended up using a large force sensor which I have duct taped to the velcro belt procured from Home Depot.


Now that the sensor thing has been sorted out I wanted a portable power source. I connected a 9V battery and that wasn’t giving me power or should I say consistent readings as compared to a USB connection


So I dropped that idea.


I went back to USB power and decided that a sound once you reached your limit would be funny. So I installed a tone beeper thingy or an audio transducer. This now tells you if the device is activated and will slowly increase in tone as you reach the upper limit.


I decided to use a smaller breadboard since I wanted it to be as small as possible. There’s still space for a battery connection but at the moment this is what I have.

Using the code below, it gave life to my stupid pet trick.

//belly monitor
//Melissa A. dela Merced

const int ledPin = 7;
const int redLED=8;
int analogValue=0;
int brightness = 0;
int flex = analogRead(A1);

void setup(){

int flex = analogRead(A1);


void loop(){
flex = analogRead(A1);
analogValue = analogRead(A1);
brightness = analogValue/2;

flex = map(flex,0, 200, 255, 0); //sensor
flex = min(flex,400);
flex = max(flex,0);

analogWrite (redLED,flex);
int frequency = map(flex, 0,255,100,1000);
tone (5, frequency,10);