PCOM / Weeks 11 & 12 / Final Project: Progress Report

After play-testing Pedro’s Map we received lots of feedback and interesting ideas to improve the game, like adding psychological factors to the story, controlling our character with movable magnetic pieces instead of using hand gestures and for a reward at the end, getting a combination to open a real briefcase with a prize or martini. However, Ariana and I soon realized that our hearts weren’t into the project that it was becoming and decided to come up with another idea.

The new concept came from my ICM final project idea to create a Protest Time Machine using a small selection of political/protest songs from the 1960s to today. We were inspired by this conductive ink and projection mapping project to use conductive paint for graphic touch buttons on a large white board, or possibly a wall for a larger scale project, to trigger the song.  We also plan on animating the music lyrics mixed in with YouTube music videos, news clips and iconic photos from that moment in history using a projector.

Conductive Paint
Conductive Copper Tape
Bare Conductive Touch Board
Arduino Board
MP3s for the selection of political/protest songs
White Boards
Projection Mapping Program, MadMapper



1. Loading the songs onto the Bare Conductive Touch Screen Pad: The pad only holds 12 songs which need to be uploaded to the SD card inside the touch pad. For this prototype, we have five songs from the 60s, six from the 70s, and one from the 80s. For the finished project, we will use another touch board for an additional 12 songs to highlight music from the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s.

2. Building the graphic touch buttons: the graphics for the buttons were built in illustrator and laser-cut to build the stencil for laying down the conductive paint. We made the mistake of using a thick foam core board, which needed to go through the laser cutter a couple of times. For the final version, we plan on using a thinner board or plastic to create a more polished and precise stencil. I also plan on customizing the silhouettes of the protestor button to the profile of the singer of the song triggered, like Bob Dylan for his Blowin In the Wind song or the profile of that particular protester, like a student’s silhouette to represent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Ohio song about the Kent State incident.

3. Painting with Conductive Paint: We used the stencil to paint the touch buttons, but used too much paint where the outlines and fine details lost it’s shape. Not only are we planning on using a thinner board for the stencil, we need to blot the ink down for a less blotchy application and it will also allow the paint to dry quicker.

4. Connecting the painted touch buttons to the board: We decided to use conductive tape instead of painting the black lines to connect the graphics to the 12 small circles of the Bare Conductive Touch Board.

5. Testing the buttons with the board: It took a couple of tries to get the buttons to work with the board, but it could be the fact that we tested it before the paint fully dried. I saw that some buttons in the beginning of the row were not working even though they were before. When I started troubleshooting, I lifted the board and noticed the ink crossed paths with the other rows. Because if this, I needed to reapply new conductive tape to the first 4 rows to create a more secure and separate connection. I was scared to use water on the board to remove the water soluble paint, so luckily I found this tip to remove the paint from the board: scraping the paint off the board. And we need to always allow the paint enough time to try before testing it with the board.

The next steps is to add more interactivity to the project by creating animations of lyrics and imagery using map projection and connecting the touch board to an arduino. When we shared this idea of using protest/political songs for our project, there are always more suggestions on what songs should be featured. It would be great to give the participants the option to make their suggestions and incorporate it into the project somehow.

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