Physical Digital Storytelling

Robert Pratten 10 years ago 0 30

Congestion causes problems from damage to the environment to deaths from accidents and from ambulances not being able to make it through. For Learn Do Share in London we created simple demo to show how someone might generate conversation around the topic.

Imagine a Scalextric track in high street windows across the city where the drivers of the toy cars came alive on Twitter. The drivers tweet their fictional, dramatized journeys from home to work and reveal the perils of congestion. Using Conducttr, the toy drivers can respond to audience tweets and can change their replies and daily broadcasts based on real traffic flow, weather, air quality and any other real-world inputs.

In the demo we created, every tweet received by the driver caused the car to loop once around the track.


Prep the controller

We cut apart the Scalextric controller and superglued a servo motor to the trigger lever. Then sugru was used to hold the servo in place. And that’s pretty much all the physical prep that was needed.


We used an Arduino controller with a GSM Shield to get Internet access. Optionally an LED was added that stays red while trying to establish a data connection and turns off once connected. We found that it could sometimes take ages to establish a connection. We used the bluevia SIM that came with the shield and also tested with a Tesco mobile SIM which worked fine too.


The Arduino sketch rotates the servo to a “go” position to move the car and then back to a “stop” position to stop it. The length of time in the “go” position determines how far the car travels around the track. With a little trial-and-error we got the delay right for a full lap but found it had to be tweaked with each assembly because of friction between the car and track which varied the distance covered.

Please find below the circuit diagrams for the Arduino and you can find the code and further discussion at the Conducttr SkunkWrx.

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