Energy Meter

ARDUINO ENERGY METER

two week personal project in collaboration with Mindy Lee. I used a combination of Arduino sketching, laser cutting, and interface design to create an yes-no voting station.

THE CHALLENGE

We wanted to create an interactive device to measure and display the class energy level.

THE SOLUTION

The Energy Board is a yes-no voting system with an Arduino and a DC motor slider that measures and displays the energy level for our class.

1. The voting station set

2. The inner workings with Arduino

3. Sunflower icon moves to indicate the overall energy level

4. Press yes or no to vote

Q. How did you come up with your idea for the Energy Board? 

We started brainstorming by trying out different ways to display the information using an Arduino...

We played around with LED scales, servo motors, and DC sliders. After testing, we found out that it was the easiest to display the overall class energy level on a vertical scale. We choose to use a DC motor slider to represent the overall class energy level and two giant red buttons for voting yes or no.

Some early ideas for the energy meter 

Innitial sketch of how to build the hardware 

Q. Sounds complicated. How did you prototype it?

First we had to figure out how to control the potentiometer slider ...

so that it goes to the desired location on the scale. We wrote the Arduino code from scratch. Once we had control of the slider, we prototyped a rough working model out of foam boards for user testing.

Prototyping with Arduino sketch

Rapid prototyping with Arduino

Using foam board to create our first interface 

Arduino sketch code to control the slider and inputs

For the interface, we wanted a playful and friendly design. We were inspired by platform games and the art work by Takeshi Murakami. We also wanted the voting system to be used in other scenarios. Thus, all of the interface elements are changeable.

Prototyping the physical interface

Lasercutting the voting box

Q. How did you test your concepts? 

With our first fast prototype we conducted user tests with classmates. 

We learned that people are tempted to press multiple times very fast. Therefore, we implemented a delay in the code to prevent the meter from registering too many votes at once . We’ve also decided to laser cut a plywood box for the physical interface.

First rough prototype made from foam board

Participants tend to press multiple times very quickly during testing

Testing the usibility of the protortype

Q. What did you learn from this project?

In this project, I learned the basics of Arduino sketching, making quick prototypes, and bringing an idea from paper to reality...

I think the overall project was very successful. Our classmate generally had a fun time using the voting station. If I were to continue with this project I would want to implement audio feedback when people vote. It would be nice to have some visual feedback to show additional information such as how many people have voted.