Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

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Final Project, Justin Franklin

For the maker space final project, I knew sort of what I wanted to do. Earlier in the semester I had made a theremin like device, that used ultrasonic sensors to produce different pitches. I wanted to rework that idea into something that was a bit more useable by incorporating that functionality into a midi controller. I hadn’t really worked with MIDI on the hardware level, so there was a little bit to get acquainted with as far as soldering and designing a circuit and making sure the serial data was written properly.

The most challenging part about this project was the housing. I decided that I would learn to use pressfit boxes for my required learned skill. I hadn’t used them before so I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into here, and it turned out to be a surprisingly complex and time consuming thing. I really had to spend a lot of time re-thinking how I wanted to design this box, and take a lot of caution in my measuring and such. A simple box can be just that: simple. This box was customized and includes a shutter flex lid, middle wall and top lid, so there was a lot of modifications I did, as well as vectorizing the shapes for the sensors and usb jack to stick out of. I guess what I’m most proud of with this box is that it does have a nice ‘finished’ quality to it. I believe that most people probably wouldn’t know what it was, but would recognize that there are some strong and nicely crafted design choices, and it has an appealing aesthetic, even if it is kind of bizarre.

One of my original learning goals with this project was to create something that had ‘good craftsmanship’. This was hard to define, but to me that meant that I was going to force myself not to take any shortcuts or anything, but really sit down and try to make a piece of hardware as presentable as possible and also as functional and sturdy as possible. I pushed myself to achieve this in my project in different ways. With the box, I went through a prototype phase to understand how the shutterbox design worked. I then considered multiple ways of modifying the design in different ways to get the effects I wanted. I also spent a lot more time than I ever expected on making sure that everything was going to match and line up. As I said above, the box was an accomplishment in itself, and I feel like I made something satisfactory.

Another aspect was implementing a real MIDI jack. This to me makes the piece more of an actual functional piece of equipment. It’s not just an arduino project that can spit out MIDI over USB, but the fact that it is MIDI capable for physical electronic instruments adds an air of professionality to it. Something else with the circuit design That I did was abandon bread boards. Although the circuit was originally designed on a bread board, I transferred it to perf board. All of the connections are soldered as well. I had done some soldering before, but this really put my skills to the test. I’m happy with the end result, because again I feel like pushing this project past a breadboard phase and choosing to hardwire it gives it a more professional feel, or beyond just a DIY project.

My secondary learning goal with this project was to learn more about press fit boxes. I did learn a lot about them, and I think i’ve talked about them enough already, so I’ll spare whoever is reading this.

My final main learning goal with the project was to become better at implementing my ideas, and turning them into real world pieces. This is a bit hard to explain what this means, but to me this means something along the lines of: How can I get his “idea” nailed down, and turn it into a “thing”, and not just a thing that carries out the idea but a real finished product. For me, I have a lot of ideas, but many of them never actually go through the metamorphosis of becoming reality. Along the way, many things change, and sometimes you realize you have to compromise or something, and the ‘thing’ you make is sort of far away from the original idea. As someone who has been making art of different varieties for a number of years, i’ve become accustomed to ‘going with the flow’ and accepting these compromises, or using them as points of inspiration in themselves. With this project I wanted to take a more deterministic approach, to me meaning that I would pre-plan everything, and try to design each step , with no compromises or shortcuts, and maintain a consistent methodical and ‘contractor-like’ attitude rather than an ‘artist-type’ attitude.

Although this is the hardest learning goal to explain, I feel like it was important to me because as I progressed through the course, This idea of craftsmanship kept popping up. For example, a really great project for me was the textiles project. I spent a lot of time creating a plushie, and I’m extremely proud of what I made, but there were some parts that were rushed through. I know from experience that some things can be rushed through, because having a finished product is a lot more important in some cases, so I tend to just get things out fast, and focus on making it real, not perfect. The course in general has taught me that making stuff is fun, obviously, but what really pays off is iterating through different designs, or redoing parts that were not created very well, and honing into something that you can really be proud of.

I believe this course has really given me more confidence with making things in general. Before this course, I had known how some of these things worked, and had assumed they were within my grasp. Things like arduino I felt like I could learn when I got a round to it, But with this class, it just kind of throws you into the pool and you have to learn to start swimming. So now that I’ve dealt with these things, I feel like I really can tackle bigger projects, that I know I wouldn’t be thinking about If I hadn’t had my experience. I suppose I do consider myself a maker, and I think I’ve sort of always been one. I’ve loved creating and making things my entire life, but I didn’t realize what makerspace or being a maker meant before having took the class. To me, being a maker is about really striving to do your best to create the things you want to make, the best that you can make them and committing your ideas to reality. Many people might think of something and say, “yeah, but I could never do that”, and shrug it off. I feel like a maker is someone that would say, “Hey, I can do something like that, using this tool I learned about before” or “Maybe so and so knows something about this, and they can help me make something”. I think that’s the most important thing about the makerspace community is the idea that anybody can come in and make their thoughts a reality. Not only this, but it can also be fun and easier than you might’ve thought.


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iteration project – Justin Franklin

Iteration Project – Justin Franklin

In the makerspace class this week we were directed to go back and redo a project in a new way, or improve upon it somehow. I thought about this for a little while, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at first. I decided to go back and revisit my patch cable holder that I had 3D designed and printed a few weeks earlier.

I began by returning the files I had made in TinkerCad. One thing that had been a problem for me, with my first iteration was that it was too rough and not symmetrical. Also, it was was very simple. Although, I had reasons for initially designing it this way, I wanted to return and fix the details to make it better. I also thought that attaching a light to it would make it good as well, and add a new dimension to it. I began by first recreating the original design and this time making it more visually appealing by making it symmetrical. I then added some supports for the prongs so that it was  overall sturdier.

I then had this idea to create clips in the back that clip onto edges of table or such. With my first version, I didn’t have anyway of connecting it to anything, and this had become a frustration. I tried attaching velcro tape to the back of it and velcroing it to he side of cabinets, but it never seemed to work. With the clips, I wouldn’t really have to worry about this, and I could freely clip it wherever. I decided to just make them very simple hoping they would kind of latch onto something rather than actually clip, cause I wasn’t sure how I was going to design that, with the material being somewhat brittle.

Once I had my refined desgin I sent into the MakerLab at the Gies Business College to print overnight and I could pick it up the next morning, check it out and attempt to reiterate on it, and see exactly what I would need to do about making the clips better. I felt pretty good at this stage and waited until the next day, when I recieved an email that it would be ready to pick up at 2pm. Upon arrival, I found that what had been printed was a reprint of my first version, not my new redesign. Apparently I had accidently uploaded the incorrect file for some reason, and I would have to try again, so I did. The second time, I arrived and it was not printed at all! The problem was that the project file kept failing everytime they had to print. They couldn’t tell me why. So I reuploaded the file to the printer and tried a third time. The third time, I went to pick it up and although it had printed this time, An employee was trying to remove the supports and had accidentally broke it. I was getting frustrated at this point, even though someone had mistakenly broken it, the print itself looked very weird. There were all sorts of gaps and weird defects. I had to have it printed one last time, and by this time it was already Thursday, the night before I had to present this project, and still had nothing done, because I had expected to have it printed much sooner in the week. Luckily, the last time it worked, and I rushed to the fablab to work out how to create a circuit with a button and light for my cable


Unfortunately, this print was also pretty bad, but at least all the pieces where there so I had to work with it. Also, I didn’t have time at this point to redo the clips or anything so I just went on to  the next thing, the light. I began by just making a very basic light circuit and lighting an LED, with a breadboard. I quickly learned that a single LED would not do the job. I asked, Emelie about it and she suggested neopixels. I wasn’t a fan of this Idea because I thought that introducing an arduino device, would make this unnecessarily complicated. Instead I wanted to do a small lightbulb, but since there were none at the fablab, I had to go the neopixel route. I began by tinkering with some of the code, and quickly stumbled across some test coed for neopixel strips. at first this wasn’t working at all. After talking to Brandon, I found that the code was fine, but the neopixel strips really needed to be soldered first to have a secure useable connection. 

This part was tricky, because although I had soldered before, I really didn’t have a ton of experience. Eventually I had to ask for some soldering tips, and learned a got a ton of great advice from Neil about it. Soon enough, after some effort, I managed to get everything soldered and my neopixels began to work. I had originally planned to use a coathanger as the bendable ‘post’ for my light, but I realized that the wires I had used were fairly sturdy by themselves. I also originally planned to use rubber tubing to cover them, but settled on a straw, and then wrapped electrical tape around them.

Below is the final product, which I was ultimately pretty pleased with. I didn’t get to work on this as much as I had wanted, because of the printing errors I kept running into, but I think I will continue to refine it. One thing I especially want to do, is incorporate clips with springs in them for better options when hanging it up onto something. I’m glad I got to work with more arduino stuff, even though I hadn’t planned to use any at first. I also learned much about soldering here, I feel more comfortable with that skill now.

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pom bot – justin franklin

This week in the maker 490 class, we continued our use of arduinos and created a little mini robot called a pom pom bot. I looked at some of the examples of ones that had been made in the past, and from what I saw it looked pretty straightforward and relatively simple. Unfortunately, I was sick the day we were given this assignment, so I was at a severe disadvantage as far as knowing where to start or what exactly to do.

I started by just getting the servos to move, so I downloaded the simplest servo test code for arduino I could find and uploaded it to the board. Then I knew that the board was supposed to be sending the right information, but I didn’t know how the servo connected to it. Looking at schematics on the internet, it appeared that the three wires were positive, negative, and a wire that received information as to how to move. I didn’t know which ones were which on my servo though, so I had to try random configurations. It took a little bit of time, but I got it, and my servo started moving. To get two moving, I copy and pasted much of the code and added ”2″ to the end of the variables, and assigned them to write values to a new pin on the arduino. This was encouraging, the code was much simpler than I had imagined it would be, and I was glad I got this far. The actual design of the thing took more time.

From the example videos, I had seen a pom bot that was very simple and was really just two servos connected together and two popsicle sticks. It walked very awkwardly and lopsided, but it did work. I was inspired by the minimalism of this design and decided to try something similar, so I connected two servos directly together. I then attempted to attache popsicle arms to the servos, and quickly learned that attaching popsicle sticks to a servo and telling it to move did not equate to a walking robot.

This phase was the most frustrating part because it seemed like whatever I did, it did not work. Originally, I had attached short popsicle sticks as arms, about a half an inch, and then put big flaps of tape on them that looked like fins. The idea was to be kind of like a seal, that uses its fins to flap forward. This might have worked, but the servos were always moving backwards to reset themselves at their original starting position. I tried to overwrite this in the code, and get them to move 360 degrees continuously, but it didn’t work. I tinkered with this design for probably too long, trying to get it to work and running into more and more problems. At one point it seemed like it could work, but it kept flipping itself over. So I attempted to make “braces” for it, which were just more popsicle sticks that were supposed to stabilize it as it pushed itself. Ultimately, this didn’t work out, and at this point I was about to run out of time. I had 15 minutes left at the fablab, and the project was due the next day. I couldn’t work on this project at home, because the arduino board wasn’t a true arduino board and it wasn’t compatible with my macbook. At this point, I felt pretty lost, like I just wasn’t going to figure it out.

I decided to start fresh with my design, and attempt a more ‘bug’ shape like I had seen. I started by attaching the servos together with two popsicle sticks, so that they were more spread out. This would be the body, and one servo would control the front legs, and the other the back legs. The original reason I had avoided this style, is because it seemed sort of complicated as to how to design the legs. Especially with just using popsicle sticks. I wasn’t sure what to do about them. What i did was just attach a popsicle stick flat to each servo. This made it look like a pair of skis, and when the servos moved, they moved back and forth in a bow tie shape, but because it was flat, it just sweeped the ground and did not move. I adjusted the code at this point, because the servos were moving 180 degrees and their popsicle sticks were whacking into each other, so I made them move much smaller, like 30 degrees. I made the back one move twice and the front one move once, hoping that the offset would help push it forward, but it did not work either.

At this point, I really had to pack up and go, and I was really discouraged about the whole thing. Some of the other bots I had seen designed by other students, were really cool, and decorated really nicely. I was frustrated I couldn’t get mine to walk, and I felt like the aesthetic of my bot  looked terrible, just a bunch of popsicle sticks taped together, it looked far from a finished piece like the others.

The next day after class I decided to work on it some more. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at first. I grabbed some materials at random out of the craft drawers. I grabbed a bag of clothespins without knowing what I might use them for. I had originally wanted to make little feet for my bot so far, so that it wasn’t laying flat on the ground. I started clipping the clothespins on in random spots, until all the sudden I realized that I could simply attach the clothes pin onto the popsicle sticks I had and it would act as a leg. After that, I put some hot glue on the bottom of the back pair of legs, to give it some grip. I also attached some pom poms at the bottom of the front pair of legs, to help the front slide. I was hoping that the back legs would grip and push the front ones. I also tilted the back legs at an angle which helped seem to push it forward a little.

All in all this project was actually really fun. I wish I had known a little bit more about what I was getting into before I went into it, but sometimes you gotta just figure it out. I underestimated how much it would take to get the design to actually walk. I’m glad I grabbed the clothespins, or else I may not have ever figured it out.

here’s video:





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arduino intro justin franklin

arduino intro – Justin Franklin

Discrete pitch theremin

For this week’s assignment in the makerspace 490 class, we were introduced to arduinos and the arduino IDE. I have some experience programming, but not with arduinos. It was something that i’ve been meaning to get into, so I was definitely excited to get started working with them.

The first thing we did in class was get comfortable using the arduino IDE. We worked off of a program that caused an LED to blink on and off. Then we began changing the code to create an SOS signal. Then we attempted to control the light of the LED with a touch sensor. This was all very fun, and I was sort of surprised how simple it was.

I thought about what I could do for my project but I wasn’t sure for the longest time. I wanted to make a car alarm at first, but one of the requirements was to have multiple thresholds, and I couldn’t think of how to incorporate that. The sensor that came in my kit was an ultrasonic sensor, one that uses doppler to detect the distance of an object from the sensor. I thought it might make a good way to control sound just by waving your hand.

The Theremin is instrument that produces sound without the player touching it. It uses two antennas to detect the proximity of a players hand to the instrument, and changes pitch and volume accordingly.  Although very interesting, the theremin is a notably difficult instrument to play, due to its lack of discrete pitches. This means that as you move your hand you continuously sweep through the frequency spectrum, without ever locking onto a tuned note. The only way to stop on a note is to do so by ear, and playing a string of notes or a melody, is exponentially more difficult.

My idea was to use the ultrasonic sensor of the arduino to create a similar instrument to the theremin but one that utilized discrete pitch values, thus being easier to play, while maintaining the novelty of playing an instrument without actually touching it.


So, I decided to get to work and begin tinkering with this thing. I first attempted to do this on my macbook at home. To my dismay, it didn’t work. My macbook would not recognize the arduino was plugged into it. After some research I found that although there was a fix to this, it required a little too much for me to be comfortable with, so I decided to go to the fablab and use the computers there. Once there, I began looking for some code from others that where using the sensor. Luckily, there was a lot, and I decided to use some of it to test the supersonic sensor. From the code, I could see which pins were being sent to different parts of the sensor. I assembled the sensor accordingly. I then took a look through the code to see what was going on. I have a vague familiarity with the details of how doppler works, so i felt like I understood pretty much what was going on. I also grabbed a piezo speaker to use for sound output.

My first go at this just made a sustained beep noise that was very unpleasant, and I quickly unconnected the speaker. But I was actually pretty excited by that, because honestly just getting sound on my first try was sort of a milestone. Something wasn’t working quite right though. The sensor didn’t seem to be changing values at all. This problem took me a while to figure out until I realized I had placed my variables in the setup loop instead of the main loop. This meant that the sensor only polled one value at setup time, but never refreshed it. Once I moved the variables down to the correct place, things were looking nice. Then I just included a big IF ELSE statement that determines what to do if the object in front of the sensor is so many inches away from it. I made seven separate states, depending on distance of the object, each state corresponding to a different note of an A major scale. Unfortunately the tone() function of the arduino only takes integers for its frequency input value, so the tuning is not exact, because I had to round to the nearest integer. The difference is not very substantial.


  int trigPin = 11; // Trigger
int echoPin = 12; // Echo
long duration, cm, inches;
int piezoPin = 8;

void setup() {
  // put your setup code here, to run once:
Serial.begin (9600);
pinMode(trigPin, OUTPUT);
pinMode(echoPin, INPUT);
duration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH);
inches = (duration/2) / 74; 


void loop() {
  // put your main code here, to run repeatedly:

digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);
digitalWrite(trigPin, HIGH);
digitalWrite(trigPin, LOW);

duration = pulseIn(echoPin, HIGH);
inches = (duration/2) / 74; 


if(inches < 4){
tone(piezoPin, 440,100);
else if(inches<5){
tone(piezoPin, 494,100);
else if(inches<6){
else if(inches<7){
else if(inches<8){
else if(inches<9){
else if(inches<10){

tone(piezoPin, 0, 100);
//The ultrasound sensor code is by the Rui Santos
 created by Rui Santos,
After messing with this I’m actually considering moving the variables back to the setup loop, so that the user can refresh the arduino manually, and better control the playing of it. But that’s for another time heres some pics of the device.
I’m really surprised by how well it worked out. Usually with these types of things, it can take a while to debug your code and get things working. I did run into a few snags, but it only took some time to remedy them. As an instrument, It’s not super impressive. It makes a horrible beep at a consistent volume, and also produces it at a steady rhythm. In the future it would be better to make one that plays a sample of something more pleasant, and also have some form of rhythmic control of it, and maybe volume control as well. I had a lot of fun making this project.


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textiles – Justin Franklin

 The textile assignment in the makerspace 490 class began a couple of weeks ago, and it has been a long couple of weeks. When I first began using the sewing machines I had no idea what I was doing, because I had never used one in my life. It has been a strange experience overall but one that I have learned a lot from, as is usual with the assignments from this class.

The first thing we were instructed to do was to create a bag. I began this project having absolutely no idea what I was doing. I chose some fabric to make a bag out of and began cutting out shapes from it. I only did this because everyone else was doing it, at the time I had no idea what I was doing. Apparently, these were the pieces I would sew together to make this bag. I was surprised that something so simple took so many pieces, and such careful thought to put together. I had never really considered how things like this were created before, but there were surprisingly a lot of steps to it. Sewing itself was something that even though I had never done before, I warmed up to quickly. It was actually fairly easy and I enjoyed it. The bag I made took some time to complete, but I was really satisfied with the result.

This was the in-class assignment though, and I had to now move onto the final assignment. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to make or what I would be getting into. The concept of sewing ‘patterns’ eluded me still, since the pattern for the bag was basically just a square. I browsed the pre-approved sewing patterns for the final project, and didn’t really know which idea was better than the other. I sort of knew I wanted to do a plushie right of the bat for some reason. When I was kid I used to play those crane games with the stuffed animals in them, so I’ve always liked them. As soon as I saw that there was a sloth pattern I knew that was what I would probably want to do. I did look at the goldfish one as well, but even though it was less pieces, the difficulty meter posted in the .PDF said it was pretty difficult, so I said to myself, “Yeah, the sloth one”. I love sloths.

So I began work on the sloth. The first thing I did was begin to choose fabrics. I found a great fluffy material that had sloth written all over it. I knew I had to use it. I also found some regular felt type fabrics for the face and toes.

One of the biggest hurdles of creating this thing was cutting the pieces out. I didn’t realize how much time it would take to cut the pieces out for this thing. Even though I spent a lot of time cutting pieces of fabric in the correct shapes, I still didn’t get it right in the end, because often times, the shape needs to be mirrored, so that you have two of the same shape, but with the ‘outside’ of the material on the opposite side as the other corresponding shape. A difficult thing to explain, and one that didn’t have much importance placed upon it within the instructions, probably because whoever had written them had assumed that the reader would have enough experience to realize this, but not me. I was also trying to move somewhat fast, because I had guessed that the actual sewing process would take a lot of time.

I began sewing the sloth pieces together, just working through the instruction piece by piece, page after page. I was actually surprised with how well it was initially going. One of the biggest problems throughout the project, and one I noticed early on, was the material I was working with. It was very fluffy, and sort of like a shag carpet. Although this was really good for a plushie, it was just difficult to work with, because I could barely see what I was doing. Many of the seams I was sewing were being done on intuition and just sort of feeling that I was in the right place. Sometimes, it was difficult to even push the material through the machine, and the needle often got stuck.

A big moment with this project came towards the end. Because many of these projects have to be sewn inside out, and then flipped outside in, I found that things can get pretty confusing. I carefully tried to understand what the instructions were telling me to do, but ended up getting confused and misinterpreting what was going on. I had sewn my legs to the wrong side of the body piece. Normally, this could have been remedied by using a seam ripper to remove the stitching, which I tried to do, but the material I was using was so fluffy that I couldn’t even see the seam underneath it. At this point, I actually had to cut the legs off of the body I had sewn them to, and remake a new body piece. The second time around I had spent much more time trying to figure out what the instructions were telling me to do. Honestly, very confusing, but I figured it out. Since this was the final page, the end of the project, I was stitching together multiple pieces of the plushie. The body, the head and arms all in one seam. Many of these components also had two layers to them, so adding them together and also considering that there was a lot of fluffiness from the material meant that pushing this mass of fluff through the machine was nearly impossible. I decided to sew key spots with the machine, in order to keep the pieces together as one cohesive thing, and hand stitch the holes or gaps later down the road. 

Another aspect of this project was the embroidery requirement. In-class, we had worked on a quick crash course embroidery assignment. I randomly chose to embroider a donut, and it came out great, but I wasn’t sure what I might do to incorporate embroidery into my plushie. I decided to embroider the face of the plushie instead of just cutting out the shapes and sewing them together as I had originally planned to do.

Creating the face was quite easy actually.I had originally planned to take a screenshot of the example sloth plushie in my .PDF instructions and then just trace it in inkscape, and that worked to an extent, but not completely. I eventually had to draw my own eyes, nose and mouth, but luckily it didn’t take long and it wasn’t terribly difficult.

Once I had my embroidery design I just sent it through the machine and went for it. Luckily, I had actually found some better felt that I had originally planned for using for the face. The new felt had a better color to it, and seemed better quality. My embroidered  face came out first try, luckily, and I took it along with my sloth body home to finish via hand stitching. I attached the face to the body via a running stitch that runs around the face. It looks simple, but it worked great. Also, since I had left holes in pieces of the body I was able to flip parts of it back inside out and hand sew stitches from the inside, and seal it up pretty good all the way around.

In the end this was a lot of work, but it was worth it. It was somewhat more difficult than I though it would be, but many parts of this went pretty easy and pretty fast. It could have been much worse. There are also some mistakes in the final project. One noticeable thing is that one of the legs is longer and wider than the other. Not sure exactly why this happened, but I’ll just say its harder than it looks for sure, and I have a newfound respect for people that do this.

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3D printing assignment

For the past two weeks in the Makerspace 490 class, we have been working with 3d printing. I had not previously worked with 3d printing or scanning or modeling for that matter,  so I was excited to learn about it. I was at first a little intimidated by the 3D modeling required to design an object to print. The first thing I made, an alien and a castle was not that impressive.

Luckily, I got somewhat better at using the Tinkercad program within the following days.

We were instructed to come up with four different possible designs, following different prompts. At first I really wasn’t excited about most of the prompts and had trouble finding inspiration for them. Eventually, I managed to think of some ideas. I had two designs that I thought were good enough to actually turn into objects. One was a design for a bowl that has a curved spoon that attaches to the side of it. Modeling this in Tinkercad took me some time, but I was a lot more pleased with the outcome than when I made my alien.

The other design was for a patch cable holder. I use a lot of audio cables at home, and I had been wanting to buy something to hold all of them anyways, and I thought, maybe I can just make one. This is my initial design for the patch cable holder.

By now, I was fairly pleased with my design. I feel like I had gotten much better at using the 3D modeling software, and I was excited to make this thing a reality, and have something to organize my patch cables with.

So far so good, The above image is the beginning of the printing process. The print took about an hour and a half. However, when it was finished I became disappointed. I had designed it to be really to small to fit any patch cables into, and also the prongs on the end were too thin and broke off very easily. You can see in the next picture that I had snapped them off.

So, I went back and recreated another version from scratch, hoping to get it right this time. My second version has more space for holding the cables, and was slightly thicker to be sturdier. I decided to not include lips on the prongs, since they might just snap off anyways.

This design was more minimal, but I felt that I sort of had to get the basics of it to work first and foremost. I made the prongs farther apart so that cables could fit in between them, and also made them longer so that more could fit in each individual slot.

Above is the final product, and I’m pretty happy about it. The cables fit in there fairly snug and I think it will work well. I’m planning on using some double sided tape to attach it to the side of my modular synthesizer case. I do plan on continuing to refine this design and make it look more appealing, and more sturdy, but for now I’m happy.

This assignment was a big one but I learned a lot about 3d printing, but also design in general. It takes a lot to design something even simple and it doesn’t always turn out like you want. I encountered a few problems while trying to accomplish this, but in the end I created something I will actually use. 


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paper circuit pop up assignment – Justin Franklin

Justin Franklin

This week in the maker space class we began working with circuits made from copper tape and paper. Some of the examples that were shown to us were pretty interesting. I’ve been excited to learn more about electric circuits and how they work, so I was glad this opportunity popped up. We were told to try to design a paper pop up book, or origami piece to build our circuit on.

At first, it was a lot of information to take in, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to make given these instructions. For the in-class project I didn’t really know what I was doing so I just started making things and figuring it out as I went. I had a lot of help from people, and ended up making this heart picture that lights up when you close the door.


Recently, I had received a card for a birthday that was a pop up card with a dinosaur. I decided to try to recreate it, but in my own way and then design a circuit that would give two red LEDs for red eyes for the dino, and a white LED for a building light.

I began by cutting out the shapes I needed. I mistakenly thought this would be the easiest part of the project, but it turned out to be very time consuming. I wanted to use a card stock type of paper I had found in the scrap paper bin, but the cutter would not cut it. I tried many different settings and still it would not cut through. I asked for help, and even other people seemed confused until it was discovered that the blade was not set to be poking out enough. I learned a lot about the cutting machine, but it took a lot of time to get my shapes cut out correctly because of this. I had to experiment with many of the settings and do a lot of it by trial and error.

You can see some of the shapes in this picture. Because the blade wasn’t going all the way through, I ended up getting some different effects on the paper, such as ripping.

Eventually I got my shapes cut out the way I wanted them to be, and moved onto the next phase: building the circuit. I knew what I wanted, 2 red LEDs for eyes and 1 white LED for a building light. I started simple and just created a circuit with two red LEDs in series. Then I built off of this by adding the resistor for those LEDs, and moved on to figure out how to add the white LED in parallel. Creating the circuit was a little awkward, because all of the materials were very fragile. The copper tape and the paper I was working with as well, were fragile. It was difficult to get the copper tape in the places I needed it to be.

Choosing resistors for my circuits turned out to be a bit of a problem as well, some of the circuit calculators were recommending me resistor values, that just didn’t seem to work. I found myself doing the math myself, or trying different values and experimenting by trial and error. eventually I found a good combination that seemed to work ok.

The picture on the left is a behind the scenes look at the final project, pressing down on the battery pack acts as a switch, albeit not a very good one.

The project does fold into a card, but I will probably not do that, because many of the parts are fragile and the circuit will probably break.

I liked this particular project, because I got to learn about two things that i’ve been wanting to experiment with for some time: circuits and pop-ups. It was definitely the most challenging project so far, and it took a lot of time and patience, but i’ve learned the most from it.

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Vinyl Stickers

This week in our Makerspace class we focused on making vinyl stickers. we began by making a simple one layer silhouette sticker. The one I made was a mash up of a crab and an elephant silhouette. After this we were supposed to create stickers that had more than one layer. Something I thought of was the sprite for the character Ryu from the original Ninja Gaiden video game that was released on the Nintendo Entertainment system in 1989. This sticker has three layers and I think it turned out pretty well.

Because of the pixelated nature of the design, some of this was difficult to manage because the pixels, or squares, were not always connecting together. Although, I think it came out well. 

For my final sticker I tried to go with something a little more safe, meaning that I chose a design that had better defined shapes that could easily be transferred. I decided to go with a zombie since it’s getting close to halloween. I found a piece of clip art of a zombie. I decided to change it up a bit by adding a brain in his hand, another piece of clip art I found. I then decided to do the different pieces in different colors.

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good. If I had a chance to do it over again, I probably would choose some different designs, and try to make it a little more detailed. I think that because my ninja sticker was a little difficult to put together, I may have played it too safe on my final one, but that’s ok. 

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Justin Franklin laser name tag

Laser Name Tag Project

  I was a little nervous before this project, because I had not worked with laser cutters before. At first I wasn’t sure what to make, but I knew I should do something related to music, since I am a music major. After brainstorming about it for some time, I settled on the Idea that I should make a synthesizer name tag, because I want to go into sound design and I’m always working with sound synthesis. 

   When I first began making the design for it I wasn’t sure if my idea was going to work out because I could not get a clear image of a synthesizer. Thankfully I eventually found a drawing of one, the Pittsburgh Modular Voltage Research Laboratory. I decided to raster this into the material. Originally, I completely forgot about any vectoring, so I decided it would be cool to cut holes out for the patch points and put in some little patch cables later. 

Originally I had planned on doing this with wood, but I really liked some of the acrylic examples that were shown to me so I thought I would go for that and give it a try. Luckily, there was some black acrylic in the scrap basket.

This is the tag after it first came out of the laser cutter:

After this I wanted to make tiny patch cables for it. I initially wanted to use string, but I saw that I could use some scrap wire from the electronics section at the fab lab, so I began experimenting with it. Although it looked ok, there wasn’t any way to hold the wires in the holes so I decided to hot glue them.

And this is the finished project:


   I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out, but I would do somethings differently if I did it again. One thing is the size, It is basically the full 4 inches square, which is probably too big for a practical name tag. Also, the acrylic makes it sort of heavy for its size. The music note I put on it was intended to be a different shade of rastering than the rest, although it didn’t really turn out that way. All in all I thought the project was fun and it turned out neat, but if I got another chance I would make it smaller. I had a lot of fun designing and creating this and learned a few things about laser cutting.

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