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!
Now, based on the title you may be wondering what kind of story this will be. As you will soon find out, it’s a story of adventure born out of the pure, dark chaos that fills the minds of sleep deprived Caltech undergrads.
I’m starting a new miniseries on the blog – Film Club! Each episode, I’ll share a short clip from a popular piece of media, and then completely dissect and overanalyze it, because let’s face it, I’m doing it in my head already anyway. You say “buzzkill.” I say “science.” We’ll kick things off with a clip from Gravity Falls I discussed a bit in my previous post: Season 2 Episode 12, A Tale of Two Stans. If somehow you haven’t watched this show yet (?!)… spoilers incoming!
It’s crazy to think that I began applying to college almost three years ago. I still remember spending hours looking at college websites, admissions blogs and reddit pages to try to get a sense of what college is ACTUALLY like. To help you get through these stressful times, here are a few tips that I wish I had listened to. Hopefully, these will ease your worries and maybe even make the process more enjoyable!?