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Physical Computing · Week 1

Lab: Components

Through examining the components and the explanations of their functions in this lab, I was able to familiarize myself with the parts I bought. This was also fairly helpful for me as I organized and labeled my parts.

As I am currently in Taiwan and tried to gathered my parts through going to local shops, I wasn’t able to find some of the exact parts as listed/provided (ex. the motor) and but tried my best to look for alternatives that have the same current/voltage, etc.

Lab: Setting Up A Breadboard

I was able to follow the instructions in this lab fairly smoothly (as shown in the images above) and also learned a lot about wether the led would light up or not through through the provided images of various setups in the lab. I also learned and tried to set up my own DC power jack which was something new to me as I came from a design background.

Lab: Electronics and Using a Multimeter

Setting up and learning to use my multimeter:

I tried to familiarize myself with the dial and through reading the instruction sheets that came with it, and was able to get it to work (ex. measuring resistance, continuity, voltage). However, I feel that I am still slightly confused about some of the different things on the dial (especially different the numbers) and hope to be able to figure out what to use in various different situations.

Moving on, I powered up my arduino my connecting it to my computer and used it as my power source from this point onwards.

Building a switched LED circuit, I was able to get it to work through following the instructions and set up in the example image provided in the lab.

Switched LED circuit working

However, when I moved on to trying to create 2 and 3 LED circuits in series, I wasn’t able to get it to work and struggled to figure out why.

I tried debub-ing for over hours by switching out all the different components and wires, checked really carefully that I have placed all the wires in the correct positions, and also asked for help, but still wasn’t able to figure out how to resolve the issue. I also tried measuring the voltage with my multimeter and nothing’s reacting to it even though my power was plugged in and the light of my arduino was on. I think the issue is most likely something to do with my power source but I’m still working on figuring out how to resolve this.

Even though I wasn’t able to get my LEDs to light up, I still practiced placing them in the corresponding positions according to the lab instructions and also tried to connect my potentiometer.

Another issue I discovered is that I can’t bend the ends of my jumper wires and thus need cuttable wires and tools for cutting them instead of relying completely on jumper wires.

Lab: Switches and Pushbuttons

As my LEDS stopped lighting up halfway through the previous lab, I wasn’t able to experiment with the creative switch setup but hope to come back to it very soon (hopefully) after I figure out what caused my circuits to not work and get them to work.

Despite that, I still tried working on the three projects in this lab and took photos of my setup.

One thing that confused my a little is that my motor has 3 wires extending from it to connect to the breadboard, but the example image in the lab only has two wires connected to the motor. And thus, I wasn’t exactly sure where I should connect the three wires to my breadboard and still need to try to figure this out.

Update 1: Realized the wires connecting to the ground of my arduino was misplaced (as shown in the images above), but made that adjustment and still wasn’t able to get my LED to light up.

Update 2: Figured out that I have been trying to work with a servo motor but need a DC motor instead and thus caused me to be slightly confused with the 3 wires.

Overall, I definitely think that I need to come back to the switches lab after debug-ing and figuring out what was causing the issue to my circuit.


Update | 09.24.2020

During my first week, I had issues getting multiple LEDs and switches to work. After seeking guidance and debugging with resident Nun, I was able to figure out the issue. It was mainly because I don’t have enough power by connecting to the 3.3V pin, and once switching to the 5V pin, I was able to light up multiple LEDs in both series and parallel. I reworked on parts of the labs which I had issues with before, and bellow are some updates.

Components in Series (Electronics Lab)

Setup of breadboard with 2 LEDs in series + video of LEDs lighting up:

2 LEDs in Series Working

Components in Parallel (Electronics Lab)

Setup of breadboard with 3 LEDs in parallel + video of LEDs lighting up:

3 LEDs in Parallel Working

Three Switches in Parallel (Switches Lab)

Setup of breadboard with 3 switches in parallel + video of LED lighting up:

3 Switches in Parallel Working

Three Switches in Series (Switches Lab)

Setup of breadboard with 3 switches in series + video of LED lighting up:

3 Switches in Series Working

Reflection: After getting more familiar with the concept of electric circuits and how to set them up, I was able to come back to complete the remaining parts of this week’s lab and got both series and parallel LEDs and switches to work. I felt that all the concept and knowledge were fairly new to me during the first week, which caused me to struggle a little on getting things to work. However, after slowly familiarizing myself with the concept, I now have the ability to plan out and set up basic circuits, and get my LEDs to light up smoothly.

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