Queens College
DESN 265
Physical Computing

Spring 2023
Monday, 1:40 PM – 5:30 PM
Slack Channel
Klapper 107 and Queens College Makerspace

Class Code Examples on GitHub

YouTube Channel

No Class
February 12 (Held on Thursday, February 22 / In-Person)
February 19 (Held on Wednesday, February 28 / Online)
April 22 (Spring Recess)
April 29 (Spring Recess)

Course Description
Using a keyboard and mouse is not how we communicate with each other so why do we use these archaic tools to communicate with our machines? In this course we will be focusing on how we can use microprocessors (like the Arduino or Raspberry Pi) and their programming frameworks, along with sensors, motors, potentiometers, cameras, etc. to allow humans to more naturally interact with digital and physical installations.

The ability to use our hand gestures, facial features, touch, body movements, voice, along with other environmental and biometric sensors will allow us to break the awkward relationship that we currently have with our computers. The students will be encouraged, through weekly assignments, to take these technical skills and equipment to come up with interesting, creative and artistic outputs. Inter disciplinary and cross-departmental collaboration will be highly encouraged. Some examples: Collaboration with dancers to make interactive performances, sculptors to make kinetic and interactive artwork, and musicians to make new interfaces for musical expression. Although this class will cover technical skills like electrical engineering, physical engineering, and programming, we will also have lectures on design, sculpture and the performing arts.

Course Objectives
The objectives of this course is to have students break out of the traditional world of touch screens, monitors, keyboards and mice and experiment with designing physical interactive interfaces using microcontrollers like the Arduino. Through experimentation and play we will explore the world of electronics and sensors to design and build working prototypes that users can walk up to and interact with. Projects can range from the more practical like interactive physical interfaces to control parameters in Adobe Lightroom to more artistic projects like robots that dance to Beyonce’s Single Ladies.

Learning Outcomes
Students in this class will become comfortable with thinking outside of the box when it comes to what you can design and build. They will gain a solid technical understand on the basics of electronics, circuit board design and programming for the Arduino as well as how to use different sensors and components like distance sensors, temperature sensors, buttons, motors, knobs, etc. We will also discuss how to design and build enclosures for our circuitry that would have a nicely designed user interface on the exterior. Lastly students will improve their ability to document their process and projects progress using blogging platforms.

Course Requirements
Class participation is mandatory. You are expected to be present; to participate in a positive, constructive manner; and to produce work that is full of energy and completed and presented to the best of your ability.

It is your responsibility to turn in work on time, to make up any missed assignments, and to catch up with the class in the event of an absence. Late work is unacceptable; however, this work turned in for partial credit. If you know you are going to be absent, contact the professor by email in advance. For the most up-to-date information (including what is due next class) visit the class website: pcomp.danne.design.

This is a hands-on course, and regular attendance is necessary for participation. You will be graded on in-class participation. If you know you are going to be absent, contact the professor by email in advance. Students who miss numerous classes will find it difficult to pass the course. Visual assignments and projects will be graded based on: one for technical merit, concept and your demonstrated ability to understand the material. Your final grades will be calculated by the following: 80% project, 20% participation. You are expected to spend as much time working outside the classroom as you work inside the classroom. Schedule your time accordingly.

You will need to have a notebook or sketchbook that you will be expected to bring to every class, your Arduino starter kit, as well as a 4gb or larger thumbdrive to transfer digital files, and earphones for listening to video tutorials in class.

Frequently visit pcomp.danne.design for the most up-to-date information regarding this class and what is due.

Comes with your Arduino Starter Kit

Suggested Reading
Making Things Talk, by Tom Igoe
Learning Electronics with Arduino, by Jody Culkin and Eric Hagan

Professors Contact Info
Name: Danne Woo
Email: [email protected]
URL: dannewoo.com
Office Hours: calendly.com/dannewoo/office-hours

Two (unexcused) absences result in grade drop and four absences result in a failing grade. Late or early departure from class (15 minutes) is the equivalent of ½ absence.

To earn an A:
All class work and homework is excellent. Projects have been completed when assigned. The work shows a development and understanding of the principles discussed in class. It is presented immaculately. There is regular and prompt attendance and participation during critiques and an enthusiasm toward the material being presented throughout the semester. This is exceptional work.

To earn a B:
All assigned work completed in a thorough manner. An understanding of the principles and lessons covered in class is evident. The student comes to class regularly and on time and participates in critiques and discussions. This is better than average work.

To earn a C:
Most class assignments and homework have been completed. Regular attendance but minimal or negative class participation. There is understanding of most of what’s being presented in class. This student shows some interest in the course content. This is average work.

To earn a D:
Most class assignments and homework have not been completed. Marginal effort made to understand the course objectives and very little or negative participation on behalf of the student. Spotty attendance. This means below average work.

To earn an F:
Student has not completed 1⁄3 of the course work and has missed too many classes. This student doesn’t participate or has a bad attitude and shows no interest. It means not enough work, attendance, and/or effort to pass the class.