We’re almost done building the first DDR mat! (Myprevious post about one arrow panel was actually written a week or two ago but wasn’t published for a while; we’ve made a lot of progress on the DDR mats since then.) It works well enough that we can play some songs on it; we just need to tweak the sensors a little, make the wiring neater, and add Start/Escape buttons. We haven’t tested it very thoroughly yet, but we’ll be playing on it tomorrow and should be able to work out any sensitivity problems soon. Here’s a picture of the almost completed DDR mat:
The four mending plates around the edges of each arrow panel are the tops of the sensors. (See this post for details about the sensors we’re using.) The cardboard rectangles in the middle of the arrow panels prevent the plastic from bending too much and cracking when someone steps on the arrows. Wiring all the panels gets rather messy; there is one wire for each screw and mending plate, plus two wires to be connected to the control board, for a total of 12 wires under each arrow panel. All the wires from the screws are connected together with a twist cap connector, and all the wires from the mending plates are connected together.
Close up of a finished arrow panel
We actually didn't have to solder much at all. The wires attached to the
screws are just tightly wrapped around under the screw heads, and the
wires attached to the mending plates are just taped on (there's a lot of
pressure on the taped wires when you step on an arrow, which makes the
contact still pretty good). It turned out we weren't able to solder these contacts since the screws and mending plates are zinc coated and too large to heat up with a soldering iron. The only soldering required was to attach
some wires to a d-sub (VGA) connector, which will connect to a USB
adapter to plug into a laptop. The USB adapters are commercial Cobalt Flux
DDR mat control boxes, which we can use for both the Cobalt Flux DDR
mats and the mats we're building. Eventually we do plan on buying some
USB game controllers and making our own USB control boxes/adapters by
soldering wires to the game controller circuit board. Anyway, we're
looking forward to testing and playing on the new DDR mat soon!
My favorite part about Caltech is the Houses! The easiest way to describe them is as Hogwarts houses: each has their own personality and group of people and the first thing you do at Caltech is go through a “sorting” process. The people are what makes the Houses at Caltech so great. As a frosh, it’s amazing to be able to come in and immediately have a group of 100+ people to support you. Because the Houses have students from every grade, you make friends with upperclassmen and can ask for help on tons of things like:
It’s crazy to think that it has been four years now since I was applying to college. I remember it vividly. This week we’re spending some time reflecting on our personal admissions processes, and how we ended up at Caltech. There’s one question though that I wanted to spin out into a separate post: “what advice would you give to the admitted class of 2025?” And I think the best way to do this is to tell a more detailed story than I did in my other post.
These past six months have been a whirlwind- from having to move out of Caltech housing in March within a week’s notice due to COVID-19, to starting the first term of my junior year, I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change. When I went home in March, it was to a completely new state-my family moved from Chino, CA to New Jersey in January (great timing, huh?). While I missed seeing my friends from home, it was fun to have the chance to explore a completely new place. The pandemic obviously limited what I could see and do, but I got to experience walks through nature and along rivers normally foreign to a SoCal native and had some time to focus on bioinformatics research for the lab I work with on campus.