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

Author Archive

Final Project

Throughout the semester, I’ve developed a more comprehensive attitude to making all-encompassing projects. My biggest issue throughout the course of the semester was focusing on making sure that each individual facet of the project was planned perfectly before setting out to make anything. The concept of iteration instills the idea that we should just make something we want to make. Then make it again. And again. And again. I had trouble grasping this concept because I didn’t like the idea of starting a full-scale project on something that I wasn’t perfectly proficient in. I have a bad habit of being too detail-oriented to the point that the full project doesn’t come together because I don’t give myself enough time to try several approaches and variations. So while I aim to create a perfect project on the first try, that’s never really possible, and I should focus more on learning along the way.

I have developed this skill of willingness to fail several times before the final product portrays what I intend it to, and that is a powerful ability to develop. Picking up this skill has also helped me in my time management abilities. If I want to make a project once, I can cut it pretty close to the point of presentation and still output something to present. And doing this leads me to underestimate the scope of my task much of the time. If I commit to making a project more than once, I must start earlier, and that leads to a cleaner, more cohesive final product. After seriously flubbing up some of the earlier projects, I took more time to try different techniques for each of the projects over time, and I was more satisfied with the outcomes and learned a more effective way to pursue any project I planned to make.

For my final project, I set out to design a board game. The rules for the board game are attached as a separate document. The in-process and final images will be attached at a later time.

My first learning goal was to quickly adapt to a totally new skill quickly enough to make a cohesive project with the principles of that skill. The skill, in this case, was game design. My concrete goal was to write a rulebase for the game and be able to craft the board. I initially fell into the trap of attempting to craft a perfect game in one shot, but over time, I was able to catch myself and start by writing up a rough draft and working from there. I don’t have much board game experience, and I was attempting to make a game of my own without reading up on other board games in an attempt to make mine somewhat unique. The idea started off as a territorial survival game between prey and predator, but after some writing and rewriting, it became the final rendition of a game between a spider and a human, with flies scattered throughout the board in random motion. One aspect that surprised me was that I had discovered new additions to the game simply by crafting the physical product. Creating the board and the pieces lead me to be more aware of the semantics of the game and the confusions that may arise for somebody reading the rulebook, while also allowing me to construct more interesting game mechanics. What helped a lot was writing my entire rulebook and having people who are familiar with board games critique and suggest game mechanics. Overall, I’d say I achieved this particular goal.

Another learning goal was for me to create a cohesive project involving several distinct parts and molding the parts together successfully. My project involved the rulebook and the physical manifestation of the game I had designed. I had to create a board with hexagonal slots for the pieces to travel, pieces to represent each of the players of the game, pieces to represent each of the obstacles of the game, and a randomizer for the motion of the flies. As far as what I was able to complete, I do believe everything fit together quite nicely. I was able to etch together a full board for the game as well as the pieces for the flies that fit in. These objects matched the game rulebook well enough to be useful and I am proud that I was able to make the abstract idea of the board game as well as craft the physical pieces involved in the game. In that regard, I do feel that I’ve achieved this goal.

My final goal was to create a completed, playable board game that I would be proud to call my own. Throughout the semester, I had procrastinated and over idealized what my final product would be and tend to fall short of expectations. I intended for this project to be totally complete in at least its basic form by the time of presentation. Unfortunately, I did not recognize how diverse the tasklist was to craft a game until it was too late. I do feel that my product fell short at the point of project submission. However, I do not want this deadline to stop me from continuing the project on my own time during the summer. I did not achieve this learning goal as of now, but I would like to in the near future.

I personally have learned very much from this course. I had a lot of fun trying out the different projects and the ability to be very creative with my work. I do not consider myself a maker, because I personally see making “things” more as a means to an end rather than enjoying the inter-related steps along the way. I also feel that I enjoy learning abstract concepts more than I do making things. I can see myself making something that would be personally meaningful to me, but I do not generally set out to make projects just for the sake of it. In another way, I would consider myself a maker in that if I do have something in mind that I want, I do not shy away from taking the first steps to making it myself. In this class, I had trouble becoming enthusiastic about any of the individual projects on their own, but once I had an idea in mind, that idea would light a passion in me to set out to make that idea happen. The hands-on nature of this course definitely helped me by showing that much of these projects are very accessible when you have the right help, which we certainly did, and I very much appreciated that. As of now, I do not consider myself a maker, but that is something that might change over time, and this class was a good stepping stone for that.

 

Survival Handbook

 

UPDATE: I’ve added photos of my project below

Above: a small prototype for the board layout

 

Above: a 3D printed fly piece

 

Above: the die to be used by the human player to kill flies

 

The top layer for the board

 

The assembled board

 

The assembled board with pieces in place

 

Neopixels I soldered for the electronic spinwheel

 

The simple push button circuit I wired for the spinwheel

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Iteration Project

For this project, I wanted to reiterate my paper circuit project. I was dissatisfied with my general approach for the original project, so I decided to scrap the original idea and remake it entirely. My initial project is shown below.

I felt that the artistic aspect was underwhelming for what I had wanted. This flaw along with the fact that the LEDs did not work and that the circuit was not as interactive as I had wanted it to be led me to scrap the project entirely and start over.

My new soft circuit project is a jigsaw puzzle that lights up when all of the pieces are connected. I set out to make this project happen because I wanted a soft circuit that was more interactive than the original setup. 

I created the initial base puzzle using the laser cutter. In inkscape, I created a silhouette of the image I wanted to etch into the board and cut up the entire square area into a jigsaw puzzle in inkscape. The subject for the photo I used was the marina towers in Chicago. I also cut holes in the puzzle pieces as slots for the LEDs to sit in. I planned to create a night scene and paint around the towers so I could use the LEDs as stars.

To connect the circuit, I created a base board for the puzzle with two open slots for power and ground of the battery on the back of the board. I created a copper tape circuit as shown below that connects the circuit through the puzzle pieces. I started by only connecting one LED just to test out the puzzle circuit design. The connections are shown below. 

I spent a lot of time figuring out why this single LED was not working and came to the conclusion that the connections weren’t solid enough to send the current through. I figured that applying a strong border around the puzzle would help solidify the connections between the pieces. I had created a border but it ended up being too wide to hold the pieces. I was also suggested to place copper tape connections on the base of the puzzle to help the connection more. I spent so much time debugging this single LED that I was unable to implement these, changes any of the other LEDs, or paint the puzzle.

It was very frustrating for me to spend time connecting the circuit piece by piece using the copper tape, which was a very tedious process, only to find out that the connections were too weak to work with. I had figured this would be a straightforward circuit to “wire”, but it was very time-consuming and prone to failure. 

I had hoped to see a finished project that came together as I had originally imagined, but my time constraints led me to lower my expectations and I ended up spending most of my time debugging the circuit, which I was not expecting.

If I were to redo this project, I would rely on copper tape on the baseboard rather than on the inter connections between the pieces. I would have also created a simple circuit using a few of my connections between the pieces to make sure it worked before snaking a couple of feet of copper tape around the outer border of the puzzle in the hopes that it would work out just fine. I would have better planned for my plans to go south. 

The final product at this point is show below. I may come back and iterate upon it more and hopefully end up with what I originally had in mind.

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Pom pom bot

For this project, I worked on a design with 3 servos including two to sweep the bot along and one that acts as an arm to lift the sweeping servos as they calibrate after each sweep without pushing the bot in the opposite direction. A sketch is shown below.

 

 

Below is the outcome of my initial idea.

 

The programming was rather erratic for this design, but even with that shortcoming, I was able to see a couple of shortcomings in the design. For one, the levers to “row” the bot don’t have enough surface area in contact with the table to create enough friction to effectively push the bot. Also, the 3 servos exert to much weight in one direction and I needed to add a counterweight to stop the bot from falling over.

To fix the issue with the lack of friction, I switched the plane of rotation of the two sweep servos to the plane of robot travel rather than perpendicular to that plane. Doing so provided much more surface area for the robot to row along. The outcome was a much more effective pom pom bot.

During testing for my pom pom bot, the lever holding the two sweep servos fell off, which led me to rethink that design. I tried to use a shorter arm at first, but I ran into the issue that the long sweep pieces would collide with the rest of the bot and the ground during calibration. This caused more issues than it solved and so I went ahead and redid the arm the same way. But the bot still had too much friction on the stationary component. To solve this issue, I added pom poms to the bottom of it and reduced the friction. I still could not reattach the pivot servo. The glue would not hold. But my final robot can be shown below.

 

 

 

I found it interesting for this project that creating the robot with a specific function in mind led to a form that I was pleased with. Even with regards to form, I’d set out to make the robot work one way but would make a mistake and realized that my mistake created a better robot. I initially had my bot going in a specific direction, but quickly realized that it was making more progress in the opposite direction. Thus, I switched directions of motion of my bot. My iteration led to improvements in form and function. My final design is more functional and more aesthetically pleasing than my initial design. For future designs, I would put less strain on connections that could not handle significantly more stress than I put it under, unlike how I used hot glue for everything and watched it fall apart.

 

A video can be seen here.

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arduino

For this project, we were tasked with developing a background in arduino code by playing with the hardware and IDE provided. I don’t personally have much experience with arduino in particular, but I do know C code and was able to work my way through the arduino-specific syntax.

I started playing around with a couple of LEDs just to familiarize myself with how they work with regards to the arduino hardware. Given the arsenal of sensors we had, I used the ultrasound sensor to detect objects distance from the sensor and output that as a magnitude of power to an LED. My inspiration was the desire to understand how to work with the hardware at a deeper level, as I believe the most difficult part of working with this type of project is figuring out the behavior of the peripherals I have to work with.

I had to conduct research in regards to how the ultrasound sensor worked and used the help of example code I found online that parsed the ultrasound input. After parsing that data, I remapped it into a format that I could send as an amplitude to the LED digital output pin.

Working with LED outputs was rather straightforward. The difficult part for me was parsing the ultrasound input in a way that made sense to me in terms of the distance of the object and remapping it as an amplitude. I figured this out using the help of the online example I found and some experimenting with the digital pwm levels of the LED.
In the future, I’ll worry more about the big picture from the beginning of my project rather than the minor intricacies of each part in order to come up with an idea I would actually like to implement.
[pictures lost due to technical difficulties]

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Soft circuit assignment

For this assignment, I set out to make an undertale themed bag. Undertale is a 2 dimensional video game with a very cutesy exterior but a rather sinister story laying underneath. I very much enjoyed the pixel art of the game and felt it would be simple enough to embroider without removing too many details to allow the embroidery machine to recreate the art. For this project, I was very worried about the manual labor involved as I have not had much experience sewing in any capacity and was worried that would be the bottleneck of this project. 

I started off by embroidering the parts of the game I wanted on my pouch. One side is an iconic heart indicating the determination of the characters, the other side is an iconic scene of two of the characters staring out at a castle underneath the stars. I figured the stars would be a perfect backdrop for any LEDs I wanted to add and I intended to add red LEDs behind the heart. The embroidering was more difficult than I expected and I ran into some issues with the machine jamming and loading in the wrong color when prompted to rethread the machine, but eventually, it worked. Progress pictures can be seen below.

 

The next step was that which I dreaded most: sewing the conductive thread. After several trials and retrials of sewing conductive thread into the canvas to light up the stars, I had finally gotten a hang of sewing and made a circuit that looked rather neat. Unfortunately, I had the polarities switched and didn’t have enough time to resew it again as I had not even gotten to sewing the pouch again. It had turned out that all my worst fears were for naught as I had gotten the hang of sewing finally, but my UIUC ECE education had failed me in basic circuit wiring. It surprises me that my issue stemmed from the “E” part of “E-textiles” rather than the “textiles” part. The (failed) circuit can be seen below.

Once that circuit was declared a bust, I settled for a simple textile bag and sewed a purple interior and zipper onto the black canvas (purple is a thematic color in the game), as shown below.

My goal was not achieved as a result of my losing battle with the conductive thread. Sewing the circuit together was by far the most frustrating thing for me as I had no prior knowledge of sewing and my lack of experience lead to many accidental self-stabs and failed threading. If I had done this project over again, I would have learned the hand sewing component separately and wired the circuit only when I was absolutely certain what I was doing. I made leaps and bounds in my sewing abilities with the help of a good friend of mine and I would probably have gotten the circuit working given another iteration. 

I am particularly proud of the intricate design I was able to embroider on the castle side. The software and machine were finicky with the more complex color scheme, but I fiddled around with it until I got it working. This was a particularly time consuming project that I feel I learned a lot from.

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3D Print

For this project, I went with the utensils prompt primarily. In tinkercad, I made a spoon, a fork, and a knife that were purposefully made to be inconvenient. Such a utensil might be offered to an enemy or a masochistic friend. The storyboard for the project is shown below.

 

 

The storyboard depicts a young boy enjoying his cereal but enjoying it a little TOO much. He wants a more inconvenient utensil.

The geometric model for my utensils can be found below.

The above drawing is used in the 3D printer tool.

For my 3D scan, I edited it to be a cupholder with a hat on it. My edited 3D scan was made in tinkercad and can be found below.

 

The 3D printed utensils can be seen printing in the capture below.

And the finished product can be seen below.

 

 

I initially drew inspiration from the prompt that had been suggested to create utensils for an enemy of my mine. I also drew inspiration from a good friend of mine creating a pair of aesthetically pleasing utensils out of the community shapes in tinkercad. Going off of this idea, I set out with a plan to make aesthetically pleasing yet horribly inconvenient utensils for the utensils prompt. I perused the shapes in tinkercad and drew up a combination of different shapes until I found something that fit my desires. I had initially set out to make these utensils in sculptris, but the interface was very delicate and there was a steep learning curve to forming the clay shape, and I was unable to draw up anything I was happy with.

I learned firsthand that 3D printing is not a foolproof form of creation. As I printed the parts, the supports were very difficult to remove and the utensils began falling apart. I honestly did not expect the prints to come out as cleanly as they did considering the amount of support they needed and the intricacies of the shapes, however, and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. If I were to redo this project given more time, I’d make more of an effort to learn the intricacies of sculptris and use it as a tool to form a more personal and original design. Using tinkercad was enjoyable, but I felt slightly constricted with the shapes that were given and having to work with them as blocks and would have had more fun starting something from scratch. 

(As a side note, below is my 3rd model, the sculptris model, as my attempt at a sculptris utensil)

 

I enjoyed sculpting, but I would like to have taken more time to give the sculpting rhyme or reason. 

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Light-up card

For this assignment, I made a mountain landscape with two light up snowflakes as with blue LEDs underneath. The mountain and snowflakes both popped up from the card. The progress pics are shown below.

For this project, I was inspired by some 3-d landscape pop-up cards I had seen. I used blue LEDs for the snowflakes and had the mountain pop-up out of the background. I’m still getting a hold of the artistic value of these projects and I feel that this project was rusty compared to the other ones I’ve made, but I’m making progress in trying to further my abilities as a maker and an artist. I need to learn further of the merit of multiple versions of the same project before achieving that which I want to create. I mistook how long this project would take and didn’t allocate enough time to debug the circuit and redraw whatever parts I felt were not up to par. The most frustrating part was the circuit not working correctly with no tangible issues present, especially since the circuit is relatively simple.

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Stickers – Ibrahim Odeh

For this assignment, I went ahead and made a Hobbes (see “Calvin and Hobbes”) silhouette for my single layer sticker and the album cover for Childish Gambino’s “Kauai”. I have a black laptop, so I used white vinyl for the hobbes sticker so that it would stick out. The hobbes sticker is shown below. 

 

 

My multi layer sticker involved 3 layers, one for each color of the album cover. Each of the layers can be seen below.

The designs for the multiple layer sticker were pretty simple. The hardest part about the design was lining up each layer by hand. I personally enjoy the simplistic style and the smooth color scheme of this sticker.
I enjoyed this assignment and the creative aspect of coming up with a multilayer sticker. The most difficult parts were aligning each layer and peeling off thin layers of stickers. 

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Nametag post

For my nametag project, I decided to intertwine the uiuc block I logo with my name. Since my name starts with an I, I went ahead and made a two layer block I logo with orange and blue acrylic while keeping the rest of my name blue. To do this, I started with a single block I separated in the orange fill and the blue outline. I laser cut this I in orange acrylic to get the orange fill.

Shown above is the orange I separated into two pieces. I discarded the outline and used the fill for my name tag.

To get the rest of the nametag, I merged the block I with the rest of my name and laser cut it into blue acrylic, discarding the blue fill of the block I. I then used the orange I as a filler for the blue I. The results are as follows.

The final picture shown above is the completed project.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the creative aspect of this project as well as the technical background I’ve gleaned as a result of it. I do not much of a maker background and the problem solving aspect of having an idea and bringing it to life was very enjoyable, and I look forward to future projects I will work on.

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