At our dorm in East Campus, making murals has been a long-standing tradition. We love to paint and express ourselves in artistic ways. But as MIT students, we're also short on time! We find the most time consuming part of painting is mixing the right colors we want to paint with. And we don't have infinite money that we can buy whatever shade we like! So, we built a device that makes it easier for artists to put paint on paper by taking away the frustrating time it takes to mix the colors we want to paint.
What it does
Our device takes input from the user (you!) in the form of a photo pixel or in the form of RGB value. It then determines the correct proportion of the five fundamental pigments (red, yellow, blue, black, and white) to mix in order to achieve that desired color, and automatically dispenses them for you. This way, your painting time will go down dramatically and you'll be able to become a more prolific artist :)
How we built it
We first designed our system in SolidWorks. After getting the dimensions and theory of mechanics right, we constructed using 80/20 and laser cut clear acrylic. We have the five base pigments arranged in a circular array of syringes, and we use Nema 17 stepper motors to rotate the array and to dispense the correct amount of each base pigment into a bowl. We use Pololu motor controllers driven by an Arduino Mega 2560. To determine the correct mapping of RGB value to proportions of RYBWB pigments, we use a machine learning algorithm generated by data we gathered at the beginning of the hackathon (what proportions of RYBWB pigments lead to what RGB values). Our classifier does a decent job of determining the correct proportion, and our mechanical system can accurately dispense the desired amounts of each pigment.
Challenges we ran into
We faced some problems in counteracting inertia when rotating the array of pigments. We were able to fix this problem by reducing the mass of our array and implementing a ramp-up rotation algorithm. Developing our function mapping algorithm also proved challenging, though we were able to figure out a solution :)
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're so happy that we made a funcitonal, sophisticated, and aesthetically pleasing device. And proud of dealing with the challenges written above.
What we learned
We learned the importance of pre-planning and CAD, without which our project would be in shambles. We also always kept the user in mind when creating our device, so it's very tailored for artists to use in real life.
What's next for Paint with All the Colors of the Rainbow
Well, we're going to use it regularly now when we want to paint murals in our dorm! :)