Working Through the Lock

In my last post, I discussed my project for the Interactive Exhibit Design course I’m taking this term. Building off of that idea, I’ve been working in Max 7 to lay out the way a lock that moves boats from one level to another operates. It turns out that physically operating a lock can be easier than designing a digital version of one!

I’m a big fan of doodling and drawing things out to get a better sense of how different things relate to each other. So, to try to figure out how the virtual valves and gates should work together, I put a pen to paper:

Writing in pen on paper. There are a series of lines representing the different steps of a lock that boats would travel through.
My pen-and-paper rendering of how the gates should not be able to “open” at the same time, plus some Max tools (LCD) instructions that allow someone to build rectangles inside a window – this is how I’m constructing the virtual lock for now.

These are some of my initial attempts at creating “if” statements that ensure that both of the gates or the two valves can’t be opened at the same time. Ask any lock attendant how that would work out… It wouldn’t be a good day for any boater trying to go through the locks.

Using LCD and Sprites in Max 7, I have essentially come up with a graphic representation of the different water levels on either side of a lock. Now my challenge is to find a way to connect the LCD screen to the controls I set up to “operate” the lock and to make sure that the screen doesn’t completely reset after it is used. This means diving into the Max tutorials to figure out how to set some of the rectangles as a background that the Sprites operate on top of.

A series of grey buttons with commands that control a screen that has three blue rectangles representing water and two black rectangles that represent lock gates.
The LCD screen showing the “water” and “gates.”
A series of buttons and connections that are activated when clicked on in Max 7.
The “operating” controls for the lock. I still have to work out the “if” statements that will ensure both gates can’t be opened at the same time. Ideally, I will attach a Makey Makey to my computer and a 3D version of a lock to make it easier to see exactly how a lock works.

I also have to figure out how to properly construct the “if” statements and controls for the lock. The easier part of this will be creating messages explaining why someone interacting with the virtual lock can’t have both gates open at once.

So far, this project has been moving pretty slowly as I gain a better understanding of the Max program as well as the constraints I have to explain in the design. Once I get past that point, hopefully everything will be smooth sailing!

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