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

Author Archive

Final Project: Slide Puzzle

For my final project I made a slide puzzle utilizing my own artwork. The inspiration for it was that I wanted to meld my love for both games and art into one project and the slide puzzle to me felt like a good mix of those two interests.

Question 1:

            The first thing I started doing was the artwork in the center of the piece. This led to my first challenge, getting out of my art funk. I went through at least 3 different ideas for the art before I settled on the final piece. Once I finished the project the artwork is what I feel the most proud of. Both the line art and the finished art can be seen below.

            Then I moved onto the sliding pieces and the overall frame. This ended up being quite easy to do since I found a simple Instructable online to help me. Check it out here:

The primary challenge in this build process is dealing with the material I ended up using. Initially I wanted to make the frame out of something like wood or acrylic (acrylic being my number 1 choice), however due to the time spent on the artwork I needed to downgrade to cardboard. The challenge from this was dealing with the difficulty of sliding as well as the inaccuracy of my own cutting. Some of the process can be seen below (The last picture is after the presentation)


Question 2:

 I want to get used to utilizing the poster printer.

            For the most part I met this goal as it was simply learning to work with a piece of equipment. However in future uses of this machine I should look to explore different types of paper to see how it might change the final product. I also gained some more experience converting between different file types and formatting things for a poster printing, which is small but still useful.


I want to challenge myself by combining my passion for both games and art into one interactive art piece. 

            By just executing my project I feel like I met this goal as I made something that leveraged my love for art and made something that is playful and somewhat game like. Reflecting on this learning goal I could have taken the project one further and made a slide puzzle that had multiple different correct configurations. Additionally if I had the time I might have crafted something that allowed me to switch out puzzles making one harder than the other. This would allow for a sense of progression to the person playing with the puzzle much similar to a traditional video game. This goal in particular allowed me to learn how to meld different mediums in a way that highlights both of them.


I also want to challenge myself by making a piece with a lot of moving parts, in contrast to my other projects that are primarily stationary parts.

            This was the learning goal that I wanted to meet the most, as it was something that none of my previous projects were able to do, except for the Pom Bot. For the most part I was able to accomplish this as the slide puzzle actually slid, however if I had enough time to laser cut pieces it likely would have slide even better.  Ultimately I am still happy with my final project, however as I mentioned before I do regret not having the time to make even better.


Question 3:

            A common theme throughout many of my write-ups is time management. Throughout these projects I don’t think I’ve gotten better at managing my time making, however I feel like I have gotten better at dealing with the consequences of it. Mainly how as the semester went on the less and less time I actually had to work on these maker projects, however even with the lack of physical time, I was still able to make projects that at the very least got close to my intended vision.


Question 4:

            While it didn’t really change my thinking, this course helped reinforce the idea of iteration, which is something that has been highlighted within my own major LES: DELTA and is something that is necessary within my intended career of game development. Many of the projects throughout the semester required me to go back to the drawing board and having multiple different ideas to work off of made things go a lot smoother.

At the beginning of the semester I didn’t really think of myself as a maker mainly because I just didn’t feel very comfortable using many of the things that are associated with making. However after many of the things discussed during lecture made me see how making can take many different forms and it doesn’t have to just be about laser cutting or 3D printing. As a result now I relate a little bit closer to being a maker since I can see my own interests being a part of it.



Continue Reading

Pom Bots!

Initial Idea: My initial idea was to make a caterpillar like bot that moves by rapidly shaking back and forth. The design can be seen below.

In terms of materials I wanted to use pipe cleaners for the bottom so it could grip onto the table and move. Then I would use paper, popsicle sticks and balls of fluff to make the remainder of the body. 

Prototype: Before I started creating the the entire design I wanted to make a smaller prototype to test if the movement I want actually worked.


As can be seen in the video the bot did in fact move, technically. It was able to shimmy across the table ever so slightly. Even though my concept would technically work, I decided to try a completely different approach to the pom bot entirely since I wanted the bot to move in a more fluid way. I also found that in terms of code this prototype would only move if the motor was programed to run at a fast speed, with this in mind I also wanted to make the next prototype able to move with a lower motor speed.

2nd Prototype: Instead of making the bot more box shaped like my initial design, I made it lanky and upright so I could attach the motor right side up instead of outside down like the first prototype. Also unlike the first prototype I also worked to make the bot more aesthetically pleasing by making it colorful. This new design can be seen below.

To my surprise this bot worked much better than my first prototype and was able to move at a variety of motor speeds. The only issues I ended up running into with this prototype was legs becoming separated from the motor, to help mitigate this I wrapped a pipe cleaner around the servo motor itself to keep the legs close to the motor even if they fell off of the propeller. The bot in action can be seen below.


Comparing this version to the first prototype, it is easy to see that the movement is much smoother. With this in mind I felt that overall this design was pretty close to where I wanted the final product, the only improvements I wanted to explore was making the legs more stable and find a way to get the feet to not cross over each other as much.

Final Pom Bot:

I unfortunately did not have the time to completely finish the idea of my final pom bot. However, I do have an image of how I would have gone about stabilizing the feet.

While I didn’t get to test this with the motor, I feel like having one or two piper cleaners attached to the feet would help make the bot shake less violently, which would also help in keeping the bot together.

In terms of the locomotion the first  bot just kinda spun in place and slightly shimmied forward, whereas the final bot actually moved forward with a very janky form of walking. 

I was surprised how I made a pretty specific drawn concept, however once I actually got the hardware and started working on it I quickly threw out my initial idea and designed something very different. With this in mind for future projects, I should create more than just one initial idea so I have more to work off of if one of the ideas doesn’t pan out. 


Continue Reading

Arduino Introduction Assignment

At the beginning of the assignment I wanted to make some kind of arduino using a motor as the output. My first idea that I wanted to try was using a touch sensor to control the speed of the motor. This theoretically would allow you to change the speed of the motor based on how hard you press the sensor. This gave me the idea of having a touch controlled handheld fan. To do this I looked at the touch sensor lab example we looked at in lab and tried to translate it into the motion of the motor. The initial code I tried is below.   

Unfortunately, this code didn’t work out as I expected it to, being that the motor would rotate fully after touching the sensor. Instead what had happened was the motor would move slightly and move back to it’s original position, as if the motor was just twitching. As a result of this I tested out the base code for running my motor to see if the code just didn’t work, which ended up being the case. After this I decided to look up how the control a motor with an arduino again, to see if I could find a different resource that could help me. After searching through youtube, I found some code that could help me, the modified code can be seen below.


Instead of spinning the motor like I wanted initially this code made the motor spin back and forth, the video below displays this movement.


While not inline with me initial idea, it did give me a new idea. The movement reminded me of the scrubbing and cleaning. With that in mind my finished idea was to use a button to control a motor that would be attached to an arm with some kind of sponge or cleaning rag that would allow for the cleaning of surfaces without much human effort; as the storyboard below illustrates.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to create an Arduino with both the button and the motor working together. Because of this if I did this project again I would like to give myself more time so I can actually test out a finished project so I can see how and if it works the way I want it to. Another thing I learned is that you need to be very specific when it comes to Arduino, as I stated before I had some trouble getting the motor to work, this was partially do to the code not being perfectly suited for the motor I had. If I had looked up the specific motor from the very beginning I likely would have saved myself a lot of time.

Outside of the issues I had, this project did let me see how an Arduino can be used to make different kinds of contraptions, theoretically. In my case it was an automated window cleaner and I’m interested to see what ideas my classmates had with their own Arduinos.    



Continue Reading

Textiles Assignment

Motivation: So my initial motivation for choosing my textile was it’s simplicity since I’m not very comfortable with textiles in general. Additionally I have a dog of my own so the shiba cube plushie was a pretty perfect fit as it was rather simple, while also connecting to something I care about.


Build Process: The first decision I made in my build process was determining my materials and more specifically what colors to choose. The template suggested brownish and cream colors to mirror that of a shiba, however I decided to substitute the brown color for a black color. I did this to reflect the dog that I have, that being a husky. While not being a perfect comparison, by using black I was able to make the plush look a bit closer to my own dog.

The next decision I made was to use embroidery for the face instead of using fabric. Once again I used colors to reflect the colors of a husky, e.g blue eyes. 

Outside of these decisions the rest of the build process was rather straight forward as I simply followed the directions step by step. This can be highlighted by the images below. 

Reflection: I think the biggest thing I learned from this assignment is that sewing is a difficult process. This difficulty can be seen within my finished product, the biggest being that I accidentally sewed it together in a way that forced the ears to end up inside the plushie instead of on the outside. Because of this in the future I really need to plan out how the final product with look if I sew in a certain way, if I did this I likely would have realized how my stitch would have forced the ears to be out of place. Ultimately, I think a lot of my sloppiness on this assignment is due to my lack of experience with sewing in general and with more practice I hopefully would be able to make a more polished final product.

Continue Reading

Mikey Dentino 3D Print Assignment

Motivation: I do a lot of digital art and as such I own a drawing tablet. However, I problem I had recently is I lost the holder for my pen. This means that most of the time my tablet pen is just sitting free on my table, which occasionally means I knock it onto the floor. Because of this I wanted to make a simple holder for my pen.


Build Process: I started by making a few 3D models in TinkerCAD, which can be seen below. 


While most pen holders orient the pen vertically, my designs revolve around holding the pen horizontally, I did this primarily because I wanted to make a holder that differed from the one i initially had. Out of these three designs I ultimately decided to go with the pyramid-shaped one. After I settled on this general design I wanted to make sure it’s dimensions would actually fit my pen, which to my surprise the measurements of the original design ended up being nearly perfect. 

After finishing the designs I went in to print out my object. The my initial print failed, the PLA was oddly bunching up on the printing nozzle, so we cleaned off the nozzle and started the print over again. The second time printing went smoothly and I was surprised the printer was able to accurately reproduce my model, specifically how well the semi-spheres on the corners turned out. The finished product can be seen below. (Ignore my mouse pad…you’re not a loser.)

Reflection: The design of my models was interesting as I had to keep in mind what the printer was capable of printing, which meant I had to adjust my designs accordingly. I also learned I to always double check the machine before printing, which would help me avoid the strange issue I ran into.

Even though my model turned out how I wanted it to and functions properly liked, if I had the time I would have liked to explore making the design slightly larger or even modifying the angle the pen was held. Also I fell like I played it pretty safe with my design as i picked a model that I was pretty positive would print with no issue. With this in mind maybe in the future I might try and test out designs that might not be able to print so I can better understand the limitations of 3D printing. 


Continue Reading

Mikey Dentino Copper Tape Assignment

Inspiration: My inspiration for this project was once again video games. I decided to base my design around the famous quote from Legend of Zelda “It is dangerous to go alone, take this”. Furthermore I loosely modeled my piece around the cave you get your sword in the very first Legend of Zelda game.

Build Process: My build process was tricky at first but I slowly figured it out as I progressed. My initial idea was to have two red lights behind a piece of paper to roughly simulate the light of a flame. To do this at first i setup the circuit as seen below.

While the circuit worked properly, I failed to take into account that I wanted the lights to be pointing up and on a wall. Every time I tried setting it up with the circuit in this fashion caused the lights to turn off because the battery would slide out of place. To fix this I first rough out my overall scene and then translated the circuit to that new shape.

After I fixed this problem the rest of the build process went quite smoothly. I folded another piece of white paper over the circuits to create the flame light effect of the lights. After that I created a small sword out of construction paper and made another circuit on the flat sheet of construction paper using one light and a switch. The final product with the light on and and off can be seen below.

Reflection: Overall I think the piece turned out pretty well. Through the build process I learned i should test out my final product shape first before I start building because in this instance I had to almost completely redo my circuit because I didn’t take the final shape into account. Also In terms of what I’d do differently in this project specifically is find a darker color paper for the walls to make the light stand out even more and to reflect the scene that inspired me more closely.

Continue Reading

Mikey Dentino Layered Sticker

Motivation: I knew at the very beginning of the assignment that I wanted to draw my own design. I didn’t have a solid idea of what I wanted, but I ended up going with a cute design involving pancakes. The initial sketch can be seen below.

Build Process: I took this sketch and polished the line art and laid out how the sticker would eventually look. This can be seen in the below image.

While I would have loved to make a version that was fully shaded, I went with more simplistic coloring. The reason I did this is because I didn’t want to have a sticker with a ridiculous amount of layers and because I wanted to keep in mind that the selection of vinyl colors would be somewhat limited.

I then transferred this design into Inkscape to separate into separate layers for the sticker. Unlike the last project I had little problem getting my desired image to transfer into Inkscape bitmapping. I made the bitmaps the same general shape to make it easier for me to keep track of and at the end made it far simpler putting the sticker together. The bitmaps can be seen in the below image.

The only big-ish issue I had during the whole assignment was during printing, where on fortunately a small portion of my sticker was cut off. So in the future I should try to be more careful with laying out my vinyl and finding vinyl squares that aren’t irregularly shaped, which was my main problem. However the cut off portion didn’t have a meaningful impact on the overall piece.

The only other problem I had was not having the layers placed perfectly on top of each other so there is some bleed over of other colors. However, being a human made it hard to lay everything perfectly. Thankfully this bleed over doesn’t ruin the design and in my mind the sticker looks how I wanted it too. The final sticker can be seen below.

Reflection: Overall I really enjoyed the process of this assignment as it let me go off in whatever direction I wanted. If I make another layered sticker I might look into doing designs with more shading, which might require me to go out and find an even wider selection of vinyl colors I had for this project. Lastly in the future just keeping in mind any printing errors that might come up so the final product isn’t affected at all.

Continue Reading


For my storyboard or group decided on doing a touch screen cutting board. The cutting board would have recipes built in as well as having video overlays to help you cut things correctly without having move your eyes over to a different screen. In class I only got to setting up the problem, what I added was how the touch screen cutting board works.

Continue Reading

Mikey Dentino Laser Name Tag

Motivation: My primary motivation for the design of my name tag was that I wanted to reflect my love for video games. Because of this I thought what better character to use than Kirby, which was the first game series I ever played.

Build Process: I got my initial concept pretty quickly, so I first went into ClipStudioPaint (An art program I regularly use) and made the following image.

The font I used was a font similar to the one used in the Kirby games so it could fit the overall theme of the peice.

After I created this outline I went into Inkscape to format it for the laser cutter. I ran into a couple issues while doing this, because initially what I wanted to do was to have the name tag in the shape of Kirby’s outline. However after almost an hour of struggling in Inkscape I decided to change the shape of the name tag to an oval. The shape can be seen below.

After I cut out the wood I knew I wanted to add some kind of fluff or fuzz to the hat, to reflect how it looks in the game. As you can see I ended up taking a small ball of fluff and glued it to the wood where the end of the hat would be. I also tried adding fluff to other parts of the hat, however when i laid it out it ended up covering up parts of my name. The only problem I ended up having was I might have applied too much glue since the fluff ball in my final product isn’t as fluffy as I would have ultimately liked it. I thought the name tag still looked kinda of bland so I ended up adding color to make the name tag pop out more. This can be seen in the final product below.

I decided to make the oval completely black since I wanted the focus of the name tag to be on the sleepy Kirby. Finally I used some colored pencil to add color to Kirby, reflecting his in game colors as closely as I could. Unfortunately I had a few mishaps during this process as you can see with small smudge outside one of the eyes and some ink bleeding out of the letters.

Reflection: Overall I’m happy with how my name tag turned out even though it deviated slightly from my original idea. In the future I want to prevent little mishaps like the ink smudging, potentially by using pencil throughout or trying out paint. Also I might be interesting to look into other ways to adhere different materials together.

Continue Reading