November 2008

Now that I have my quick protoboard together it allows me to take other people’s projects and put them together really quickly. Today I built the USB-LED-Fader. Since the hard parts were already done it took about 5 minutes to add the 4 resistors and LEDs to a breadboard. Then another 5 minutes to compile and upload the firmware using the bootloader.

Then I spent about an hour playing with the different LED patterns. This is a really fun project. I can see tons of potential for different status lights. Tie a cpu meter to one of the lights… the faster it flashes the more cpu is being used. One LED for email status. One for network traffic. And finally one for server status.

(The photo from the atmega8 development board shows this project on the breadboard.)

Last night I stared building a atmega8 development board. Tonight I finished it.

I got tired of building the same circuit over and over; so I made a generic board that I could slap onto a breadboard and quickly try out projects. It also allows me to rapidly prototype something new.

I based the board on AVRUSBBoot. The only thing I changed was the programming pin. I moved it to PD7. This allowed me to put PB* and PC* on the plug side of the board.

On the right hand side of the board I brought all the PortC and PortB pins as well as + and GND to a row of header pins.

The important thing about this board to me is that it is USB powered and based. I don’t need to hook up a programmer, I just use the bootloader and usb to update the software on the chip.

My header looks like this:

  1. PC5
  2. PC4
  3. PC3
  4. PC2
  5. PC1
  6. PC0
  7. GND
  8. PB0
  9. VCC
  10. PB5
  11. PB4
  12. PB3
  13. PB2
  14. PB1

Last night I showed my “Hallucination Generation” device at the The Robot Group meeting and many people asked me how the device could cause visual hallucinations. I have a theory about that.

First in normal people speak. Sensory overload in your eyes makes you see stuff.

Now in geek speak. The phenomenon of pareidolia, which is a type of apophenia, is the brain’s (dis)ability to see patterns where none exist. When the UBHG device flashes lights in the eyes it causes retinal fatigue. As the duration of exposure and frequency changes, the amount of noise coming from the cones and rods increases. The brain does its best to interpret the noise. Depending on the viewer’s natural tendency of pareidolia, what the brain interprets can range from just a flashing light to religious icons. Most see patterns like checkerboards, spirals, and triangles.

The next logical question is: Why use Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Theta waves as the basis for the frequency of flashing? I guess the best answer is: Why not? They seem to work fairly well. I do want to make a future version where each of the four frequencies can be tuned to what works best for my body’s specific nature.

Introducing the Unfocused Brain Hallucination Generation device. A Trance Machine based on visual stimulation.

In ancient times people used what is known as the Psychomantium to talk with the spirits. Nostradamus used one to tell the future. In the 1960’s Brian Gysin and Ian Sommerville created the Dreammachine. Recently pioneer Mitch Altman gave us the Brain Machine in Make: Volume 10.

All of these devices try to bring us to a heightened state of consciousness where we can achieve our full potential commune with the universe and see the future.

My device does one thing and one thing only. Makes you see trippy stuff.

I’ve built a Psychomantium. I built the Brain Machine. What I learned was that playing with your visual processing can make you see stuff.

The Brain Machine makes you see really neat stuff. Stuff like I used to see in the old days staring into a Circle K cup held over a strobe light. I tried the Brain Machine without the sound and it seemed to make me have hallucinations as well as with the sound. Plus certain transitions, like from theta to delta, made really neat visuals.

Getting bored quickly and wanting to just have the transition visual effects I made my own. This one has buttons. It allows you to switch from one state to another at will. It allowed me to find out what worked best for me.

This is just the start of my path down the visual stimulator trance machine path. I plan on making one that I can tune to which ever frequencies in each range work best for me. Then I plan on making one where I can easily store programs of different patterns and play them back. Possibly as a USB device. I have even thought about making one that will fill a whole room with light so that the patterns can be given to me while sleeping.

This is going to be fun. 8)