via Flickr

I’m working towards the Method conference presentation next week, and it seemed useful to complete something in the data representation experiments that I’d been keen to see off: making the thing tap out key presses. I want the productive activity to become a distraction, and this seems like a good way of doing that.

The Arduino Motor Shield is a bit of a pain to code up and requires power on, brake off, and power level to be sent in different lines of code. It also needs to be externally powered as even a 5V solenoid will drain the current from your USB rendering your arduino invisible to the IDE.

It worked fairly smoothly once this had been ironed out and happily sent data from Processing using the StandardFirmata arduino code. Solenoids get HOT though, and this is worth bearing in mind for surface mounting.