Project 1: Artificial Human Companion [ACH]: Fridge Buddy

For this project we were tasked with creating an Artificial Human Companion (AHC). For this project I wanted to create something that would assist everyday people with everyday problems, this led me to deciding to create an AHC that reminded consumers to close the door to their refrigerator in order to conserve energy, thus was born Fridge Buddy. Originally, Fridge Buddy was going to have a finger that shook back and forth in disapproving fashion in order to remind you to shut the door.

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However, this idea morphed into a food based product that made obnoxious noises until the door was shut. But due to issues sourcing a food product toy that I would be satisfied with in both size and context I ended up once again altering my project into what would become the final version of Fridge Buddy. After deciding what I would create I needed to figure out the coding. This was by far the most challenging aspect of the project for me because of my lack of experience. Before this course I had never even come in contact with and Arduino Uno or the C++ based code that powers it. To begin my coding journey, I started researching open source code on the internet, where I found a myriad of projects that used all of the aspects I desired to create a home alarm system. After studying this code and coming to understand it I initiated Phase II; making speakers chime simultaneously. This was ridiculously hard to do, or even find examples of for that matter, but I eventually managed to get three speakers to chime at once. However, after many hours of research I found that I still did not fully understand the code that I was using and it still did not function in the exact manner that Fridge Buddy required (A video of me finally getting all the speakers to work at once can be seen here). So I settled for simply having two separate speakers chime at different times based on the servo motors position.

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Soldering my circuit to proto-board went exceptionally smooth but I used an unnecessary amount of board for such a small project and the number of connections. After all of my wiring was read I prepared an oversized rubber duck from Dongguan, China for surgery.

I then removed its head and stomach in order to create the cyborg that is Fridge Buddy. I laser-cut some acrylic circles in order to embed the two halves of the servo motor in the duck’s head and neck region, these were both hot-glued in place. Following the head installation, I drilled holes for the speakers and hot-glued them inside of Fridge Buddy’s body in order to make it less obvious that the duck was filled with electronics. Finally, I sealed Fridge Buddy up and placed him atop a fridge for testing. The switchreed in the magnetic switch worked perfectly and Fridge Buddy came to life. A video of the final product can be found here.

If I were to expand on this project in the future I think that I would extend the servo motor mount so it was not so easy to remove the head as well as add a delay so that Fridge Buddy does not immediately make noise when the fridge is open, but rather has an acceptable time limit that the fridge can remain open before sounding the alarm.

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