Class #2 (Interactivity, Advanced Techniques por Thomas Charveriat)

This class will be dedicated to introduce the students to various electronic modules and their application in relation to the realisation of an interactive installation:

Sound Modules:

Sound is one of the most common interaction used to interact with the public. There are many ways to create sound , store it, and even many more ways to trigger it.

In this class, I will deliberately put aside the use of a computer. Computer interaction will be viewed in the Macromedia Director's class.

Slow interaction Sound Generator:

I categorize this type of sound generator "slow" because of long time-lapse between the interaction of the viewer and the sound creation.

CD player, Tape Player, and DVD player are good examples of this type of sound generation. Due to their physical mechanism (for ex. The rewinding of the tape to a specific position , or the placement of the laser to a specific track), they tend to produce a retardative interaction. Of course there are ways around that such as controlling the PLAY/PAUSE button (ex. of this type of configuration was used in the Tintin Project or hacking the connection to the speaker by putting a controllable interrupter( relays or even digital pot). Nonetheless, beware of not protected equipment, you might damage the amplifier by disconnecting the speaker connection while the amplifier is functioning. Usually a resistance in parallel will take care of this problem.

Fast Interaction Sound Generator:

-EEPROM player such as ISD chips

-Compact flash Card player or Smart Media player such as the one used in a commercial Mp3 player

-Sound Sampler

ISD chips:

ISD chips is very cheap solution to add sound in an installation.

Downside:Unfortunately, the sound emited is of poor quality(8khz), but more than enough to reproduce human voices (very common in telephone products)

Where to Buy:

Spain:  (quantity order only)


ISD programmer:

The students are more than welcome to build their own programmer, the circuit is pretty simple and shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to built. Kits are offered by many company such as Radioshack, Cebek, Velleman, etc...

For intensive use of these chips , a more sophisticated programmer might make your life much simpler (in the kits you will have to manually trigger the beginning and the ending of your sound recording).

Here is an attempt to list all the different products available in the market:

Quadravox QV306M4P Playback Module (69€)

The QV306M4P is a small (2.3" x 1.7") PCB that holds an ISD4003-04, an audio amplifier and a serial controller that makes interfacing the device to a BASIC Stamp a snap! The device is pre-programmed with 240 sound files, professionally-recorded numbers, measurements, days and technical terms. Playing any of these "files" is as simple as sending the file number from your Stamp serially.

Downside: You will also need the programmer to go with it

Quadravox QV430P Sound Programmer (79€)

If you're ready to play some Windows *.wav files from your QV306M4P, or if you want to put some additional words or files (Quadravox has over 1,000 available for download) into the QV306M4P module you'll need the QV430P programmer.

Here is another pictures of both modules connected together

Both of these modules are also available in Europe:




Other sound modules of lesser interest are available from the Parallax Website at

As you can see from the name of the Parallax modules, they all carry the Quadravox Logo. Quadravox was the original manufacturer of these modules, and I would recommend anyone to visit their website:

In this class, I will demonstrate the module QV400D:

The advantage of this module is that it will transfer a wav file from your PC directly to the chip via a simple audio cable.You will need to compress the wav file to be 11khz mono and no longer in time than the chip could admit. If the chip name is ISD1010 then it can only store 10s of sound , if it's ISD11014 then 14s, etc...or you could simply use the neat little tool inside qv400su3.exe, to record your voice via a microphone, the program will automatically compress your voice to necessary parameters.

You will need to download from quadravox the program that allow the transfer of sound files to the chip

Building of simple chip player:

Circuit coming soon...

Other type of Sound Module:


Midi Drum

Why using them: When you connect multichannel sounds to the same amplifier, the resistance cumulate, you get noises...