Posted on | January 12, 2012 | 1 Comment
Its been a while since i posted anything on this blog, partly due to finishing all of my university course work and taking a few months to recover from it all. For anyone that has been reading this blog in the past, you may have read about some of the projects i had been involved with, however i thought it would be good to write a summary of some of my work whilst in university. Its almost impossible to completely summarise all of the projects i worked on during my 3 years in university, but i’ll try my best!
Being a mature student at university was a great experience, something i never thought i would do but i really enjoyed my time at the University of Wales, Newport. The Creative Sound and Music degree course was a superb and very innovative course, with the ‘best’ tutors in my opinion!! Huge thanks to Matthew Lovett, Tim Land, Nic Finch and Andre Ktori for their help during my 3 years as a student.
My final year project included involved a project titled ‘CARBON COMPOSITION’ which involved converting real-time electricity consumption from households across the globe into audible sound (will post some more info later in this post).
During the first year of my studies I worked on quite a lot of music, some of which is included below in the 2 videos shown.
During my second year at University, i attended an Arduino workshop at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff and was introduced to a platform called ‘PACHUBE (now called Xively)‘ which allowed users to upload and share sensor data (energy usage, temperature, light levels etc..) and also allowed users to use similar data from around the globe in real-time. I was amazed when i first saw the Pachube platform and spent the following 18 months trying to understand the programming environment, thanks mainly to the excellent tutorials written on the Pachube/Xively website. I pretty much owe everything to the Pachube/Xively staff, for writing such excellent tutorials which allowed me to realise my project idea.
I originally began using the Processing platform, to convert various sensor data into sound, simply by converting the numerical number (of the sensor data) into an audible sine-wave frequency (hertz). Soon afterwards though, I bought a Current Cost Energy Monitor, and began monitoring my own electricity consumption.
Amazingly, i managed to cut my quarterly electricity bill (3 months) from £130 to just £45. Quite an amazing saving really, not just in Carbon Emissions but it also saved me a huge amount of money whilst struggling as a student.
I focused all of my work from this point, on monitoring similar electricity consumption data from households around the globe. Early attempts were quite primitive, although at the time i was really happy with my progress!
Shown below is an early prototype:
Fast forward a year….and my project had changed dramatically. Firstly, i began using the graphical programming software called Max/Msp (www.cycling74.com) to convert the Pachube/Xively data, and this was a very steep learning curve. I literally spent 12-16 hours a day, working tirelessly on trying to understand the platform. See image below for a very, very early prototype! (click image to view full size).
I invested a HUGE amount of time and effort into learning Max/Msp, and my project soon evolved even further. Much work involved designing an interface for the project, once all of the stuff was working correctly. Early prototypes are shown below: –
My project also included a ‘public viewing’ of my CarbonComposition project, which was thankfully shown at the official opening of the New City Campus (the Newport University campus situated in Newport City Centre) which also showcased many other students work.
(For further details please read this blog post )
As my project neared completion, one of my tutors recommended that i make a video for the project, which would help make the project more portable, and hopefully to be seen by more people. It took me quite a long time to realise the benefits of making the video, as much of my work so far had concentrated on the ‘real-time’ aspects of monitoring the electricity consumption, however in hindsight i do think the video helped my project by pushing it even further than i previously envisaged.
Shown below is the final video I submitted which was shown as part of my degree show (May 2011).
For the final video, i ended up monitoring 54 data streams related to electricity consumption from households around the globe. It was a massive task to do this and more information can be found in earlier blog posts.
Thankfully however, all of my hard work paid off and i was very happy and surprised to receive a very high university grade!!
4 years ago… i never thought I would ever go to university, but thankfully with the support and help of all of my tutors, they gave me confidence and belief in myself and I will always be grateful to them for this.
Finally, a few months ago i was contacted by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DBC) regarding their technology programme titled ‘Harddisken’ (http://www.dr.dk/harddisken/om-harddisken/harddisken-in-english/), and was asked to be interviewed about my project which used the Pachube / Xively platform. I was really happy that they had shown interest in my project and the interview was broadcasted on Wednesday October 5th!
Here is a link to the episode (website) http://www.dr.dk/harddisken/blog/2011/10/05/del-dine-data-og-red-verden/
Huge thanks again to Anders, and all of the other Harddisken staff for showing interest in my project and for interviewing me for their radio show.
Lastly I would like to thank all of the Pachube / Xively staff especially Usman Haque, for all of the help and support they gave me throughout my time as a student. My project would not have been possible without the excellent tutorials which were featured on the Pachube website, which allowed me to learn so much about the platform.
Hopefully i will add a few more blog posts in the future, and give details of some of the other projects/music I worked on during my time whilst studying for a BA (Hons) in Creative Sound and Music, at the University of Wales.
For further information on my university projects please see earlier blog posts, but also feel free to check out some of the links below (my soundcloud page contains lots of music i recorded between 1992-2000):
Thanks for reading!
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