Further Project Updates

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve had much of a chance to make any updates about my project’s progress. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been plenty busy, but I guess just too busy to keep up on posts like I should have.

The biggest change I would say is my pivot to a different kind of sensor for measuring the thing I’m after. Back when I first contacted that artist, Christian Nold, about his methodologies in his works, he had told me that he used GSR to measure emotional fluctuation in his subjects and suggested I try looking into it. Well, I finally did, and it turns out that was indeed what I should’ve been looking at all along.

Galvanic Skin Response measures skin conductance, which can be an indicator of fluctuations in emotional states. It’s one of the main component sensors they use in lie detector tests. The best part is, GSR is best measured through the hands, so it’ll be a nice, easy-to-hide sensor. for this project. GSR sensors are supposed to be relatively easy to build–in fact, we put a really simply one together in class just last week–but despite that, the one that I found and tried building didn’t really seem to work.

The Truth Meter

The schematic I used

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Circuit I built

Last week, Paul sat down with me for a few minutes to try and figure out what was going wrong with it, and determined that it just generally wasn’t a very reliable circuit, so now he’s helping me come up with a different, much, much simpler one. Unfortunately, this means I’m going to be further behind on the programming/processing of the input information than I’d like to be, but hey, it’s not like any project ever has gone perfectly according to schedule, so I’m not too, too worried yet.

Another large-ish change in my original plans is that I had previously been planning on making a pair of gloves, and now I’m just going to be making one. Part of it was the material costs for making a pair were somewhat prohibitive, but also it was just a timeline thing. Gloves require knitting in the round using double-pointed needles (dpn), and while I’ve done plenty of knitting projects in the round before, I’ve never worked w/ dpn before (although I’d heard plenty of stories about how much of a pain in the ass they are to work with), and once I really got into the knitting, it quickly became apparent that I was not going to be able to knit two full gloves in basically a month, even using a relatively simple pattern (not too, too simple, but something which I knew was going to be doable within that time frame).

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The completed pattern

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My progress so far

The pattern also isn’t quite as long as I’d ideally have liked the glove(s) to be–I was more thinking of it being at least elbow length–but again, the cost of programmable LEDs to cover that with + the amount of time it would’ve taken to knit even one of those were both prohibitive. Basically, in getting down to crunch time like we have, I’m realizing more and more that I really do need to be thinking of this project as a first iteration/a prototype of what I really want, because there just simply isn’t the time to do and to put in everything that I ideally would like to.

One thing that I do have done is the knitted “finger coverings” with which to hide the GSR sensors underneath. Two of them have conductive yarn knit into them, but I’m not sure if that was even necessary for me to do, honestly. Fortunately, they were pretty small, so it’s not like I just went and wasted a whole bunch of yarn.

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Finger coverings for Left Hand

Once I have the gauntlet part of the glove completed, I’ll probably be sewing the two parts together.

I’ve decided for the display of this, in addition to photographs, I want the glove to be displayed on some kind of a mannequin hand, although finding one I don’t hate has been proving difficult. I really just want a simple, clean-looking wooden one, but all the ones I can find that fit that description are either too short or too expensive or something, and  I’m debating about just taking the easier/harder route and making my own. I know how to make cast plastic appendages, and I also know how to make pigmented cast plastic look like wood, and it wouldn’t take me more than a day to do in total, with most of that time being spent just waiting for things to set. In addition, I already have at least a gallon of pigmentable plastic casting resin sitting around in my basement somewhere and plenty of loose pigment that I already own, so doing it this way wouldn’t even cost me more than an ugly-but-reasonably-priced display hand would, and I’d be able to make it exactly what I wanted it to be.

So the only things I’m behind on at the moment are getting my circuit working and figuring out the input-to-output programming/processing stuff, but otherwise I’m pretty much right on track with everything, although I do also need to order my Flora and programmable LEDs from Adafruit today. I’d probably be much more worried about my progress if it was my knitting that I was behind on, because that is the kind of thing that requires hours of sustained time and effort to bring it into existence, whereas a simple circuit is something you can build within a matter of minutes sometimes and then have plenty of time for testing and tinkering, not to mention the simpler the circuit, the more likely it is that it’ll just work out fine right from the start.

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