Funny Looks and Failure, Part 4 or, “Wherein I am Promised to Never Be Let Down”

If you recall, my last post was about how I managed to think myself from 2 difficult tasks that I didn’t know how to accomplish to 6 difficult tasks that I didn’t know how to accomplish.  So, my primary goal now was to actually build something before I talked myself out of what I was trying to do.  To that end, I got myself a beginner’s Arduino kit from Amazon (for those who are interested, this is the one I purchased).

I’d known that I wanted to use Arduino for ages, because I regularly read Boing Boing and Ars Technica, and both sites would regularly mention people doing interesting things with this small microcontroller.  So, I knew that the Arduino would have the ability to do what I wanted it to do, so long as I could figure out how to tell it what I wanted to do.

So, this kit came with a small booklet of tutorials.  Simple stuff at first – turn on an LED, open a switch, etc.  But what caught my eye at first was the tutorial on the piezoelectric buzzer.  Now, that sounds fancier than it actually is, but it’s basically just a tiny little device that can play sounds.  Now, the sounds aren’t very robust, but since I wanted my chest to make noise, I thought that this might be an easy solution.

Now, I’ve had a few programming courses in my day, and I’m familiar enough with the C++ language.  I tell you that, because the Arduino runs C++ programs, and so, once I’d read through the instructions on using the buzzer, I thought that I could use it right away.  The principle is simple enough – you tell the buzzer what notes to play and how long to hold them, and if you’ve done everything correctly, your song should play.

I read the tutorial, loaded the program onto the Arduino, made all the necessary connections, and plugged it in. Now, according to my instruction book, the buzzer should have played the first few notes of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

fl_0401.fwSee, I have proof.

Instead, what I got was the first few notes of Mr. Rick Astley’s classic 1987 hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up.”  I had just gotten Rickrolled by my microcontroller. I’d like to say that this experience prepared me for the absurdity and silliness that would follow, and that I resolved then and there not to take myself too seriously as I worked on this project, but that’s not what happened.  Instead, I just laughed my ass off.

fl_0402.fwTurns out they did give me one clue…

Once I got myself under control, I tried replacing the notes they had provided with the ones for the Zelda “secret” sound, but I didn’t like the final output.  This isn’t my video, but this is exactly what it sounded like when I finally got the notes right.

Hardly awe-inspiring, right?.  I mean, I’m planning on this treasure chest being the prize in a difficult scavenger hunt, so finding it is supposed to be a big deal.

fl_0403.fwYeah, kinda like that.

I can’t have the damn thing beeping at them like a Space Invader.


So, although the sounds didn’t work the way I wanted, I did at least got some practice on programming and wiring the Arduino.  I put the whole sound issue to the side and decided to work on something simpler next time…like soldering.

Next time:  Let there be light…sort of.

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