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

Author Archive

Final Project – Rebecca Tu


After reading my studio assignments and write-ups, I have learned that I can get really rigid when it comes to deviating from what I have decided to do. I get afraid of the unknown and do not like to poke around in things I do not understand. There are certain things I have developed my confidence in, such as laser cutting and using Inkspace. I have learned that I really enjoy playing with that program. I also really enjoy using the Vinyl cutter and making fun Vinyl stickers. However, I feel like my confidence in the Arduino field is stagnant, which is surprising since I’m a computer science major.­­

            I made a Settlers of Catan board game holder for my final project.

Here is a photo of my first time trying to create the board. I foolishly forgot to set the polygon to not mess with the dimensions.

I only realized this after the Catan board did not fit. I actually panicked and was really upset since it was not going the way I had expected.


Then I redid the steps, this time making the polygon have the right dimensions. However, this time around, the laser cutter did not cut into the board. I was using a 1/4inch board instead of the 1/8 like I had the first time around. I tried to go over the board twice, but each time it was just burning the board more and not completely cutting. I had to ask a staff member for assistance and he used the bandsaw to cut out the pieces and hammered out the small card holders. Since this wasn’t exact, I had to cut out the rest of the card holder with an exacto-knife. It took a while since the knife was not very sharp.

I’m most proud of the fact that the board ended up working for the most part and the card holders had some space for the cards to pop out.


My first learning goal was “I want to push myself to interact with the staff and learn how to use the woodshop tools because I tend to shy away from things that I don’t know how to use.” Well regarding the woodshop tools, I had asked a staff member to teach me how to use them however they said to stick to laser cutting so that’s what I decided to do. Interestingly enough, I still somehow ended up able to watch the staff members use the woodshop tools on my project since the laser cutting didn’t end up doing its job correctly. I did get to interact a lot more with the different staff since there were different staff when I went in and I really enjoyed receiving help from them and getting advice and support. It made me wish that I had been less afraid to ask for help in the past because I probably would have utilized the makerspace a lot more had I felt more comfortable there!

            My second learning goal was “I want to create two designs for the board before I start building my project so I won’t regret my decision later on.” Originally I had wanted to just create a board only to hold the board and then create card holders separately. My second design is what I ended up doing. I realized it was not really necessary to create a second card holder especially because there was so much space on the board to do it all. However, if I could redo the project, I would have utilized the extra space more and spread the positioning of the cards instead of having them all on the bottom.

            I could be happier with my final project. I had wanted to create a board like this, where  there would be more depth to the board, but I didn’t know where to order this stuff. My project is meaningful to me though because I will definitely be using this board since I actually wanted one.

            After this class, I do consider myself to be a maker. To me, I used to think I need to create incredible things to be a maker. I thought calling myself one would be disrespectful to those who are creative. The quote from Seymour Papert does mean a lot more to me now. I now realize that to be a maker, I just have to enjoy what I’m making and it has to have a meaning to me. I should be making something because I want to make it and I’m intrigued. In the beginning, I used to feel like my products looked bad compared to other students’ work. I would feel like I could not be a maker. However, now I happily acknowledge that everyone is creative in their own ways and has their own quirks. The hands-on nature of this class did make my learning more significant. Now I know a wide range of tools that I can use to make whatever I want. I can think of something I want to build and using the knowledge I gained from this class, know where to begin.

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Iteration – Rebecca Tu

This was my original nametag. I had created it out of wood.

When I created my original nametag, I had trouble laser printing the skyline since the Space Needle kept snapping or getting burnt off at the top. This made me realize that it would be better to try to use vinyl stickers for the shapes instead since the vinyl cutter would not make the thin shapes rip. I needed to stick them onto a material that would stick well, so it couldn’t be wood anymore. I used acrylic. This was how it turned out. 

Unfortunately, I had not meant for the acrylic to be so large compared to the skyline and the mountain. However, the laser cutter was broken for a while the day I went in to use it and there was a long queue so once it was fixed, I felt bad taking other people’s time if I were to reprint again. The edges look a little burnt because the first time I tried to cut it, it didn’t fully cut so I had to recut a second time.

The led light was easy to attach on. If I could do another iteration, I would shrink the acrylic size and enlarge the sticker size to hide the battery in the back.

Iteration part 2:
I actually decided to redo the vinyl sticker to make the mountains and the skyline fit better within the shape of the nametag.

Here is the most updated version:

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Arduino Locomoting Pom-Pom Bot Assignment – Rebecca Tu

My pom-pom bot’s locomotion was inspired by me seeing elderly people walking on the street with canes. I wanted to make my pom-pom shuffle across the surface and slowly move forward. If it went to fast, it would tip over just like how the elderly would lose their balance if they walked too fast with their canes. I planned to use popsicle sticks as legs and I wanted it to have minion colors because I love minions.

This is my initial construction:

This was a very weak bot. It fell when moving the legs. I need to make the legs thicker (stack on more popsicle sticks) so it will have more support and not fall immediately. The bot moved way too much though. I will decrease the angle of rotation to be much less than 180 degrees.


2nd prototype:

The base was still not too firm, I need to add a popsicle stick bar going across the two feet from the front and back so the two feet are sturdier. I also need to add hot glue to the bottom of the right leg in order too let the bot have some friction and be less able to fall. The leg won’t slip when the other leg is trying to move.

Final iteration:

My final pom-pom locomotion was different from the first iteration because in the first iteration, I had the legs swinging all the way back and all the way forward. That did not help me balance the bot at all. I was surprised that I thought about adding glue to the bottom of the leg to increase friction when it moved across the surface. I always thought of glue as a means to hold things together, not for the actual surface.

Based on this experience, when I do build things, I will approach the problem thinking that there is more than one way to solve it. I will think about building on top of what I already have. I learned that even when I think I can’t do anything extra to make it better, there always is a way to better it.

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Arduino Introduction – Rebecca Tu

I tampered with a couple sensors before I decided to try to get the finger pulse sensor to work. I had so much trouble working with the other sensors though- like the color autoflash and temperature monitor ones. I actually didn’t have much trouble understanding how to set up this finger pulse sensor. At first, I was using the breadboard too but then I realized I could just use the other wires instead of the normal jumper wires.


I just had trouble understanding what I was actually looking at when I used a code from online. Turns out, when I touch the finger pulse sensor, the numbers shoot up as you can see from the two photos below (monitor and plotter):

The sensor actually measures the light reflected off our finger. If you measure the number of peaks you see for a minute when your finger is on it, you can figure out your heart beat.

This led me to want to create my storyboard of a lie detector. I know there are already lie detectors nowadays but those are so complicated, expensive, and a hassle to use. With just this one sensor, we can easily measure people’s heartbeats and most importantly see how it’s plotted. The closer the peaks appear, the higher the person’s pulse is. Obviously, it won’t be as accurate as a real lie detector, but it’s good enough for those who just want to have one at home.


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Soft Circuit- Rebecca Tu

I thought it would be nice to create a bag with the Taiwanese flag on it since I’m Taiwanese. I wanted to pick a design that would be easy to construct through basic shapes alone. 

I created this whole design in PE Design, from the rectangles to the sun with the triangles and circle. It was a challenge getting the triangles to line up and look in place. I learned how to make sure I don’t end up overlapping the shapes by right clicking on the two things I wanted to group and clicking “modify overlap”. This ensured that the embroidery machine wouldn’t end up creating a full red rectangle and putting the blue one on top of red thread.

I wanted to put the LED under the circle in the sun to have it lit up but I couldn’t really see any light when I did so I put them on the side. I had trouble getting the other one to stay lit but the top right one was fine.

Overall my favorite part of this project was the sewing because it was such a peaceful fun thing to do. I’m most proud of how quickly I was able to complete the sewing. I felt like from just that one class, I quickly learned how to sew fast and correctly.

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3D Printing – Rebecca Tu

I made an animal via Sculptris:

This is a 3D scan of me:

I chose to create a work of art for my project. I made this design because I think it would be really cute to put on a coffee table. I love shapes and solidarity. I like to keep things plain and simple because I feel that when there’s too much going on, the object just looks like a mess. I really enjoy the design of honeycombs. I was in Chicago two weekends ago in Lincoln Park visiting the honeycomb sculpture when I decided this is what I definitely want to print. It’s so cool how the hexagons all fit together and I can choose to stand it up or put it down, both ways looks cool.

I think my print helps elicit a calm feeling from people sitting around the coffee table because when things fit together perfectly, there’s just a certain feeling of satisfaction. If it was disfigured, it would elicit an uncomfortable feeling.

I had a lot of trouble creating this design even though it looks so simple. For some reason, aligning the hexagons up was a lot more difficult than it should’ve been. If you look closely at this photo:

Some sides of the hexagons are bigger than the others. I tried to redo it, hence why there are two of them, but it was still difficult. I thought that as long as I kept each part the same size, then everything would fit. However, if I tried to manually turn the hexagon to fit it into the design, sometimes TinkerCad would turn it more than I need and it wouldn’t fit nicely. I had to do percentages to make sure the hexagon could fit decently. There was a lot of trial and error.

If I were to create another version, I’d make my design bigger and add more hexagons. I think I would even make a honeycomb too if I was given the resources to do it (it can get expensive).

This is what the 3D printing attempt looked like. It turned out pretty successful except for the middle hexagon.

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Copper Tape Card – Rebecca Tu

  I was inspired by the fact that we can use origami for this project. When I was younger, I used to love making paper stars and cranes so I wanted to incorporate my limited origami skills here and have the chance to create some stars again. When I think of lights, I usually think of Christmas so I decided to create a starry background and add a pop up snowflake and snowman.

I faced a lot of challenges when making this project. I went through this tutorial ( until I reached a point where I didn’t understand what was going on towards the end. I was lost about where to place the copper tape on the LED lights and how the circuit should end up looking like. 

Apparently in class, when I did the basic light card, I did the wiring wrong even though it still lit up. 

Here you can see that I didn’t actually create a parallel circuit.

However it somehow still lit up here:

I learned that for my pop-up card that from the positive battery side, I had to extend the tape to the other side of the paper and add a copper tape to that tape from both positive sides of the LED lights. Then I had to connect a copper tape to both negative sides of the LED lights and connect that tape to the switch on the right. Only then did the lights light up. Originally, I had it so that there was just one long tape that went from the positive side of the battery straight to both positive sides of the LED and then back to the switch. This was wrong and nothing lit up.

If I had more time, I would’ve made something prettier. I was just so upset that my circuit wasn’t working and I was so frustrated with trying to get it to work that when I was finally able to, I was exhausted.

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Vinyl Sticker Project- Rebecca Tu

I’m a huge Starbucks fan so I wanted to create the Starbucks logo. At first, I thought this was going to be easy to do. I already knew I wanted the green base, white on top, and then add the black and green at the top. Unfortunately, it was a lot more challenging than expected. I learned more about how to use Inkspace since trace bitmap didn’t help me split everything up the right way. 

When pulling off the vinyl sections that I wanted, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to stack everything together. My hands were really shaky and I had to reprint the Green vinyl where the Starbucks Coffee is because the first time, when things didn’t line up, I kept trying to pull it off and retry to the point where the 5th time, I accidentally ripped it. If you look at the A, R, B, and O, I had to pull off the little parts from the Green vinyl that didn’t transfer when using the transfer tape. It was difficult to do so and align them properly because the parts were so small.

Overall, I’m pretty proud with how this project turned out. It was really rewarding to finally see the finishing product.

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Project #1 – Laser Name Tag

I wanted to make a name tag that reflected what I am looking forward to in my future. Last semester, I did a co-op in Seattle and will be going back full-time in the summer. I fell in love with Seattle and I loved hiking around Mount Rainier, so I combined both. I wanted Mount Rainier in the back as the outline of my name tag. Then, I wanted to stack on top of it, the Seattle skyline. I at first didn’t have all the knowledge to go about doing this because I was new to using Inkspace. However, the TA’s were very helpful and taught me a lot about the nodes selection tool. 

One problem I came across was when trying to laser print the skyline, the space needle kept snapping off because there were too many mini window holes in it originally. I tried to widen the skyline but it still was too thin since I wanted to keep the three inches max width. I had to decide between two options: remove the windows or make my skyline even wider. I decided to remove the windows because I had already printed out my mountain background and didn’t want to waste more wood.

I had a lot of fun painting it afterwards. I used watercolor paints for a lighter white mountain top. This way you can still see some of the wood in the back so it looks more realistic. I used acrylic paint for the bottom part of the mountain and the skyline.

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