Over the last week I have made substantial progress on my Smart Tiles project. I did some play testing with friends to solidify thoughts around the interface. I have also continued to slog away in Fusion 360, finishing and placing an order for the PCB with OSHPark, ordering components from DigiKey, and preparing materials and design for the enclosure.
Render of the top of the PCB
This is my first time designing a PCB and I was nervous to place the order. I first considered prototyping the board on the floor at ITP using copper clad boards in a CNC. Ultimately the routing on the PCB I wanted to do required lots of vias that would be difficult to do by hand so I decided to order online from OSHPark. Already since placing the order I have caught issues in the design I will need to fix but I look forward to getting one of these running and sorting out those points.
Render of copper traces on top layer of PCB
Also love the purple boards from OSHPark.
Here is an early render of the enclosure. I am still brainstorming around button placement for the top of the board. Based on feedback from Tom Igoe’s Physical Computing class and play testing with my friend Cecilia, I am thinking that the controls will break down as power switch, volume rocker, a “game” button perhaps with a puzzle-piece symbol, and an enter button.
My plan is for the board to recognize when a tile is placed on it, to light up at the top and bottom of that tile, and respond by speaking the letter that was placed along with a best attempt at speaking the phonetic sounds of the current word.
While I have RFID readers as backup I had a good experiment with an analog hall sensor and have rerouted from my earlier ideas of either using RFID tags or electrical contacts to recognize blocks. Instead my plan is for an array of analog hall sensors to read magnets embedded in the letter tiles to determine one from another. The magnets will also be used with hall switches to detect the orientation of the tiles and sense when they are placed or removed from the board.
There is a lot more here that I would love to go further into and lots of folks I am appreciative to. My friend Zach Kuperstein helped me last week in his home wood shop to prepare a bunch of 1/2 inch birch plywood pieces to used in the Othermill Pro CNC mill on the ITP floor. My professors have also all been incredibly encouraging and provided helpful input. I feel super supported here.
Will this project be finished before my final classes next week? No. Most definitely not finished. But aspects of it will be working and I will have the confidence and motivation to complete it thanks to everything I am learning.