Deployment & Analysis: The Book Project

Posted by | October 22, 2008 | ITP, Physical Computing | No Comments

It’s been a long road. For the short version of this post, click here.

My groupmates for this project were: Jayoung Chung, “Neo” Sangzoon Park, and Ozge Kirimlioglu.

First, the results

How it all began

We started with an idea of an idea. Well really, it was more like an idea of an idea’s grandmother’s 3rd cousin, twice removed. By which I mean, we all had different ideas and aethetics that we wanted to push onto this project. Books, nature scenes, moons, clocks, the abstract or even “anything so long as it’s cool.” It took a week before we managed to narrow ourselves down into something all parties could agree upon.

We were going to gut a book, and create a system reminiscent of the free-writing exercises many prose writers practice.

The components

  • 1 x Holy Bible
  • 1 x Biographical Directory of the American Congress (1774-1971)
  • 2 x Solenoids (push style)
  • 20 x Assorted plastic dice.
  • 1 x Arduino board
  • Scissors, glue, saws, wires, force sensors… you know… all that good stuff.


I’d like to start off by saying test, TEST, TEST!!!1. We tested and prototyped everything all through the build process and it saved us lots of time.

So we ordered our solenoids from McMaster-Carr’s, got our old books from Strand’s and got a bunch of cubes from Canal Plastics.

The first thing we did when we got our solenoid’s was … you guessed it! Tested em out. It would have sucked if the solenoid’s didn’t work. Luckily they did.

Next, we bought and cut all our book, which btw was the Holy Bible. We really liked the idea of using a bible for this. The only one who kind of got upset about it was the cleaning guy, but i’m not sure if he was joking or not.

More cutting was required to give the book a more aethetically pleasing shape and also, the solenoids had to be mounted for even more testing.

Meanwhile, the plastic cubes had to be etched and filled with paint, and there was soldeirng and wiring to be done. Nothing too fancy. They two solenoids required ~4A of current and ~12V of power. We *ahem* salvaged an old variable power supply and hooked it up to fix our needs.

One problem that came up was how to get the cubes to pop properly. The thing with a book is that it absorbs force quite well if there’s just a solid board going across it. So we came up with a prototype that involved springs, so that the board had some give. In the end though, we went with stretchy cloth. That way there were no gaps, plus then we could put a nice design of print on it.

More testing! We set up our device on some blocks and put a clear piece of plastic so we could observe.

Now, it was just time to assemble and fine tune. There were a couple minor things. Had to drill a hole in the larger american congress book we were using for a base to hold the solenoids. We didn’t have any drill bits that were the perfect size, so we had to retain the mounting board we used for the prototype above to hold them in place.
The base also had to be stained (with coffee grounds) to match the coloring of the top book. Gave it a nice “aged” look. Also, as you can see the cool-looking cubes were also a bit hard to read, so we decided to cover it up with tape and add snippets form the excess pages. It worked out pretty well, though I do wish we could have incorporated some of the words that god left behind. Like… “jabberwocky” or “sesquipedal”.

One last casualty, Jayoung’s Arduino board died due to a mistake of wiring.

Done at last, we spent the last little bit taking pictures of our finished product, documenting it all, and generally making merry (except not so much with the making merry).

Overall Impression

I enjoyed working on this project. Everyone brought something to the table.
Jayoung had a strong artistic flair, Neo rocks with electronics, Ozge has a good eye for details. We did take some time reach a consensus for what to do, but that’s to be expected when so many people with different skillsets mix. I look foward to working with them all again (and I’m not just saying that to be nice =p ).

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