Prototyping for Sound: Arduino MP3 Player Shield

I’m experimenting with a Sparkfun mp3 player shield for Arduino, using it to prototype for a sound installation idea. In this prototype there are just simple push buttons, while the final installation is more likely to use sensing or more complex triggers. This prototype allows me to experiment with different sounds and on a small scale, get a sense of how sound transitions might work. For the speaker I’m using my old faithful Fender mini amp, love this little device! I use it routinely for prototyping. The video here demonstrates a setup of simple push button that trigger custom sounds stored on the sd card.

There are tutorials and libraries on the Sparkfun site and Github. I used this tutorial to get started.

Want to learn more about Arduino shields?


Connectivity Lab Live at Malmö University, Sweden

In December 2012 IBM Chief Scientist John Cohn and I participated remotely in Connectivity Lab Live at Malmö University in Sweden. It was a great opportunity to introduce Vermont Makers, swap stories about the maker movement and share our explorations arts, science and technology. To learn more see the links and video documentation below.



Connectivity Lab Website

BM Chief Scientist John Cohn and artist Jenn Karson speak at Connectivity Lab Live, Malmö University, Sweden

Learn how E-textiles are an accessible and fun introduction into the world of electronics

Come to Champlain Mini Maker Faire to stitch with conductive thread and make Champ, The Lake Champlain Sea Monster, light up!


You’ve probably heard me talk about my enthusiasm for Champlain Mini Maker Faire , coming right up on September 29, 2012. This event will bring together innovators of all ages in engineering, science and the arts. Today I want to share my excitement about a particular maker who is coming to the Faire:  Beverly Ball, a teacher from Denver Academy in Denver, Colorado who will show visitors how E-textiles are an accessible and fun introduction into the world of electronics.

Want to try working with conductive thread? At Bev’s booth you’ll get to help sew a huge LED glowing CHAMP, The Lake Champlain Sea Monster!

Below are descriptions of her booth and workshop, designed for all those curious! See you there!

11:00 am– 11:30 am | Maker Stage

This pictures’n’talk presentation is for teachers, craftspeople, artists, and hobbyists who want to combine hands-on arts and crafts skills with emerging digital technology. Learn what E-textiles are, how to get started, and why they’re such an accessible and fun introduction into the world of electronics. See examples of some of the ways to incorporate embedded computation into your own projects, from simply decorating a hat with LEDs to using shape-shifting wire to add kinetic elements into otherwise static objects.

Booth #32

See for yourself how soft circuits work at this hands-on/demo booth. Stitch LEDs and batteries together with conductive thread to see just how delicate and flexible electronics can be. All ages welcome.  We’re building Champ! – The Lake Champlain Monster.

Also demonstrating soft circuits at Champlain Mini Maker Faire is Soft Circuit Saturdays from neighboring New Hampshire!

Sound Arts and the Vermont Maker Movement

Jenn Karson with arduino
Jenn Karson with an Arduino. Photo by Matt Thorsen for Seven Days

This week’s Seven Days features the article “Meet Your Makers: Vermont hackers, artists and inventors are sharing ideas — and solving problems.” We were thrilled to be interviewed and are very grateful to Megan James for her excellent writing and to Matt Thorsen for the creative photography.

Call for Makers! Champlain Maker Faire

Maybe Studio Ju Ju will revive "Salon Pod" for Maker Faire! We'll see.
Calling all inventors, hackers, crafts people, artists, programmers, scientists, foodies, musicians. Fancy yourself a Maker? If you like to tinker, sculpt, experiment, make tools, make toys, make art, make music, make anything – please respond to this Call For Makers!There’s a new event in town called the Champlain Maker Faire. If you are familiar with the Maker movement (Vermont Makers, Maker Faire, Make Magazine, etc…) then you’ll know what it’s all about. If you want to learn more, read about us.What: This Call for Makers is for the Champlain Maker Faire which will host exhibits, demonstrations, workshops, maker spaces, talks, entertainment, food and much moreWhere: Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, Shelburne, VermontWhen: This Call for Makers applies to events on Saturday September 29, 10:00 am – 7pmHere’s just a sample of what we’re looking for• Vintage Tech and Gaming    • Design/Architecture/Engineering    • Robotics• Hacker and Maker Space    • Biotech/Biochem    • HAM Radio• Art Cars    • And much more! Read the expanded list.Call for Makers Details Application Form (Due July 30)

Woodstock Digital Media Festival

We (Vermont Makers)  had a great experience at the Woodstock Digital Media festival this past weekend. We presented the innards of the sound installation “SunTracker” giving us a chance to introduce artists, engineers and educators to both Max/MSP/Jitter and – two interfaces we work with. We’ll have more updates on SunTracker in the coming weeks.

Read more about Vermont Makers at the Woodstock Digital Media Festival

Preparing for the Woodstock Digital Media Festival



Pachube is Rocking Our World Right Now

I recently discovered Pachube ( pronounced “patch-bay”) after hearing about it on the Canadian radio program SPARK. After doing some research I only found one Vermont location that is actively submitting readings. What an exciting find. We look forward to working with pachube, arduino and max/MSP.

A recent project that got a lot of attention for Pachube involved it being used for citizen geiger counter readings in Japan, after the earthquake there on March 11, 2011.

Here’s a link to those geiger readings.

Here’s a link to the interview on Spark.

Here’s more about Pachube:

Pachube (“patch-bay”) connects people to devices, applications, and the Internet of Things. As a web-based service built to manage the world’s real-time data, Pachube gives people the power to share, collaborate, and make use of information generated from the world around them.


Maker Faire – Wowee!

In the past few weeks I’ve been talking with some locals who are looking to plan a Maker Faire here in VT. Wow! I went to my first Bay Area Maker Faire in 2009, participating in one here in VT would be so fun for many of us of Vermont Makers.

Just this afternoon while shopping for parts at SparkFun I came across  this video from that very 2009 Maker Faire  – you have to check out this video for its pure fun, geekiness and display of active imaginations: