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The MSP430's ultra-low-power design makes it really applicable for art installations. I intend to work on a few with a friend of mine, who happens to be an art student.

 

One idea is to have something inked on tissue paper, or some paper thin enough to diffuse LEDs, and have them controlled by an MSP430. Simple, I know, but here's where the low-power aspect is a great plus. No one wants to change batteries in a painting... and the MSP430 in the right configuration can last for ages on a single battery.

 

Another one, which is one of my mad-scientist ideas, is to hack a bunch of cheap, quartz wall clocks. These work on the principle of a frequency divider governed by a 32.768kHz quartz crystal, which drives an electromagnetic coil. In my testing, the coil is able to be driven by a uC, such as the MSP430. This would allow me to create clocks that run at various speeds, and by simply reversing the polarity of the coil (or the magnet that sits in it) to reverse the direction of the hands. There are two possible ways for me to approach this. 1 uC per clock, they are small enough to fit inside the gear enclosure, and look stock, even taking power from the stock 1AA baattery. Or, I could drive multiple clocks from 1 uC, creating something that's less portable, but way more cost efficient, using only 1AA to power around 10 clocks (with the 14 pin chips in the MSP430G2 line so far). Either way, I make something unique, and harvest a lot of 32kHz crystals along the way.

 

Just some of the things I'm going to use my MSPs for, once I get my launchpad. Stay tuned here for updates. :P

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I love the idea. I always tell people true engineering is just another form of art. I love when they become entwined, especially in some crazy mad scientist idea, that could be very disillusionment if you want it to be so (the clock idea). If you want to go completely crazy you can look into using the low power Nordic wireless chips mentioned a lot on SparkFun. They take up almost no power, transmit at super low rates, and super small ranges. Sounds perfect for a few clocks up on a wall together. You could something simple such as only receiving commands from a small "base station" or do something complex with creating a crazy mass of clocks which communicate with each other and change based on anything you can come up with. I forget what its called, machines communicating together which create a weird sort of collective intelligence. Set theory maybe? Or maybe I'm just thinking of Skynet :-P

 

Total cool idea.

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Thanks Gatesphere. Right back at you. Its not too often you find people who are interested not only in technology but also art. Ive perused your webpage, very interesting; cool stuff.

 

As for Nordic, I've never used it, but it did catch my eye as something interesting. The guys at Sparkfun rave about it. I run into the problem of needing something impossible as far as wireless communication goes (at least at the prices I can afford). I need at least 100kbps, and for the device to use no more than 5mA at 3V. Bluetooth seems to be my best option, unless Xbee comes out with something super low power.

 

If you end up getting up and running with something wireless, A tutorial would be awesome! Maybe you can post it on your website, the Learning Community Wiki. I know there's a general lack of guides for working with wireless devices. Wireless is a kind of black magic anyways, the physics behind it all is quite ridiculous.

 

-NJC

______________________________

http://www.msp430launchpad.com

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The Nordic chips, while cool, are looking to be just a tad bit expensive for what I would do. I've instead been looking at the SparkFun RF transmitters/recievers. it'll run about $9 for a set, 2400/4800 baud, available in 2 frequencies. One problem... they run on 5V logic, and it's my understanding that the launchpad is 3V3 (still haven't received mine...) I'm sure I could find a way to power them, but I really don't want to add too many extra parts... I'm sure I'll find a use for them sometime later though.

 

So, I think, for the time being, I'm just going to use one MSP per clock, and draw power from the stock AA battery compartment. I'll use the LPMs to conserve battery power, and see what happens :)

 

And thanks for the comments about my site! I'm constantly tweaking it. It's been up for about a year and a half now (and on 4 different servers, surviving 3 complete harddrive failures, oy), and I'm still finding ways to improve it. Eventually I'm going to have an electronics section where I showcase my uC work. I have a few Arduino projects I can put up there, and I have a feeling once I get my hands on the LaunchPads I ordered, I'm going to have many many more MSP430 projects to do.

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