ITP Blog

Intro to Physical Computing - Week 4

September 26, 2018

Our assignment for week 4 of Intro to Physical Computing was to use the things we learned (basic circuits, digital input/output, analog input/output, etc) to build a device. I decided to build a game based on sumo wrestling that could use speakers from the junk shelf. Like the sport, the goal of the game is to knock your opponent’s piece out of the ring.



The game requires analog inputs from potentiometers and emits a tone using the Arduino’s digital outputs to speakers. When the player uses the potentiometer, the Arduino receives the change in input and maps it to a different note value (note values based on the tone melody Arduino tutorial) that is then emitted as a tone sound through the speakers. Fabricating the container the enclosure and control panel for the game also used skills I learned in Intro to Fabrication and for I’ll write a blog post that covers the fabrication process for this project.

I researched if an Arduino could emit sound from two speakers at once using tone(), but because the function works on the Arduino’s timer, I opted to toggle the sound between the speakers using noTone() (link to code). Then I drew up a circuit that worked with the code.



I built my first prototype to test these features:

  • Can a speaker’s sound move the ring surface enough to move game pieces?
  • Will changing the tone affect how the game pieces move?
  • Which material works as the ring surface?
  • Does my circuit even work?

Ben Light recommended I try using a latex glove as my first surface.



The prototype showed that the speaker could move a piece — a very light, ball shaped piece (video). I then fabricated a ring using cardboard.

cardboard ring

cardboard ring side

The ring kind of worked, but testing it (video) and collecting feedback from my classmate Mark indicated a square frame with a round ring would allow the pieces to move more easily.

Solder On

Putting together the next version with a proper control panel for the electrical components meant I would have to solder the potentiometers, switch, and LED. So I referred to the ITP guide and Lady Ada resources on soldering.


Once the components had wires soldered to them and the ring/control panel was fabricated, the game came together.

finished top

finished side

Here is a video of two of my classmates playing.

Future Thoughts

Some thoughts I had if I continue to iterate on this idea:

  • Amplify the sound and give more controls to the player — Nico shared a circuit tutorial for the LM386 amplifier that could increase the speaker’s overall volume and allow the player to control volume and gain with additional potentiometers
  • Solder the resistors and wires to a perforated board instead of using a breadboard for better stability, contacts

Adrian Bautista

NYU ITP documentation blog.
Words are my own.