Building a Lock

The lock is now (digitally) functional! After a lot of help from Professor Bill Turkel, I finished my Max 7 patch to control the lock. Bill helped me to reorganize and smooth out how the ‘water’ in the lock looked when it was moving up and down. This greatly improved the visualization of the lock for anyone who wanted to interact with it. It also demonstrated how there are a lot of different ways to code for similar things; finding a more efficient way to structure my patch made it easier to see what components were important for each part of the display. It also made it significantly easier to see the whole patch at one time.

To get a sense of how each patch looked overall, here are images of the first and second patches:

After I finished up the code, it was time to build the physical lock that would interact with the Max patch. I used cardboard, felt, tissue paper, and too many staples to create something that at least somewhat resembled a lock (this project reconfirmed why I am not in fine arts…). My original idea had been to have the lock essentially mechanized, but as time went on I realized that the design I had envisioned was too complicated for the amount of time I had to complete the project. Instead, there is a lever that someone interacting with the lock can move up and down. When the Makey Makey wires connect with the tinfoil, it triggers the valves to open and close on the computer screen. Similarly, when the gates are opened on the physical model, a light flashes on the Max patch.

Before I could finish off the lock, I had to install the Makey Makey device inside it and make sure all of the wires were connected properly. This was pretty straightforward although I had to be careful that the felt from the outside didn’t block the connections on the gates and walls of the lock.

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Once the Makey Makey was up and running, I spent some time making sure that everything was working properly. It may not look particularly sophisticated, but this project stretched my understanding not only of the mechanics behind a lock, but also how that logic can be translated into a digital environment.

Here’s what the final product looked like:

Stay tuned for a final reflective post on my experiences from the Interactive Exhibit Design course!

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