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Future Projects

We are always developing or funding projects that invite, inspire, and challenge the next generation of engineers. These are some of our current and future projects.

Technology as art: Artists

Construction_of LEDs ::The Mini L3K Project::

This is a revival of a huge project called L3K, yet it is much smaller. The original installation was a 200 meter diameter ring of programmable LEDs. It was huge! When running at night, it was stunning to see and play with. Better, to experience this in an airplane at night was even more daunting. So, with that success, we wanted to build something smaller, that could be enjoyed in a physical place so that it could be brought to art events and enjoyed by many more.

So far, it's going great! The technology has been tested. And the vision is clear. (And the Kids are smart.)

Here is what a portion of the ring looks like being tested on the ground at night. The programmed LEDs made it look like like the whole ring was moving.

L3k Leds

This is a photo of a batch of "Pix Cells" that include the high-power RGB LED, and a PIC processor on a small PC board. These are the essential elements that provide the lights and the interpretation of the serial signal throughout the circular array of Pix Cells. Pix Cells

The final result will be a four foot diameter ring (like that of Saturn) with programmable rings of color. The foam tubes will expand the interactive piece to a much larger spoked ring of musical colors. The future Mad Scientists will be responsible for programming the LEDs. And soldering. And doing project management. And documentation. And being clear and articulate with their ability to work together as a team.

And thanks, BTW, to the whole team of Mad Scientists, the elders, who have made this - and a whole lot more - possible.

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gregory macnicol helicopter :: The Autonomous Flying Vehicle Contest ::

The AFVC is a competition that challenges hobbyists and professionals to make a flying vehicle that can - on it's own - fly though a maze made of small cardboard buildings. The buildings are only five feet tall, and the flying area is the size of a baseball field. Our primary focus is what are called "micro aircraft", which are small and affordable flying machines. We are now making plans, building relationships, and evaluating the best path to creating this DIY competition. It's been fun. And we've already lined up a place to host this frightening idea!

gregory macnicol helicopter :: The RFID Exhibition ::

At a conventional exhibition of art in a gallery, guests are asked to wear an invite badge. Yet, the badge also includes an RFID tag. The name of the guest is typed into the RFID programmer when entering. When guests walk up to a painting, their name and data is scanned, along with their fake SS number, their last purchase, where they live, their annual income, their marital status, and their location in the room. Yep. At the end of the room, there is a large projection display of all the people at the reception with their essential data, graphically associated with them, and including exactly where they are.

“Hello! Your name is Christine. Your annual income is $28,000. Your last purchase, in March, was from Victoria Secrets. You are standing next to Justin. Please introduce yourself to Justin. His annual income is $58,000. His last purchase was … .”

What will viewers experience? The arbitrary invasiveness and ease of RFID technology that reveals detailed information - about you. And, without anyone being aware that their identity is constantly being assessed and edited by others. Viewers may feel excited about this technology, or they may feel threatened by its inappropriate invasiveness. It’s a good time that Christine and Justin talk about it.

What will the recipients experience - and those who created this? Emerging engineers and experienced engineers will learn about all technical aspects of RFID devices, including commercially available products and security. These devices are now the size of a grain of rice and cost only pennies; They could end up anywhere. Developers of this project will learn the limits of the devices and how they interact with RFID listening devices. In addition, digital encryption, RF electronics, and the mechanical implementation of tiny devices will be learned. This is an interaction of technology and people.