Quantifying the Cube

Putting a high-score meter on a local work of art to create higher levels of interactivity and community involvement

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The Cube is a statue on the University of Michigan campus that spins on its axis. It's a popular attraction among tourists and students, but I think that I can use basic technology as a force for change. I think that if I put a piece of technology on the cube that tracks current speed and highest recorded velocity, people will interact with the statue more and try to beat each other out in terms of speed.

The project must stress power efficiency and durability in the elements throughout the year.

The box will be well-sealed with machined screws.

I don't want this thing to be stolen, so I will be mounting it with neodymium magnets. Once they are screwed into the project case, it will be difficult enough to remove in order to discourage petty thieves from taking it.

I'm gonna want it to put itself into sleep mode most of the time in order to conserve on battery life

I'm also going to have to find a way to choose when to turn the backlight on and off at will

  • 1 × ATTINY 84a AVR Microcontroller
  • 1 × 16x2 Backlit LCD Typical LCD
  • 1 × 3-axis Accelerometer ADXL335
  • 1 × Plastic Project Box

  • Big News!

    Keenan Rebera10/19/2016 at 15:51 0 comments

    Hi, all!

    After taking a backseat for a while, the project is up and running again! I am proud to announce I have been selected to receive a micro-grant from the arts-engine program at the University of Michigan to improve, finish, and publish the project. Very excited to get started on this again!!

  • Back at it again

    Keenan Rebera03/27/2016 at 05:16 0 comments

    Well, I definitely ran 9V through the accelerometer and blew the thing.

    That's okay though, because science.

    Anyways, I realize now what I really need is a gyroscope. If I can get the instantaneous angular velocity and mount it on a fixed point I can use the parallel-axis theorem to use the space diagonal of the cube in order to get an arc-length velocity in meters per second.

    That was quite the mouthfull, wasn't it?

  • The Dirty Work is Done

    Keenan Rebera10/30/2015 at 12:09 0 comments

    Managed to find screws for the mounting magnets and secured them diagonally on the back of the box. The soldering job took a long time and required a hearty amount of heat shrink tubing but it's up and running. It's brilliant just to look at it running all by itself, enclosed in its little box. Very cool.

    Two problems:

    1) The 'H' character (position[0][0] on the lcd) fades in and out sporadically

    2) The high score function displays nothing but 0.00. I do not know if this is because at one point I accidentally connected 9V to my voltage divider circuit and actually blew the accelerometer, or if my code is just being odd. I'll start off with some basic tests tonight and move on from there.

  • Box Adjustments

    Keenan Rebera10/04/2015 at 02:50 0 comments

    Cut a hole in the project box and sealed it with silicon to keep it safe from water damage.

    Still trying to figure out the correct size of screw and placement for the back magnets

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ActualDragon wrote 01/24/2018 at 19:29 point

i don't think a few magnets would stop me from stealing it

  Are you sure? yes | no

Keenan Rebera wrote 10/04/2015 at 02:44 point

I'm facing a really big challenge here: I have a working prototype with my Arduino but I know I work the device on an ATTINY 84a. It's under 8kb in total and I can use my Arduino as an ISP. However: I need to know to things:

How to code for the stupid thing

How to store a 'High Score' variable in the EEPROM

Any tips you guys might have or resources for this would really, really, really help.


  Are you sure? yes | no

undersampled wrote 10/04/2015 at 05:02 point

Well, first step is to get a copy of the datasheet, it's your main reference book for everything about that chip, including how to program the EEPROM (section 5.3, on page 16). It also has lots of coding samples.:

Second step would be to get GCC for your system, and try using it for a bit. Ladyada's tutorials are a great starting point, and they should tell you how to get set up, and get something to blink: If you're on Windows, it's probably easiest to use Atmel's "AVR Studio", which automatically sets up avr-gcc in a Visual Studio based environment.

You can even use avr-gcc with your full-sized arduino, which might make it a bit easier to manage. The avr libraries are pretty good at working across chips, so you might be portable over to the attiny as well (some of the peripherals will be different, so always make sure to check the datasheet).

If you've already figured all that out, you're golden. Ask questions on IRC (#avr on People will only be able to help you if they understand what you're having difficulty with, and have worked through a similar problem before. So, the best way to get help is to go until you get stuck, and then ask about the specific issue your having. Trying new things is how you learn and get stuff done!

Hope some of that is useful. And, cool Cube thing!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Keenan Rebera wrote 10/04/2015 at 18:35 point

Yes this is exactly what I am looking for here. All excellent. Pointers. Also a grand idea to use avr-gcc with the arduino for more rapid prototyping and then porting it over to the smaller chip when the time is right.

I'll update when I can.

Thanks again!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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