For the second assignment, we were told to design two devices — the remote control and the object being controlled. Son and I came up with the following ideas:
- Laugh track controller for the comedian to set off at their own lame jokes, in fear of nobody laughing
- Bread crumb dispenser that leave traces of where you go so people with terrible sense of direction can find their way back
- A foot stopper that stops the door from closing before you get there
We decided to go with the foot stopper, since it is more relatable as the COVID-19 pandemic occurs. Materials we would need are, remote, a pair of old shoes, motor and some wheels. For the remote, Pedro gave us freedom to use wifi, IR, bluetooth, etc. Fortunately, Son was in his Electronics for Inventors class last semester, so he has one built ready for our use. All we need is to send signal to turn on motors instead of LEDs. We had a little wiring problem during our initial try but it all worked out eventually.
After making sure the tech works, we bought the motors and wheels that could help us move the shoes. We originally intended to power the whole thing through our 9V battery pack, but it did not work. We have to retain the Arduino for the receiver to work. But having Arduino to only power the receiver does not make any sense. We asked David, Hannah, and Stefan for help. They all assumed that ampere is insufficient to support the whole circuit. They ask us to throw in a resistor between the receiver and ground to increase the current flow and try switching to higher ampere power source. We ended up using a power bank, which is quite bulky. The motors are having a hard time moving forward when the battery pack and power bank sits on top of it.
We managed to move away from the box and start our second look-like prototype. The goal is to make it look more like a shoe sole. We also started thinking the forms for our remote. The challenge is have a shared visual language between them. We thought of sewing some straps like the ones people would use to carry their roller skates around.
We went to Home Depot to look for materials we might need — insulation board, ropes, and swivel bolt. Vince was very generous that he donated a pair of his old shoes for us to experiment. We decided to cut away the shoe sole (since this is the heavier part of the shoe) and replaced them with insulation boards for easy elevation and hiding components.
We were pretty happy at this point and thought all we need to do is to stick the shoe to the insulation board. Son and I debated whether to use the rubber shoes or the bathroom slippers. I like rubber shoes better since it creates the right mood and implies that the device is meant to be use outside. Son thinks the slipper sits seamlessly on top of the sole we created and thinks that my argument is not really so much of a problem. He came up with options like using stuff toy shoes or Japanese warrior footwear instead.
After careful discussion, we decided to go with the aesthetic of the Japanese footwear. Together with the footwear will be a pair of dagger to hid the remote control. We layered wood paint on top of the white base and create an enclosed top for it. We tied ropes around them, sew fabrics for the remote handle, and decorated them.