Dave-Looking Outwards-Shields

1. CMUcam



Made by CMU, this can be used to collect visual information from the surrounding, allowing the Arduino to detect changes in light, color, or motion.


2. VoiceBox Shield


With a sound synthesizer, we can generate voice, thus allowing the Arduino to speak. This can be very useful to communicate messages en masse.


3. TFT Shield


We can display images via this shield, and with some modifications we can display text also. This allows for a wide range of outputs.

Arduino Shield!

The first shield I found allows one to play relatively high-quality audio. In principle I mention this merely because I believe it might make for a nice feature in any kind of installation and is potentially one of the more useful shields out there. Don’t get me wrong: GPS shields seem like all kinds of useful. I just feel that audio is a larger part of our everyday lives.

And, of course, it comes with it’s own snazzy potentiometer.

audio audio2

Aand it comes with its own headphone jack! Who needs an iPod or a phone which plays music when you have one of these?

Of all the shields available, particularly those on adafruit, there was one which clearly stood out to all of us: the touchscreen.
touchscreen shield
Never mind that this is currently the hottest peice of technology on the market — although those people in the technical field are even looking beyond the realm of the 3D printer and touch screen technology is nothing new it remains an attractive feature. My reasons for appreciating this particular touchscreen also include that you can display full color pictures: touchscreen shield as photoframe It may not be the greatest piece of display technology ever invented, but this image combined with technology could serve a multitude of purposes. For example, it could serve as a low-end tablet alternative for running simple applications which might, for example, have an autistic child touching and dragging facial expressions and their descriptions. You could far more easily invite people to play with your installation without any fear of having them knock it over or restart your project or delete your code…. It is not worry free, it is simply less worrisome.

The third piece of technology which stood out to me was also a display of sorts. display 2

Now I realize that the most exciting-looking feature of this pretty little display is the fact that it too, features a range of colors… I chose this simply because I think having a display or any sort makes a device much more communicable. Why is it that all of our computers today run off of a Graphical User Interface? Because it is so much easier to understand. If an Arduino had just a tiny little screen it would feel much easier to communicate with, especially if it were set up for some kind of project and something stopped running or ran out of looping space and were to pop up on the Arduino, whoever was running the show would know what the problem was without finding someone to put in their username and password in order to revive their laptop and find out what the problem was that way…. given that this project was plugged in to a laptop, anyway.


One other exciting little feature about this is that it only uses two pins. There is another cheaper version ($~12 rather than $~23) but this uses more pins. In the name if efficacity and saving space, I hereby nominate this version.

(Additionally, you could also have this display something like, “I am an important piece of software as well as hardware! Please do not unplug me! To avoid further disasters. I feel like I was influenced by Professor Momeni’s “Do not unplug” policy for the Art Fab…)



wtb shields

Gameduino: “a game adapter for microcontrollers.” I’m interested in the sensors you can easily connect to the gameplay using Arduino, effectively rendering the old school-feel of the games produced from Gameduino into a fresh experience. Here’s another one related to gaming.

LCD Shield Kit: a space efficient LCD screen, taking up only a few pins as opposed to previous models. I like screen inputs that look very “digital” so I’m biased. I could see microcontroller easily asking for user inputs with this.

EasyVR shield: “a multi-purpose speech recognition module designed to add versatile, robust and cost effective speech and voice recognition capabilities to virtually any application.” Combine this with the previous two shields, and we’ve already got some interesting things going on. (Voice recognition as part of a multiplayer game mechanic?)


Arduino Wi-Fi Shield

This would definitely be an incredibly convenient addition to an arduino project just because wireless internet means less hassle over ethernet. Then again, I haven’t had much luck with CMU’s wireless… Anywho, this would be really useful for projects involving transmitting/receiving data from RSS Feeds or other sites on the web. Especially if the projects are meant to be portable!
(Too bad it’s a whopping $85…)

TFT Touch Screen for Arduino

I’m impressed by the fact that this shield has a pretty high resolution and is also a touch screen. It’s a really useful interactive display and vastly expands what kind of data can be retrieved from the user’s interactions with the arduino. For example, it can measure the speed of tapping, or the position the finger slides to on the screen. Or it can just display some pretty flashy stuff.
(And again, a whopping $59…)

Data Logging Shield for Arduino

After seeing the cap on how large of a program you can put into an Arduino Uno, I’m thinking this shield would be the most reasonable choice for storing large amounts of data for projects that involve plotting or collecting data from a GPS shield or some other database. For example, if I did a project based on surveys from CMU students, I could use the data logging shield and then program the arduino to have some fancy visual output that lets the students see the results of the surveys.
(Less than $20!)

Arduino Shield Looking Outwards

The touch shield allows for a tactile interactive color display surface on the arduino. This shield gives the possibility for small screen based operations that can have a dialogue with a larger/external work. My first thought was of making a personalized control board for a rocket or a creature. To use the shield, the viewer has to hold the arduino or put in on a nearby surface. I like this proximity feature and the intimacy it and its tactile nature provide.

The wave shield allows a project to have medium quality sound playback at varying volumes. This shield has emotional value to me as I have tried to use audio additions with arduino before, with no success. The shield only works with .wav files, which, as a Windows user, I find a pleasant surprise in a world of demanding mp3 or aiff files. This shield is also relatively cheap, and makes me excited to add audio depth and content to my electronic work.

Gameduino is an adapter/sort of shield for running games off of. It has nicer(but not great) graphics capabilities than a regular arduino, and comes with a VGA output and an output for stereo speakers. I was really drawn to the built in VGA, which would allow a project to incorporate a possible physical object related to the arduino and screen based graphics from a projector.

I like that these shields allow the electronics to be transformed from colorful chunks of metal to socially important artifacts. Even browsing the products gave me a sense of social concerns—especially with the attention given to data logging and GPS shields.



We see here a soil moisture and temperature sensor. It can be very useful in terms of gardening or farming, as it is able to measure to the habitability of a land. I  t is easy to see here a strong environmentalist message that can be conveyed with this very tool. Perhaps one could plant it all over the world and compare the health of soil between less inhabited places and cities.
I can see a joystick like this adding a new dimension of interactivity and playfulness to any computer art piece. The joystick has loaded connotations, harking back to the arcades and Atari 2600 of the 70s and 80s, and reminds us of the innocent childlike concept of fun. Add a button to the setup, and you can have any interactive art piece play like a game of Pac-man.

A more utilitarian approach to receiving input as opposed to the joystick. The standalone trackpad allows an art piece to be interactive without the method of input being too heavily loaded with connotation and distracting. In the spirit of being undistracting, having the trackpad out alone means the computer used to run the piece can be hidden, so the inner workings of the piece need not be revealed.

Jun-Looking Outwards

Touch screen (Nintendo DSL digitizer)

This would be great for user interactive projects. I’m thinking of games, here.

Geiger Counter Kit – Radiation Sensor

Just learned about Geiger Counters in physics last week. I find being able to detect random radiation particles quite interesting. Not sure what I’d do with this yet, but it would be cool to play around with… if it weren’t so expensive.

RGB Color Sensor with IR filter

Having color input could be very useful. Since sight is arguably our strongest sense, I could imagine a nice program being made with color inputs from this sensor that reacts similarly to how humans would react to certain colors.

IR distance sensor includes cable (20cm-150cm)

Another sensor that might be good for user-interactive projects. Might be a good combination with RGB Color Sensor.

Shiny New Toys

Programmable Coin Acceptor

This coin acceptor/validator module works with any coin. It determines if a coin is valid by looking at its diameter, thickness and dropping speed. One might conceive of an arcade-style gallery – an “artcade” – in which a viewer purchases a single viewing of an artwork with one or several quarters. Unlike the appstore, the artcade brings art enthusiasts together in a communal space. Unlike traditional art galleries, the artcade enables “everyone else” to engage with and support contemporary art in a tangible way. We might also envision an art tollbooth, where a passerby is charged a small fee to enter an installation.

 Conductive Knit Jersey

Conductive fabric raises the possibility of textile interfaces. According to the description on adafruit, the knit is actually a single strand of fiber. So if there is a tear in the thread – does the whole square unravel? Ignoring this for a moment, the fabric has many interesting uses in media art. Using a LilyPad Arduino to receive inputs and execute instructions, it becomes possible to invent interactive, “intelligent” clothing. For instance, a tap on the breast pocket of a shirt could trigger a program which conveys the current number of unread emails in one’s inbox. Tap, and wait for the ensuing jolts: “Ow! Ow! Ow! Three unread emails.”

Ultrasonic Range Finder


Maxbotix LV-EZ1 is an ultrasonic range finder. It emits a 42 kHz wave and records the time it takes for the wave to return to the module. Based on the speed of sound in air at sea level, the module calculates its distance from some object. I have one question: would an array of these work as a depth camera? This might be feasible if each device emitted a unique frequency, so that the modules working in parallel wouldn’t confuse each other. But I wonder – how might such a depth camera compare to a depth camera that uses IR?


Looking Outwards: Hardware

Pulse Sensor

I think the fact that you could have something sync up with a person’s pulse is in itself already the beginnings of great poetry. I also find it interesting that as a biometric DIY component, it begins to have implications for the market of medical devices. Perhaps in the future medical devices could be built as needed for cheaper, more easy to access by doctors that may be in more rural areas, instead of depending on the far-removed monopoly of medical device companies…

TFT Touch Shield for Arduino

I’m constantly being blown away by how easy it is to access all these amazing devices and components. Being so removed from the manufacturing process as a consumer it just blows my mind that I could build a physical interface and have access to these things like touch screen technology. It can give my users/participants a more natural form of interaction and navigation, depending on what my project is. On top of that I’m really glad that they make a note to tell you that the device comes with its own open source graphics library, further enabling one to explore and expand their personal project.

Flora Wearable GPS Module

For me, fashion has a strong connotation with identity. On top of that, having moved around different cities in my life, the idea of place is also very important to me. So to have something that tells you where you are on something that can portray who you are—it really speaks to me.

Adafruit Window Shopping

RGB Color Sensor with IR Filter

Color sensor! This can actually detect color, what? Becky Stern has a really awesome chameleon scarf tutorial on their tutorial site, this would be great for other computational fashion pieces. This would also be pretty cool for sorting/computer vision type things.

Magstripe Reader

Card readers! These look pretty fantastic, oh wow. I could see myself using these for like, a visualization of $$$ or an installation that requires users to give me money. I’ve never really messed around with card readers before though, and I’m sort of interested in seeing what kind of information is stored in the cards I carry with me daily?

Touch Screen (Nintendo DS)

When I was in middle school/early high school I was fascinated by DIY multitouch tables. I’m really surprised and pleased that Adafruit sells tiny touch screens for only $8! I’d love to make a tiny touch interface with something like this.