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

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final project

For my final project I chose to create a card holder for the card game, Dominion. I chose this project because I wanted to learn how to work with a new material (mainly wood), and I wanted something sophisticated and useful in the future.

I began by looking up what other people created as card game holders for inspiration on Pinterest. 

Above are two pictures that I found particularly inspirational, and I wanted to create something similar. I really liked the top left because it organized it very compactly and neatly, and it was easy to take out the cards. The top right has a very polished look but wasn’t as practical because the cards were oriented in a 360 degree rotation, so the player wouldn’t be able to actually read the cards. 

I wasn’t quite too sure what design I wanted though, so I sketched it out on paper first.

This is an example of a design that I first drafted. In the past I made the mistake of not measuring things out and just sort of eyeballing it, so this time I made sure to measure everything, INCLUDING laying it out on the board.

I went to CU Woodshop to buy my wood, and there I learned all about the different types of woods and lengths. I was originally going to buy a thick block of wood but the person there told me to buy 6mm, and thankfully I listened because it turns out the laser cutter only cuts up to 6mm. Learning that was a huge shock and just another lesson that even though I prepped the design and etc, there will always be unforseen things that occur, so iteration must always be an option (and improvement).



I drew the lines on my board before cutting, to make sure my measurements were correct, ad of course it was off. The layout I had created didn’t take into account the width or height of the board, so I ended up measuring out spaces to evenly line up the slots. 



Next I layed out my cards on the board to (once again) check that the dimensions  were correct, and once it was finalized I began lasering! 



I also lasered out tiny squares in case I needed them in the future. The moment I began lasering I realized I didn’t think to count the number of cards, so I wasn’t sure if the slots would be deep enough to hold the cards. Fortunately it turns out that there’s not that many cards to begin with, and only three of the slots needed it!


The last step was lining the bottom with felt. I was actually going to keep the board to just the top layer, but it didn’t look good and the cards constantly slipped around.



I glued around the edges of each slot and then connected it with a strip of felt that I measured out. Finally, I added another layer of wood to the bottom of the board, waited for the glue to dry then sandpapered the edges and the surface of all sides. The sandpaper took FOREVER because I didn’t use the machine, but instead used sheets of paper. It was very gratifying to see sharp edges become smooth though hard work though.



This project was REALLY fun because my friend saw my snapchat then asked to keep the board. That gave me motivation to work even harder and to try to make it as good as possible. I realized that while creating things is fun, creating things for other people is even more fun. 

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project #8 : iteration

This week we worked on iterating a previous project. I chose to work on the first project – the laser name tag – because it was the simplest one and I wanted to add all the cool things we learned in class onto it. 

The picture above was my original name tag. I really liked how the engravings showed up on the surface, but it was very plain since it was basically a two toned name tag. For the iteration I planned to add stickers to add more dimensions, and arduino LEDs for effects. 

I aimed to layer the stickers to create a 3-D effect. The image I had in mind was a laser cut wooden house, with a big window that I could look into. The stickers would resemble an actual room with depth to it through the layering. 

I began by making silhouettes of the furniture that would go inside the room. I wanted the room to be resemble a family living room so I added a sofa, lamp and a bookshelf.


After the stickers were cut I worked on the name tag. I realized I should have measured the dimensions of the sticker and the name tag BEFORE I started working. Unfortunately, this didn’t cross my mind until after I finished everything. The stickers ended up being too large for a realistic living room 🙁


Since I didn’t measure the dimensions beforehand, the holes that were meant for the LEDs were too small. I couldn’t fit the light through it so I ended up looping the wires through both holes to hold the LED in the place. Furthermore, the sticker colors did not turn out as well as I hoped. I wanted the colors to create a dimensional effect but it didn’t really work out or look good.  The room’s wallpaper was also too big, since I didn’t measure before cutting, so I had to manually cut it.

Overall, even though I added more things to the laser name tag, I think I still like my original name tag more because it looks better. The additional things I added made the name tag seem cluttered, and I am not too happy with the outcome. Next time, I would definitely measure before, pick better sticker colors, and make sure the name tag itself can hold the LEDs. 

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Project #7 – pom pom bots

This week we worked on creating our pom-pom bots! 

We needed to use Arduinos again, which I was pretty unexcited about. However, I felt more comfortable this week because I got to experiment with a couple sensors last week. It was also a lot more interesting since we needed to create a physical object that could move, not just a sensor that could control how fast LEDs blinked.

My inspiration came from the Koi fish. I was initially confused on how I could make something that could move, and not just wobbly forward then backwards. I didn’t want something complicated like a foot so I looked up a video of how fish swim. It looked relatively simple, just two joints that move at 90 degree angles (see picture below).

Looking at this design I knew what I needed for the basic materials: 2 servos and some popsicle sticks.

I wanted to build out the framework of my bot before aesthetics, so I glued together the two servos using a popsicle stick and then tested it. Unfortunately, even though I designed it to imitate a fish, the bot just wiggled back and forth and did make a net movement. I was pretty confused at this point because it looked exactly like a fish and it was designed to imitate a fish’s movement, but it wasn’t the same. I tested it by pushing down on the servos at different times to see if it needed friction or something to push it forward, and it turned out that if I push down on the servo while it moved it would take a step forward, so if I alternated pressures on the servos it made a net movement forward – exactly like a fish. 

My second design was to add a third servo on the top to alternate putting pressure down. 

I added the servo in the middle to imitate a see-saw movement, where the servo would add more pressure on one side at the correct time to create more friction for the moving piece. Like my first design – it seemed good in theory but didn’t work practically. Even though it was theoretically adding pressure at the correct time, I didn’t take into account gravity or other things. My bot simply toppled over whenever it tried to move.

However, I had tested the bot my holding the middle of the see-saw steady to see if I had the correct idea, and it DID move forward. I knew I just needed something to hold it steady while it walked. 

I added a bottom that attempted to stabilize the bot while it moved. You can see from the picture that it looks kind of like a see saw, but because I had to build this by hand the bottom wasn’t completely flat, and it toppled over anyways. 

In this iteration, I added one more piece across the bottom of the see-saw, since a longer bottom opposing the movement the bot is trying to topple in would prevent it from falling. This solved the problem of balance, but because I had added so many sticks to the bot it was now too heavy to move. The servos couldn’t get enough friction to grip the table and pull itself forward. 

I solved this by adding glue to the bottom of the servos. The glue is sticky, so it would give the bot a better grip (kind of like a web for a duck). 

I finished off my adding a head to the bot for design purposes, and I was done! 

I learned throughout this project that designs never really turn out the way you want them to. I thought carefully about what I wanted my bot to imitate, but there were so many other factors affecting it that my designs didn’t really work. I had to continually add ONTO my designs to account for different factors. Each iteration addressed a different problem, until it could finally move.       

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Project #5 e-textiles

This week we worked on mixing in soft-circuits with e-textiles. I was excited for this week since my older sister used to do a lot of sewing but I was too young at the time to touch the sewing machine so I could only watch.

I originally wanted a lot of embroidery, especially after our first lab section with e-textiles. I made a cute super mushroom from Super Mario. Everything went smoothly during this process, including the color of the threads that I chose. It’s not clear in the picture, but I chose to shiny yellow thread for the mushroom, and I was worried that it wouldn’t turn out nice since the thread was pretty stiff. Up close the thread isn’t as nice as the regular materials but from far away the shiny texture of the thread makes it stand out and it gives off a really nice vibe overall.

I wanted to continue building off of the Super Mario theme so I chose to embroider a Yoshi onto my actual bag. I went into the lab thinking that it would be easy, like when I embroidered the mushroom, but the entire process was extremely complicated.

The first problem I ran into was getting tangled thread in the machine. Every time I pressed start the machine would work smoothly a minute, then start emitted a muffled clunking noise. I finally realized that it was because I wasn’t holding onto the thread at the beginning of the embroidering, which then got tangled underneath. It was really frustrating that I missed this small step in the process, and as a result had to restart my embroidering twice.

Embroidering with multiple colors wasn’t very different from just one color – it was just an additional step in the process. Once that was over I started to work on the zipper. 

The zipper went by a lot better the second time around.

I knew how far to space the zipper foot from the actual zipper, and I was able to run it in 2x speed instead of 1x! The hard part of the bag came from the actual stitching together. I followed the instructions on the powerpoint, but it turned out wrong every time. The cause of my problems was that I didn’t see how connecting the bag in a big U shape could make it turn into a bag in the end. Because I didn’t understand what and why I was following the instructions, my results were a disaster. The first time around, I accidentally connected 3 pieces together instead of 2. The second time I attempted this I sewed too far from the edges and my bag ended up weirdly shaped. I ripped everything apart and finally got it on the third time. 


The edges are still not as sharp as I’d like them, so I’m considering remaking this when I have time. 

I decided to work on the soft circuits last because I wanted to see how the lights would line up with the final results. I wanted to re-use my original super mushroom embroider, but I forgot to bring it into the lab with me so I set up the circuits alone. The final result will be Yoshi attempting to eat a shiny mushroom! 


This project took me ~ 7 hours, which was MUCH longer than i anticipated. The majority of the time was spent on fixing mistakes, so word of advice to anyone else attempting this – make sure you understand the steps and how it ties to the final result! It was hard for me to picture flipping the bag inside out, etc. 

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project 4 – 3D printing

I am always looking for small ways help contribute to green awareness, so the first thing that popped into my mind when we first started talking about 3-D printing was “how can I use this project to raise awareness about the environment, but still answer the prompts”? I ended up choosing the flatware prompt, since using plastic utensils is a HUGE waste and there are so many ways that we can, and should, improve on. The inspiration behind this design was something re-usable, but also efficient. I started off with the design of the individual pieces:

Next, I thought about which areas I could reduce the material.

As you can see, upper box is the same for all the utensils, so I can essentially switch out the ends and re-use the container portion. 

The design for this project was much more complex than any of the past projects, since this this was a 3-D design that was completely done on the computer. I had no way of knowing if my design would work until after I printed it. 

I started off with the container since that portion was very clear to me. It was just a cylinder on the outside. The complication came when I had to design how the pieces would insert into the container. I ended up designing something similar to a water bottle, where you have to screw the inner portion into the container. I had to take friction and mistakes made by the printer into consideration, and ended up making the dimensions of the inner cylinder 90% smaller to account for those things. I was worried that it might not be tight enough to hold the utensil in place, or it wouldn’t be efficient if the utensil wiggled. 

The final design looked like it was practical, and would work when printed, so I headed to the Maker Lab at BIF. I worked with the staff choosing the final parameters and it began printing! (Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of it while it was printing). I was pretty confident it would work, and was really excited, but when the machine was done printing I found very different results. 

I did not take size into consideration when I printed things. The utensils are very circular, which the printer apparently does not handle too well. The spoon ended up with a hole in the middle since the surface was too thin, and I had a lot of plastic strings in areas that didn’t belong. Furthermore, the edges in the knife and fork did not turn out well, since it was so small. The structural support that was required for the utensils since they are round did not rip off well, and ruined some areas. Finally, the utensils did not fit well in the cylinder, so I should have made it even less than 90%. 

Even though the final product wasn’t great, I had a lot of fun working on it and learned a lot from my mistakes. I think trial and error is a big part of learning with 3-D printing, and observing how other projects turn out is important. It’s also important to take size into consideration, and leave room for error with curves and edges. I learned that the machine is not perfect since it’s working with real materials and not just conceptual shapes on the screen. 

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Assignment 3 – copper tape circuits

For the third assignment we had to make copper tape circuits. This assignment was pretty different from the past two assignments since it was a lot of hands on / touching, whereas in the previous projects the main bulk of the work was done through a computer software. I was looking forward to this project since I don’t know much about circuits (zero knowledge!!) and I was excited to learn more and feel like a real engineer 😉 

For my quote inspired picture I chose to use a quote by Leah LaBelle that I found online. The quote read “Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. I wanted this to be a fun scene, since the first part of the assignment with the one LED I worked on in class was pretty serious. I began by building the circuit first. I learned that taping EVERYTHING down is the most important step. 

Making the circuit itself wasn’t that bad, but I had to restart so many times because I couldn’t get a good connection between the battery and the tape, the tape and the LEDs, etc. I ended up building the circuit and then putting a clear tape over everything on the circuit to make sure that it would connect.

I drew a person finishing a race with a STOP sign as the switch. Drawing the picture was really fun, since the everything but the eyes were free for me to create whatever I wanted. 

For the final part I decided to go for an origami and created a scene in the background.

I did not take into account the thickness of the paper, so the light didn’t show through. I was really disappointed in this, since I had imagined a really pretty scene for the finished product. I imagined the background to be a washed out dark blue, with two bright objects floating – the ship sailing towards the treasure chest. Putting the LED inside the objects would definitely have solved the problem.

Fortunately the light shows up in a dimly lit room at least, and I’m pretty happy with the finished product! I did not glue the pieces onto the board because I wanted to demo it in class and then tape the pieces flat to the board, so I can hang it on the wall of my room afterwards for a decoration at night! 

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Project 2 – Vinyl Stickers

For the second assignment we made vinyl stickers. I was really excited to make laptop stickers since I had seen so many other people with really cool, unique design stickers and I never knew where they got them.

The first time I used the sticker cutter I intimidated by the loud cutting noises. It was also really hard for me to picture how the different layers would come together. Thankfully, assignment 1 really helped prepare me for this project. I was able to use Inkscape much more quickly and efficiently than last time.

My first sticker was a sticker with the Warriors logo. There’s actually supposed to be two more colors in this sticker, and some words around the corner, but I was so frustrated by the small details that I ended up reducing the layers. It actually turned out quite well. One thing I didn’t take into account was how hard transferring would be, especially since the bridge contains so many fine lines.

My final design was supposed to be a panda hugging a bamboo plant in the middle of the forest. My forest was so thin that it ripped during the transfer 🙁 

The thickness of the vinyl was definitely something that I did not consider during the process that would have changed the outcome quite a bit. 

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Project 1 – Laser Name Tag

The goal of this project was to make a nametag that reflects your personality / creativity. I am a huge fan of animals, jokes and anything cute, so I thought some sort of animal shaped name tag would reflect this the best. 

The design portion of this project took the longest. It was hard to adjust to Inkscape since there were so many small things that I had to consider. The hardest part for me was visualizing the end product compared to what was one the screen. The first time I attempted my name tag, I accidentally cut out parts of the panda’s eyes so that it ended up with a giant hole. This “before to after” mindset required a lot of time and effort to change the way my brain worked.

Actually lasering the project wasn’t hard at all, since so many people were willing to help me out. I just followed the instructions on the paper and watched the printer go! It was cool seeing the laser in progress, and being able to see the project come alive under the laser. 

I’d like to be able to draw my own outlines and then transfer that onto the name tag next time, but overall I’m really happy with the way my name tag turned out! It there was some way to add color, or create more depth, I would definitely do that.

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