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Author Topic: Help with ideas for a randomness display...  (Read 507 times)
cossoft
Gunner
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


« on: July 11, 2017, 03:53:23 am »

I practice something that I refer to as Functional Steampunk, in that the thing I'm building actually works but happens to look like a cross between a Victorian Rube Goldberg machine and something from Wallace & Gromit.  I also like true mathematical randomness (and no, I don't have any friends  Sad ).  The random bit's important. 

Imagine a fluctuating analogue electrical signal that varies truly randomly, over (let's say) 0V - 5V and at infinite frequency for practical purposes. For uber geeks, this is called an entropy source.  It's like what you hear when the tranny's not tuned in to any station.  It's a kind of hissy sound.  I have this bit made.  What I'd like to do is display the randomness as I like watching it.  And this is where I struggle.  How can I display this in a Steampunk fashion?  Reliability should be a consideration as this device (yet unnamed) would run for hours and hours.  I would expect something opto-electrical rather than purely mechanical for this reason.

I've looked for inspiration from Victorian electrical equipment, but that seems to mainly revolve around needle gauges.  There's the Frankenstein thing of course, but that's mainly huge arcs and not really practical.  Or safe for a standard 5lb cat.  Does anyone have any ideas of how I might represent my hissy randomness?  I guess what I'm asking is how can you visually represent that signal /sound? So clearly this would be a dynamic display, not static.  Today, we'd use an oscilloscope. What would Jules Verne use? Or Wallace?

I'm sorry but it's a little hard to convey and I'm probably making a real hash of it. Please ask if clarification is needed...
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RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
*****


« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2017, 04:06:23 am »

I know that there are vacuum devices that do what you want. There was one that was used in early Atlantic Cable communications that would respond to vary faint signals coming through the wire from a code key thousands of miles away.

Maybe an incandescent lamp with a very flexible filament and a magnet.
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Fiveblades
Deck Hand
*
Netherlands Netherlands



« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2017, 08:17:20 am »

This is called a plasma plate, the lightning is random.



However, if you can vary the power supply it will go with the sound you have made.
Or, you could use LDR's [light depending resistors] on the side of the disc and vary the sound with the plasma disc as random source.

There are mini plasma discs running on two penlights (3 volts)



Just my 5 cents....
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cossoft
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2017, 03:43:03 pm »

Thanks, I hadn't thought of a plasma disc. 

It's not that random though is it? At least not the animation you posted.  You can clearly see that it's very biased towards the lower half of the disc. The region around 1 o'clock is arced through quite infrequently.  It's obviously a consequence of the manufacturing process, but true randomness is very pesky.  It could also be related to microscopic imperfections in the disc which would preclude a uniform display no matter how accurate the manufacturing process.  Remember Jeff Goldblum's description of chaos theory in the Jurassic Park jeep?

The thing is that my source already produces mathematically perfect randomness.  I'm just looking for ideas in visualising my source signal. I'm talking rubbish aren't I   Tongue
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cossoft
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2017, 04:05:42 pm »

An alternative explanation:

Imagine a digital signal that looks like a binary stream of 1's and 0's, or ons and offs. So like "0010010000111111011010101000100010000101101..." ad infinitum.  If you're into computers, you 'll see that this stream represents on or off, or you can take groups of digits and form any type of number like integers or decimals.  How can this be displayed in a Steampunk fashion?

I realise that this is weird, but it's extremely hard (for science not just me) to produce sustained true randomness.  The plasma disc above is a good example of this difficulty.  The best we can do is make it electronically which is what I've done.  But I'm stumped as to how I can show it.  Some sort of flashing bulbs?

I did a Google Image search of "steampunk computer" and unsurprisingly got a list of PCs with brass bits attached.  They all look terrific, but not the authentic Victorian look I was after.  The one thing I have decided on is that it shouldn't have any form of LCD /OLED display and no mobile phones please...
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Miranda.T
Zeppelin Captain
*****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2017, 06:30:21 pm »

The mention of magnetic fields above got me thinking - what about feeding the (amplified?) signal into a coil and having a tray of iron filings above it; their dancing would reflect the randomness. It may take some playing with coil geometry, or possibly multiple coils, to properly display the signal, and maybe a bit of signal processing - lower value signals fed to one coil, higher to another, etc. Another option might be the 'screen' of a child's magnetic drawing toy - the patterns the field produces might be interesting.

Yours,
Miranda.
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Lord Pentecost
Snr. Officer
****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2017, 08:14:09 pm »

What about using a CRT oscilloscope. OR making your own try to get one of those little portable TVs

and modify it into oscilloscope by connecting the amplified output from an untuned AM signal to the electromagnet then re-case it into a nice hardwood case.
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"A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to" - Banksy
Fiveblades
Deck Hand
*
Netherlands Netherlands



« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2017, 09:00:27 pm »

I realise that this is weird, but it's extremely hard (for science not just me) to produce sustained true randomness.  The plasma disc above is a good example of this difficulty.  The best we can do is make it electronically which is what I've done.  But I'm stumped as to how I can show it.  Some sort of flashing bulbs?

I have tried something simular with a Twitter mood light with a arduino a open-source electronic prototyping platform.
It repeatedly searches twitter for tweets with emotional content, collates the tweets for each emotion, analyzes the data, and fades the color of the RGB LED to reflect the current world mood.
Red for Anger, Yellow for Happy, Pink for Love, White for Fear, Green for Envy, Orange for Surprise, and Blue for Sadness.

Taking that for a random generator ;-)
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cossoft
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2017, 10:27:58 pm »

...reflect the current world mood.

When ever I think of a mood light like that, it's always blue.  Deep, deep blue.  Really deep blue.  Then the bulb burns out and I have no spares...
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cossoft
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2017, 10:51:05 pm »

@Fiveblades, can you please elaborate on the layout of the actual optics?  Is a piccy possible?

Q.  Why do you change a single LED into seven colours, rather than have seven fixed colour indicators.
Q.  Can I infer that you've got three PWM feeds, each going into a seperate LED colour channel?
Q.  Randomness related: How do you select the individual tweets for mood categorisation?
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Synistor 303
Gunner
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Australia Australia


Zenyna Ironbracker


« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2017, 04:55:36 am »

The mention of magnetic fields above got me thinking - what about feeding the (amplified?) signal into a coil and having a tray of iron filings above it; their dancing would reflect the randomness. It may take some playing with coil geometry, or possibly multiple coils, to properly display the signal, and maybe a bit of signal processing - lower value signals fed to one coil, higher to another, etc. Another option might be the 'screen' of a child's magnetic drawing toy - the patterns the field produces might be interesting.

Yours,
Miranda.

I think Miranda is onto something.

In Big Bang Theory they put cornstarch on a speaker and watched it jump around. It was kinda funny and kinda mesmerising. Why can't you use the random hissy sound to make  something move? There is your randomness - already made. All you have to do is figure out some way to use the sound you have created to vibrate something and make it move. Then you need to give it a name.

"The Ocular Magnetic Discombobulator"



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Drew P
Zeppelin Admiral
******
United States United States


« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2017, 12:47:14 pm »

Possibly a Magic Eye tuning tube, but it may be too small.

Try Ferrofluid.

Problem with using a speaker, unless the freq is low enough so the movement is slow, anything that you put on top to show movement by bouncing around will move too fast and just look a mess.
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Never ask 'Why?'
Always ask 'Why not!?'
Fiveblades
Deck Hand
*
Netherlands Netherlands



« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2017, 03:49:55 pm »


Q.  Why do you change a single LED into seven colours, rather than have seven fixed colour indicators.

There are seven moods to react on, this is translated into the arduino into three outputs, Red Green and Blue.
The output can vary between 0 and 255 x3 , mixed (pixel) makes 16581375 different colours.

Q.  Can I infer that you've got three PWM feeds, each going into a seperate LED colour channel?

Correct; the output is analog.

Q.  Randomness related: How do you select the individual tweets for mood categorisation?

I would suggest you look at the following URL for more information.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 03:51:59 pm by Fiveblades » Logged
RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
*****


« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2017, 06:12:23 pm »

What about using a CRT oscilloscope. OR making your own try to get one of those little portable TVs

and modify it into oscilloscope by connecting the amplified output from an untuned AM signal to the electromagnet then re-case it into a nice hardwood case.

If you're going to go to that much trouble, you could program a Raspberry PI computer to plot random patterns on the screen based on the output of the random generator.
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cossoft
Gunner
**
United Kingdom United Kingdom


« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2017, 01:16:27 am »

...r to plot random patterns on the screen based on the output of the random generator.

What could the screen be if it wasn't a contemporary LCD?  Inspired by the Mood Light above, so far I've got something like a clock face but with 12 stained glass portions that light up randomly.  I looked at Barbarella, Flash Gordon and general 1930's films that tried to represent displays before the invention of the VDU.  They  mainly consist of either needle dials or large flashing tubes /globes. Does any one remember (admit to) Blake's &?  They had Zen didn't they?   I liked Zen.

I think that this has already been invented.  I just need to find what application the Victorians would have used this for.  Was there Victorian bingo?  Was there ever a telegraph with lights rather than needle pointers? 

I appreciate your patience...

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RJBowman
Zeppelin Captain
*****


« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2017, 01:34:55 am »

...r to plot random patterns on the screen based on the output of the random generator.

What could the screen be if it wasn't a contemporary LCD?

Nipkow Disk. Very slow. You could generate a video signal in real time using a microcontroller.
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Lord Pentecost
Snr. Officer
****
United Kingdom United Kingdom



WWW
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2017, 08:10:34 pm »

...r to plot random patterns on the screen based on the output of the random generator.

What could the screen be if it wasn't a contemporary LCD?

Nipkow Disk. Very slow. You could generate a video signal in real time using a microcontroller.

Further from this, watch this video, if you drive the LED from your "randomness source".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5OANXk-6-w
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