Small Global

Recently I worked with art collective D-Fuse on an interactive version of their Small Global video installation for the Bloomsbury Festival in London. A Kinect was used to track the movement of audience members and use it to reveal text within the video.

The four screen projection created a very powerful visual effect.

photo 4

More information and video of the installation here:





The summer issue of Varoom! – the magazine of the Association of Illustrators – features an article about the robot drawing brief we run at CSM (more details here). The article, written by Andrew Hall, showcases the work created by students, as well as a spectacular photo featuring me.

If an electronic version becomes available, I’ll link to it here.


Mini Maker Faire Meetup


This weekend saw the first Mini Maker Faire in London. There was a great turn out to the Faire on Saturday, with plenty of interesting projects on display – including at least one that had been built in the CSM Physical Computing Workshop.

On Sunday I was speaking as part of the Mini Maker Faire Meetup at the V&A. The keynote was delivered by Cory Doctorow, and I was part of a panel talking about Maker Urbanism.

More details here:


Laser Fingers!

Enliven your corporate presentations and turn your finger into a Laser Pointer!

This isn’t really a product of the future, but rather an initial test for a project which involves ‘finger painting’ on walls covered in glow in the dark paint, using a UV laser pointer. This example uses the servo tilt/pan bracket, and an Arduino connected to a Kinect sensor.


I’ve been putting together a site to track the new London Route Master busses.


Primarily, this was an experiment in mashing up data. The TfL data API contains detailed information about all the busses running in London. This includes the new Route Master busses.

These busses, beautifully designed by Heatherwick studio, are great additions to the London streets. Yet, in the first roll out, there are only a few on the road and therefore hard to track down and try out. The aim of the website therefore was to filter out the Route Masters from the data, and locate them within a Google Map.

Finding the Route Masters within all the data meant identifying their number plates (as this was the only way of  pulling out specific vehicles from all the data).  Getting the number place of all the busses seemed daunting, but actually proved relatively easy. The answer was simply to do a Google image search. So many people have uploaded photos of the new busses, it was just a case of reading off the number plates from these images.

Once I had these number plates, it was just a question of building a javascript class to bring together the data from the API and the map.

The result can be seen here:


This is a test of the tilt/pan bracket for micro servos. It’s a cheap and cheerful way of getting dual axis movement up and running. It takes two micro 5v servos, so it can be controlled easily from an Arduino. Although it’s not really butch enough for heavy lifting, it’s actually surprisingly  powerful and agile for something that can be put together for under £15.

There available from various places online. I got mine here:



4D Cake


This is my entry in CSM’s 4D department Bake Off competition. The standard of previous entries was high, so I attempted to keep to my strengths and make a ‘digital cake.

The base is Chocolate Guiness cake with cream cheese icing (thanks Nigella). The top is three different EL wires, wound into a 4D motif, and controlled via an Arduino with a El Escudo board.

It came second over all.

4D Cake from Angus Main on Vimeo.


LED Strips


A common task in the workshop is hooking up LED strips. These usually run at 12V, and can be controlled by Arduino via a suitable transistor (usually a TIP120).

We’ve set up RGB and single colour strips before. The RGB strips cost a little extra, but can create some great effects, as any kind of colour-wash can be created.

These are some single colour white LEDs being set up. This is based on the great Adafruit tutorial:


Needs some neater wiring though…..

Drawing Robots


One of the briefs we’re running in the Physical Computing Workshop at CSM involves programming robots to draw. Illustration students are tasked with using a simple programming language to control a pen-carrying robot, and explore the relationship between designer and machine. This brief was conceived by Dr Rebecca Ross.

From a technical point of view we needed to get some robust robots that could be easily programmed, and would allow for a wide range of movement and control. Creating our own Arduino-based robotos was a possibility, however time was limited and an off-the-shelf solution was needed.

The selected robots were the Scribbler 2 by Parallax.


These are based on the Parallax Propeller chip, these robots have a serial connector, a central holder for a Sharpie pen, and various built in sensors (line sensors, proximity sensors, light sensors).

Setting up the programming environment is a little bit tricky, as the one provided by Parallax is Windows based, and the workshop runs Mac. Luckily, Brad Campbell developed a multiplatform tool for programming Propeller chips – Brad Spin Tool (BST).

This, combined with and FTDI driver and Serial programming board allows us to connect to reprogram the robots. By editing the provided sample code that comes with the S2, I put together a code framework where students could simply drop in their movement commands. These are pretty simple, basically making the robot turn and move by defined amounts. It’s amazing the breadth of designs that the students can produce with these though.



RFID + Arduino



I’ve recently got my hands on one of these RFID transceivers, and hooked it up to an Arduino.

It’s fairly simple to set up. The SEEDStudio website has a good guide for getting started. This is the code that I tried out.

Getting the ID of the card or tag is pretty easy. Getting more information stored on a card is a bit harder, but there are methods. A little more exploring and I’ll report back..