Thursday, September 15, 2005

General Project Overview

We have posted a PDF that contains a brief overview of the project, how it works (roughly), how we are going to build it, and how students will be involved.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Vertigo Dance Floor, please check it out at

Friday, September 02, 2005

Preliminary Hardware/Software Schedule

Note: for one software design course at Wash U (CSE436), some of the students will be working on VDF software improvements. Their tasks are prefixed with (436). Thanks Professor Cytron!

Sept 9

Single blinking pixel

Sept 21

Final mechanical design

Oct 1

Partial test module built

Oct 7

(436) Basic Software functionality – verification of writing to screen

Oct 7

Physical module built

Oct 14

Soldering workshop/ first module built

Oct 21

Second soldering workshop/ remaining modules built

Nov 1

(436) Scrolling display and multi-module driver fully tested on actual screen

Nov 12


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Prototype Pressure Sensor

We constructed a prototype of a Force Sensitive Resistor (FSR) out of wire, plastic grocery bags and Scotch tape.

These will be placed within each pixel to give the software readouts on roughly where people are standing. This can be used for a large-scale version of "DDR," Human pong, control of games like Tetris, and ambient effects like having a cluster of lit pixels follow people as they walk across the floor.

The FSR's work by placing plastic in between two contacts to act as a dielectric (does not conduct electricity). When compressed, the thin film begins to conduct enough that resistance changes from around a MegaOhm to as little as 1 Ohm (it varies, of course).

These are still in the prototype stage as other materials are considered. Once the mechanical design of the floor is finished we will have a better idea of what sort of "sensitivity" these will need. The layers and materials used for the dielectric can then be tested to conform to specifications. If they are too easy to trigger (cause resistance to --> 0) then pixels may be stuck "on"; too hard to trigger means none of the intended effects will work.

Single Pixel Test Photos

We built a basic "test pixel" to play with various diffusing options and LED arrangements.

These are preliminary photos, we are still messing with the tinfoil (seen slightly through the pixel cover) and testing various diffusion strategies.

Also note that the Green LED is much brighter and more focused than the other two LED's. This is a feature of the product and something we will have to fine-tune with resistor values and software.