The inspiration for this project is the passion and desire to create a human-machine interactive device in a party setting to bring joy and happiness among the people. While brainstorming for ideas for the hackathon, we came across a lot of cool technologies and party events in which such interactive technologies were used. What we noticed is that an interactive device which would sync with the music being played and involve the user in controlling operation of several exciting tasks is missing. We also realized that Halloween is round the corner. Thus we decided to design and develop our Halloween party station which would interact with the user in an entertaining way.
The Halloween Party Station is designed to be synchronized with an interactive audio-visual application so that the user would be able to use motion control to play while seemingly dancing to the dynamic music and visuals. In addition, we added various features to make the user feel like the application will "react" to his actions. These include: a balloon that will pop at the peak of the user's performance, a 3D-printed bobblehead that will groove to the beat of the music, and Christmas lights which will either run in random sequence or flash rapidly depending on the user motion.
Most of the interactive events are controlled by the Arduino and the nrf24L01 wireless RF-transceiver. The nrf24L01 transceivers are used for transfer of data between the custom-designed motion controller and the base controller. The custom-designed motion controller is a device which consists of an arduino nano, a 6-DOF accelerometer, 9-Volt battery and two-channel relay. The motion controller is unique and innovative since we modified the sleeping mask provided by Walmart into a headband which houses the electronics of the motion controller. The motion controller is responsible in sensing the head movements of the user as well as touch inputs to trigger various tasks in the base controller.
The base controller is the main hub which smartly analyses the information obtained from the motion controller and the audio signal. The base consists of an arduino nano, 3 two-channel relays, 120-volt battery, power regulator and nrf24L01 chip. The base controller processes the information obtained based on signal processing and sensor fusion algorithms. The base controller is also responsible for the following outputs namely: audio-visual information control, balloon popping, christmas lights control and animatronics head control. All the outputs are driven using relays. In addition, the bobble-head was 3-D printed, our balloon was hanged on a pole made of PVC pipes, and the Christmas lights were controlled by various relays.
During our project, initially we planned to make a dry rocket launcher but were not allowed because of safety issues. We immediately brainstormed and came up with a balloon popping idea to replace the rocket launcher which was really self-motivating for the team. On day 2, we had a lot of trouble in setting up the wireless communication between the nRF24L01 chips and seamlessly send the sensors data to the base controller. We spent several hours coding and testing the device to make sure the algorithm is properly implemented and everything is successfully executed. Overall, system integration was another big challenge.
I am really proud that my team and I were able to successfully design, develop and integrate an entire system while sticking to a timeline and being able to achieve the planned functionalities. We also were able to learn each others' strengths and weaknesses as individuals. The biggest achievement of this experience is that we intuitively came up with a completely new and unique interactive motion controller.
The next stop for the Halloween party station is to entertain Purdue students during Halloween by integrating more features and operations that can be controlled by the user.