MTA Service Disruptor

For Critical Objects assignment 2 we were required to create a disobedient object. Meaning an object that serves as a form of social or political protest. The focus for this project was focused more on the critical critique and technology elements.

When thinking about a subject to create a disobedient piece towards I tried to think locally and more specifically towards something that directly impacts me. For all of the things I love about NYC there are plenty of things I can’t stand about it. After living here for three years my tolerance for the MTA has decreased exponentially.

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This being so, Adi and I decided to create an object that would be a disruption to the MTA. We wanted the piece to only be noticeable and cause a disturbance when trains do not run on schedule Out of this came the MTA Service Disruptor.

The idea behind the device is that someone protesting the MTA would take the piece and plant it secure location facing the train tracks. The device would then be silent as long as trains were running on the correct schedule. As soon as the trains began to run off schedule then the device would start making an irritating beep sound. The longer the time until the next train the louder and more obnoxious until the trains return to their normal schedule.

The concept is that the Service Disruptor will force people to begin to discuss whats going on and then keep the issue relevant for as long as necessary. The goal of the piece is not to solve the issues with the NYC subway system but to keep the topic relevant and make New Yorkers more hostile towards the heads of the MTA.

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The Service Disruptor uses a basic circuit comprised of an ultrasonic sensor, basic speaker and small arduino microcontroller. The small form factor and simplicity of the piece makes it ideal for creating many of them and planting all over the city at different stations.

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Code

#include <toneAC.h>

int trigPin = 5;
int echoPin = 6;

void setup() {
    Serial.begin(9600);
    pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);
    pinMode(echoPin, INPUT);
}

int rangeThreshold = 5000;
unsigned long lastSubwayTime = 0;
int expectedTrainSchedule = 5000; // ms

void loop() {
    float rangeDuration;
    unsigned long now = millis();

    // send a 2 microsecond pulse to start the rangefinder
    digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);
    delayMicroseconds(2);
    digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
    delayMicroseconds(10);
    digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);

    // read from the rangefinder
    rangeDuration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH);

    // occasionally print sensor value
    if (now % 3 == 0) {
        Serial.print("d: ");
        Serial.println(rangeDuration);
    }

    float toneFrequency = 800;
    float toneVolume = 10;

    if (rangeDuration < rangeThreshold) {
        lastSubwayTime = now;
    } else if (now - lastSubwayTime > expectedTrainSchedule) {
        playNotes(10, 500);
    }
}

int notes[2] = { 800, 400 };
unsigned long lastNoteTime = 0;

void playNotes(int volume, int duration) {
    int i = 0;
    while (i < 2) {
        unsigned long now = millis();
        if (now - lastNoteTime > duration) {
            lastNoteTime = now;
            toneAC(notes[i], volume, duration);
            i++;
        }
    }
}