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

Author Archive

Final Project

Question 1:

For the final project, I created a press-fit constellations box powered by wireless inductive coils.

Initially, I intended for the box to be powered by a solar panel circuit. But along the way I ran into some revelations and restrictions that led me to replace the intended solar panel circuit for a wireless inductive coil circuit.

I used an online press-fit box generator to get the 5×5 box I envisioned and I imported an image of the sky into Inkscape to begin working on my design. I attempted to change the image to a vector image by tracing the bitmap but the vector image was choppy. Therefore, I opted to manually create each element of the image one at a time, from the stars to the lines of the constellations. I created the stars in the sky using the circle tool and the star tool in Inkscape. I used the pen tool to create the lines of the constellations. My main goal was to make sure the majority of the constellations would allow for light to pass through so that the constellations could be seen in the dark. For the lines of the constellations, I converted the stroke to a path, and removed the fill to give it a 0.001 inch outline, therefore creating a thicker line to be vectored.

This process took an insane amount of time because I wanted to really get the design right. I felt pretty comfortable on Inkscape, but there was still a lot of features in the program that were unknown to me so I was learning as I was designing. There was a lot of back in forth in designing.

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Overall, I was really happy with how the box and design turned out.

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Question 2:

My learning goals were to (1) challenge myself by learning and integrating wireless inductive coils into my design and the all the components needed to create the circuit because I was never really knowledgeable or comfortable with circuits before, and (2) to extensively plan out each of my steps before I started the project because I’ve found that I usually just throw myself into the assignments without thinking through all the factors and outcome.

For the first goal, I hoped to create a successful circuit that could power my constellation box. I was pretty much clueless on wireless inductive coils so I did a bit of research to find sources so that I could get a better grasp of all the components and functions. I read a few Instructables, blogs, and watched a few videos. I essentially followed the circuit diagram off of https://learn.adafruit.com/wireless-inductive-power-night-light?view=all and the circuit was successful. Before, I was a bit intimidated by circuits, but now I feel a lot more comfortable working with them.

As for the second goal, I really tried to hold myself to the goal. I created a step-by-step list for myself so that I could try to plan out all the components I would need beforehand. I found it helpful in the beginning but realized as I really started getting to work on the project, a lot of factors were shifting and at a certain point my step-by-step list kind of fell apart. But I still believe writing out the steps of a project is really helpful. It got me to really think about the logistics and design of the box in respect to the circuit as a cohesive piece, rather than the two as separate projects that needed to somehow come together in the end.

Question 3:

I’ve learned a lot in this project and the course. Often times, I got really frustrated when something would go wrong in an assignment. I would end up spending more time than I anticipated in order to fix the issue or coming up with an alternative. I treated arising issues as a barrier rather than an inevitable part of the process. I’ve always considered myself a good problem-solver, but I was never very comfortable when I ran into one. I think now, I have a much better approach to problems. I’m less emotional about them and more productive. I tackle the issues head-on.

Question(s) 4:

As an advertising major, I always saw myself as a strategist. To be fair, I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I’ve always been drawn to the duality of the profession. Analytic and Creative. This course allowed for me to experience with different mediums (almost all that were new to me) and I think it sparked the creative side of myself. I would consider myself a maker. To me, a maker is anyone who devotes their time and their craft to create something. Making is collaborative, challenging, rewarding and unlimited.

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Iteration Assignment

For the iteration project, I drew inspiration from my name tag assignment and the Arduino labs. My name tag had a few elements that I wanted to expand on: the use of black tinted transparent acrylic and the skyline design. Initially, my concept was just to recreate the Sydney skyline and create a backdrop that would allow for LED lights to twinkle through by vectoring holes.

A really rough concept drawing.

As my first step, I began to look up landmark silhouettes on Google, I decided to make a worldwide skyline, picking landmarks and buildings of cities I’ve visited. I ended up with 21 separate pieces total. I wanted to create conformity so I took a bit of time to selecting varying silhouette shapes that weren’t too contrasting in detail from one another.

After choosing the images, I moved over to editing on Inkscape. I had to do a lot of tedious, repetitive editing in order to get the pieces to be vectored and rastored in the way I envisioned. When I selected the images to be vectored, they had defaulted to vector every white space, which was not what I wanted because there were a lot of white space and a lot of these spaces were extremely small. To fix this, I filled in each white space to have a copy of the details, deleted all the path nodes inside each image (in order for the vector to stay within the outside of each silhouette), then placed the filled white space back onto the image. This took a while, and there was a lot of tinkering involved.

Then, I started creating 3mm tabs to create the interactive feature in the iteration project. Essentially, I wanted to let people move around each piece however they wanted. I unified 3mm tabs to each of the 21 pieces and created 5 3mm holes within the base piece.

As well, I tried to create the press-box effect so that the top piece and the base piece of my project would hold together but something went wrong (I think it might’ve been that I had to print the two pieces separately and on different machines) and the tabs didn’t align so I just ended up using one of the 5 4mm hole I created for the 21 pieces as a way to hold up the backdrop, so it ended up working out.

The laser cutting and engraving went pretty well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t black tinted transparent acrylic so I opted for the clear acrylic.

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My hand for scale.

The LED lights were pretty simple because we had worked with Arduino in class. I used the ‘Fade’ code in the program to achieve the twinkle effect I was going for. The LEDs fit perfectly within the star cutouts in the acrylic so that was nice.

The lab was a bit bright but you can see the bulbs light up.

Peep the fact that the press-fit effect did not work.

Overall, I’m really happy with the final product. I think it looks super cool and reflects the time and effort I put into the assignment. Initially, I designed the concept with black tinted transparent acrylic so that the wires and bulbs aren’t obnoxiously visible, but I don’t mind the outcome. If I had to improve on anything, I would fix the backdrop pieces so that they could successfully achieve the press-fit effect.

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This video shows all the components of the project: IMG_2192

 

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Locomoting Pom Pom Bot Assignment

For this week’s assignment, we worked with Arduino to create locomotive pom pom robots.

In lab, we explored servo motors and played around with the servo example sweep code. We added a second servo and tinkered the code to gain a better understanding of the operations. We had a few minutes to change the delay, angles, and positions.

After, I sketched a rough concept of my locomotive pom pom bot. My idea was inspired by the way penguins move; they waddle. To mimic the movement, I played around with angles and started off with two sweeping 90 degree angles to act as the feet.

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Initially, I thought I would make my pom pom robot out of a bunch of pom poms but ended up using foam because I needed a more stable overall structure. Instead of cutting and crafting the parts of a penguin, I decided to origami fold one. I had to super clue the folds down because I was using a thicker material. Then I fashioned platforms to which I would connect the penguin to the servo motors using popsicle sticks. And taped around the servo motors to the popsicle sticks to be positioned on the ground surface.

The initial construction of the pom pom bot had difficulty moving because the way base structure of the foam restricted flexibility in movement. Therefore, I had to do a bit of tinkering of the prototype. I cut the tail of the penguin down the middle to allow for better mobility. Therefore, the servo motors could begin to movie from A to B at 90 degree angles.

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After, I just had to adjust the positioning of the servo motors because they were at an angle of each other, rather than parallel. As well, I had to tinker the code in order to get the servo motors to move in the same direction if I had flipped the motor in order for the servos to be positioned with the rotating bit on the outside of the bot. This was the final code:

Servo myservo; 

Servo myservo2;

int pos = 0;    // variable to store the servo position

void setup() {

  myservo.attach(9);  // attaches the servo on pin 9 to the servo object

  myservo2.attach(11);

}

void loop() {

  for (pos = 0; pos <= 90; pos += 5) {    

    myservo.write(pos);           

    delay(15);                   

  }

  for (pos = 90; pos >= 0; pos -= 5) {

    myservo.write(pos);         

    delay(15);                 

  }

  //second servo

    for (pos = 90; pos >= 0; pos -= 5) { 

    myservo2.write(pos); 

    delay(15);                 

  }

  for (pos = 0; pos <= 90; pos += 5) { 

    myservo2.write(pos);         

    delay(15);                 

  }

  }

I tested the bot once more and found that it waddled exactly how I wanted, which I was really content with. I added a few decorative features, and I would actually say that even though it wasn’t a drastic change, it seemed to slow the bot down a bit. But it still moves from A to B. If I had to redo the assignment, I think I would elongate the connections of the rotating bits of the servo motor  in order to get the penguin possibly to move in longer strides and to essentially mimic the feet of penguins, and then probably design it in some way so that it looks like so.

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Arduino Assignment

This week, we explored the program Arduino with resistors, an LED, breadboards, and Arduino Uno boards. In lab, we followed a straightforward step-by-step presentation in order to get the program and hardware to perform blinking. Then, we added aluminum foil to create a touch sensor and played around with resistance by manipulating the code.

For the device of my own, I wanted to create something for my dog to alert someone at home if he wants to come upstairs. At home, we gate off the upstairs in the daytime because there’s been few times that he’s run up with muddy feet. His bed is upstairs, so he is only allowed when he’s clean. My dog is really silent and often times he just waits there patiently.

Initially, I was expecting to use the joystick as the input, that if my dog were to bump his nose on it, a buzzer would sound. But when I got to lab, there weren’t any joysticks available. So I opted for a push button. At first, I set up all the hardware and software to perform a push button input for an LED output. Then I began to switch out and change the set up to accommodate for the buzzer. I took a look at two different working codes and began to intertwine them:

void setup() {

  // initialize the LED pin as an output:

  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);

  // initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:

  pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);

}

void loop() {

  // read the state of the pushbutton value:

  buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);

  // check if the pushbutton is pressed. If it is, the buttonState is HIGH:

  if (buttonState == HIGH) {

    // turn LED on:

    digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);

  } else {

    // turn LED off:

    digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);

  }

}

int buzzer = 8 ;

void setup ()

{

  pinMode (buzzer, OUTPUT) ;

}

void loop ()

{

  unsigned char i, j ;

  while (1)

  {

    for (i = 0; i <80; i++) // When a frequency sound

    {

      digitalWrite (buzzer, HIGH) ; //send tone

      delay (1) ;

      digitalWrite (buzzer, LOW) ; //no tone

      delay (1) ;

    }

    for (i = 0; i <100; i++) 

    {

      digitalWrite (buzzer, HIGH) ;

      delay (2) ;

      digitalWrite (buzzer, LOW) ;

      delay (2) ;

    }

  }

}


I had to do a lot of testing of different codes and a lot of research online before I could get it to work. I watched a really helpful tutorial and had to do a few minor adjustments because the breadboard I was using was much smaller than in the tutorial. The buzzer was a lot quieter, but overall I’m satisfied with the process and the result.

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Sewing and Digital Embroidery Assignment

In lab, we learned how to use a sewing machine the first week and we all made small drawstring bags. We cut our fabrics, and followed sewing instructions step-by-step. I have never used a sewing machine before, but I have sewed by hand so I found it easy after initially learning how each part of the machine worked.

The following week, we learned how to create a digital embroidery design using Inkscape by manipulating an image using trace bitmap, break apart, ungroup, and path difference. Then, importing that file to PEDesign and manipulating the design there on the program. The machine automatically began to sew the layers of the design. I chose the Batman symbol as my design because that is my dog’s namesake.

For the final assignment. I chose to make the sloth plushie. I went to JoAnn’s to buy two different fabrics (a thin beige color for the claws and a softer, thicker, and dense light brown for the rest of the sloth), as well as velcro. I cut out all the individual pieces. After, I started to sew the claws of the sloth to one another. I stuck the velcro to the paws. That is when I ran into my first issue. The instructions stated to sew over the velcro in order to secure the material further and create top stitching, but as I did so, my sewing machine abruptly stopped. That is when I realized that the needle started to become sticky after sewing through the velcro. Thus, I decided to skip sewing through the velcro for the remaining claws. I sewed the arms together and connected the claws to all the limbs. Because of the way that arms were angled, I ended up sewing some of the fabric inside out.

After a bit of practice, I began to understand the approach to sewing things inside out in order for the stitching and any fabric misalignment to be hidden nicely. I sewed the body together and then the arms within the body. I followed the steps fairly easily up to this point.

There were points where the thread bunched up at the bottom of the fabric and the needle got stuck. At first I thought it was the fabric I chose because it was thicker and more dense than standard. But after resetting the bobbin thread and the main thread multiple times I found out it was because of the tension.

When I got back to campus, I designed my embroidery image in Inkscape, imported the design to PEDesign, and sent it the the sewing machine. After setting up the machine, I was good to go. The image came out decently, though I do think if I used different colors for the thread, the image could be better aesthetically.

I sewed the head together and to the body. I had accidentally sewed on the head completely inside out, because I was really disoriented. I had  to rip the seems completely, which was frustrating and difficult because the fabric was thick and fluffy that I couldn’t find the thread to rip, and the fabric was also quite dense. I found myself accidentally ripping holes into fabric. Therefore, when I reoriented myself and figured out the correct way to sew on the head, I had to take in more fabric in order to sew past the holes I had made. The sloth looks a bit like a peanut since there doesn’t seem to be a neck. I found myself going off the instructions in order to fix the mistakes I made along the way. The instructions called for the arms to be sewed by the neck and I found that to look a bit odd, but just went with it. If I could redo it, I think I would go off of the instructions a bit just for preference. I finished the plushie by filling it with stuffing, and hand sewing holes that I couldn’t fix with a sewing machine. All in all, I’m really happy with the turnout.

He looks like a peanut.

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3D Print Assignment

For the 3d print scanning assignment, we used TinkerCAD to create an alien by playing around with the tools and features in the program and then transferring the file to MeshMixer where we played around with the tools and features there like the sculpting tool.

In the second lab, we used iSense scanners and the XBOX connect to scan objects and ourselves. Then, we took those files and played around with the scan on MeshMixer in order to become more familiar with the program and its capabilities like inspector, where we were able to identify and fill the holes that our scans picked up.

For the final assignment, I chose the prompt that aimed to create a 3d print of a famous painting. I chose René Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images” (1929) painting. It is a pretty straight-forward painting with a large pipe at the forefront and a cursive styled font with the French words: “ceci n’est pas une pipe” centered under the pipe, which translates to “this is not a pipe.” The oil on canvas emphasizes the gap between language and meaning. The painting itself is not a pipe, it is only a representation of a pipe. Magritte explained it best himself: “The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”

First, I created a platform as the background of the painting on TinkerCAD and found a similar style font on the program. This was fairly easy. The next step was to get my hands on a pipe in order to scan the object for the assignment. I went out and bought a costume prop pipe at a costume store. It wasn’t exactly shaped as the pipe in the painting, but it closely resembled it. As long as you could tell it was a pipe, I was happy. 

The base.

Isn’t she cute?

After, I was able to scan the pipe with the iSense scanners. This was a bit difficult because the pipe could only lie down horizontally and the scan ended up picking up the entire stool. Luckily, I figured out how to quickly get rid of parts of the scan I didn’t need on MeshMixer. Then I ran into another issue. There were a few holes in my scan. The auto fill didn’t really suffice to keep the shape of the pipe so I mirrored the image. Although the base of the pipe looked great, the tail of the pipe completely disappeared. Luckily, I remembered the sculpt tool and was able to draw the tail.

An unsatisfying auto fill.

Mirroring the object.

The tail disappeared.

Then, came another problem. I the hole in the base of the pipe was pretty bad. I couldn’t find a tool in MeshMixer to hollow/refine the hole or a feature that might be able to invert a cylinder to create a hole. I asked a Fablab member for help and they suggested using the program Fusion 360. This was really difficult to navigate because I had no familiarity with the program and a lot of the tools and features used language that I was not familiar with. With the help of the Fablab members I was able to place a cylinder and create a hole through the shape at the center of the base of the pipe to make a really clean hole.

A pipe of many faces.

While on Fusion 360, I was trying to find a tool that could similarly sculpt in MeshMixer in order to clean up the edges of the cylinder, but couldn’t find anything so I switched back to MeshMixer to do so. Then I had to export the platform of the painting from TinkerCAD to Fusion 360 in order to combine the two objects because TinkerCAD was having issues importing STL and OBJ files. Finally, I was able to combine the finished pipe onto the platform on Fusion 360 and after five hours I had finished my assignment design!

The next day I came into the Fablab to print the design. The print job took nearly three hours and although the design isn’t as complex as I initially wanted it to be, I feel pretty accomplished and satisfied with how it came out. If I could improve the end product, I think I would want to create two separate prints, that of the platform and that of the pipe so that it could be removed from the platform! I really enjoy the process of 3D printing, it was a bit intimidating at first, but since I’ve gotten through it, I feel more comfortable with it.

The end result!

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Copper Tape Paper Circuits Assignment

Basic copper tape circuit.

In lab, we created a pretty straight-forward, simple circuit with one battery, one LED light, copper tape, and a switch. This was useful in learning how to use all the materials. The copper tape was a bit difficult to manipulate but after a bit of struggling, I got the hang of it.

I turned off some lights so you could better see the LED lights shine through! (The LED light in the middle wasn’t very bright.)
A rough, blueprint drawing of the circuit elements underneath.

After, we had to create a circuit that incorporated at least two LED lights. We were given a bunch of quotes and given the freedom to create an image drawn from the inspiration of one. The quote I chose is attributed by Spencer Johnson: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I decided to create a night scuba diving scenario. A lot of my friends have scuba dived at night but it is something that I am way too scared to ever try. I’ll stick to scuba diving when the sun is out.

When you “press” the quote, the lights turn on underneath the drawing as that is where the switch is located. Because I used to UV lights, I had to pile a second battery on top of the first to power all the lights. I attached a blueprint of the circuit operating under the image. I should’ve tested out the lightbulbs before because the LED light in the middle was not as bright as the other two. I placed the UV lights under the images of the glowing jellyfish and a yellow light at the place of the underwater flashlight.

The circuit.

For the 3D paper object with 3 or more LED lights, I chose to recreate a scene in the Disney movie, Finding Nemo. The first two lights are purple/blue tinted LED bulbs that flash behind the purple coral behind Nemo. The third light is supposed to be a white light at the antenna of the anglerfish. At first, I used construction paper but I found that to be a bit flimsy and annoying to work with so I transferred the base of the design onto a thicker, more supportive material. I crafted and cut out shapes of Nemo and Dory as well as the glowing anglerfish. The switch is underneath the yellow “button” reading ‘just keep swimming” in reference to a line in the animated film.

The biggest issue I ran into at first was that in the antenna of the anglerfish, there wasn’t enough room for two strips of copper tape to run from the negative and positive sides of the LED light. So I cut out a piece of black paper and sticked it next to the antenna so that I could fit in the circuit. Unfortunately, I dropped my pop-up card right before I took the picture and two of the LED lights popped out and now my circuit doesn’t work to light up my LED lights. So I’m pretty upset about that. If I had more time to work on the assignment in lab, I would troubleshoot to find where in the circuit path something had gone wrong so that the LED lights worked and I would create more detailed elements using Inkscape, Silhouette, and the printers. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the card looks but a bit frustrated with my clumsiness.

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Vinyl Sticker Assignment

My stickers!

The first sticker I made was a griffin. I combined the wings of a butterfly and a koala. I used path difference to split the butterfly in half and unified the two silhouette images of the animals. Initially I chose two other animals (a kiwi and an elephant), but it didn’t turn out as I liked so I opted for the two animals in my final griffin sticker.

The second sticker was the Fablab logo. It contained three layers. We simply opened the Inkscape file into Silhouette and sent the file to the sticker printers. Then we practiced transferring the layers onto one another.

The real bathing house.

The third sticker was a remix of my own. Last semester I studied abroad in Australia and I visited Melbourne’s Brighton Beach, where they are known for their colorful bathing houses, which are just small beach shacks. I wanted to create the most iconic bathing house in my sticker.

The four layers on Inkscape.
The transfer paper doing it’s job.

Initially, I just searched for a house silhouette as the base of my sticker but found that none of the result were exactly what I wanted so I created my own by creating a square and a triangle on Inkscape and unifying them together. Then I found a picture of the Australian flag and color traced the image, where I was able to ungroup the layers and use path difference to be left with the Union Jack. Then to finish off the elements of my sticker, I created 7 point stars on Inkscape. After all my components were created, I played around on Inkscape and aligned them in order to get the correct scales. Then I separated the layers, opened the Inkscape file on Silhouette and printed the layers on the corresponding colors. This process was straight forward and fairly easy, besides a few small things on Inkscape that I just needed to get familiar with.

The first real problem I encountered was the printing machine. I did not realize at first that the wheels were not aligned and therefore the printer was unable to load the vinyl sheets precisely, thus creating inaccurate cuts in the vinyl. Luckily, I realized this quickly and stopped the printing job and fixed the wheels with the help of a Fablab member. From there, I was able to print all the needed layers. I grabbed the transfer tape and was able to easily layer each vinyl component to create the finishing product. Overall, I am really happy with the turnout and I feel more comfortable using Inkscape and Silhouette. 

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Storyboard

During lecture, we got into small groups and decided on a prompt. My group chose the second prompt which was the interfaces for the inside of driverless cars. We drafted our initial storyboards and shared what we came up with. Everyone took a different approach. I decided to take a light-hearted one. My storyboard follows a character trying out a new driverless car. He’s pretty surprised when the settings are set at a high speed with the music turned up. I made sure in my revised storyboard to shows setting, sequence, and satisfaction.

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Laser Name Tag

For the assignment, I downloaded Inkscape on my personal laptop so I could brainstorm and play around with design concepts. I knew I wanted to incorporate my love of traveling. I searched for shapes that were related to travel (airplanes, maps, skylines, etc.) and settled on an image of landmarks on a globe. I did not like some elements of the original image so I was able to select the specific parts after changing the object to an image and selecting paths and deleting them. As well, I wanted to play around with the balance of the name tag. I decided to cut the globe image in half and display them on opposite sides of the name tag. I wasn’t sure how to cut the image in half without having the program and machine raster outside of the lines of the name tag. I asked for help at the lab and was able to cut the image in half using path difference. I also downloaded a unique font that fit nicely with the design. Lastly, I found a really cool black, transparent vinyl material for the name tag.

I expected the raster on my material to be cloudy but I did not expect it to look as apparent as it did. The lasering went smoothly and there were no problems. The only thing I would say is that the name tag turned out to be a lot smaller than I intended but that can easily be fixed in the future. As well, because I chose a dark transparent material, the name tag is more easily read over dark surfaces and a bit hard to see over light surfaces. Overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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