Jeff Feddersen Fall 2019


Welcome! I’m very excited to be teaching Physical Computing again this year. It’s material I love and use a lot. In the past few years there’s been an explosion in tools available to beginners for embedding computation in any imaginable project. It can be a bit overwhelming – electronics! programming! so many boards to choose from! – but this course lays a foundation for you to build amazing things and continue developing creative and technical skills in the future.

Class Times

Thursdays, 9:00-11:30AM, Room 408

Contact or

Class Date Exceptions

None planned

Office Hours

My office hour calendar

I have calendar slots available to meet in person on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the days I teach. Please sign up at least an hour in advance, as I don’t work at ITP full time and may not stick around if nothing is scheduled.

I am also available by Skype/hangout/chat/email/call etc. almost any time with prior arrangement. I’ve found that video meetings work well for physical computing, so my office hour policy is to make arrangements as needed. Email me and we can set up a time to talk further. On the occasions I can be on the floor outside of class times, I’ll email the class list to let you know.

Useful links

Nano 33 IOT with pin labels
Nano 33 IOT with pin labels (source: arduino forum, user pak)

A note on how to use this site

There’s a lot, lot! of information at Then there’s the whole rest of the internet, starting with Arduino HQ, going on to great sites like and, not to mention infinite how-tos on YouTube (even Vimeo), data sheets for every component ever made, etc… It can get overwhelming.

With the ITP site, we’ve tried to do two things:

  1. Provide a week-by-week syllabus for the semester that takes you through the physical computing material in a logical progression. Each week has clear tasks, assignments for the following week, and links to labs, write-ups, and videos that support or explain the current material. Follow along here and you’ll be fine.
  2. Provide an organized set of materials covering the core physical computing topics, to serve as a first resource for any questions you may have as you study the subject. These live under the TopicsVideosResources, and Labs tabs. These materials are also linked to from the syllabus, but here they’re organized by subject matter, whereas the week-by-week syllabus is chronological.

Class Documentation

You’ll keep a blog online with documentation of your work for the class. This will include midterm and final documentation, responses to specific prompts in the syllabus, and periodic updates on lab work. While you’re not strictly required to post an update every single week, it is very helpful to post regularly so I can keep track of how you’re doing in the class. If I see an issue come up for multiple students we can make time to address it in the class.

Email me with direct links to your documentation for this class. Note: please set up tags, categories, or whatever so the link goes directly to the documentation specifically for this class, and not every class, or your personal blog, etc.

You’ll know I got your link when it shows up here!

Your Blogs

I’ll add you links here…

Abby Lee
Ben Moll
Christina Dacanay
Chun Song
Daniel Otero Sendas
Lizzy (Elizabeth) Chiappini
Elizabeth Perez
Hanyi Zhang
Julian Mathews
Melissa Powers
Rae (Ruilin) Huang
Sam Krystal
Schuyler DeVos
Shannel Doshi
Simone Salvo
Tianxu Zhou
Caren (Wenqing) Ye
Yiting Liu

Class notes

I’ll post materials from in class here. You can access Google Slides with your NYU account. Presentation material from class is meant to be presented in person by me, so is not necessarily made to stand alone as a reference. It’s included here in case it can be of any use at all.

Class 1 slides (we didn’t get all the way though in class)

Class 3 board shown below. Note that the schematic shows the functional aspects of the circuit, but may differ from the physical layout. This is usually the case – schematics are not arranged the same as physical circuits. The colored boxes highlight which part of the schematic goes with which part of the board.

Arduino on breadboard, with digital and analog input and output circuits
Arduino on breadboard, with digital and analog input and output circuits and equivalent schematic. The microcontroller provides 3.3V from pin 2 to the breadboard. It connects to the ground bus on the breadboard with pins 14 and 19. Digital pin 2 connects to a resistor and LED in series to ground, showing digital output. Digital pin 3 connects to a switch and 10K resistor to ground. The other pole of the switch connects to 3.3V. Pin A7 connects to the wiper of a potentiometer, which has it’s A and B pins connected to 3.3V and ground. Two additional analog input circuits are also on the breadboard, but not connected to the Arduino. One has a phototransistor connected to 3.3V in series with a 10K resistor to ground, and the second has an LDR from 3.3V in series with a 10K resistor to ground. Either could be used as an analog input using a connection between the series parts.

Class 4 board

Class 4 Breadboard, extending circuit from class 3 above, adding servo, RGB led, and speaker.
Class 4 Breadboard, extending circuit from class 3 above, adding servo, RGB led, and speaker.

Class 6

Some midterm examples from last year’s class:

Qice and Fenfen – Caged? Great interaction, totally physical.

Lydia and SJ – Interaction demonstrating computer to a physical device

David and Joseph – Ghost Loofa. Physical controller sending input to computer game:

Two Youtube makers of note:

Mark Rober – engineer who frequently uses Arduino. His dart board code is online, including serial; here he debunks a fake maker project. 

Simone Giertz – often uses Arduino, projects online go from simple to sophisticated and personally meaningful

Serial output of student selelctor
Screen shot of the serial output from the student pair selector.

The student pairs (as text):

Julian and…Caren are partners for the Midterm!
Song and…Ben are partners for the Midterm!
Abby and…Tianxu are partners for the Midterm!
Shannel and…Hanyi are partners for the Midterm!
Rae and…Schuyler are partners for the Midterm!
Lizzy and…Elizabeth are partners for the Midterm!
Christina and…Yiting are partners for the Midterm!
Melissa and…Daniel are partners for the Midterm!
Simone and…Sam are partners for the Midterm!


Ann Hamilton’s Armory exhibit the event of a thread was an interactive piece mentioned in class.

TinkerCad is a virtual circuit builder and simulator from Autodesk.

Originally written on August 21, 2019 by David Rios
Last modified on October 17, 2019 by Jeffrey Feddersen