Final Project: Note Cubes – Wanfang Diao

Assignment,Final Project,Submission — Wanfang Diao @ 3:45 pm


How we learn about our physical world? How we learn light? How we learn sound? How we get the basic concept of space and time?

As for me, I learned form experience. I learned from the experience of stack toy bricks and tearing them down. I learned from  tapping a stainless steel plate with wooden spoon. I learn from doing, learn from trials. Once I get the rule of game, I begin to create.

In this project, I want to make music notes more tangible and touchable, which can be experienced in a more intuitive way. I aim to build a very straight forward mapping relationship between “time/sound” and “space/light(or color)” , which can not only give children a concept of the structure  of melody but also give them access to  create  a piece of music.

Therefore, I designed the Note Cubes, a set of tangible cubes for kids to explore sound, notes and rhythm. By putting them a line or also stacking them (just like playing toy bricks), kids can let cubes trigger their “neighbor cubes “by colorful LEDs to play notes and then get a piece of sound or melody after a few time trials.

Note Cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.


This project has been shown at Assemble ( ) Dec. 2013.Here is the video about how kids play with Note Cubes!What I learn from the show is there should be more obvious signs to the trigger direction of cubes. And more shapes can be explored.


Public Show for Note Cubes2 from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

About tech:
There is micro-controller (Trinket), photosensors, speaker and LEDs in each cubes. Each speaker can play notes when triggered by LED lights from other cubes under the control of micro-controller.
The cube’s shell is made by hardboard by laser cutting.
Thanks for the help of Ali Momeni, Dale Clifford, Zack Jacobson-Weaver,  Madeline Gannon and my  friends in CoDelab!


Final Project Milestone#3—Wanfang Diao

Assignment,Final Project — Wanfang Diao @ 4:22 pm

I developed the cubes further by adding leds outputs which can gave the cubes ability to trigger one by one. I tried to improve the richness of the sound effect by using PWM, but meet problem of control the pitch of the sound.

Instead of  just copying more cubes, I add more function when create more cubes just like use slide/rotary potentiometers to control the speed and the pitch of the notes.

照片 6 照片 8 照片 9

Music cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.
Note cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Note Cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Final Project Milestone#2—Wanfang Diao

Assignment,Final Project — Wanfang Diao @ 3:57 pm

In this milestone 2, I finished soldering electronic circuits by using micro-controller, audio amplifier and photosensors. I programed the micro-controller to read the analog input from photo sensors and trigger the speaker to make a note.

After that, I made  a hardboard box to fit the circuits.  So the first version cube has been created.

What’s more I also find a wooden plate for the mechanical part.

照片 11照片 1

照片 2

Final Project Presentation–Wanfang Diao

Arduino,Assignment,Final Project — Wanfang Diao @ 5:04 pm


More demos:

Note cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Note Cubes from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Final Project Milestone #1—Wanfang Diao

Assignment,Audio,Final Project,Hardware — Wanfang Diao @ 12:26 am

My first milestone is :” Build circuits to make sounds first and then try to the recognition part”.

In the first two week, I tried the circuits to make sound at certain pitch. The circuit I use is the 555 timer circuits, by changing the resistor, the frequency of the signal of out put can be changed.





After building the below circuits successfully on bread board, the sound is not perfect, I add a low pass filter but it helps little. So I plan to solve this problem by mechanical way.



2013-10-28 21.09.39 2



I soldering the circuits on proto board and add photo sensor and a switch. The photo sensor is in order to support the idea that by changing the cube’s up-face to change cube mode (i.e. # b ). As show in the video below, I also try to use different material covering on the speaker to get better audio effect. I’ll also keep trying other kinds of circuits to solve this.


About battery: the size of battery will limits my cubes size, so I plan to use use this one:


2013-10-28 21.17.07 from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.


I have laser cut a wooden cube which is 5.5cm*5.5cm*5.5cm, but I feel the material is not cute enough.

__ 2

__ 1

__ (1)

So I plan to try more flexible materiel like image below which is silicone. I want the cube to feel like jelly.


I also realize that before I design the mother mold for silicone cube I have to decide the final electronic part design.







Final Project Proposal – Wanfang Diao

Assignment 2 “Musical Painting” by Wanfang & Meng(2013)

musical painting Our idea begins from traditional Chinese Painting, painting lines express a feeling of strength and rhythm concisely. Our work tries to transfer the beauty of painting to music. However, I found that making a harmonious”sound” from people’s easy input from 9 photosensors is not as easy as I thought. I tried some “chord”,like C mA D and so on. It helps a little bit…The final result is in the vedio in Vimeo.

I know there are pretty work to improve the “algorithm”. Although, not sound really like music, I think the value of the work is that we try to break the line between sound and light, and see what happens.

In order to find a improvement way, I  observed several other interactive musical instruments  works, I think maybe using some basic rhythm pieces play repeatedly and only changing the chords as interactive elements is a way of improvement of this work.

The technology we used are photo sensors and arduino and Max.

assignment1 1 from Wanfang Diao on Vimeo.

Instrument:”Function();” by Yufan Wang(2011)

Instrument,Reference — Wanfang Diao @ 12:02 am




Instrument:”Soundmachines” by The Product (2011)

Instrument,Reference — Wanfang Diao @ 8:52 pm



Instrument:”Rain Room” by rAndom(2012)

Instrument,Reference — Wanfang Diao @ 8:20 pm



Next Page »
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
(c) 2024 Hybrid Instrument Building 2014 | powered by WordPress with Barecity