Hacking a camera to hack the jungle

This is a simple camera hack that can be done just about anywhere. We modified a Canon point-and-shoot camera on at Dinacon to be a camera trap using CHDK and a quick USB cable modification. The only required materials are a canon point-and-shoot camera, a USB cable, an SD card, and way to connect the SD card to your computer such as an USB SD Card reader.


Most point-and-shoot Canon cameras have a fairly limited number of features directly accessible through the buttons and on-screen menus. There are a wealth of features that are hidden or directly in-accessible to ensure ease-of-use for the general consumer. A group of hobbists developed a method that allows you to access these features using what is called CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit).

Among the many features that this enables are remote triggering, motion detection, and time-lapse. The one that we am most interested in is remote triggering. This will allow us to trigger the shutter using two external wires that we can connect directly to a micro-controller or sensor directly.

Installing / Setting-up CHDK

To add CHDK, you go to the CHDK wiki page http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK. Click on CHDK Downloads

Main CHDK Wiki Page Downloads Page

From here, you scroll down to the bottom and click on the latest Stable Builds which will direct you do a list of different files for different camera options. Search down the list to find the one matching your camera.

Click on the latest stable builds Search for the file that matches your camera


The installation is simple.

  1. Insert the SD card from your camera into your computer. You may need a USB adapter for this.
  2. Download the .ZIP file for the camera that matches your model. Unzip (open / un-compress) the file and move the contents to the SD card for your camera.
  3. Re-insert the SD card back into your camera.

The CHDK firmware will be invisible to normal use. To activate the CHDK features, go through the following steps:

  1. Press the Play button [▶️] to turn on the camera (not the power button).
  2. Press Menu ▶Firmware Update… ▶OK

From here, you can poke around and play with the new features CHDK enables on your camera. Some of the interesting ones that you might want to play with are:

  • Professional control – saving RAW files as well as the JPG, braketing, full manual control over exposure, zebra mode, live histogram, grids…
  • Motion detection – triggering the exposure in response to motion in the frame.
  • Scripting – control the camera using a simple scripting programming language to do time lapse, motion detection, and other pretty cool things.

CHDK Remote Triggering

The feature I’m interested in is the remote triggering. This is one of the many features that you can enable in the CHDK menu. To enable this, first enable CHDK on the camera:

  • Press the Play button [▶️] to turn on the camera (not the power button).
  • Press Menu ▶Firmware Update… ▶OK

Now, enable the Remote trigger:

  • Press Play ▶Menu ▶CHDK Settings ▶Remote Param. ▶Enable

Preparing the cable

Now, we need to modify a USB cable to use for triggering. Most Canon point-and-shoot cameras have a mini-B USB port for transferring data (pictures) back to the computer. The mini-B USB connector has five connectors, but generally most cables only have four wires. The fourth pin is only used on some devices for special signals. Pins 1 and 5 are typically used for power and ground for charging devices. With CHDK on the Canon camera, these two pins can be used for remote triggering. You can trigger the shutter when you apply a 5V signal between the red wire and black wire. Here is how to prepare your cable:

  1. `Take a standard USB mini-B cable.
  2. Cut the cable in half or to the length that you need for your remote trigger.
  3. Strip away the insulation to expose the wires inside the cable.
  4. Cut back all of the cables except for the red and black wires. These should correspond to pins 1 & 5. 
  5. Expose the conductor on the red and black wires to use for your trigger cable.

There are a number of techniques to trigger your camera. The easiest one is connect a battery and a switch. We used a 4xAA battery pack and a simple momentary push button switch. 4xAA batteries provides ~6V. which is in the same range as the 5V required signal to trigger the camera.

Now, how can we trigger this with a sensor? There are several options to do this. You could connect these connections directly to a microcontroller like an Arduino or Micro:bit, but we wanted a setup that didn’t require additional hardware.

Sound Detection

SparkFun has this simple to use integrated sound detector board (SEN-12642). The connections on the board are simple. Once you connect power and ground to the sensor, there are three sensor pins that you can use:

  • Audio – raw audio input scaled between 0 and 5V.
  • Envelope – the amplitude of the audio signal, only.
  • Gate – a binary (on / off) signal indicating when a sound is detected.

To use the sound detector board with the CHDK remote trigger on a Canon camera, connect 5V (or the positive side of the battery pack) to VCC, connect GND (or the negative side of the battery pack) to GND, and finally connect the GATE pin to pin 1 on the custom USB trigger cable.

Here is a quick mock-up of what we put together using a breadboard to connect the wires to the sound detector board. A soft clap is enough to trigger the sound detector and the camera. There is an extra resistor that can be modified on the board to increase the sensitivity, but we were afraid that it might still not be sensitive enough to detect small animals.

Detecting Motion

Another common sensor used in many projects is the PIR (Passive Infrared) motion sensor. You can find this sensor in many places including commercial security monitors and motion activated lights.

PIR Motion Detector – photo credit: SparkFun Electronics

This sensor has only three pins: power, sensor signal, and ground. The sensor signal is an ‘ACTIVE-LOW’ signal which means that when a motion is detected, the signal will go from 5V to 0V. This is the opposite of how the sound detector board worked. To use this sensor, we have to flip the wiring a bit. Here is our wiring sketch:

Again, no need for a microconotroller with this setup. One thing to note here is that the PIR sensor that I have uses a slightly unconventional color scheme. Red – 5V, White – GND, and Black – Signal.

This setup differs slightly from using the sound detector board. Rather than connecting the signal wire to pin 1 (red wire) on the USB cable, here we are connecting the signal wire to pin 5 (black wire).  When a motion is detected, the pin goes LOW and the camera is triggered.

Here, we have wired up a quick prototype of this setup. The Redboard Arduino in this photo is only used for power.

Test Results

The results are a little mixed, but here are a few random pictures that our camera trap picked up. We didn’t pick up any ‘natural’ wildlife in our testing, but we did get a few interesting candid photos:

Going Further

CHDK is an amazing tool to customize and control your point-and-shoot Canon camera. The CHDK community has a lot of great resources and tutorials around scripting and accessing the other features of your camera.

The one drawback we found was maintaining power to the camera during long periods of time. On the bottom of the battery compartment is usually a small rubber gasket. This is to be used with a direct AC adapters to allow you to connect the camera to external power. These look like a empty plastic battery housing with a cable or connector.

Using something like this could allow you to setup a camera trap to last indefinitely.


We hope this inspires you to dust off your old Canon point-and-shoot camera or pick up an older model at the local thrift store.  Happy hacking.

Costuming TAN

by Mika Satomi

Costuming TAN is a wearable antenna for Tree Area Network Project by Ingo Randolf. It is an attempt to also think about how we understand ourselves, nature and technology beside making a fancy probe for a technological instrument.

This is a Ritual for Tree Huggers.

Some say hugging trees gives them ennergy, or recharge their lost power, luck and wisdom. One may believe that one can communicate with trees when synchronizing with them.

In each households, a spirit lives.

One can find a small house like shaped statue somewhere in a household. This is made specially for spirits to reside. Residents place food in front of these houses so the spirits can eat. In return the spirits protect the house from thief and bad lucks. These spirits are not almighty. Sometimes they get into bad moods and make a little mischief or get lazy and result in harm to the house owners.

I felt like they are a bit like the cats in this island. They protect houses and inhabitants from the snakes, cockroaches and rats. They eat random food we give. Sometimes they are not in a mood and puke on our backpacks and pee on our laptop power chargers.

Do Thai people really believe in the spirits?

During my stay in Koh Lon, I was reading a book by Robert Pfaller called “On the Pleasure Principle in Culture”. In this book, he introduces the concept of Croyance (believe/superstition) and Foi (Faith) from Octave Mannoni. Pfaller points out that our “civilized” culture is a culture of Faith. We draw self-esteem from the illusion. In Mannoni’s theory, Mechanism of Croyance operates within the illusion of others. For example, “I know wearing a mask will not let the spirit possess me, but our ancestors believed in it. So I wear the mask and act as if I am possessed” He points out that the owner of the illusion (who believes in it) is often at somewhere else in the case of Croyance. Another example: when we talk about bad luck happened to your friend, and say “oh, I am lucky that I am fine” and you would knock a wood to prevent the very bad luck does not happen to you. In this case, you are very much aware that “knocking wood” does no relation to keep you healthy. Nonetheless, if you did not knock a wood and something bad happens to you, you will feel bad. So “just in case” you would knock a wood as a believer. This is what Pfaller calls as “illusion of the others”.

The project is a reflection of my thought around this topic. When we have faith in religion, political system, or science, it is us who believe in it. We become the subject of the illusion. There are no distance between the illusion and ourselves.

The costume for TAN is for Tree Huggers (or any of us who feels a faith in Nature) to step back and see their belief as an illusion of someone else, to give a space to observe their faith in Nature and/or Science from outside perspective.

The costume is made with Batic Fabric. Batic is a technique to dye fabric with wax resist that is widely practiced in the South East Asia (and many other region in the world) in traditional clothing. I have purchased this fabric in Phuket stating “made in Malaysia”, so technically it is not a local fabric, but you can observe a lot of locals wear them as sarung. The costume consists of a lot of long pockets to hold plant’s stems like flower bases.

I have added crochet behind the collar so one can tie lace to fasten the garment. Shoulder pad is curved like the traditional Thai Opera costumes.

The inner side of the collar is embroidered with conductive thread creating an electrical connection to the wearer’s skin. The end of the embroidery is made into small crochet loop on the outer side of the collar that connects with a crocodile clip cable to the measurement tool.

Testing with plants.

Monica was nice to be a model to test how it looks on a person. The costume is designed to fit various body size person.

The final experiment is documented with Ingo wearing the costume and acting as a prove/antenna for the Tree Area Network. We could reliably receive data from the environmental sensor (humidity/ temperature) placed on the tree 3m above us.

But why one should make such a big effort to create a costume and wear a complicated plant garment to become a simple probe for an instrument?
Rituals existed in many cultures, and western or modernized country is not an exception. We just have forgotten about it. We instead practice faith (Foi) and have very little tolerance with people who do not share the same faith. Costuming this otherwise very technical device is an attempt to take ourselves “un-serious”.

Originally I planned to make fabric antennas to replace the current PAN/TAN antenna. I started with experimenting with smocking, which is an old textile technique. I have started with pattern experiment and then added conductive thread on the base fabric. But the result was not very interesting.

Another attempt was to make a crochet antenna with a combination of silver coated copper thread and linen thread. At the end we did not use this antenna for TAN experiment due to time constrain, but it has a nice aesthetic potential.

After the documentation of the project, the costume became a dress for Pom. At the end this fabric and the design suits her the best!

Erik Zepka

For the conference I did a series of projects, exploring different media and formats. I did a series of interviews with other artists/scientists at the event (Sebastian, Pom, Saad, Paivi) and took the footage for what will likely be a couple of short films – neither of these are completed at the moment. I’ve included photos of the installation I did over the 10 days I was there – it’s a Waste Calculator (Foamhenge) – where past land formations and sculptures have measured the sky over time, mine measures the accumulation of junk. In addition, I wrote the text immediately following the images.

Technical Environments

Digital Naturalism Conference 2018

Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, after fighting their way to friendship, set out to the Cedar Forest on what will become their first heroic adventure. They seek out the monster that guards this forest, Humbaba. When they find him, Gilgamesh offers up Humbaba his sisters as companions for Humbaba and when during the discussion the monster’s guard is down, hits and contains him. Humbaba pleads for clemency, but little heed is given and when he tries to escape Enkidu decapitates him. Victorious, the heroes bring the head Enlil gets pissed, reminds the pair of everything Humbaba protected – Humbaba should have “eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honored.” This episode illustrates at least a couple relationships with the forest – Enlil’s and the one shared by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The conversation about it comes about with action by the characters: the protective sphere of the forest becomes an epistemological explanation in the wake of anthropic interaction. We might ask how to think about the forest for the trees, how the story’s interesting take on a narrative trope gives us purchase to reflect on the roles such entities might play in a relationship, whether we lived through it or imagined it. We might use this as a jumping off to be thinking the conjunction of human manipulation and the space in which our niches work. Tauber (2008) moves the question of immunology and cognition into an environmental and inhuman space. Here there is no “nature” preserved and purely isolated from human contamination, there is instead a move to comparative systems that extends the human situation and reflects on its analogues. Our immunocognitive paradigm is one that cannot denaturalize a human material underpinning, but that seriously benefits from a perspective that admits that the entirety of material being is one within an ecology. What it does, how it does it, what the genesis of those mechanisms are, is all deeply tied to a context that both gives place to physiologies and then later reflects them. Atlan and Cohen (1998) focus on how this physiology manifests cognition. A cybernetic model is explored that posits a self-organizing logic over the organismal structure creating meaning. The body’s spatial relationship is a priori imbued with a technical rationality in terms of situated being. Hayles (2008) might term this a mode of posthuman embodiment. That both the technical implies the biological and realization of our physical vehicle does nothing to eliminate the fabricated world around us. This picture is then grounded in Goodley, Lawthorn and Cole (2014) as one where the marginality of that body gets to the core of what a posthuman planet is – nature beyond humans, nature after humans, in every case the stakes of that connection is born out. Ecological problems are not so for the many species far more resilient than us, far less for the planet – they are a problem for us, our own cultures, our survival, the place that may or may not be for ourselves. Geopolitics in the simplest sense is a

question of how well we allow ourselves to exist on the planet – what organizations are at play and where are they failing in terms of what social existences can do. One way to read the Gilgamesh/Enkidu/Humbaba/Enlil episode is as an inversion of the classic hero vs monster scenario – the monster also has a subjectivity, the hero may be the real monster, good and bad isn’t as simply as you think, maybe don’t go killing people in the forest you don’t really know, etc. But further than this we can think about the characters as icons for thinking technical environments – that is, what are some dramatizations of possible linkages between humans and the plant world. In Humbaba and Enlil’s world, a role of protection is explored, life balance is one facilitated by anthropic preservational tactics. In that of Gilgamesh/Enkidu, it is a trailblazing and upsetting of realms unknown, a dethroning of a human and a setting into the chaos of spaces where humans are few and plants many. In either case, the natural perspective is in complex dialogue with the picturer and intervener – the story agent that holds the techne for invention of natural concepts. Also at the core of this is the question and choice of what perspective we are to have in this space. We might think through an Aristotelian mode, or that of Wang Chong, that could couple robust knowledge collection with an encyclopedic framework. For Otto Neurath, the encyclopedic mode is tied to socialist revolution grounded by a reassertion of scientific ways of thought. Here we are arguably rehashing the dynamics of European concerns for renovated epistemologies as evidenced earlier in the thought of Margaret Cavendish and Voltaire. For Cavendish a scientifically reoriented perspective allows for poetic and cultural modes informed by questions of physics and materialism. For Voltaire, insular empiricism and science fiction allow for societal critique in the name of knowledge revolution. In each case we can speak of moves related to an enlightenment cause that sees social issues rooted in rethinking what our best knowledge is, and creatively advocating for that. In each case, inventive assertion towards the world, thinking about how well we know it, how we can know it better, and what principles can be drawn from such an investigation. Knowing our contextual space, is not a matter of isolationg or withdrawl, but one of engagement, taking positions and seeking out the dialogue for a sustainability within presence and intervention. Ultimately we can argue that this begs for a kind of socially-minded knowledge revolution (Chattopadhyaya 1985) or a rupture in the episteme that has come to occupy our rational complacency (Bachelard 2002). Regardless what everyone in the Gilgamesh tale was confronted with was the deep question of how our pretended knowledge leads to interaction. What do we think we know about the world, and how do we as a consequence act in it? The story’s author arguably uses that episode to provide some accountability to the dark sides of human narrativity – that is to say they strive to think about what is beyond and after humans. Whatever the answer it seems this committed engagement is an indelible component of not retreating from the inquiry, and that a multiple language of art can contribute to a robustness in its analyses – richer hypothetical pictures giving place to more proximate questioning.

Atlan, H., & Cohen, I. R. (1998). Immune information, self-organization and meaning. International immunology, 10(6), 711-717. Bachelard, G. (2002). The Formation of the Scientific Mind a Contribution to a Psychoanalysis of Objective Knowledge. Chattopadhyaya, D. (1985). Knowledge and Intervention: a Study in Society & Consciousness. Goodley, D., Lawthom, R., & Cole, K. R. (2014). Posthuman disability studies. Subjectivity, 7(4), 342-361. Hayles, N. K. (2008). How we became posthuman: Virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. University of Chicago Press. Tauber, A. I. (2008). The immune system and its ecology. Philosophy of Science, 75(2), 224-245

Translating Nature into Art

As an artist, I see myself less so as creator and more so as a translator. I take my direction from the biggest source of  inspiration there is, nature, and try to turn what I see into images that can foster in others just a little bit awe for the natural world. Generally, I work at translating natural design into tattoo design. I am interested in how one can simplify the complexities of natural elements into simple lines, forms, and patterns.  

Before I arrived at Dinacon, I was inspired by photos being posted on the Dinacon social media platforms. I saw photos of plankton collected on the Divamarine lab and I was moved to start translating translucent microscopic creatures into black and white 2-D designs– to make visible the invisible. Once on the island, it was the specimens I encountered there (sometimes literally at my door step) that I drew from. Since Dinacon, I have continued creating designs based on the local flora and fauna of Thailand that touch me with their beauty. 

Below are some tattoo designs (plus one pen and ink sketch and one watercolor drawing) that were motivated by projects of other Dinacon participants as well as the unique outdoor experience of the convention.

-Mari Crook

View of Koh Lon from the Diva marine learning lab
starfish larva
crab larva
jellyfish larva
crab larva
ink and watercolor drawing of specimen found at Dinacon
drawn from a common tree frog found on the walls of the Dinacon lab and maker space
drawn from a common tree frog found on the walls of the Dinacon lab and maker space
baby king cobra

Dinaclock: A time-correct view of Chalong Bay

Josh Michaels – http://joshjet.net

I spent my time on the island filming time-lapse photos of Chalong Bay. In total I filmed 6 days of photos. From that I took the best sequences to create “Dinaclock” – a simple web page showing an image from Chalong Bay that matches the current time where you are. Simply open the web page and you’ll get a refresher on the experience.

You can visit Dinaclock here:

You can leave the web page open and over time it will continue to match the time where you are. You can set it as the default home page/new tab in Safari so you experience it every time you open your web browser. I’m working on a Chrome plug-in.

The Challenges of Filming on Koh Lon

Aside from completing the time-lapse sequence, my secondary goal was testing my hardware for survival under the sometimes intense weather conditions that can be found on the island. I definitely got my fill of challenging weather and will be more prepared for future endeavors .

As one of the first storms I experienced ramped up I decided the camera would need reinforcements. In the time it took to go into my hut and come back the winds had greatly picked up, and by the time I got to the camera it was in the air on the way to a relatively soft landing on its top.

Among other lessons, the key one I learned here was that any filming done in areas with wind this strong requires the camera to be physically tied or clamped to a structure. Weight bags just aren’t enough when winds can get up to 60-70mph.

Ants Fabric

Margaret Minsky June to Sept 2018

Anticipation was a great aspect of Dinacon. I had stated, and thought, that my main project would have a large component of wearability and perhaps eTextile construction. (For those who wonder, it didn’t, although I sewed some wearable wrist holders for bbc:microbits which I decided not to use.) The anticipated wearable aspect of my project was so open-ended that selecting and packing a stash of fabrics and sewing supplies to bring was fun. I also did not know how much of a textile corner/workspace would be set up (it was amazing, folks!) though I knew that I was arriving in the same week as several of my heroes in the wearables and E-Textiles communities.


While assembling fabrics and supplies, I had one of those lightning realizations that Dinacon would be a great forcing function for me to learn a paper-based fabric print repeat technique that I had been meaning to practice. I was inspired by this block print of an ant, created by my son Miles Steele a long time ago in 7th grade:

and the Spoonflower tutorial for creating a repeating print design:

Spoonflower Fabric Repeat from Drawing

I used colored pencils and a favorite printer paper as art materials. After some web research on ant species in Thailand I reinterpreted my son’s design concept to match three species, the Ghost Ant, the Carpenter Ant, and a leafcutter which I fortunately colored bright orange, so that I can now claim I knew about the famous Weaver ants of Koh Lon. I also decided that for Dinacon, the artistic interpretation of an ant needed a distinct gastor. The web research did not get me to the point of narrowing down to species that might be likely in Southern Thailand particularly; I figured I’d learn that when I arrived and the next design can incorporate local ants only.

I followed the instructions, cleaned up the paper joints and a few stray pencil outlines in Photoshop, before uploading to Spoonflower. I was so busy collecting more general-purpose fabrics that I hadn’t yet thought of printing and bringing it. A couple of weeks before Dinacon, I realized that the printing process would deliver fabric to me just before our departure date for Thailand, so I went ahead and ordered enough Sport Lycra (Spandex) knit to enjoy bringing to Dinacon with a vague idea that it might be useful somehow in the maker supplies, and also made a tentative plan to sew a rashguard at Dinacon. The tactile qualities of a real textile are so much nicer to experience than a picture of the print design, and I wanted to bring this fabric as a tangible object.

The rashguard project became one of my two side projects, as well as a way to enjoy sewing and sharing sewing knowledge back and forth with others. It would have been great to finish the garment there…with no guarantee of time and facilities for that, I brought my regular rashguard for snorkeling. Good thing I did, because I copied it to make the pattern pieces on the pattern paper I brought. It was much more complicated that I had thought, it has nine pieces! At Dinacon I cut all the pieces, sewed about half the seams, and then packed it up to finish back home. The pattern paper, still pinned to the pieces had gone from crisp to the texture of a thin damp washing cloth, in the Koh Lon humidity, so it was very supple and easy to pack.

Thank you and admiration to the many folks who had already hauled supplies for the textiles station, and thank you for intriguing thinking about found and re-use textile crafts supplies as seen in projects from Tribenet, Pom, Dennis, Kitty, Plusea, Mika, and Dani.

Textile stuff I brought (not knowing what would be there.)

• Fabrics: basic purchased black and tan spandex and powermesh that I thought would be foundational for wearables/E-Textile projects, large pieces of quality bed sheets that I found at the thrift, weird and wonderful green jungle-spangly fabric bought on impluse at Joanne’s, some denim from wrecked jeans, Ants Fabric, and assorted scraps.

• Elastics: soft elastic black and white, cord elastic, thin bungee in a couple of colors

• Supplies: about 5 yds 60″ pattern paper (from the commercial roll that I found in a dumpster in 1978, the single greatest dumpster find of my life), sharp scissors, sharp seam ripper, good pins, felting needles/roving/foam block, hand needles both specialty and sharps, Schmetz machine needle library of sizes, miniature crochet hook, Gutermann thread several colors, 6″ sliding ruler.

Sonic Lace

Initiated at DinaCon 2018 at Lone Island, sonic lace combines textile speaker making with needlepoint Teneriffe lace and attaches to plants in the local environment. It uses bioelectric signals emitted by the host plant to generate sound. 

Initial experiments were carried out on the strainer of a a repurposed lemon press, later in the process I used a laser cut frame to weave the initial speaker part and commencing the lace-making. The lace is then finalised directly on the plant . The project is still developing. 



Recycloom (recycled textile loom)

In early summer 2017, Streetcat (https://www.streetcat.media/) participated as a node leader for the inaugural Digital Naturalism Conference (or DiNaCon), hosted by Dr. Andrew Quitmeyer and Tasneem Khan in Phuket, Thailand. Streetcat applied her project idea~ the Recycloom ~ in during the call for proposals for DiNaCon in early 2018. Her project idea encompassed building a textile tool that was made from recycled materials and utilized recycled plastics as string for making reused textile objects.

The final design for the loom came from a workshop that Streetcat took in early May 2018 at the Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance where she built a strap on an inkle loom. The construction of the inkle loom is pretty simple, and Streetcat was able to source all the materials needed to remake it from various places like dumpsters, old woodworking projects, and Home Depot.

Before leaving for Thailand, Streetcat practiced making straps on an inkle loom that she borrowed from SEFAA, made a bunch of plarn, and constructed / deconstructed and packed the recycled loom ~ the Recycloom! ~ for the conference!

At the conference, Streetcat deliriously reconstructed the recycloom right after arriving at the conference from a 27 hour travel period from Atlanta to Phuket. There, she started experimenting with several stringing methods on the recycloom to play around with making straps out of cotton string and plarn. After working through a few projects, she started to teach other conference attendees how to use the loom with showing them: what the heck warp + weft means, how to make a shuttle out of cardboard, how to string the loom with plarn, how to make a patterned strap, and how to start/finish a project.

The loom lived on after DiNaCon by being adopted by Tasneem Khan and the Diva makerspace ship!

Check out more info about the project:
+ https://www.streetcat.media/creative-tech/recycloom

TribeNET- Mesh sensor network for battling future distopia

by Elizabeth Bigger, Luis Fraguada, and Agosto

Thanks to Dani, Mark, and Umeed for help with documentation

We considered a new communication method for our tribe while adventuring within the island. We desired the ability to communicate in more tonal short messages like birds and other animals. This is part of our theory to try to design to engage and merge with nature, instead of designing ‘on top’ of nature or not considering nature and its inhabitants in design processes. Our idea further grew over curry and a tribe story writing session and then brought to life via the podcast episode Biobang 006.


Walking the on beach the first day on the island, we came across a tree with something stuck in it, and it was a tartan!  Having an affinity for all things tartan, we found this serendipitously perfect for our tribeNETs textile needs. We were also able to find another small rag of the tartan in a nearby tree stump. We washed the textile and hung it to dry in the sun.


The pieces of tartan were patterned, marked and cut, beach side. Using string to translate live measurements and marking the pattern pieces with washed up beach coral pieces. I cut the pieces using first aid kit scissors and hand sewed the pieces together. I stitched the electronics to the wearable pieces and made the appropriate channels to protect wiring and cords. The last pieces to to be attached were the protective mesh shell forms over the esp8266 Node MCU modules. All pieces were constructed with reusability in mind, as if we were in actual survival, we’d want to be able to reuse and alter pieces as necessity and need called for.

Buckram shell castings

To create the mesh networks protective meshes, we cast buckram over various seashells from the island. These forms we created with water and buckram, and rubber bands from the dinner food boxes to hold the forms while they dried. After carefully unwrapping the dried formed buckram we were left with the mesh shapes to protect TribeNET electronic components.

Mesh network

The three wearables are linked together via a mesh network based on the esp8266 Node MCU modules. These nodes are easily programmable via the Arduino IDE, with the complexities of mesh network topologies abstracted out. Two nodes essentially translate an input signal into tones, sent to the output node (worn by Elizabeth). Each node included an addressable RGB LED stick which shows information about the mesh topology, including if a node is online or not. MQTT was utilized as the base data protocol for publishing and subscribing to the different nodes’ data stream.

Camera Node

The Camera node takes a live video feed and runs a kmeans clustering of the color information of the input video frame. The camera is mounted to the front of the wearer, giving the system a view in front of the hiking party. These predominant colors are encoded into tone and duration information and transmitted to the Speaker node.

Proximity Node

The Proximity node takes a series of ultrasonic sensor inputs distributed along the height of the human wearing them and translates this “section” into tones. Because the sensors are distributed along the height of the wearer, the textile pattern extends from the shoulder to the ankle. These tones are transmitted to the Speaker node.

Speakers Node

The Speaker node receives signals from the other nodes in the system and creates a melody which describes the current reality of the hiking party. The data from the nodes was strictly mapped from sensor signal inputs into tone and duration. The resulting melodies must be learned to be understood. The speakers were sourced from the airline headphones we received on our way to Koh Lon. The internal components were harvested from their plastic casing and rewired to the mcu. While this is a low power, low volume solution, it worked very well for the hiking party.


TribeNET was used on a hike through the paths of Koh Lon. During this hike the hiking party started to get used to the melodies created by the Speakers Node, These melodies were a combination of the sensor data, so it corresponded to the colors on the Camera Node and the ultrasonic sensors on the Proximity Node. While the hike was short, the party already could start to discern the melodies created when they were in different positions and next to different kinds of vegetation.

credits: Mark Iifana
credits: Umeed Mistry


While the ‘TribeNET’ project started to be conceived prior to Dinacon, it really took shape on the island during a particular lunch where a story was conceived about a group of travelers that came to Koh Lon a few months in the future after Dinacon. The story also had inspirations from episodes of the Biobang podcast, especially the episode with the Bathisphere. In this story, TribeNET is worn by the party of travelers to become a part of nature, or at least, to try to understand nature and become nature themselves. This is because in the future (November 2018 in the story) many things had changed. Microplastic infiltration into everything led to a shortage of clean water like the world had never seen. Countries engaged in the latest of the Water Wars as citizens began to contract MicroAcrylisys (aka The Shine), a new form of skin disease that starts to produce plastic sores on the epidermis and is transmitted by drinking and absorbing microplastic polluted water. At first, this disease was confused as a trend as people began to accessorize their Shine sores with 3d printed parts and hot glued lab grown crystals. The TribeNET travelers are able to escape contracting The Shine by drinking water filtered by the Faircap (http://faircap.org/) and designing their TribeNET wearables. In order to warn the Dinacon participants, the travelers go back in time through a newly discovered, but very dangerous mode of transportation called Light House Jumping, or Light Jumping for short. This allows travelers to jump from light house to light house instantaneously, albeit to another point in time. Unprotected light house jumping causes immediate and advanced skin diseases so protective suits must be worn. Unfortunately, many light house jumping pioneers perished just days after the discovery due to unprotected light house jumping. The travelers jumped back in time to Dinacon at Koh Lon to share the future with the participants and to share their technical knowledge in hopes to steer the future away from the Water Wars, The Shine, and Distopia.








Cargol – Found nature object temporary art piece – Agosto

by Agosto

Agosto, arguable the most youthful member of the Dinacon crew, began his adventures on the island by drawing in the sand.

The island sand was much softer than the man made beach sand of his homeland, and he pondered these differences. He mused, what was home? He began to consider these questions while placing found coral in upright positions in the sand.

Upon seeing the variety of island creatures, such as hermit crabs and snails, he began to wonder how they viewed ‘home’, as they traveled with their shells on their backs. He sat for a moment, before drawing a large spiral in the sand and stared pensively at this simple view of a home.

He scavenged for his ‘homes’ nearby resources, and found fallen seed pods from trees, washed up pieces of old corals, and smooth sea pebbles.

He began placing the seed pods within the grooves of the spiral. In a nod to his homeland he began putting the coral pieces within the spiral spaces in a gaudi-esque style.

He finished the piece with it’s inhabitant snail, filled with pebbles.

Entitled Cargol, the temporary natural art piece, was meant to consider the transient meaning of ‘home.’

The piece remained beachside, changing colors as the pieces were weathered, wind blown and rained on.