Das Blinkenlichten

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Heh, yeah, a little late writing this one. I was meaning to write this up…like, a couple months ago, right after the “public beta”, but didn’t get around to it.

So some friends and I had tickets to the Boston leg of the VNV Nation Judgment tour, April 18. Of course no electronica concert is complete without things that blink and blue LEDs, handheld spinny balls, etc. So my friend JR and I hacked together a wearable demo of Das Blinkenlichten, triggered by a microphone and envelope detector, which she wanted to wear at the show.

At probably midnight the night before, assembly was finished. I only had a handful of working nodes (or ones I thought were working…); she made wrist and neck bands out of some flexible clear rubbery sheeting we found in the lab, mounted LED nodes into each piece, and ran a long wire for each terminating in a 3-pin header. Two on each wristband and 3 on the neck; they looked good. The controller was stuffed into an acrylic folding case that once housed some free electronics samples, but was just the right depth (with some coaxing) to accommodate a 9V battery.

Next question…how are we getting a package of nearly naked electronics…with a microphone…through security at a concert where they’re confiscating recording devices…in Boston. It doesn’t even have somebody on it giving the finger.

Sure enough, at the doors security pulls me aside and wants to know what this electronics package is. One asks (jokingly), “That’s not a bomb, is it?” …the other, maybe not getting the joke, replies straight faced that it’s too small to be a bomb. I was eventually let through with my hoax device bag intact, though the mini-screwdriver set (for adjusting the gain pots) was confiscated as Sharp Objects. (Had to track down a security guy and got them back upon leaving.)

Read on, and on and on and on…

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