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Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine by Niklas Roy

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Created by Niklas Roy, “Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine” is a rope and pulley mechanism, installed in the staircase of the WRO Art Center in Wroclaw, Poland. The mechanism connects the sliding doors of the elevator in one floor with the elevator call button on another floor. Operating in two directions on the first and on the second floor, the contraption automatically moves the elevator cabin in an infinite loop between those two levels.

Inspired by what Niklas learned at school that energy cannot be wasted – it can only change its location within a system, the projects attempts to address what happens to the energy in this elevator system? Where does it go? The setup is powered by the sliding doors of the elevator. The pulley blocks reduce the sliding door distance of 50 cm to a traveling distance of 12.5 cm for the push button mechanism, while also connecting first and second floor of the building.

The “Perpetual Energy Wasting Machine” moves the elevator in recurring cycles. In the first half cycle, the elevator is lifted up one floor, while the latter half cycle brings the elevator down to its original position again. As this is an hydraulic elevator, and as the cabin´s mass is not equalized by a counterweight, only the movement up consumes electricity. Estimating that the empty elevator cabin has a mass of 350 Kilograms, the wasted energy is about 11.8 Kilojoules per cycle (which equals to the metabolic energy of ca. 1/3 grams of fat, according to Wolfram Alpha ). A modified printing calculator inside the elevator cabin keeps track of the wasted energy, automatically adding up 5.9 Kilojoules for each half cycle. The results of this symbolic calculation – which does neither regard energy loss by friction, nor a heavier cabin due to possible passengers – go straight to a waste bin, located beneath the printing calculator.

The hardware in the staircase includes only ropes and pulleys. Inside the elevator, there is a printing calculator which is controlled by an ATmega8 via a relay board, programmed in AVR-GCC. The relay board basically ‘pushes’ the buttons of the calculator, performing the calculation “5.9+=” seven seconds after the door has closed.

Project Page

The installation was produced during a residency at WRO Art Center, funded by Goethe Institute Cracow. It is now part of the collection of the WRO Art Center.

Previously on CAN: Lumenoise [Objects]PING! Augmented Pixel [Tutorials, Games] and My little piece of Privacy [Processing]

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  • PING! Augmented Pixel [Tutorials, Games]PING! Augmented Pixel [Tutorials, Games] Augmented reality video game - by Niklas Roy (2011) In the decade where videogames were born, everything virtual looked like rectangular blocks. From today’s perspective, the representation of a tennis court in the earliest videogames is hard to distinguish from a soccer or a basketball field. ‘PING! – Augmented Pixel’ is a seventies style videogame, that adds a layer of digital information and oldschool aesthetics to a video signal: A classic rectangular video game ball moves across a video image. Whenever the ball hits something dark, it bounces off. The game itself has no rules and no goal. Like GTA, it provides a free environment in which anything is possible. And like Sony’s Eyetoy, it uses a video camera as game controller. What I found interesting when I developed this game, is, that it could have been made already in the seventies. The technology that I used for it is (in a way) similar to what Atari used for the first Pong. It becomes even more awkward, if you think that the electronic components for capturing and evaluating a video signal are cheaper than the rotary game controllers that Atari used. But still, from an economic point of view it makes sense that Eyetoys weren’t the ultimate controllers of thirty-something years ago, as a video camera was probably very hard to afford back in the days. For those who want to know how it works: The game is programed with AVR-GCC on an ATmega8 microcontroller that runs with 16MHz. The controller gets basic videosignal synchronisation information from an LM1881 sync separator that triggers two hardware interrupts. One for a new image, the other one for a new line. The controller evaluates the brightness around the pixel (/ball) via its comparator input. Drawing the white image overlay is realized with a simple pull-up resistor in the signal line. More (hires) images can be found here. C source code can be found here. Since several people in the Interwebz told me that they want to rebuild the game, here are some more photos of it. I also uploaded the schematics, the perfboard layout and a parts list in this pdf. Case closed. And opened. Nothing special here: There’s a 9V battery, a little circuit board and all the switches. A closer look on the circuit board. And the board seen from the bottom. Remember: You can find drawings of this all here. Here’s a trick: The power supply lines of the Atmega8 are criss-crossed. I always go with the +5V wire over the IC socket in order to connect the left and the right power pins. That avoids a messy circuit design on the solder side of the board. When you want to build your own “PING!”, you have to program the microcontroller. I use this cheap ISP programmer that I bought here. If you just get started and want to know in detail how to program an AVR – here’s a great tutorial. Sorry folks, this link is German only. But Google will also find you a good English source. (Here’s a hint: Once you’re the proud owner of an ISP programmer, you will likely never spend money anymore on Arduinos, as you can make them yourself, then. But there’s another thing: Once you’re familiar with programming your Atmel using straight AVR-GCC, you’ll probably never want to use an Arduino anymore.) The Fusebit settings for the controller are clear: Just tell the controller to use the external crystal as clock. (SUT_CKSEL) For the case, I used a U-shaped extruded aluminum profile. The different metal parts are all built out of the same profile. And a look from the other side. That’s it so far about the hardware. Concerning the firmware: Be aware, that the program is for PAL video systems only. If you want to play this game on your NTSC system, you have to adapt the timing parts of the source code. A big congratulations goes out to the first one who posts a link to a functionning code for NTSC video signals in the comments. I’ll link it here with name and credits and all. To help you understand both, the source code and the schematics, I’ve explained it already in the comments on Hackaday: … here’s how it works: Drawing onto the signal/image: One output of the AVR is connected via a 1K resistor to the video signal. Switching this output to HIGH rises the signal about a few mV -> the image becomes brighter, then. Digitizing the video image: Doesn’t happen. Instead, only the brightness of the area around the pixel is captured. Imagine a grid of 3×3 squares. The square in the middle is the pixel. When the signal is at this middle position, the output that draws on the video is switched to HIGH. If the signal is within one of the eight areas surrounding that pixel, the AVR compares the specific brightness (Voltage level) of that area with a threshold. That’s how an obstacle and its position in relation to the position of the pixel is detected. Calculating the animation: When the beam (or signal) has finished drawing the lower white bar, there’s plenty of time to calculate the new position of the pixel until the next image has to be drawn. As it is all synced with the video signal, this animation happens smooth. Couldn’t happen more smooth. An animation ‘pixel by pixel’ is also no problem, as it is all about counting video lines (y) or delaying within a specific video line (x). This also explains why the starting animation is rendered smooth. And it also means, that there is a delay until the pixel reacts: It reacts in the next image that is drawn. No magic here. Speed of the processor: The AVR is clocked with a 16MHz quarz. The duration (only image content) of one PAL video line is 64uS. => There are 1024 clock cycles per visible part of each video line. That’s really sufficient for what the program has to do: Which is mainly waiting, a bit of counting and sometimes reading the internal comparator bit or switching an output. Ok, that’s enough of information. With all those tips, you should be able to build your “PING!”, now. Send me some photos of it, when you’re done! -- This post first appeared on Niklas Roy's website - PING! Augmented Pixel Niklas Roy is a Berlin based artist. He mainly works on mechatronic installations and devices. From time to time he carries out performances in which his inventions play a central role. Roy really doesn’t like to write about himself in the third person but he "is one of the most facetious characters of the 'new media art' […]
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  • M_OC

    The is the craziest thing in the history of crazy things! I love it.