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VWN Product Reviews: Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers

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Site Shop > Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers




This book is basically a mixture of electronics guide and augmented reality bible. Not so much about the visual aspects, but about the ubiquitous computing platform, intelligent objects and sensor web. As the cover flap puts it:

The computer revolution has made it easy for people with little to no technical training to use a computer for such everyday tasks as typing a letter, saving files, or recording data. But what about more imaginative purposes such as starting your car, opening a door, or tracking the contents of your refrigerator?

It?s time to bridge the gap between the physical and the virtual?time to use more than just your fingers to interact with your computer. Step outside of the confines of the basic computer and into the broader world of computing.

The primary purpose of this book is to show the reader how to get the computer to interact with the physical world through additional hardware and programming. Although the book seems to be aimed at artists wanting to use the computer in their work, the principles taught can be of use to non-artists too. This book is broken down into two parts. The first, "The Basics", covers all aspects of computing in a very general sense. It is just an overview, and if you are such a beginner that you really need to know about electricity, what a microcontroller is, and what an "if statement" is in programming, you are likely going to need sources other than just this book. The last chapter in the section, "Communicating Between Computers" is the best of the basic chapters. This chapter talks about actual connectors and their pins, testing, and protocols and codes. All code shown in this book is in several flavors of the BASIC language, and the book does a pretty good job of getting you started. The section ends with a discussion on the specifics of serial communication on a multimedia computer. Part one has the following chapters and subsections:



Chapters:



Part 1: The Basics


Chapter 1. Electricity
Transduction:
Electrical Basics;
Electricity versus Electronics
How Electricity Flows;

Chapter 2. Shopping
Solderless Breadboard;
Microcontrollers;
Common Components;
Wires;
Power Supply;
Power Connector;
Voltage Regulator;
RC Servomotor;
Serial Connector;
Serial Cable;
Clock Crystals;
Headers;
Project Box;
Cable Ties;
USB-to-Serial Adaptor;
Tools ;
Bringing It All Back Home;

Chapter 3. Building Circuits
Schematics;
Connection Symbols;
Power Symbols;
Finding Schematics;
Breadboards;
Where Does the Microcontroller Fit In?;
Translating Schematics into Circuits;
Using a Multimeter; Soldering;
Powering the Breadboard;
Be Neat;

Chapter 4. The Microcontroller
"Hello World!" Is the Hard Part;
Where Does the Microcontroller Fit In?;
Routing Inputs to Outputs;
Identifying the Pins of the Microcontroller;
Lower-Level Microcontrollers: External Clock;
Your First Microcontroller-Based Circuit;
Getting Your Program to the Chip;
Programming Stamp-Like Modules;
Programming Lower-Level Chips
Debugging;

Chapter 5. Programming
The Good News;
Flow Control: How a Computer "Reads" a Program;
Loops;
If Statements;
Variables;
Built-In Routines: Subroutines and Functions;
Homemade Routines;
Advanced Loops: While-Wend and For-Next;
Pseudocode;
Comments;
Debugging;
Good Debugging Habits;
The Bad News;

Chapter 6. The "Big Four" Schematics, Programs, and Transducers
Digital Input;
Digital Output;
Analog Output;
From Analog in to Analog Out: Scaling Functions;
Conclusion;

Chapter 7. Communicating between Computers
Physical Agreement;
Timing Agreement;
Electrical Agreement;
Package Size;
Numbers or Letters: Using ASCII; Software for the Microcontroller;
Serial Output from a Microcontroller;
Testing with an LED;
Testing with Terminal Software;
Serial Input to a Microcontroller;
Serial Freeze and Blocking Functions;
Your Private Protocol;
Sending Bigger Numbers;
Serial Communication on a Multimedia Computer;
Conclusion;


Part 1: Augmented Reality





Chapter 8. Physical Interaction Design, or Techniques for Polite Conversation
The Conversation: Listening, Speaking, and Thinking;
Complex Responses;
Techniques for Effective Interaction;
Conclusion;

Chapter 9. Sensing Movement
Assessing the Problem;
How Ranging Sensors Work;
Detecting Presence;
Determining Position;
Determining Rotation;
Speed of Rotation;
Video Tracking;
Identity;Conclusion;

Chapter 10. Making Movement
Types of Motion, Types of Motors;
Characteristics of Motors;
Special Electrical Needs of Motors;
Controlling Motors;
Controlling Stepper Motors;
Controlling Solenoids;
Basic Mechanics: Converting Motor Motion to Usable Motion;
Construction;
Conclusion;

Chapter 11. Touch Me
Force-Sensitive Resistors;
Flex Sensors;
Pressure Sensors;
Sensing Touch Using Capacitance Sensors;
Off-the-Shelf Touch Interfaces;
Sensing Vibrations Using Piezoelectric Sensors;
Creating Vibrations;
Taking Your Temperature;
Cooling Things Off and Heating Them Up;
Getting Under Your Skin;
Force Feedback;
Conclusion;

Chapter 12. More Communication between Devices
Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication;
Asynchronous Serial Protocols;
Learning a Protocol;
RS-232 Boxes;
Global Positioning System Data;
MIDI;
Connecting to the Internet;
Connecting over Telephone Lines Using Modems;
Special-Function ICs and Modules;
Synchronous Serial Protocols;
Wireless Serial Communication;
Infrared Serial Communication;
RF Serial Communication;
Conclusion;

Chapter 13. Controlling Sound and Light
Sound;
Light;
Screen Graphics;
Linear Media on a Multimedia Computer;
Linear Media on a Microcontroller;
Single-Board Computers;
Conclusion;

Chapter 14. Managing Multiple Inputs and Outputs
Setting Groups of Pins in Parallel;
Bitwise Operations;
Running Out of Pins;
Resistor Ladders as Analog Input;
Row-Column Scanning;
Shift Registers; Multiplexers;
Latches;
Conclusion;

 

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