Art and Technology

Make a Thingamajig

Make a digital toy that moves and blinks!

The Idea

A thingamajig © Tate

Two thingamajigs made by kids © Tate

We are going to make a thingamajig! We're going to use code, wires, motors and pipecleaners to make an awesome digital toy!

Firstly, let's be inspired by art!

Interactive art allows us to play with artworks. We can move, touch and make sounds with them.

Angela Bulloch’s West Ham- Sculpture for Football Songs, uses Belisher beacons (the ones you see at pedestrian crossings). They respond to sounds made by people in the gallery, which make the lights flash on and off.

Other artists use everyday objects that interact with us and respond to our movements. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer created Wavefunction. The chairs move up and down in response to people walking around the room.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, "Wavefunction, Subsculpture 9", 2007.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Wavefunction, Subsculpture 9, 2007. Shown here: Mexican Pavilion, 52 Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy. Photo by: Antimodular Research.

What you need:

  • Arduino Uno
  • Breadboard (with numbers and letters on)
  • 8 x assorted LED lights
  • 8 x 330 ohm resistors
  • 10 x jumper wires
  • Parallax Servo Motor (a Parallax Inc 140 mA Servo Motor, 4 → 6 V to be exact!)
  • Pipe cleaners and other fun materials like feathers and googly eyes

Do it!

  • First you will need to download the free online Sparkfun Inventors Guide
  • Follow the instructions in the guide to install the Arduino software and drivers for your Arduino (pdf pages 6-11). This section will also show you how to set up your Arduino and how to download code.
  • There are instructions on pdf pages 21 – 22 to create a single blinking light.
  • To create lots of blinking lights follow the instructions on pdf pages 35 – 37.
  • To create moving servo motors go to pages 51-53.
  • Now add your own choice of objects to the servo motor using wire, pipe cleaners or googly eyes! Make the best thingamajig you can!

This workshop was made by the members of the Digital Maker Collective, University of the Arts London.

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