Meet Timothy High
Timothy High’s Wizarding Wands won our #HackYourHolidays design challenge. Timothy wanted to bring the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter back home to Brazil for the holidays. So he created some spells with the magic cloudBit and crafted a wizarding wand for his daughter! It was great to see Timothy figure out the best way to make the wand by consulting fellow community members over on our forum. We were lucky enough to talk to Timothy about his experience making this project.
I am based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (originally from LA, CA)
My maker superpower is programming software. This is why I was able to write the program to interpret the wand movements and call the cloudBit (see the Github project linked to the project page). I can’t wait to see what I can do with the Arduino! By day, I’m the CTO for PagPop, a Brazilian mobile payments company, along the lines of Square in the U.S. My superhero vulnerabilities are in hardware, and just general arts and crafts. I can make it work, but it ain’t pretty!
I am inspired by imagination, and making kids happy. I’ve done birthday parties where I’ve made colorful pancakes, and I’ve hosted group make-your-own-gingerbread house parties (I’m sure next year, I’ll be making one with some littleBits baked in…). I recently saw a TED talk by Mac Barnett, who writes children’s stories, and he said ” I want fiction to escape and come into the real world. I want a book to be a secret door that opens and lets the stories out into reality.”
That really struck a nerve with me. I feel the same way. But, for now, I’m happy with that just being a hobby.
The most exciting project I have worked on is he wizarding wands, by far. It’s also pretty much the only one I’ve worked on – I got the kits during a trip to the Harry Potter parks in Orlando in November, and by the last day there I had already realized I could use them with the wands. The original plan, still waiting to do, is to make a keytar with the Korg kit.
I would use littlebits to make a keytar. But I’ll be needing some help with the physical structure.
Every year, as the resident American in our building, I have a little Halloween party. I’m hoping this year, I might be able to do a mini haunted house, especially with the help of littleBits. Also, now that I have the Smart Home Kit, I will be making spells with that! There are several that still don’t have an example on the project page (Ascendio, Descendo, Alohomora, Wingardium Leviosa…). I’m sure I’ll find a lot of good ideas in that box.
In the process I learned so many things! This was really a multi-faceted project. The things I had to do to get this working:
I had to figure out how the Harry Potter wands work (IR reflection) (Along the way, following a red herring, I also found out how to analyze NFC signals using an Android device…)
I fixed an old PC laptop I have (I use Mac now, and the libraries I found for the Wii were mostly PC-based). As a side-effect, a computer that I thought was junk is now working.
I learned that the Wiimote can pair with a computer. I learned it has an IR sensor, which I didn’t know. I now have found a library that can give you access to ALL the Wii buttons and signals.
I re-learned the C# programming language, which I haven’t seen or touched in 10 years.
I learned how the cloudBit works.
I learned how to use an Arduino, and some of the basics of programming for the Arduino board
I bought my first voltmeter and breadboard, learned the basics of soldering and figured out how to make a homemade wire to output signals from littleBits to DC electronics (see my “external wire”) project. I also learned that none of this is necessary if you have the hardware prototype bit, but since I don’t…
I happened to be studying machine learning algorithms, and realized that recognizing the wand movements was a perfect fit. So this project represents my first working neural network!
For the video on the site, I even had to learn how to edit videos using iMovie!
I guess most importantly what I learned is that I actually could do all of this, and in a relatively short time. I’m thinking my dream of making a haunted house isn’t so far out of reach!
My dream bit is… I haven’t even finished playing with the ones I have. I guess my one wish was the external wire that I improvised, although it looks as if there are alternatives. What I think would be really cool are more, easier ways to connect your circuits to the outside world: steadier stands for the DC motor, special attachments for the servo, and so on. The Lego board attachments are great! But I’m thinking serious tools, like the GoPro head mounts 😉
Check out Timothy’s latest videos on how to make your own wizarding wand & spells