Building the Millennium Falcon
power bit and cable+sound trigger+DC motor+servo. Attach bits to lego adapter.
Build a lego base to your desired specifications. Make sure the DC motor wheel reaches whatever you are using for it to coast on. Important! Attach all components securely before putting in piano if you don't you will most likely have to ask a piano technician to come and fish them out.
Borrow Star Wars Origami by Chris Alexander from the library or buy your own copy. Use the template and fold according to instructions. Ours turned out looking accurately folded but the markings didn't line up so we photocopied the exact details we wanted and pasted them on top of the finished origami. Folding this origami may be tricky if you are not experienced (we weren't) so give yourself lots of time and expect to need lots of patience. But it's totally worth it because the millennium falcon has to be in proportion to the Death Star and light enough to move properly.
Building the Death Star
power bit and cable+pulse+LED light+lego adapter
Build a flat lego platform. Attach circuit to the base using the lego adapter.
Build Death Star using directions and template for Origami Star Wars characters. Tape origami Death Star to the front of the base. Puncture the super laser on the death star with a pencil and feed the LED light through the origami.
Setting up the event
Carefully line up the wheel attached to the DC motor so that it runs along the rim of the metal sound board in the piano. Adjust the sensitivity of the sound trigger so that it only activates with louder sounds (Hopefully trick your kids into practicing the piano in the name of the Millennium Falcon).
Set the death star on the metal part of the piano in front of the Millennium Falcon. Now turn the power modules on and play the piano while watching the Millennium Falcon - it will move according to how you play!
We weren't sure how to destroy the Death Star until we recorded the littlebits in action. Quite unexpectedly, the Millennium Falcon ended up pushing over the Death Star, which was then pummeled to death by the piano hammers. This didn't happen in our practice runs - the death star was never pushed over - but it ended up being very exciting and provided a logical ending to the scene.We love the idea that the Little Bits seemed to come alive and make their own ending. Listen for my (mamaJ) horrified yell at the end of the dark version of our video.
Filming and Final thoughts
Originally, we wanted the scene to be filmed in the piano lid because the shiny black finish of a piano has a very space like quality. We wanted the scene to look like it was in space so we had to work backwards to figure out how everything should be built so that it would look like it was flying in space. We liked the effect however it could probably use better lighting to be shot more effectively and we also thought that seeing everything move on the actual piano gave a better idea of how this project works, so we decided to show both videos. The "space" version contains our honest reaction to witnessing the destruction of the death star and we personally think this is the better version.
Finally, this project was meant to be accoustic meaning only the actual piano (and pianist) could control the littlebits (no special effects or anything remotely controlled which were techniques we tried in a previous project). We challenged ourselves to think how we could mimic remotely controlling the components but in a very literal, physical way (basically working within the confines of the kit that we owned). We wanted to combine art, music, electronics and imagination.
Which do you think works better; the video shot in the piano lid or the video shot on the piano?
Please let us know :)