Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Illinois Informatics and School of Information Sciences
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Author Archive

Iteration Project

When thinking of ideas for this project, I wanted to incorporate sewing or embroidery since I really enjoyed those weeks earlier in the semester. To step up my previous work a bit, I decided to use sewable LEDs. My final work is really a combination of a couple of previous projects. Originally, I was planning to have sewing and wood working combined to make a new name tag that wasn’t laser-engraved but embroidered and lit up with LEDs. When I thought about the usability of this, I was discouraged since it wouldn’t be very easy to use a piece of wood and cloth as a nametag. But the wood gave me the idea to make it a frame instead – that way I could make a larger piece of work and not have to limit myself to a small piece of wood. 



Since a frame wouldn’t make much sense I thought about making the embroidery part a quote or the name of my club that could be used as art. The first part in making this was the wood frame, which was relatively easy but I had to fiddle with it quite a bit towards the end. Once I had the measures of the frame, I could start the embroidery and make sure the text wasn’t too big or small. My first run with the embroidery machine was a failure since the cloth and thread caught on the machine and I had to cut the whole thing just to remove it from the machine. The frustrating thing was that it was entirely done by that point, it just wouldn’t let go without me completely cutting it off. 


I attempted to do a fading effect with the thread to make it switch between multiple colors, but with the stabilizer on the back of the cloth, since didn’t have the same effect that I had hoped. With my second try, I just used one color thread and it thankfully worked. After that was set, I started working with the LEDs. Sewing by hand isn’t my forte and sewing LEDs is a little finicky since you have to wrap the conductive thread around each LED multiple times in order to ensure it connects. I messed up the first time I tried this because I connected the positive side of the battery holder to the negative side of the first LED, so I was extra careful in not making that mistake again. Once I got the hang of it, it went okay but it didn’t look pretty from the right side.

I tried to cover up the messy parts with a bit of trim I found which was good since you can still see through it to see the lights. It still looks a little messy since I didn’t use a sewing machine to sew any part of it, but I thought it went okay since I hadn’t had any experience with sewable LEDs. I checked the connection with a sensor and it was completely connected everywhere. I had two purple LEDs and three blue and that was a bad combination since only the blue will light up. To fit it into the frame, I sanded down the sides of the inside that was cut from the frame a lot so the cloth would fit snugly without being too loose. This worked much better than the idea I previously had about cutting multiple different sizes of wood to see which would fit better. 

before sanding

after sanding

If I had more time, I probably would have figured out how to make a hinge and an easel back so it wouldn’t have to only stand upright, but I didn’t want to attempt this without a hinge because I didn’t want it to be stuck in the same position forever. I also probably won’t be using sewable LEDs in the future even though it is a cool technology, it’s a lot of work if you’re sewing multiple on there and the battery life is very short.

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Pom Pom Bot

Initial Conception

Last week when we started designing our bots, I just doodled a snowman (Christmas may still be on my mind) and thought that it would be interesting to make something that doesn’t have feet move. The most a snowman could do if they could move would be a waddle, so I tried to replicate that throughout this process. Here’s my initial design:


I thought at first that it would give better traction to have the propeller stand on popsicle sticks, but once I tried this the whole thing either collapsed or didn’t move at all. I also thought along with this original design that I could hollow out a pom pom to fit the motor inside of it. Once I got to constructing, this also fell apart since I realized pom poms aren’t that big nor is it possible to hollow one out. 


Initial Construction/Prototype

My first prototype was just the base of the bot with one motor that would be the primary movement and a ring of pom poms around the motor. I played around quite a lot here with the code to make it move the way I wanted. If the motor moved too fast or slow to go back to its original position, it would reverse the movement just made so I had to find the perfect delays and angles that the propeller would go to in order for it to move properly.–wSuuta6knbVUoLYBRcOx_N-NKa


As seen above, I just did random colored pom poms for my prototype since there weren’t many white ones and I wanted to save those for my final design. Moving on, I had to decide how I would build the base up with another motor and the pom poms surrounding the entire thing. Pom poms were working pretty well, I just had to be careful about my placement of them so they would not interrupt the movement. 


2nd Prototype 

Once I had the primary motor functioning properly, I had to add my second motor. I wanted it on top of the previous one since it would be the least likely to interrupt the movement of the base. I didn’t want to glue the motors together obviously, so I took some putty and sealed the two motors together temporarily. The code for the second motor was easier since it didn’t effect the movement of the entire bot too much, but there was still some playing around that took place in order for it to be correct. It looks a little spastic, but I had to program it a little strange so it wouldn’t hit the pom poms as much as it could have.

Overall, I was trying to create a snowman image with my additions. The motor ended up being a broom made out of pipe cleaners, and I experimented with adding more pom poms in order for it to appear like it had three tiers, each smaller than the last. 


Final Bot

After I had worked out the kinks with the code, my final bot design was focused on the look of it and how it moved with the extra weight on top. I got a bunch of white pom poms and hot glued them together to create the closest image of a snowman I could. I couldn’t glue the entire thing together, or else I thought I would damage the motors, so the top part is just stuck on top with some more putty and a paperclip as support. The bot definitely moved slower that it did without all the other additions, but it can still move from point a to point b – just a little slower than it did before. Overall, the final bot was not too different from my original concept, I just had to adapt to changes and be creative about fixing problems. While programming and crafting as not new to me separately, I had never done them together before which was a really interesting experience and it occurred to me just how much you can do with simple technologies like this. 


google drive link: 

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Arduino Intro

When I started thinking of ideas for this project, I thought about making a light that would automatically turn on when someone walked into a room. My original thought ended when I thought about the problems surrounding the room’s door – it would be too complicated to maneuver around the closing and opening of the door. So instead I though about creating a nightlight of sorts. I have problems sleeping sometimes so I thought that I could use Arduino to my advantage. The code and example I came up with is basically just fade with multiple LEDs in it. When the lights go off, the lights would fade in and out slowly to create a calming effect. 

Here’s my storyboard (excuse my horrible drawing abilities):


The Arduino professionals online said there was an easier way to create this code, but I just went the long way to understand it better. I didn’t get farther than the code for this project, unfortunately, but I would like to later on.

I do have a problem involving an end parenthesis that I can’t find out the problem to, but I hope that someone else will be able to look at it later and find out where I went wrong. Arduino is relatively easy for a beginner to use, but it still has some difficulties for people like me who are not experts at coding. Once the software becomes more familiar, I think I can get better without entirely relying on the Internet. 

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Sewing and Embroidery Project

I decided to do the fabric box ( for my project. Since it was a lot of fabric to use, I went to Joann over spring break and got various patterns to make the patchwork. Since my family doesn’t have a sewing machine, all I could do over break was the cut up the fabric and iron it down. The pattern called for 75 squares of fabric, but I ended up just making as much as I could with what I had. All in all, I think I cut about 100 squares and ironed all of them. I ironed the sides down to make it easier once I would be able to sew all the patches together and allow me to have a guideline for where to sew. 


The fabric swatches I picked.

The size each patch had to be, the dotted line showing where I needed to iron the flaps down.

Fabric piece after I had ironed down the sides.


After ironing, I couldn’t do anything until I got back to campus. On Sunday I sewed all the patches into rows, then sewed the rows together. I had to once again iron both sides of the rows once they were sewn together, otherwise it would have been very uneven. The rows alternate between eight full patches and seven and two half patches. Once it was all sewn together, I printed out the project pattern and lined it up so I could have templates to cut the sides. I hated cutting the entire patchwork because it felt like I was working backward. 


Rows after I had sewn the patches together.



I had to cut lining of the same size from the templates to sew to the patchwork. Before I did this, I did the embroidery on the front side of the box. I edited a photo of yarn I found online since I’m going to use this box to store yarn. 


This is mid-embroidery. The sides all looked similar to this – with many rows of patches sewn together to form a square.


Once the embroidery was done, I could sew all the linings on, then turn it inside out. I didn’t have enough lining of my own so I had to mix some colors. I had some plain white parts and some flowered patterns. With all the sides turned out, I could insert the interfacing (which is something called Peltex). This material was sturdy enough to allow the box to stand up and I only had to iron it for it to stick to the patchwork – Peltex was new to me for this project and the pattern called for a specific kind, but I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was. To construct the box, I had to sew the wrong side of the fabrics to the bottom. It sticks together with sewing at the bottom, and with velcro on the sides. The velcro I got was iron on, which after trying one with the recommended time of 90 seconds made it melt so much it didn’t stick properly, so I did the rest with around 60 seconds of heat. 


Box laying flat after I had sewn the sides to the bottom.

Finished product.


It turned out a little sloppier than I would have liked, but I think for my first major sewing project, it came out well. My one huge noticeable mistake was one of the linings inside – I didn’t sew it right, since I wanted the pattern to be facing the other way like it is on the other sides. It doesn’t bother me too much, but I think it would have looked better the way I intended. 

Even though it was a fairly rushed project, I still had a lot of fun doing this assignment and think that sewing is something I would pursue in the future. With more time, I think it would have been neater, but it will serve its purpose and I might eventually make a lid for it as a side project.  

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3D Printing Project

For my 3D printing project, I decided to follow prompt two and picked an item from my heritage. I have had this doll for a couple of years since my great aunt gave me something that my grandpa had bought it Europe. During the 50s, my grandpa was stationed in Germany and everywhere he traveled, he sent dolls to his sister. I received this one, that was from Switzerland.

I wanted to use this item because it’s an item from my heritage and my relatives that meant a lot to my great aunt. I wanted to keep the doll similar to what she normally looks like, but just make some adjustments to modernize her a little. Once I scanned her, I realized that this would be more difficult than I had intended. The scanner did not capture the details that I wanted it to, especially her face. It got the fold of her clothes and hair pretty well, which are items that I spent a lot of time on later modifying. When I got my scan into Meshmixer, there were a lot of immediate problems that had to be worked out. First, since the doll is on a stand, I had to edit it out, which was especially difficult around her legs. Her legs were the most difficult thing to edit, and I ended up deleting most of them since I felt the more I attempted to fix it, the worse it became. Another detail that was erased was the doll’s hands – I scanned her many times in different positions, but the hands always came out like blobs. I ended up finding hands on Tinkercad and Meshmixer which worked well for the doll. 

Designs I used for my model on Tinkercad.

Editing was the hardest part of this project by far. I was way out of my element doing this very detailed editing and spent hours making very simple and small changes. I ended up downloading Meshmixer on my computer so I could work on it outside of lab hours. The first thing I changed was the hands, which were clearly absent from my scan. The one that was on Tinkercad was incredibly detailed, so I reduced the points on that a lot. It took a while to change them so they were of equal size and placement. I also had to make sure they were in the correct spot – so that they could be seen on the model, but not sticking out so much that they wouldn’t be supported. I ended up cutting the thumbs off of the hands and making them a separate aspect so I could get the configuration right. The second thing I changed were the shoes – the feet and legs were disastrous from start to finish – no matter what I did, they were unrealistic looking and always hideous. I found a Converse shoe on Tinkercad, which I had to mirror and fit onto each foot of the doll. Converse are the shoes I wear all the time, so I felt this was an accurate representation of me. Once the shoes were in the right place, I realized I could get rid of most of the feet that were causing me trouble. Because of the position of the stand, I had to edit the legs individually so the inspector tool would understand that I wanted each leg separate instead of together, like it kept doing. That alone took quite a while because no tool was the right thing I was looking for. And because of the heavy editing of the legs, the bottom of the skirt took a lot of damage and I had to repair that. This was easier that the legs because of the flatten tool. 

I did various editing all around the doll, particularly on the sleeves and stomach to make it more natural looking. The other edit I took a while with was the hair. The original doll has her hair mostly in a bun on her head and it’s very short. To make it seem more like mine, I used the inflate tool all around her head and neck to make it look more like natural hair.

I made these changes to make a small representation of me in an item from my heritage. It was interesting to find aspects about yourself and incorporate them into something familiar, but I learned from this project that 3D printing is not my thing. It’s an incredibly interesting concept and technology and the fact that so many people get to show their creative side on places like Tinkercad is unbelievable. But I was out of my element for this project and spent hours agonizing over simple decisions to make. I’m not one to focus on details, nor to get artsy with something and I think this project proved that. Using very detail-oriented software like Meshmixer was really hard for me and I felt that I could have done a better job if I had a lot of help from people more comfortable with the software. 

I ended up printing my model much smaller than the actual doll since I didn’t want focus to go to the problem areas. I had a lot of problems that I spent a while fixing – so while it was interesting to get to work with 3D printers for the first time, I was not in my comfort zone. 

Final Print.

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Copper Circuit Lab

The first two circuits I created were started in lab. The simple one didn’t take long – the most difficult thing I found was practicing looping the wire over and under so it would be conductive as possible.

It was also hard to learn how to successfully connect the copper wire to the LED. On this example, I had to put pressure on the negative side of the LED for it to work most of the time. But this was an issue I would fix later on.

For my first picture, I used a quote that I found during lab last week. I connected the positives and negatives together, then connected it like the first circuit.

I had to tape down the sides of the LEDs so it would light up properly. There must be pressure on the battery so I made the placement of the quote line up with the word light.

For my 3D card, I wanted to do origami but I set up the circuits first. Since there were three LEDs I had to plan it out for a while then connect the wires and LEDs. I connected the positives to negatives again, but it looked a lot less organized than my previous one.

The origami was pretty simple, but it took some planning to decide what size would fit properly on the size I had allotted. I ended up cutting a 6x6in piece of origami paper twice to make the right size. In the end, I made 24 pieces for all the flowers. Once I had made them all, I glued the sides together then taped the flower on the paper. They fit perfectly in the middle of the LEDs which is what I wanted from the beginning.

To finish, I cut another piece of paper and glued it over the battery, so there’s only a little pressure needed for it to light up.

It’s hard to get a picture with all the lights facing straight towards the camera, but they all properly lit – there were no troubles with the circuit on this one, so practice definitely helped.

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Sticker Assignment

  1. Griffin Sticker

For my griffin sticker I did my best to pay homage to the cat dog cartoon that was on in the 90s. I had some problems with the nodes and lining the bodies up right, but I liked how it turned out.

2. For my logo based sticker, I decided to make a sticker for one of my clubs. We’ve been planning on making stickers for a while, and I thought now would be a good time to start the process. In the future, we plan to make more in different designs and sizes, but I started off simple for now.

I made two copies of the design, deleted the nodes from the quill and words respectively, and set up the design so the background, words, and quill would all be different colors. Once it was printed, it was hard to get the words off without ruining the arrangement, but it turned out okay in the end.

3. For my complex sticker, I made a doodle I drew into a sticker. I found a small globe online, as well as the magnifying glass, and fit it into the middle of the circle. The quote is from one of my favorite movies. The words were again hard to paste on since they were so tiny, and they ended up a little crooked.

Overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, especially with the size of the circles fitting really well, and how the details of the land came out.

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The storyboard idea we came up with in class was about having an interactive piece of technology to help students studying. I drew elementary school students and their professor struggling to teach them. Once an interactive skeleton becomes available, the students are able to more adequately learn and succeed.

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Laser Name Tag

Design Process

My initial design we did two weeks ago was a little too simple and small – it was mostly a result of me learning to play with Inkscape. While I was trying to come up with an idea for my final name tag, I was playing with the 3D shape maker and ended up making this random shape:

Once it was on the screen, I thought it would be really cool to print with the two sided acrylic. Since the 3D shape was gradient, I thought it would be interesting to see that in effect on acrylic. The 3D tool on Inkscape was a little difficult to perfect, so I ended up having my red vector line on the inside of my design so it would cut out the parts I wasn’t happy with. Overall, I wanted my nametag to be fairly simple so I could use anywhere – at work, at lab, or in the future.

Once it was in the printer, I was really excited that it had worked. The texture on it is very interesting, and there is a slight gradient to the acrylic. Then all I had to do was attach a magnet on the back of it. I really like my nametag, its design, and sturdiness. It’s simplicity will allow me to use it in the future.

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