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

Author Archive

Copper Tape Circuits Project – Nick Desai

Our third assignment was to make a 3D paper object with copper tape and LEDs. This was super fun, because I’ve played around with circuits before, but never with these kinds of materials. In the intro class, we had an introduction to circuits, and we made quotes with light-up areas powered by circuits underneath. I chose a quote about a bat by Shel Silverstein, and made the bat’s eyes glow when you pressed the quote. The in-class project was fun – I haven’t worked with crayons in a long time, so it felt like being a kid again!


For our more advanced week project, we had to either make a pop-up card or an origami object that incorporated lights. I always like looking at other people’s origami stuff, so I wanted to make something with origami. To see if that was remotely feasible given the fact that I have very little previous origami experience, I tried my hand at making a paper crane out of an old assignment sheet. It went pretty well, so I got some construction paper from the lab, trimmed it into squares, and made a bunch of different animals. One difficulty I had working with construction paper is that it’s kind of thick, so areas where a lot of layers sit on top of each other tend to be thick, and folds don’t press down quite as nicely as you would want. It would have been nice to work with actual origami paper. Another problem is that construction paper tends to have one direction along which it really likes to tear, so you’ve got to be careful when you’re pressing folds flat that you don’t accidentally ruin your paper (which I did 🙁 ).

After I made the crane, I was thinking about how to incorporate electronics into it, and thought of making a display case for all the different animals, where the case had the lights and the animals themselves acted as switches, so putting an animal on the case would complete the circuit and cause the case to light up. I tried it with the crane first, putting copper tape along the bottom of the model, and it worked well enough that I did it with the rest of the animals too. I then made a box for the animals to sit on, and put the battery on the inside, with tape running to the outside where the LEDs were mounted.

Then I tested the crane on the box.

It worked all right, though I had to press down to get the circuit to complete. That proved to be the case with the rest of the animals too – I had to cover every part of their bottom parts with tape and press them down to get it to work.

In the end, to take the result pictures, I had to kind of cheat and use a bit of extra tape to connect the animals to the circuit. But I like the way the result turned out!

(There’s a stingray, an attempt at a dragon, a butterfly, a crane, and my favorite, the dinosaur)

I like how the light reflects off the folds in the paper, especially on the last one! Though it was kind of a pain to get the circuit to connect, and if I were to do this again, I would have put the switch on the box itself, and weighted the animals down so they pressed a switch flat, which I think would have been more reliable.

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Vinyl Stickers Project – Nick Desai

For the second INFO490 project, we had to make vinyl stickers. I was a bit wary of this one because I know from experience how tough vinyl is to work with, and… well, this wasn’t an exception.

I made a couple more advanced stickers – one that worked pretty well, and one that had a few more issues. The first one was a sticker of Jake the dog from the cartoon Adventure Time. I made the design and cut a test sheet to see if my technique for doing cartoon outlines – using a solid black back layer with all the detail on top – would work.

It ended up looking absolutely terrifying (nightmare fuel, honestly), but the cut came out okay! I cut the rest of the pieces and assembled the Jake sticker.

For my second more complicated sticker, I tried to make Connie from Steven Universe. The design I ended up using for her had a lot of little fiddly bits, and my first attempt failed.

I realized I needed to change the outline method – instead of using a back layer for the outlines, which required all the middle bits to be individual tiny pieces, I would cut all the outlines as one solid piece and put them on top, so that the bits underneath could be bigger, and hopefully, easier to work with. I changed the design to use this method, and tried again.

The result ended up being better than the first time around, but I had a lot of problems getting the layers to align, especially since the transfer tape was semi-opaque, and alignment involved a lot of guesswork. I think in the future I would try to use the clear transfer tape, and print a bottom layer of guide lines to help place the other layers.

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Laser Name Tag Project – Nick Desai

Our first project for the makerspace class was to make custom name tags using the laser cutter. I was pretty excited about this, because the laser is super cool, and who doesn’t want to play with lasers? In section, after the tour where Sara showed us the lab and all the people and equipment there, we sat down to design and make our first round of name tags. I had worked with Inkscape, the program we used, a bit before, so I tried making a design that used Inkscape’s cool path tools.

But I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for the assignment! I looked around for inspiration, and decided I wanted to improve my technical skills with Illustrator by doing something geometrical that would require knowing more about how to use the software. I was also kind of inspired by Captain America’s shield, with its rings of red and blue… and I really liked the mirrored acrylic we saw in the lab. So I made a design that had concentric rings of red and blue mirror, with a geometric flower-petal-style design engraved on them, and my name in the middle.

Here’s the pieces cut out, with my name in black as a test, though later I replaced it with gold. I used pattern brushes to make the engraved pattern, and the Pathfinder panel in Illustrator to make all the pieces fit together.

Here’s the final result from one angle.

Here are both nametags together – the original one on the left, and the fancy one on the right. I tried making a kind of drop shadow for the text in the gold, but I think that makes it look blurry in the picture.

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