How Creative Coding, Making, and Singleboard Computing Saved My Life

I had been using openFrameworks, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Fritzing for quite some time but never had any success with being creative with them. After a painful break with my previous hackerspace, failures with a project using another platform, and previous pain keeping me in mental bondage my life was going into a downward spiral. As soon as I knew anything, so it seemed, I was 360 pounds and pre-diabetic.

Then, after some time had past, after some experimenting with these tools and other inspirations things clicked. I had found a project and I was rapidly losing weight. For 2 years I used openFrameworks, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Fritzing off and on with dance. After getting immersed in rave culture as an outgrowth of my previous inspirations I created rave equipment with these tools and it was, and still is very compelling for me. Now I have lost well over 100 pounds and my outward symptoms of pre-diabetes are gone.

Some details for all of you who are curious. I have built 3 rave related devices with these tools. On the openFrameworks side I have created an audio visual system that produces psychedelic visuals that react to music, it runs on my television and subwoofer via the Raspberry Pi. On the Arduino side I have built RGB glowsticks, and a powerful strobelight. On the Fritzing side I am in the process of documenting my project schematic wise.

One more thing. I am a highschool drop out and have never been good with mathematics, I’m now 31 years old. All through out my childhood I was enamored with computers and Star Trek. I wanted to be an engineer like the guy who ran the systems on the Enterprise. But later on after many failures with other systems in my 20s, partly due with not having a project, but also partly due to the complexity, I couldn’t get anywhere with C++ or graphics programming. This all changed with openFrameworks and Arduino. Suddenly with openFrameworks C++ and graphics were more approachable, and with Arduino my electrical engineering dreams were becoming possible.

As I continue to work on myself and my project, I can’t thank these communities enough for the hard work they’ve put into them. Without them I don’t know where I’d be now, but it’s very possible I’d be in much worse shape. Thank you for letting me follow my dreams.

  • Daniel Toliaferro

If anybody is interested, here’s a link to an older version of the project: