Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Final Project Reflection

For my final project, I was inspired by a pokéball-themed Nintendo Switch cartridge case that I found on YouTube.  My initial idea was to make six pokéballs and case/stand based on the recovery machine in pokémon centers. After considering the amount of time needed to complete the project, I cut the number of pokéballs to three, and changed the idea for the case/stand to the incubator that contained the three starter pokémon in the first episode of the anime.  I also decided to have one of the pokéballs contain a small Pikachu plush rather than Nintendo Switch games. With that in mind, I needed to decide what pokéballs I would make. I, initially, was going to make one regular pokéball, one master ball, and one unique pokéball that I would design. After discussing my idea with Duncan, it was decided that I would instead design three unique pokéballs.  The two pokéballs that would hold Nintendo Switch games would be based on the Overwatch logo and the Smash Ball item from the Super Smash Brothers series. The last pokéball would be based on Pikachu.

 

I had quite a few challenges in this project.  The spring releases weren’t as strong as I had hoped they would be.  I had some trouble keeping the buttons positioned so that they could hold the balls closed.  I had multiple parts break during assembly, and two parts fail halfway through their prints. I hadn’t anticipated that so many parts would break, so that threw off my schedule for the project.  Due to this shift in my schedule, I was only able to paint two of the pokéballs and use a primer on the case/stand. Despite the setbacks, I am very proud of how well the Smash Ball came out. I also feel that the laser print design for the case/stand came out well, considering that it was my first time using Fusion 360.

Overall, I had three learning goals: Improve my time management by making a schedule of what I needed done by a certain time, making more use of the tools at my disposal, and asking for help whenever I was confused.  I did accomplish my learning goal of making a schedule for better time management, but I did not account for the possibility of parts failing. Not including the case/stand, I needed to print fifteen separate parts. I began printing on Thursday with a plan of printing six parts that day, four on Friday, and five on Sunday.  I created this plan factoring in that on Friday and Sunday I would only need to use 2 printers at once, so that I wouldn’t be preventing others from completing their own projects. The plan seemed realistic, but I did not anticipate that multiple parts would fail. The setbacks caused by the broken parts caused my plan to fly off the rails, snowballing to the point in which I was having the last two parts of one pokéball printing from Monday night to Tuesday morning.  Due to this result, I feel that I only partially accomplished my goal. I created a schedule, but I failed to stick to it due to a lack of flexibility in said schedule.

I definitely feel that I made use of the tools at my disposal while working on this project.  When I made my 3D Printing and Scanning assignment, I simply imported my scans into Meshmixer, used the analyze tool to fix any errors, plane cut them, and then moved it over to Tinkercad to stitch the scans together.  For this project, I actually used different tools such as inflate and flatten in order to morph the pokéball shells into the shape that I desired. I used Fusion 360, a software I had never used before, to design the laser printer file for the case/stand.  I used power tools for a project for the first time. I needed to use a drill to widen the holes of the hinge of each pokéball. I actually also had to use a soldering iron and a heat gun for the first time to help secure the buttons into place. I also did foam smithing for the first time, using contact cement to glue foam to the wooden skeleton of the case/stand.  I also painted something for the first time since I was about 6 years old, so that was fun. I definitely feel that I accomplished my goal of making better use of the tools at the fab lab.

For my final goal, I made sure to ask questions.  Typically, when I feel stuck in a project, I would sit feeling defeated for a while.  This time, I made sure to ask questions as soon as I felt that I did not know what to do.  One person that I cannot thank enough is Brandon, who helped me with a large portion of my project.  He taught me how to use Fusion 360 so I could design the case/stand. He taught me how to use a soldering iron and heat gun, and how to do foam smithing as well.  When I was feeling lost after my parts broke, Brandon helped me get back on track by helping me with the case/stand while new parts were printing. I am very thankful for all of the help I received while making this project.  If I hadn’t been asking questions as soon as I had, my project would have been in much worse shape.

Over the course of the semester, I feel that I truly did learn something in this class.  Before this course, I never really went out of my way to make new things. In this class, I learned how satisfying it is to come up with an idea and bring it into reality.  Before this class, I never thought I would ever need to learn how to sew. Surprisingly, I would say that the project I am most proud of is the stuffed animal that I made in the Sewing and Digital Embroidery assignment.  I may have gotten frustrated at one point while making it, but overall, I truly enjoyed making it. This class has definitely improved my confidence as a maker.

This class has made me feel different about the very concept of making.  Since high school, I have wanted to work in some sort of lab as a chemist, making different products for the company that employs me.  Whenever I thought of the word “maker,” I always felt that the term applied to a select few that create inventions that have a lasting impact on the human race.  This class has taught me that anyone can be a maker. This class gave me confidence in my ability to make things. It really showed how anyone can make something if they have access to the tools to create.

One of the most important lessons I received in this class is that it’s not the grade that matters; it’s the effort that really counts.  I eventually got to a point in which I stopped caring about my grade, and started caring more about the projects themselves. I’ve enjoyed a lot of classes in my four years at this university.  This is by far the most fun I’ve had in a class. Thanks to this class, I feel that I will feel more confident when asked to make something.

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Iteration Assignment

For this assignment, we were tasked with taking an assignment we completed earlier in the semester, and either making improvements to it, incorporating skills from other previous assignments, or creating something entirely new from the original concept, incorporating new skills as well.  It was also recommended to incorporate tools/skills that we have not used yet.  I decided to improve my laser name tag from the beginning of the semester.  In the laser name tag assignment, I created a Pokémon card of myself, as shown below.

My idea for my iteration assignment was to create a name tag that belongs on a desk that normally lies flat.  However, when the name tag is exposed to a certain amount of light, the plates flip up in order to reveal two panels: one that is a simple Pokémon themed name tag, and the other a removable Pokémon card of myself.

I made the design for the name tag, and was planning to use the original name tag as part of the iteration.  Unfortunately, the original file was lost, so I redesigned it.  I initially kept the boxes red in order to see where each piece would be in relation to the edges.  I created a semicircle shaped indent in order to make the card removable, two extra plates as a second layer beneath the designed plates, and an indent in the layer beneath the card in order to place a piece of velcro.

I then printed the design, glued the layers together, and added a piece of velcro for the card to stay in place:

I then proceeded to write the code necessary to use two servos to lift the plates.  I also made the circuit, incorporating a photoresistor to detect light.  My code appeared to be functioning properly, but the photoresistor would input a specific range of values that would not change, regardless of the amount of light in the room.

I brought my project into the lab to ask for advice, where I was told that I made a novice mistake; I placed the wires in the wrong direction with regards to the bread board.  After fixing this error, my project finally began to work properly.  Unfortunately, I then discovered that the servos were too weak to lift the plates without support.  Due to this, I decided to make a board and glue the servos to it for more stability.

After gluing the servos to the board, this was the final result (the video is sped up to meet the size requirement):

As shown in the video, the name tag does what it was meant to do.  It lays flat when the photoresistor does not detect light, and rises when light is detected.  In order to not have it move too often, I have it set to scan approximately every 1.5 seconds for light.  The shaking when the name tag reaches its peak was not intended, but I actually find it amusing.  In my opinion, it gives the name tag an even better way to grab peoples attention.

I enjoyed going back and improving one of my former projects.  It was also quite fun to incorporate something that I hadn’t learned yet into the assignment.  There certainly are aspects that I could improve with this project, such as making the plates smaller in order for the servos to have an easier time lifting them, or simply buying stronger servos.  I had fun learning how to use a photoresistor and incorporating it into the circuit.  I can’t say that I wasn’t a little upset with myself when I made a basic error with the wiring, but overall, I had a pleasant experience remaking my name tag.

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Arduino 2: Locomoting Bots

For this assignment, we were tasked with creating a robot using Arduino with the capability of moving in a specific direction.  We were allowed to make anything, so long as it moves. I decided to model my robot after a dog, since I like dogs, and planned to have its legs move individually in a specific order.  I would try to place most of the weight toward the front in order to move the robot forward with each step. I had decided that I would make it using popsicle sticks, rubber bands, hot glue, and pipe cleaners.

The initial construction was not difficult. I tested to the range of motion of the servos, and then placed them on popsicle sticks in the way necessary for my preferred range of motion.  I used hot glue to stick the popsicle sticks together, forming the body. While attaching the rubber bands to the bot to keep the servos in place, I decided that my robot was now based off of Clifford the big red dog.

As mentioned previously, I wanted to have each leg move individually using for loops, and then have them move together to complete the step. After finishing the program, this was the result:

As shown in the video, the robot simply fell over and did not move.  In an attempt to remedy this, I shifted the weight even more forward, and attached the pipe cleaners, hoping the slight change in weight would help propel it forward.

Unfortunately, that resulted in the same problem.  For my final fix, I adjusted the program in a way that caused the robot to take smaller steps.  The result is below (The video is sped up to meet the file size limit):

As shown in the video, that robot managed to move forward without falling.

Although there were various points in which I was extremely frustrated, overall, I enjoyed the assignment.  It was challenging, but fun to figure out a way to move the servos so that the robot could move.  There are definitely areas that need improvement though.  I am certain that I can make the movement smoother, and build it in a way that makes it harder for the robot to fall over.  I was quite surprised by how much the size of the steps mattered in stabilizing the robot.  This project has gotten me interested in trying even more new things with the Arduino kit that I bought.  I’m glad that we had this assignment.

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Arduino 1: LED and Sensors

This week in lab, we began to use Arduino.  As someone who has never used an Arduino device or the software, it was an interesting project.  I do have a slight background in coding, but I only know a few basic things from languages such as Python.  Due to this background, I did slightly understand what Duncan was teaching us, but it was difficult adjusting to the language.  For the first example that we worked on in lab, we made an LED blink.  I followed Duncan’s instructions exactly, but initially, the LED would not even turn on.  I asked my neighbor for assistance, but he didn’t know what to do either.  We began to ask Duncan for help, but my neighbor bent the LED in a specific way, and it suddenly began to work.  After that, we were told to manipulate the program to have the LED blink “SOS” in Morse Code instead of 1 second intervals.  After changing some variables’ values and adding a few more lines of code, I successfully created the SOS message.  I then decided to have the LED spell my name.  It was quite fun figuring out what times to set for the delays and blink durations.  For the next activity, we were told to use alligator clips and aluminum foil to function as a touch sensor. 

We then ran a new program to light the LED when the aluminum foil was touched.  It fortunately worked.  We were then told to manipulate the program to cause different outcomes to occur.  I decided to make the LED light up when a force within a certain range was used on the foil.  If too much force was used, the LED would turn back off.

For the last activity for this lab, we were asked to make a storyboard for a potential Arduino device incorporating a sensor of some sort.  I decided to make a storyboard about a device that would help tone-deaf people see where their notes actually are on the scale in order to work toward improving their singing.

Overall, this was a fun activity using devices that I have no experience with.  I look forward to this week’s activity.

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Sewing And Digital Embroidery

For this assignment, we were told to make three things through sewing and embroidery: drawstring bag, a simple patch, and one slightly modified creation from an approved pattern.

I was really nervous about this assignment, due to the fact that  have no experience with sewing or embroidery in the past.  However, once I started using a sewing machine, I felt much more confident.

For the drawstring bag, we simply followed the instructions and created a bag with an interior lining using the sewing machines. I didn’t really have any problems.

The second deliverable was a simple embroidery onto canvas.  I decided to embroider the Pokémon Company logo. We used Inkscape to convert the image into a vector image. We had to make sure that every part of a different color was ungrouped as an individual step of the embroidery.  We then ran the vector image through PE Design in order to determine how the embroidery would be made.  Finally, we used the embroidery function of the sewing machines to make the embroidery.  One of the eyes was slightly distorted, but it, overall, came out well.

For the final deliverable of this assignment, we were to sew a piece from an approved pattern, while incorporating an embroidery using at least four colors of thread.  I decided to make a Shiba Inu Cube Plush.  For a personal touch, I decided that I would embroider wings on its back.  Unfortunately, that would mean that my embroidery would only have two colors.  Due to that, I made the decision to not only embroider wings on its back, but also embroider its entire face.

Face Embroidery Design

I was worried that it wouldn’t be possible to embroider the face due to size limitations, but there was a sewing machine capable of an embroidery of this size.  I used pink thread for the tongue, black thread for the eyes, nose, mouth and outline of the wings, white thread for the wings, and a cream thread for the muzzle, eyebrows and (due to a lack of forethought) part of the eyes.  Naturally, there had to be some malfunctions, such as a needle breaking, running out of bobbin thread, etc.  Luckily, the staff was able to help me fix these problems.  After the embroideries were completed, I traced the pattern to determine where I need to cut and began cutting and sewing.  I would say the worst step was the first part that I needed to sew, which was the inner legs to the bottom.  Sewing those four inner legs alone took an hour for me to complete.  From that point on, I followed the pattern to sew the rest of the pieces.  Unfortunately, I got so absorbed into sewing the pieces together that I forgot to take any pictures until I had practically finished the body, leaving a small hole to turn the plush inside out and stuff it.

Plush After Stuffing

Once the plush was stuffed, I hand-sewed the hole closed using a ladder stitch.  I then proceeded to make the tail and hand-sew the end closed with a gathering stitch, as well as hand-sewing it to the body using another ladder stitch.  For my second time ever sewing, I would say it came out quite nicely.

I, surprisingly, enjoyed this assignment.  When it was decided that we would do a sewing project, I felt that I was going to do a lot of frustrating work for a product that would look absolutely terrible.  While there were times in which I was quite annoyed making the final deliverable, I did enjoy the process overall, and am happy with how it turned out.  There definitely could be improvements made.  For example, on close inspection, it is easy to tell where I hand-sewed on the plush.  The main way to fix that would be to simply get better at hand-sewing.  This assignment has definitely shown me that sewing isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  Thanks to this assignment, I now have a new life skill.

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3D Printing and Scanning

For this two-week assignment, we were assigned to design three of the following four projects: a set of flatware with a specific purpose, an art piece relating to our culture combined with ourselves in some way, a famous painting turned into a 3D model, including either ourselves or an object, and making a specific part that we need. After designing three of the four projects, we would then print one of them.

Before working on the projects, we were given a tutorial on how to use Tinkercad and Meshmixer by making a castle and alien (pictured below this paragraph).  It took a few minutes to get used to, but I found Tinkercad relatively intuitive for combining structures for a print.

                                        Castle and Alien

The first project that I will talk about is the part that we need.  I created a simple case for an aux cord case (pictured below) due to the fact that I constantly just shove my chord into my backpack, likely damaging it.  In order to keep the cord contained properly, I decided ahead of time to use a spiral within the case.  To add more versatility, I added a second spiral.  The case is 12in. x 6in. and can hold either two small aux cables or one large one.  I decided not to print this part because there was a project that I wanted to print more.  The project file is not public yet on Thingiverse, but will be by 12 p.m. on Friday March 8th at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3475858.

                                Simple AUX Cord Case

For my second project, I designed a set of flatware for my worst enemy, including useless utensils with plates and glasses with holes in them (pictured below).  The spoon has a hole in it to prevent it from holding anything.  The fork has no points to pick food up with, and the knife has no sharp edge to cut with.

                         Flatware for My Worst Enemy

For my final project, I decided to recreate the famous painting, “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.  A portion of its fame likely comes from how universal its meaning is.  I chose this painting because I relate to it.  To incorporate myself into the model, I decided to scan myself in the scream pose.  I started by making a 3in. x 3in. plane, used a block-shaped hole to create a path in the plane, and made a fence out of 7 blocks.

I wanted to make it look more realistic, so I found a “terrain” shape in Tinkercad to make it look like a plain.

By far, the most difficult part of this project was scanning myself.  In order to get my full body into the print, I had to scan my torso and my lower body separately, run them through Meshmixer to fix any errors and plane cut them, then attempt to stitch them together in Tinkercad.  I did the best that I could with them, but there is a small seam in the back.

The print came out nicely.  I thoroughly enjoyed making it.

                                 Final Product

Overall, I enjoyed the entirety of this assignment.  It was fun thinking of ideas for a terrible flatware set and aux case.  Although, I had the most fun with designing my Scream model.  There were probably ways to add even more details into the model.  It was difficult trying to get all of the pieces to work together to form one object to print, but it was definitely worth it.  I am proud of my print and the effort I put into it.

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Copper Tape Circuits

Final Products

For this assignment, we were required to complete three projects: a simple paper circuit, a circuit involving an inspirational quote, and a circuit incorporated into either a pop-up card or piece of origami.

For the simple circuit, we were provided the design in our lab section, and simply applied copper tape and the LED in order to create a circuit with a switch. I had a bit of trouble applying the copper tape due to inexperience with it, but improvised a solution to allow the current to flow.

For the second project, I received the quote “those who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, usually do.” For the image, I decided to draw a brain with a light bulb, and proceeded to draw a design for the circuit (dots representing yellow LEDs).

The goal was to make the brain the switch, causing the light bulb to glow. However, when I applied the two LEDs, battery and copper tape, the LEDs did not glow when the circuit was completed. In order to fix this, the design was changed to have the LEDs be in parallel rather than in series (I forgot to take a picture). This, fortunately, worked. The drawing was then colored in, and the project was assembled using a stapler.

For the final project, we were required to make a 3D paper object using three or more LEDs while using at least two colors. Rather than a pop-up card, I decided to use origami. I took four sheets of construction paper, cut them into squares, and taped them together. I then proceeded to fold the paper into a T-Rex design.

Origami T-Rex

I decided to incorporate the LEDs as eyes and a heart using two white LEDs and a red LED. I used a sewing needle to poke holes in the paper to place the LEDs. I knew how I would implement a circuit into the T-Rex, but did not sketch it because I did not want to put a lot of marks on the paper. I decided to have three paths leave the battery to run the LEDs in parallel. What was difficult with this project was testing which resistor would be needed in order to allow all three lights to glow in parallel, since the red LED would take practically all of the current as the path of least resistance. I eventually decided to use a 120 ohm resistor for the path that contained the red LED.

T-Rex Circuit

There certainly are ways that I could have improved my projects, such as adding more design to the quote project, but I feel that I still made quality projects. I feel that I learned a decent amount about basic circuitry thanks to this project. Overall, this was a very fun project with circuitry.

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Layered Stickers Assignment

Finished Products

For this assignment, we were tasked with creating three vinyl stickers: a “griffin” sticker combining two creatures (real or fake), a logo sticker, and an original sticker.

For my griffin sticker, I decided to combine my two favorite Pokémon: Pikachu and Shinx. In lab section, just as we were about to print the sticker, the file crashed, with me not having saved yet. In order to catch up to the rest of the section, I quickly redid the sticker, but simply replacing Shinx’s tail with a Pikachu’s.

Griffin Sticker

For my logo sticker, I decided to go with the Superman logo. It was surprisingly difficult to line up the layers perfectly. I went with a yellow square for the base, followed by the blue and red layers.

Logo Sticker

As for my original sticker, I decided to combine my two favorite games: Pokémon and Overwatch. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would combine them. I initially wanted to combine a pokéball and the Overwatch logo, and after receiving some advice, I decided to make an Overwatch themed pokéball instead. I started by taking an image of a pokéball and changed the red to the orange of the Overwatch logo. I then replaced the button with the Overwatch logo itself. In order to make the pokéball a little more complicated than a simple color swap, I made it so the white would encroach to the top of the pokéball up to a boundary level to the boundary found on the logo. In order to make it look more visually appealing, I added black lines to the boundary.

There was a problem though. I had put the design together without really thinking, so I had to fix all of the models in order to cut the correct shapes into the vinyl. After several attempts of using grouping and ungrouping, unioning and differencing various shapes, I was able to create the shapes that I actually needed to print out. Placing the layers was difficult due to small shapes, but the end result was definitely worth the effort.

Original Sticker
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Laser Name Tag

Final Product above

In the first lab section, we were told that we were to make a name tag that captures our personalities. We were then told to make a basic name tag in order to get used to the Inkscape software. Since the name tags were supposed to resonate with our personalities, I decided to make my name tag based around a hobby that I’ve had for as long as I can remember: video games. In this case, I decided to use my favorite video game franchise: Pokémon. For my basic name tag, I went with a pokéball with my name on it.

Basic Name Tag

For the pokéball, I used the Trace Bitmap function of Inkscape on an image of a pokéball and simply added my name to it. I liked the idea of the pokéball for a name tag, but I felt that I needed something a bit more complex for the final submission. After getting some advice, I decided to make myself into a Pokémon card for my name tag.

I initially attempted to use an image of a blank Pokémon card and use the Trace Bitmap function, but the varying colors and edges would not allow the image to work. The next best option was to draw it myself. For the boxes of the card, I simply used the rectangle tool. For the more complex shape surrounding the boxes, I used the free hand tool. I then used the Trace Bitmap function on my Facebook profile picture and placed it in the box in the top half of the card, and added the text using various fonts for the rest of the card.

Final Name Tag

I enjoyed every minute of designing this project, along with printing it using the Epilog laser. I feel that the name tag came out quite well. It demonstrates one of my interests while displaying information such as my full name, school, major and graduation date. It can always be improved, however. I could have added more detail to the background of the card itself, and possible even printed the Pokémon Trading Card Game logo on the back, etc. Overall, I had a positive experience with making these name tags, and look forward to the projects we do in the future with this class.

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