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

Author Archive

Copper Tape Card – Andrew Holler

This week the INFO490 Makerspace class made copper tape crafts. I thought I had an idea of what this was about before attending lab. I’ve seen videos on various social media sites of circuits and electronics that are made by taping. I was definitely expecting more of the classic circuitry feel from the projects but was pleasantly surprised by how different copper tape circuitry is. I imagine these would be (and are) a fantastic, cost-effective education tool for any age learning about electronics and circuitry. It takes little background knowledge and results are quick. Personally, this week had me a bit worried because I was very crunched for time. I’ve been busy with some tough assignments and yet found time to successfully complete a makerspace project.

The concept behind copper tape circuits is seemingly simple. Connect the positive side of a battery to the negative side using the tape. In between the loop you can put any sort of component that you wish to receive power from the battery, just make sure to create a +- loop. Challenges arose when I attempted to put LEDs in a circuit series instead of parallel. In series, if one of the LEDs fails it will break the circuit and none light up. Conversely in parallel, if one fails all the others will still work. I also found that copper tape circuitry requires a fair amount of dexterity with tape, folding, and tight spaces between paper. My final bear project had some issues due to a lack of said dexterity. I could see this being a fun and cheap hobby at home but, I haven’t and don’t see myself working on it at home.

As I mentioned before, I was crunched for time. An upcoming artificial intelligence deadline was constantly putting pressure on me. I decided to follow the tutorial posted to complete my copper tape card and it helped me finish surprisingly quickly. I ended up customizing it for myself a bit and I used the silhouette cutters to make trees and a bear. I even ended up using the negative cutout of the bear as a background instead of throwing it away. I had trouble when it came to the LEDs lighting up and it was very finicky. It was also hard to see the lights with the classic LEDs. Using the sticky ones probably would have produced better results. With more time I could probably perfect the connections and lighting of the bear.

I had fun with the quote card assignment, too. Firstly, no, I am not that talented at drawing. How did I draw these decent looking hands? The answer lied on my phone, or at least the paper did. I laid it on my phone and traced a zoomed in picture of the hands. It was a fun, clever way of getting the “Love” part of the quote I wished to convey and I liked the results. The “light” part of the quote came in with the lights lighting up the darkness when you touched the hands together as shown. It’s probably what I’m most proud of in this learning block. Another week of making down. Can’t wait for 3D printing!

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

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Multi-layer Vinyl Stickers – Andrew Holler

Before: Once we were told we were moving onto vinyl stickers it didn’t impact me much. Our course had just finished with laser engraving and I figured that they would be very similar. Once again, I had no experience with design or cutter machines. In computer science, there is a large chunk of the major population that has vinyl stickers pasted all over their laptops. It’s what first came to mind. I was hoping to make something unique that might make me finally want to put something onto my own laptop.

During: There were a couple of challenges in the design of the more complicated layered stickers. I found it difficult to find designs from the internet and actually implement in the way that you want. For example, for the fox sticker project I wanted the chest fur of the right fox to also be filled in with holographic vinyl. I wasn’t sure how to join the pieces to isolate the chest fur. I had difficulty with Inkscape’s tools like “ungroup” and “break apart” in separating certain parts of the design for separate sticker cuts as well. In addition, knowing exactly where the cutter margins were was difficult. Unfortunately, it cut off my chicken cat’s ear. I drew inspiration for my fox project from my girlfriend. Her last name is “Lisitza” meaning little fox. The chicken cat “griffin” and holographic panda were spur of the moment ideas.

After: Overall, I had fun with this project. It was exciting to learn new techniques for making the imagination into an actual craft. It makes me excited for further assignments in the makerspace course. If I had more time to work on vinyl sticker projects I would probably explore further sticker color combinations other than holographic and gold (I did like those though). I would like to further my knowledge of Inkscape so I can match what’s in my head to the output. I had a goal in mind when beginning, make a sticker unique enough to me to put on my laptop. I successfully met that and am proud to put chicken cat on my laptop. I quite like it and the sharp edges involved in its design.

Fox objects and their outlines in the Silhouette program.

The design in Inkscape.

Final foxy product.

The chicken cat.

The holographic panda.

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Laser Name Tag – Andrew Holler

My final name tag. I’m very happy with it!


The laser name tag. This is my first assignment in the INFO490 Makerspace course and the results of my first project have me very excited for the rest of the course. At the end of our tour of the Fab Lab we reached the laser engravers. This got me extremely excited because I had seen past videos and media presenting the abilities of these awesome machines. As we worked through the demo name tag with TA Sara, I could hardly keep track as I explored the endless creative possibilities inside of Inkscape. I wanted to stray away, however, I knew paying attention would give me good skills to be creative in the future.

After the first demo name tag, I knew I wanted something very similar for my final product. The demo tag was 3″ x 3″ but I opted for 4″ x 4″ for the final name tag. In addition there was space between the mountains and the base of the name tag in my demo. I changed it so the base of the mountains were the base of the name tag. I also added a bit more space between my name and the mountains and made my name bigger. The feel of the wood felt right with my mountain theme so I decided to keep engraving with balsa wood. In an attempt to be more creative with my design I added multiple layers of engraving. I wanted trees to be growing in front of the mountains for a pleasing silhouette effect. I made my name and the mountains the base layer. The trees and the Colorado “C” were the second layer. During the engraving process I didn’t like how light the design seemed on the wood. I wanted more depth to the designs on my name tag. That’s when I discovered you could repeat various layer runs on the material. I decided to repeat engrave my name, the trees, and the Colorado “C”. Running the engraver on these designs just one more time gave me the desired look for my name tag. Overall during the process I learned several techniques including Inkscape design, design layering, rasterizing, vectorizing, repeat engraving, and how speed/power settings affect laser depth & burn.

I am happy with my final product and proud to say that I made it almost entirely by myself with guidance from Sara. It is super reflective of my personality and where I’m from. If there were anything to change on my name tag it would be the design of the Colorado “C”. It is hard to tell but there are two separate layers to the C. There is the C and then there is a sphere in the middle of the C. If I were to change it, I would engrave the C and the sphere in the middle a bit deeper in order to make it more identifiable as the Colorado “C” from the flag. I hope to do more projects to learn the ins and outs of the laser engravers because it’ll be hard to beat my excitement for this maker machine.

Editing my design in Inkscape. Apologies for taking a picture of the screen instead of a screenshot.

The first layer of my design with my name and mountains.

The second layer of my design with the Colorado “C” and pine trees.

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