Psydice and the Mega companion

Psydice is an electronic dice program for the Arduino Mega. It corresponds to a hardware I’ve called the “Mega companion” (of the Psybox). It has a small display with touchscreen enabled, an sdcard with content files and directory tree, predefined and definable “games” that can be played by a subject interacting with images, numbers and text, timer interrupts, Bluetooth 2-way connecivity, and menus, ready to be modified according to one’s needs. It uses ~18% of program space and ~65% of memory for local variables when serial debug is enabled but only ~16% and ~42% without. The hardware has a 3d printable enclosure whose g-code and Freecad files are downloadable too. A little breadboard can be fixed on top with buttons and leds to make the electronic side of experimentation easier, but as long as the reserved pins are respected everything can be run from the touchscreen alone.

Psydice is dedicated to parapsychological research, with a small set of simple experiments for individuals to make in the study of such phenomena as precognition, out of body experiences and telepathy, but without any presumption about the nature of what is being investigated nor the results that can be obtained. Let’s remember that Alan Turing mentionned this issue in Computing machinery and intelligence (1950).

Content files are chosen among 8 sets (astrology, naturalia, shapes, symbols, tarot, yiking, zener and user). The last one, the folder named ‘USR’, is left for the user to put his or her own pictures (24bits, 320×240 bmp files only). I have filled these folders with images picked on the net without particular intention but to furnish some Public domain content usable in visual parapsychology. Except for the closed symbol systems represented by astrology (occidental), Tarot, Yi-king and Zener cards, these content sets can (and should) be replaced or augmented by pictures chosen according to one’s taste or purpose.

The capacities of the Arduino Mega are underemployed in the Mega companion and it can receive a choice of additional pluggable sensor devices thanks to the Grove standard. The goal was not to illustrate epitemological preconceptions with complicated electronics, but to provide an up to day experimental tool ready to respond to scientific hypotheses in an evolving research. Though professionals have had electronic dices for decades, there is no standard equipment on which to rely for the sake of reproducibility. This is a gap that the Mega companion and the Psybox want to fill with open hardware and software.

The Psybox was first made of an Arduino Mega and oriented towards personal experimentation. To make network experiments possible it was then coupled to a Raspberry Pi. The last version didn’t include the Arduino Mega anymore. But some data collector was still needed and the Pi couldn’t play that part as well, so I reintroduced the Arduino Mega and solved the connectivity thru Bluetooth. Now the Psybox can handle all the network and data management – plus some peripherals – while its Mega companion looks for what happens here and now and transmits. In order to investigate parapsychology inidividually, Psydice will suffice. For network experiments the Psybox (or another computer with a similar system) is needed. The main point to stress out is that while the Psybox is still at an experimental stage, Psydice on the contrary is a more mature code and hardware setup that can be used directly for simple experimentation.

The code, content sets, 3d files and documentation can be downloaded from https://github.com/emilbarton/Psydice .

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Author: emilbarton

http://emilbarton.com

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