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Please note that SM2258 as of 2013 has been replaced by SM2285 & SM2709.


The course is an introduction to electronics and physical computing for artists. Through circuit emulation, circuit hacking, reverse engineering and simple circuit design, students will acquire foundational knowledge in electronics. This is not an electrical engineering class, and the bases of knowledge that this course covers will not be comprehensive. Rather, it covers specifically those aspects of electronics that most often concerns artists. This course also serves as a foundation for students to proceed with embedded computing and micro-controller applications.


This year we are running a special edition of SM2258 with a specific theme: building musical interfaces for ubiquitous musical expression.

Music making creates powerful social-cultural spaces in which individuals, groups, organizations, systems and structures consider themselves as a medium for building positive and equitable communities. Traditional musical interfaces’ tendency to exclude non-specialists however remains a major barrier to the social and pedagogical potentials of ubiquitous musical expression. In this special edition of 2258, we will explore the history of research and development of interactive musical interfaces. You will design, prototype custom-designed musical instruments that would allow people with little to no musical training to play music intuitively. At the end of the course, you will present your works in an open-to-public “Ubiquitous Music Mart.” 


1. Attendance 10%
2. Sensor Report 20%
3. Interface Design Worksheet 30%
4. Final Interface Presentation 40%


Week 1

Aug 7

Electronics for Dummies I

Rudiments of Electricity

Introduction to Common Electronic Components (1)


Week 2

Sept 14

Apliu Street Excursion

Guided Tour - Janice, Vanissa, Marco


Week 3

Sept 21

Electronics for Dummies II

Introduction to Common Electronic Components (2)

Buddha Machine Hacking 

Reading Schematics

Your First Circuit: Electric Metronome / Simple Oscillator


Week 4

Sept 28

Interface Design Fundamentals I / Arduino I

Introduction to MIDI

Arduino I: Basic I/O, Ultrasonic Sensor, Serial Communication


Week 5

Oct 5

Interface Design Fundamentals II / Arduino II

Understanding Interactive Systems / Musical System Design Principles

Arduino II: Programming Sound and Music in Arduino / Triple Axis Gyro / Using Piezo as Vibration Sensor


Week 6 (a)

Oct 8, Time TBA

Hacking Workshop

Led by Nicolas Collins (author of “Handmade Electronic Music”)


Week 6 (b)

Oct 12

First Prototyping Visit


Interface Design Worksheet First Submission

Week 7

Oct 19

Lab I and Sensor Report I

Flex Sensor 4.5”

Flexiforce Pressure Sensor

2-Axis Joystick

Sound Impact Sensor


Week 8

Oct 26

Lab II and Sensor Report II

Piezo Vibration Sensor

3-Axis Accelerometer

HotPot Rotary Potentiometer

SoftPot Membrane Potentiometer 500mm


Week 9

Nov 2

Prototype Show-and-tell


Week 10

Nov 9

Second Prototyping Visit

Interface Testing in-class

Interface Design Worksheet Second Submission 

Week 11

Nov 16

Lab III: Communication I - Serial Communication


Week 12

Nov 23

Lab IV: Communication II - Networking Options / Timed Operations


Week 13

Nov 30

Lab V: Arduino < - > Internet


Week 14

Dec 7


Final Prototyping Session

Week 16, Time TBA

Industry Night

Final Interface Presentation