Physical Computing


This class is a hands-on introduction to basic electronics and programming. Students will work on three projects throughout the course: 3D printing, soft circuits (electronics that can be sewn into fabric), and the MaKey MaKey (a device that can be reprogrammed to turn conductive objects, like fruit, into musical instruments). We are not only interested in how these systems work, but also in how we might use them to prototype inventions and understand how humans can interact with computers in new ways. For example, what if we could turn the stairs into a playable keyboard? How does that change the way we feel about walking five flights to class? How does technology respond to human behavior, and how does it change it?

This course is grounded in the maker movement, which means that we’re interested in new technologies (like 3D printing and microcontrollers that can be programmed to behave in different ways) and traditional methods (like sewing, making music and drawing), and in how those can be brought together. We’re interested making real, physical things, not just talking about them. We’re interested in sharing our experiments with the maker community, which means that we’ll be documenting our work online with blog posts, photos, and videos.

Offered Fall 2013, Winter 2014 / Electronics Syllabus 2013-14

Class materials list, via SparkFun – materials are supplied in class /

Paper Circuits + Electronic Pop-ups (Week 1)

> Check out the awesome work from Jie Qi at MIT

The PCOMP overview!

The MaKey MaKey //

> Here’s the MaKey MaKey Guide Part I and Part II

> Watch some MaKey MaKey demos on Vimeo

> Watch Jay SIlver (MaKey creator) on “Hack a banana, make a keyboard!” (YouTube)

> MaKey MaKey game resources from Isiah, here

Soft Circuits //

> We’ll begin with this soft circuits workshop facilitator’s guide (PDF)

We use the LilyPad. Here’s the Getting Started Guide.

> Check out LilyPond, a collection of awesome LilyPad projects

3D Printing //

> We have a Printrbot LC. Here’s the Getting Started Guide.

> We also have a MakerBot Replicator 2.

> Use Tinkercad to create 3D models to print –

> Use Thingiverse to find 3D models to print –