Dry the River

Arduino makers project - Dry The River

Made with Arduino Uno

arduino Uno


foamlondon.com | phil.clandillon@foamlondon.com

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FOAM created these unique music-playing posters for the launch of UK band Dry the River's debut album "Shallow Bed". Passers-by could listen to a track from the album by simply holding the attached tin can to their ear. Each poster featured a “string art” animal. The wire leading to the speaker inside the tin can was hidden inside the string. This was the first time that the whole album was available to the public and each poster contained a different track.

We used the Arduino Uno and the Wave Shield from Adafruit to create a music player with relatively low power consumption. The battery pack hidden in the poster meant that the music could continue to play for a few days once the posters were in the wild. The posters were fly posted around East London, and the band tweeted the location of each poster as it went up. Lots of London based fans of the band immediately set about visiting each poster so they could hear the album.

Client: Dry the River / RCA
Agency: FOAM
Creative Directors: Phil Clandillon & Steve Milbourne
Creatives / Producers: Sophie Yeoman & Keighley Allen


What have you made?

A series of unique fly posters for folk act Dry The River which allowed you to listen the band’s music.

What gave you the initial inspiration?

We thought it would be very interesting to treat the humble fly poster as a sort of outdoor listening post.

What is the original idea behind this project?

The idea was developed by creatives Sophie Yeoman and Keighley Allen. The art style of the poster came from Sophie, whose grandfather had made string art when she was young. As we were using string it made sense to terminate it in a “tin can telephone” to continue the lo-fi theme and provide the earpiece for listeners.

How does it work?

There’s an Arduino Uno / Wave Shield based music player in a weatherproof enclosure hidden at the back of each poster. The tin can acted as the poster’s earpiece allowing passers-by to pick it up and listen. The tin can had a false bottom with a speaker embedded. This was wired back to the music player via wiring hidden in the string. We experimented with a mercury switch to turn the music on and off, but in the end we decided to keep it simple and have the music playing on a loop all the time. We added a pretty hefty battery pack to ensure that it could keep playing for at least a few days.

How long did it take to make it real?

The project took about 4 weeks from start to finish, including prototyping and designing producing the string art animals.

How did you build it?

The base poster was a screen print created by London printer Bob Eight Pop, mounted on thick card. The Arduino Uno and Wave Shield were mounted in a weatherproof plastic enclosure on the rear, with the cable for the speaker coming out of the bottom of this box. The outline of the animal was drawn onto this in light pencil before hammering in the nails. The string art animal was then created (you can see Sophie doing this is in the video) and the outline erased. The cable from the audio player was wrapped in string to match the appearance of the thicker string used to create the animal image. The animal string was then joined to this cable via a wrap around the final nail, creating a seamless appearance. The tin cans were aged and painted with the band’s name before having a sticker added with the track name. The speaker was placed in the bottom of the can and the “false bottom” was added to hide it, leaving a gap around the edge to let the sound out. The posters were then fly-posted around the Shoreditch and Bethnal Green areas of East London.