Project 1 – The Bird AntiFeeder

Project01,Uncategorized — alanhp @ 11:43 pm

2014-09-07 22.07.22

2014-09-07 22.09.01

2014-09-07 22.08.29

2014-09-07 22.10.07

The bird antifeeder is a high-tech system that prevents birds from eating your food. You can see the above video for a demo of the system in action… The high-tech part is not true though, actually the bird antifeeder is a playful work that resulted from a combination of a short timeframe, a limited availability of resources (laser cutters on campus) and a need to quickly familiarize myself with a technology (piezo contact microphones).

I started the project knowing only that I had to sense something using a microphone and that I had to respond to what I sensed in some non-screen based way. Initially I wanted to sense ants walking on a surface and using this information I wanted to send a notification or give some kind of signal for people to become aware of ants walking on a surface which in itself is interesting because it is something we are rarely paying attention to. This was inspired by the much better and thoughtful projects by Prof. Ali Momeni. Again, because of the short timeline, for me this project was much more focused on learning how to sense using a contact microphone than it was about developing a strong concept.

Quickly, it became evident that sensing the walk of ants would be quite challenging with the technology I had, particularly because of the limited strength of the vibrations generated by ants walking which I intended to sense with the contact microphone. Despite having found a metallic material with nice vibrating properties, the task was out of the scope of the project because of how much more thought and testing would have been necessary.

With this information, I re-scoped the project to a much more manageable objective: to sense the vibrations generated by birds landing on a surface and to respond to this vibration in some way. This decision was taken after talking with Jake on the weekend before the due date for the project. After figuring out the amplitude sensing thresholds and getting a servo motor working, I set on to build an encasing in which all the components could be placed. The laser cutters around campus where all booked and the project was due the day after which is when I had to go back to the famous “its better done than perfect” which I agree sometimes with.

My arts and crafts skills are not super great though so as I continued to make my project’s box, it looked more and more like a ten year old had made it. With little time remaining and the idea that I wanted the project to feel like a unified and deliberate work, I embraced the child-like aesthetic all the way and decorated the project so that it looked like a cool addition to a kid’s treehouse.

That is the story of the bird antifeeder, a high-tech system to scare away the birds who want to eat your food. Lessons learned, sometimes it is indeed better done than perfect, humor is always good, follow intuition sometimes, if you can’t get what you need figure out how to make it work with what you got, keep in mind the scope of each project.

puts down mic…


NOTE: images are HD but for some reason not displaying as such. Click on each to see high-res.


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