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Been very busy the past few weeks planning a project in a local school which involves the use of various sensors on a range of projects.
Instead of using an arduino with wi-fi/ethernet shield, i opted to try out the Adafruit Huzzah Feather (ESP8266) module due to it’s portability and ease of use and so far I am very very impressed with it!
Took me a while to install a suitable SiLabs USB Driver (mac osx 10.10.5) as the newest version wouldn’t allow the Arduino IDE programming software to recognise the Huzzah Feather. Luckily the earlier legacy driver version fixed the problem completely.
I then tried running it on battery power after ordering a cheap 3.7v 600mAh battery from eBay.
Hoping the battery would last for days, unfortunately it only lasted a matter of hours, so I ended up learning how to send the Huzzah microcontroller into ‘deep sleep’ mode, switching itself on and of every 10 minutes to upload its data to www.thingspeak.com
Thankfully the battery now last for +48 hours or more if the upload interval resolution is changed!
I have been checking out www.thingspeak.com for the past month too, as another alternative to other IoT platforms out there and its a great platform.
I’ve managed to upload data to a channel: https://thingspeak.com/channels/350255
and read it’s data in XML format directly in Max/MSP:
Lots more work to be getting on with, so I will try and post more updates soon!]]>
Finally got around to posting a new blog post here. Been pretty busy with music production related things over the past 18 months and haven’t had much time to update the Carbon Composition website and App.
Today however, I’ve added a new version of the software (V2.0 for OSX & Windows computers) which can be download for free via the Carbon Composition DOWNLOAD PAGE.
Some of the previous data feeds were not broadcasting and so have since been updated. To update the feeds I used the SensMap Visualization Framework. A working demo can be found HERE which allows data feeds to be searched for on a ‘Google Map’ (similar to the original Pachube front page circa 2009).
Click image below for larger view.
As shown above, feeds can be selected by completing various fields such as ‘tag’ (e.g. Watts, Temperature) and ‘location’ (user scalable size).
As many may know, Pachube (founded in 2007) was acquired by the company LogMeIn in July 2011 and renamed to COSM (beta). Another rebranding brought COSM out of beta development and was rebranded as Xively.
The website has changed dramatically and now features even more excellent tutorials for a wider range of platforms (Raspberry Pi, Electric Imp and others). A more complete list can be found here.
The excellent API however remains largely the same, which has allowed projects such as Carbon Composition to be able to continue.
As mentioned previously, you can now download a free (limited functionality) version of Carbon Composition V2.0 for Mac and Windows platforms here. Installation details for using the free ‘Guest Key’ are found on the download page. The software will not run without the guest key being copied and pasted into the text input box (top left of the application).
As shown below:-
For further information on the Carbon Composition project CONTACT US.]]>
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.
Recycle (Apple Motion Audio/Sync) from Guy Evans on Vimeo.
Out of Space (inspired by Alvin Lucier) from Guy Evans on Vimeo.
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:
Minim Pachube Test (July 5th 2010) from Guy Evans on Vimeo.
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.
Thank you so much Pachube / Xively and also Current Cost LTD. !!
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!
Statsinsound Stats In Sound
Shown below is the final piece of work i submitted as my final project whilst studying ‘Creative Sound and Music’ at the University of Wales, Newport.
For best results listen wearing headphones! (click vimeo link to view in HD)
For those that have read this blog previously, you’ll know that i was originally planning to show my project as an art installation, allowing members of the public to ‘hear realtime networked electricity consumption as sound’. SEE THIS BLOG POST
Well, due to feedback from my tutors, i opted to create this short video which gives a slightly more cinematic feel to the work, and although the video is not realtime, the audio sinewaves (which represent the electricity consmption) were all exported as wavefiles in realtime from Max/Msp, then imported into Logic Pro and automated (stereo and surround pan). The video was created using Google Earth map imagery and then imported into Final Cut Pro.
I created 2 versions, one is a stereo mix where each marker on the map moves in the stereo field, and i also created a version in 5.1 surround sound.
The surround sound version meant placing the 5.1 surround speakers around the viewing screen to give the impression of sounds moving in a circular motion in front of the viewer.
The speaker configuration is as follows:
Front Left/Centre/Front Right (around the top of the screen)
Rear Left/Rear Right (around the bottom of the screen)
I’m currently planning on showing the original installation of the work (see this blog post) at the Big Little City exhibition in the Old Libray in the Hayes, Cardiff for the duration of 1-2 weeks (from Wednesday June 22nd). This will allow me to show my original concept for the project and i will be using the electricity consumption of the Old Library (in The Hayes, Cardiff) as part of the installation, allowing members of the public to hear the consumption as sound and to compare the energy usage with other locations around the globe in realtime.
Will post more details soon..]]>
Will post a full update after the event showing photographs and a video of the event. Very busy time at the moment!
Due to a busy period in university over the past couple of months I’ve not had much time to update this blog, however things have been progressing well and a few days ago I finally installed my Carbon Composition project in a public space!! The project was shown along with many others students work as part of the official opening of the new University of Wales, City Campus (located in Newport).
It was quite a nerve racking experience to place my ‘Carbon Composition’ project in a public space and I definitely learned a great deal on how i can maybe improve aspects of the project. Overall though, I gained a lot of valueable feedback from the many people who tested it out!
Here is a quick summary of my progress:
I’ve redesigned the max/msp interface and have also built an arduino controlled interactive map, which allow users to control the volumes of the energy consumption (audible sound) for each of the locations on the map. (I must thank Matt and Wayne from the university woodwork department and also Kim from the electronics lab for the help they gave me whilst constructing the map).
Have also been testing out 6 Current Cost IAM devices (thanks to Elliot at Current Cost) which allow for the monitoring of individual electrical appliances around the home. The devices allow data to be sent via a wireless connection to my CC128 Current Cost meter and I’ve adapted the Max/Msp patch to combine the 6 values as a total.
As mentioned in my earlier blog posts, I’m currently planning to use the Current Cost devices in a musical performance, allowing members of the public to see and hear real-time electricity consumption as I interact with appliances on stage. All of the data is being sent via www.pachube.com and then sent to Max/Msp.
Have been testing out the devices with various appliances, such as a household fan which results in various musical frequencies depending on which power level is being used (Low/Mid/High). Will be testing out more ideas over the forthcoming month.
Shown below is a screenshot of the updated redesign of the Max/Msp interface (click image for larger view)
Huge thanks to my good friend Leigh Davies (pictured top) for being one of the first people to test out the Carbon Composition installation! (Thanks Leigh!) Please check out his incredible Rayne Project (which uses an arduino to convert musical notes into coloured drops of oil), here is a link to his blog http://leighdaviesofficial.co.uk/blog/.
Also, i would like to thank Pachube for adding my Pach2Max (max/msp patch) to their app repository. The app allows max/msp users to send pachube data into max/msp. I’m very grateful for Pachube to host the app, which is available to download at http://apps.pachube.com/#mc (scroll down).
Finally, I would like to thank Steve from Beepscore for letting me beta test his Pachube app ‘Hubscape’, which is now available to download from the Apple app store! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hubcape/id415870866?mt=8.]]>
I’m now focusing on the next phase of my project (Major Project pt. 2) which will result in an interactive performance installation as part of my graduation show (taking place at the Riverfront Centre, Newport, UK on May 6th and 7th 2011).
I recently submitted my ‘Carbon Composition’ standalone application (see earlier blog posts for details) created using Max/Msp as my major project last semester, which also coincided with the launch of the website www.carboncomposition.co.uk.
The Max/Msp application was the accumulation of 12 months work, which included learning about the Pachube platform and also the arduino microcontroller, whilst earlier drafts also incorporated the programming language Processing (with the excellent Minim library).
For the past few month I had been planning to build (for my graduation show) an exhibition display stand similar to the Carbon Composition application, which would feature a large scale map of the world with RGB LED’s placed at each location on the map (these would change colour dependent on the real-time electricity consumption of the locations on the map).
The 12 RGB LED’s were to be controlled using Max/Msp with 2 arduino mega’s. (as shown below)
However, I’m currently working on a redesign of the Carbon Composition software, as part of my upcoming performance installation in May 2011. The benefits of using the software version as a projection compared to an exhibition display stand include: being able to use the Max/Msp interface to display the current value of the Pachube feeds whilst also allowing the real-time display of the sine wave signals related to the Pachube data feeds (linked to the energy consumption data).
The updated design (as shown below) includes the building of a midi controller (to allow the 12 audible sine wave signals to be controlled independently). This will hopefully allow for more interaction with the musical frequencies allowing for a more compositional aspect to the performance/project.
Updated design – March 2011 (Click image for larger view)
I’m now hoping to incorporate 6 IAM (Individual appliance monitor) devices from Current Cost Ltd, as part of my live performance in May, which will monitor electrical appliances in the performance space itself. Hopefully this will result in a musical performance by simply switching these electrical appliances on and off, resulting in the electricity consumption for each device to be played as an audible sine wave.
For example, switching on a lamp would result in approximately 30-40 watts of power consumption (resulting in a musical frequency/note of 30-40 hertz). As the other appliances are switched on, the public will be able to see and hear these huge disparities between the various household appliances which we use in our daily lives.
I will post further details on my progress over the next few weeks (including the building of the midi-controller).
Finally i would once again like to thank Usman Haque at Pachube (and all the Pachube staff) for the help they have given me during the past 12 months whilst I have been working on my Carbon Composition university project. The project would not have been possible without the excellent tutorials made available on the Pachube site.
I would also especially like to thank Elliot and James at Current Cost for the helpful feedback they have given me regarding my university project, which uses their energy saving devices to convert electricity consumption into audible sound.
Will try and post further updates on my progress soon…]]>
I’m currently collating all of my university work for this semester (haven’t had much time to update this blog), although have lots of updates waiting to be added to this page very shortly!
The CarbonCompositon standalone application (for Mac/PC formats) is being finalised and will be made available shortly through the website www.carboncomposition.co.uk shown below.
Other updates include:
Pach2Max – a Max/Msp patch which enable users to easily output data from Pachube into Max/Msp.
I’m hoping to get this added to the Pachube apps page and to also get it listed on their tutorial pages very shortly. The public release of the application has been delayed due to bug fixes and a better XML parsing system, however these problems have now been fixed.
UPDATE: The free patch is now available to download at http://apps.pachube.com/#mc
My earlier blog post (here) went into some detail on how I had managed to read the XML data, although the previous version was not ideal. I’ve since updated it and hopefully it will help others who are also trying to input Pachube data into Max/Msp.
The screenshot below gives details on how to parse the XML file (line by line). Change the Feed ID to the Pachube feed you wish to import. Also, you’ll need to enter your own valid Pachube API key into the text box.
I still have to specify the ‘line number’ which holds the value i wish to import (this could be different for other users using different feeds). Double click [jit.textfile] to read the XML file in Max, then specify the line which contains the value you wish to output.
Credits and thanks to Luke Hall, for his helpful Max/Msp forum posts regarding XML and the [jit.textfile] object!
(Click the image below for larger view)
I hope to experiment further over the next few weeks to see if there is a simpler way of gathering the data (preferably without having to specify the line number).
Shown below is a zip file containing a version of the patch (with added comments.
Download – pachube test patch (zip file, 4KB)
If further help is needed, just send me a message using the contact form (shown on the contact page, linked at top of this blog)…thanks!]]>
Max/Msp standalone app (update Nov 21st 2010) from Guy Evans on Vimeo.
Update Nov.21st 2010
The video above shows the final stages of my standalone max/msp application, using Pachube (electricity consumption) data to control audible sinewaves. As you can see in the video, i’ve now reverted back to the previous map display which adds much more colour to the project. I’ve kept the yellow pulses which surround the LED locations on the map, which blink when the Pachube data is received for that location.
I’m currently working on the packaging, which will be handed in as a prototype for my current university module.
Had a great lecture this morning with my one of my tutors Nic Finch, detailing the various types of packaging used for distributing media (Vinyl/Cd’s/Flash drives/Mini SD cards etc. It definitely got me thinking on how i can present the standalone app.
I shall be uploading a few Max/Msp patches over the next few days, giving further details on how i’m receiving the data from Pachube and into max/msp. I hope to add a few example sketches which can be adapted to allow other users to choose data feeds they wish to import. I’ve made a few improvements to the max patches, and i hope it may help other max/msp users to import their own data streams from Pachube.
If any pachube users would like to try out the Max/Msp application (which runs as a standalone OSX application), please contact me using the contact page at the top of this blog. The app just needs a valid Pachube API key, for testing. Any feedback regarding the application would be a huge help to me.
I’m still making adjustments to the application, and will hopefully release a public version over the coming weeks. I hope to try and get some of the example Max/Msp patches added to the Pachube examples on the Pachube site, with the hope of helping others who would like to use Pachube data in their own Max patches.
Also, i would expecially like to thank Rob at Pachube, for mentioning my university project on the Pachube Forum pages. Click here to read http://community.pachube.com/node/553
I would also like to thank Usman Haque and all the staff at Pachube for the help they have given me over the past few months, expecially for the tutorial examples and forum posts on the site. My university project would not have been possible without the excellent documentation featured on the Pachube site.
As mentioned in the article, i’m currently a music student (who started exploring programming about 10 months ago), after originally using Processing and Arduino, but more recently using Max/Msp.
The university project shown in the video (above) is hopefully going to culminate in a gallery installation (2011) which consists of a large map (exhibiton stand) with RGB LED’s placed at various locations on the map. The colours of each LED will respond directly to various data feeds from Pachube (my own energy usage is being incorporated into the project).
Speakers will be used to play the data as audible sinewaves, to hopefully raise awareness of energy consumption.]]>