How I make thing that do thing?
March 1, 2011 12:02 PM   Subscribe

How I make thing that do thing? I saw this awesome post on Metafilter the other day.

I've long been a fan of long-exposure photography and the things you can do with it, and I thought this was a fantastic and stellar example of that. That is *so* cool. So, I started playing with the idea of doing something similar, because it seems like a really cool project.

As far as the camera aspect of it goes, I've got that. What hangs me up a little is the giant 12-foot WiFi signal light pole. I'm pretty technically adept and I've got a degree in computer science and I work in IT and that's great and all, but in no way helps me accomplish the goal of how one would build something like this.

So, I guess my question is, how would I build something like that? I'm assuming you can either program it with an SSID, or it just scans for open WiFi networks in range? I've seen hand-held devices you can buy that do things like this, but how would you abstract that into a pole like.. thing.. like that? Where would I even start? How much engineering or soldering or circuit-boarding would I have to do? How much would I have to spend? I poked around the site in question for a little while, looking for some instruction, but I didn't see much of anything.

posted by kbanas to Technology (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a DIY LED array tutorial. Arrange these on a pole instead of in a grid and you're most of the way there.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 12:21 PM on March 1, 2011

This looks like something that could be done with an Arduino.
posted by ddaavviidd at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2011

Probably they are just using a 2.4Ghz signal detector rather than actually looking for SSIDs. You'll get false positives from cordless phones, security cameras, etc but that probably isn't a problem. If there isn't already an Arduino shield that does exactly this you can probably use a wifi shield (several are available, $50-$80). The advantage with Arudino is your a more sticking things together with tape and superglue rather than building from scratch. Here is a similar scratch built signal detector. This sort of project is well within your capabilities if you are interested in learning as you go.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:08 PM on March 1, 2011

You can see at least one shield at 0:26 in the video.

So, I guess my question is, how would I build something like that?

You'll need to learn about electronics, and making stuff. Looking at your profile, there's a hackerspace in your city - go check them out!
posted by zamboni at 1:14 PM on March 1, 2011

If you contacted the artists (ie, comment on their blogs or email them) they might be interested in aiding your attempt to spread the project by helping you out.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:31 PM on March 1, 2011

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