A pigeon counter to put on the Manhattan-East facing wall of Tisch's Fourth Floor [ITP] to meet Jeff Feddersen's Energy syllabus' "Solar Challenge" project: a data logger which efficiently uses solar energy to log data over long periods of time.
I got the idea one day after Energy class while sitting on the benches beside the kitchen window. A classmate pointed out the nuzzling pigeon mate pair on the sill outside of the loft windows.
I decided to use a Pyroelectric Infrared Sensor to detect animal motion. I figured if I positioned the senseor a foot above the sill I could get the pigeons landing motion/wing swoop but not their incessant milling-around once they landed. I duck-duck-goosed for PIR and EEPROM [electronically erasable programmable read-only memory) Arduino code and found something long and somewhat complex from Danny Harrison's a PhD blog post on EEPROM which he in turn tweaked from Kristian Gohlke's PIR code.
I tweaked the code slightly so that I could use his data structure for EEPROM (for counting humans in a stairwell.) It works by making dividing all 512 bytes of the Arduino Uno's into 2 byte indices. Each of the 256 memory addresses can hold values from 0-255. The code specifies that for every 10 pigeon landings sensed by the PIR a tally of 1 is added to initial value of 0. This means that each index (2 bytes of memory) will represent 2560 pigeon landings. Multiply that by 256 and you can count 650K pigeons over your given time frame.
The intent behind this project was to celebrate the symbolic individualism of any given pigeon and all the contemplator (myself) to draw connections between us and them as equal beings.
Next steps will be to add a bluetooth module and set up a server to tweet each landmark pigeon landing with an account called Pigeons of ITP for a post-post-modern All Things Great & Small vibe:
"The 34,000th pigeon has landed on the NE corner of ITP NYU"
I used a 3.7V 1200mA LiPO batt, a 6V solar panel and a separate charge controller in addition to the PIR sensor all from Adafruit, and an Arduino Uno.