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invention

Invent the Ultimate Computer Companion

by emily_littlebits

Published on August 2, 2016

Start by creating the Computer Companion, a character that pops up from behind your computer and says things whenever it hears a sound. Use Scratch to program your character’s voice and customize the interaction. Could you use your character to prank a friend, protect your computer, or make someone laugh?

Duration: 60 minutes (minimum)

How To Make It

STEP 1 : CREATE

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BUILD YOUR CIRCUIT.

STEP 2 :

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PRESS THE SERVO HUB ON TO THE SERVO AND ADJUST THE SERVO MODE TO TURN.

STEP 3 :

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SLIDE SERVO INTO THE SERVO MOUNT AND SCREW IN.
  • Use a Phillips head screwdriver.
  • Just one screw needed.

STEP 4 :

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PRESS THE ADHESIVE SHOES ONTO THE CIRCUIT AND SERVO MOUNT.

STEP 5 :

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WITH POWER ON, ADJUST THE SOUND TRIGGER SENSITIVITY.
  • Use the purple screwdriver to turn the sensitivity dial clockwise. This makes it more sensitive to sound.
  • Make a sound to trigger the circuit! The bargraph should light up and the servo should move.

STEP 6 :

WITH POWER ON, CONNECT THE MECHANICAL ARM TO THE SERVO HUB SO IT IS PARALLEL TO THE CIRCUIT.

STEP 7 :

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PEEL THE ADHESIVE BACK OFF THE SHOES AND STICK THE SERVO MOUNT TO THE BACK OF YOUR COMPUTER.

STEP 8 :

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SEE IT IN ACTION. MAKING A LOUD NOISE SHOULD ACTIVATE THE SOUND TRIGGER AND MAKE THE SERVO ARM SWING OVER YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN.
  • Reposition the servo hub so the mechanical arm is hidden when resting, and standing above the computer when the sound trigger is activated.

STEP 9 :

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OPEN THE SCRATCH APPLICATION ONLINE: https://scratch.mit.edu/

STEP 10 :

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CLICK “CREATE” TO START A NEW ANIMATION.

STEP 11 :

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CLICK “EVENTS” AND DRAG THE BLOCK “WHEN SPACE KEY IS PRESSED” INTO THE BLANK CANVAS ON THE RIGHT.

STEP 12 :

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IN THE DROPDOWN MENU, CHANGE “SPACE” TO “LEFT ARROW.”

STEP 13 :

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SELECT THE “SOUNDS” TAB AND DRAG THE BLOCK “PLAY MEOW SOUND UNTIL DONE” SO THAT IT CLICKS UNDER THE OTHER BLOCK.

STEP 14 :

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TEST OUT THE SCRATCH PROGRAM. WHEN YOU PRESS THE LEFT ARROW ON YOUR KEYBOARD, YOU SHOULD HEAR A MEOW SOUND ON YOUR COMPUTER.

STEP 15 :

CONNECT THE MAKEY MAKEY TO THE COMPUTER WITH THE USB CABLE.

STEP 16 :

TEST OUT THE CIRCUIT WITH SCRATCH. WHEN YOU MAKE NOISE, YOU SHOULD HEAR A MEOW ON YOUR COMPUTER AND THE SERVO SHOULD POP UP.
  • This is because the sound trigger controls the “left arrow” key on your computer.

STEP 17 :

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CUSTOMIZE: CHECK OUT THE SOUNDS TAB TO ADD YOUR OWN SOUNDS!
  • You can record your own voice, upload a sound file from your computer, or use a file from the scratch library.
  • To record your own voice, click the microphone icon to record a new sound.
  • Name your recording by typing in the box that says “recording 1.”
  • Click “Allow” to access your microphone.
  • Press record and start talking. When you are done, press record again and your sound will be saved.
  • To play that sound, open the dropdown menu on the "PLAY SOUND" block and choose your sound.

STEP 18 :

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CREATE THE CHARACTER. DRAW OR PRINT OUT A CHARACTER AND STICK IT TO THE MECHANICAL ARM.

STEP 19 :

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MAKE NOISE TO ACTIVATE YOUR CIRCUIT. THE BARGRAPH SHOULD LIGHT UP, YOUR CHARACTER SHOULD APPEAR FROM BEHIND YOUR COMPUTER, AND YOUR RECORDING SHOULD PLAY.

STEP 20 : PLAY!

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Find someone to try it out and see how they react.

STEP 21 : HOW IT WORKS

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  • Power sends a signal through the circuit
  • When triggered by sound, the sound trigger lets the signal pass through for 3 seconds.
  • The signal activates the sound trigger. You’ll know this happened when the bargraph lights up.
  • The signal passes through the bargraph and on to the servo, causing the servo to turn.
  • When the Makey Makey Bit receives a signal from the servo, it sends a left arrow command to the computer through the micro USB cable. When this happens, your computer will think that the left arrow key has been pressed.
  • When Scratch receives a left arrow command from the Makey Makey Bit, it triggers a sound bite to play on your computer.
  • Sound Trigger: You can adjust the sound trigger to respond to different levels of noise by turning the sensitivity dial. Clockwise will make it more sensitive and counter clockwise will make it less sensitive.
  • Servo: When it’s in TURN mode, the position of the servo is determined by the incoming signal. When there is no signal, the servo is all the way to the left. If the incoming signal is at full power, the servo arm is all the way to the right.

STEP 22 : REMIX

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MOVE THE BITS. Can you block someone from using your computer by changing the location of the servo so that it covers up the keyboard or screen when sound is sensed?

MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS. Make the sound trigger as sensitive as possible without the servo automatically triggering. Can you prank someone using your computer with your setup?

CREATE A CHARACTER. Build a new character and program a story in Scratch.

STEP 23 : SHARE

CREATE A STORY FOR YOUR 3D CHARACTER AND POST IT ONLINE.

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