News for something you cannot see

Two news reports used in a recent school project. Many, many thanks to Ben and Kit for being superstars.

Early Morning News with Benjamin Whitehouse from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Breaking news from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Sonar goggle detector

Since some friends went on a bat and moth walk (and I’d idly Googled bat detector kits) I’ve been curious about building my own bat detector.

A few things came together and we ended having a lot of fizzPOP conversation about bat detectors. Then I started work on a school project for which an ultrasound detector would be rather nice.

It was kind of inevitable that I’d make one then!

Working from Tony Messina’s Simple Bat Detector project, I gathered together the basic components and tonight managed to get a breadboarded prototype working.

It occurred to me that building something that reacts to ultrasound may not be the easiest of circuits to test… Fortunately, I had some sonar goggles to hand and the detector reacts to them!

Breadboarded circuit with sonar goggles looming overhead

Breadboarded circuit with sonar goggles looming overhead

sonar goggle detector from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

Mr Mabbett also suggested placing the detector near a TV set (which I don’t have) or some jangling keys (which I do!) to test it. There are some good clicks coming from the keys test too, so next step is to get the circuit soldered up onto stripboard and into an enclosure of some sort.

As well as the schools stuff – where we would be using the detector to reveal sounds beyond our hearing – I’m interested in running workshops for people to build their own detectors. I also have some crazy game ideas…

Map for something you cannot see

I’ll be using The Anticipator on Monday to try and locate the source of a mysterious noise, so over the last few days I’ve been dusting off the cardboard hardware and the (now defunct) mscape software.

The Anticipator: now with power indicator, LED bezels and several layers of what I hope will be waterproof spray...

The Anticipator: now with power indicator, LED bezels and several layers of what I hope will be waterproof spray...

I’ve tarted up The Anticipator a bit to hopefully improve its usability – bezels for the main series of LEDs and also a power indicator. We’ll be using it no matter the weather, so I’ve also given it a few coats of waterproofing. (Not that I’m feeling pessimistic at all, but I’ve also given myself a new waterproof coat too!)

I’ve put together a first draft of the GPS zones I’ll be using over the school field to represent the presence of our mysterious noise-making object and tomorrow I’ll be in Leicester giving it a test run.

School field with GPS zones overlaid

School field with GPS zones overlaid

Oh, and we’ll also be testing the field with a metal detector, just to make sure we don’t get any derailing surprises on Wednesday next week when we do it with 50 kids watching!

EMF detector

Again for the school-project-that-I-cannot-mention-explicitly-by-name-because-of-Google.

As an extra tool for us to use in our investigation into the unseen, I constructed an Arduino-based electromotive force (emf) detector. I’ve made breadboard versions of this before, but now it was time to build something a little more permanent.

barebones Arduino, 10 LEDs and a plastic case from a pound shop screw set

barebones Arduino, 10 LEDs and a plastic case from a pound shop screw set

The LEDs light up in proportion to the strength of electromagnetic field detected. Since electrical currents are intrinsically linked with magnetic fields (can’t quite remember my A-level Physics) placing the antenna near to power sockets and electrical items light up some of the LEDs.

4-way gang lights em up

4-way gang lights 'em up



The microwave seems reassuringly well shielded:

But my clock radio and bedside lamp are a tad alarming!

It’s very interesting hunting around the room for different effects. Orientation of the antenna changes the number of lit LEDs, as does switching things on and off. I’m curious to see how the detector responds to big classroom equipment such as smartboards and projectors, but of course the main point is observing how the children respond to being able to visualise things they wouldn’t otherwise be aware of.

Noise for something you cannot see

Earlier this week I had a planning meeting with the Y3 and Y4 teacher of a school I’m working at. The theme of the project will be based around the idea of investigating the things we can’t see.

The doings will kick off with me coming to the school asking for help in locating the source of a strange sound. I’m not much of a sound engineer, but when my tummy started gurgling enthusiastically after a breakfast of cold pizza this morning I grabbed my binaural mics, a digital voice recorder and the opportunity to see what would happen if I manipulated the sound a bit.

Here’s a gurgle amplified, noise removal-ed, slowed down, lowered in pitch and then overlaid with slightly off-set versions of itself.


Note to self: must make more notes to self so I can reproduce the sequence of applied effects.

Copyright and permissions:

General blog contents released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa license. Artworks and other projects copyright Nicola Pugh 2003-2024, all rights reserved.
If in doubt, ask.
The theme used on this WordPress-powered site started off life as Modern Clix, by Rodrigo Galindez.

RSS Feed.