Midnight Doodler

Robert Moon

Midnight Doodler is a drawing tool that uses the night sky as the "canvas" and a kite with controllable LEDs to create lines made visible through long exposure photography.


Classes The Nature of Code

Midnight Doodler is comprised of a kite, with mounted accelerometer/arduino to trigger super-bright LEDs light patterns to draw using long exposure photography with a digital SLR camera. Light patterns in the sky are documented using slow shutter speed, leaving behind light streaks created by the super-bright LEDs on the kite. Light patterns can be adjusted using the analog X,Y,Z axis of the kite.

Last summer, I used light drawings for a performance inspired by a Pika Pika's light animations. They used long exposure photography and LEDs for creating light drawn animations. I thought this would be interesting way to view the flying patterns of kites without the use of any software.

My target audience is for anyone interested in kite-flying or photography. Kite-flying enthusiasts would be interested in documenting flying patterns and photography enthusiasts would be interested in creating interesting light strokes and patterns.

User Scenario
A clear windy evening (~18 m.p.h. winds) is ideal weather conditions. Two users are necessary, but more are welcome. One user is the piloting the kite and the other user controls the LED lights through momentary switches. The LEDs can be dynamically driven by the accelerometer (auto-pilot) or manually turned on/off using momentary switches and xBee wireless radio communication. The camera will need to be set on a tripod and set to 'manual' to slow down the shutter speed.(Suggested settings: 100ISO and f22 at 1 minute exposure) Wide angle lens offer more "canvas" area for the light drawing kite.

The Midnight Doodler consists of a flyable kite, super-bright LEDs, accelerometer, 2 xBee radios, an Arduino board, a camera with manual and tripod. Attached to the kite are strategically mounted super-bright LEDs controllable through wireless radio communication to an xBee and LED switches or the accelerometer driven light patterns based on the XYZ axis of the kite. If time permits, I would like to store the data to be visualize in Processing.

I learned/discovered/appreciated how difficult it is to design/build/fly a kite.