Binary Game

During the second week of physical computing we were handed a brief to come up with an installation for a science museum in Denmark. Specifically, we were asked to explain a concept from the world of electronics in a physical way for kids.

After some rounds of ideation we settled on the subject of binary code and transistors, which is one of the fundamental building blocks of modern day computing. This way of encoding and sending data shaped the evolution of computing and the explanation that a computer only understands 0’s and 1’s seems to be prevalent and understood among users. Still, chances are high you don’t know the workings of binary code and transistors unless you’re a computer scientist.

We wanted to take a interaction with a computer, like typing in a number, and unveil the process which is running inside the computer and is hidden from the user. This meant magnifying the components involved and slowing down the whole process, as today’s transistors are nanosized and the processors they are a part of are super fast.

How it works
Using a rotary dial, the user can choose a number between 0 and 255 and with a push of a button start the process of translating the number into binary code. The binary code is represented with 0-8 metal balls, each falling into it’s correct place to indicate if a transistor was turned on/off to send the binary code. Using 8 servo motors, the path of the ball is manipulated to fall in the correct place. The servos is an abstracted representation of a transistor.

For example, the binary representation of 146 is 10010010. This would result in 3 metal balls falling down on their respective place.

Through this two weeks course, we got a basic introduction to using Arduino for rapid prototyping. We were also introduced to serial communication between two Arduinos and the WiFi enabled Arduino Yún.

Through this project we were able to use our previous acquired skills from the programming courses and material of electronics. We got to work with the Arduino Mega and realized the power of this open source electronics platform.