Ideation & Prototyping: Time Capsule Part II

I decided to take this week to work on some of my physical computing skills in designing the enclosure for my time capsule. I happened to receive a mystery box of electronics that I thought would add a really fun element. Also I chose it because this box from Adafruit is something that represents myself and the time period we are in (electronics for hobbyists in 2020). I received a matrix portal in addition to a large 64×32 pixel display. I knew that it would be fun to attach the display to the enclosure. In researching what projects people made with these items, I decided I wanted to put “2020” along with a video of myself in Bitmoji form. Memojis are avatars that people create for use with Apple devices. I’m in a class called performative avatars and we’ve studied how this is another way people choose to represent themselves online. What could be a better way to introduce the viewer to myself than a pixel display I received this week displaying my memoji.

I hit many issues in creating this, but it started with setting up circuit python which was a new platform for me. Thanks to my past experience with Arduino I was able to work through the issues I encountered because I am used to updating libraries and troubleshooting. The thing that was the most confusing was a serial system they use called REPL, this allows you to run singular lines of code while the device is plugged in. In Arduino you usually run the program and can watch the serial monitor but not be able to interact with the device (hence stopping programs I was trying to run).

The acrylic diffuser for the display.

I first had to wire the matrix portal to the 64×32 pixel display and attach power.

Wiring of the matrix portal to the display.
Testing that the wiring was correct with a sample project.
I tested another sample project that connected to wifi to display the realtime bitcoin price.
This is an example of the Mu editor running the bitcoin project.

In order to put the bitmoji of my face on the display, I needed to first record myself. I then exported and converted that video to an .mp4. This allowed me to edit it in Adobe Premiere Pro. Once in Adobe Premiere I made the sequence match the dimensions needed for the pixel display (64×32). I used a pixelated font to match the display as well.

The Memoji video I used in the display.

It was hard to tell exactly how it would look because it changes at different distances. This was also my first time working with such a small canvas size in video.

This was my first test but was harder to recognize and see the text.
I oriented things vertically and it displayed much better.

I then needed to use a program called Aseprite, to turn my image sequence (I exported a JPG sequence from Premiere) into a vertical bit map. The vertical sprite sheet bitmap is what the circuit python template I was using already worked with. I did some tests to find the correct orientation.

I made guidelines to cut the space out for the display.
I cut the hole for the display.
I wrapped the box in old newspapers I had.

If I had more time I would try and add some audio, along with building a better enclosure to hide the electronics a bit. I would also look into ways to make it more protected.

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