For my final project, I created a board game: Radical Robots! The main idea behind the board game was to create a game that caused players to need to make a lot of decisions and estimations of the odds to succeed. For this game I needed a large board, a number of tokens, trackers, and finally the meat of the game which consisted of almost 200 cards, with around 60 unique ones. A large portion of my time was spent developing the cards, but in terms of the physical product, here are some in progress shots:
Here were the first prototype cards I made
And a play test being setup between me and a few friends
And here are the final iterations of the cards as they are being cut out
Printing out the board proved easier than I’d thought, and it came out perfectly on the first time
Here is the final project all together during presentations
I’d say the most difficult part of the process was, ironically, the parts I’d initially thought would be the easiest, which were the printing of the cards and cutting out the tokens. For the cards, I wanted to originally use a sturdier material than plain copy paper, so I initially tried to find card stock, but we didn’t have any white card stock. I tried to print on black card stock just out of curiosity, but that didn’t work. I also tried photo paper, but that only prints on one side, and thus doesn’t work for cards. Finally, I resigned to using copy paper, with some example mock ups with a piece of card stock sandwiched between two pieces of copy paper. Additionally I had some similar issues using the laser cutter with two sided acrylic, and ended up switching to wood in the interest of time. Overall I’m pretty proud of my work, especially with the design of the art on the board and the back of the cards, and also the fact that, despite the sheer volume of rules and complexity of the game, it’s pretty playable.
For this project, my two main learning goals were one: “to learn how to use the poster printer to make a game board, and also how to use/design smaller objects with the laser printer since I’ve only done larger pieces so far.” and two: “to learn about game design and playability from the perspective of a creator instead of a player.”
For my first learning goal, I learned both the goals with ease. The poster printer was far easier to use than I had anticipated, as it turns out it basically functions like a normal printer, just on a larger scale. The smaller objects in and of themselves turned out fine with the laser printer. What the actual issue turned out to be was the material I used, as mentioned previously. Most notably, the settings for the double sided acrylic on the universal cutter are incorrect for 1/8″ material, and it would have required a lot of tinkering to get it right. For printing, ironically enough I learned more about printing cards on normal printers than I did for the poster printer. Most notably I learned how utterly time consuming prepping card pages for printing is, since both back and front pages must be aligned, and to get the right card ratios for balancing, it required almost 50 unique pages to be printed out, some multiple times, others only once or twice. I learned a lot about working with Inkscape as well, since I had to make all of the borders and back art for the cards, and then also all of the design for the poster. One major effect I learned was color correction of external images by overlaying a box over the image and turning down the opacity, allowing me to change the color and visibility of the picture to my liking. As I said previously, I’m especially proud of how these designs came out.
For my second learning goal, I’d say I learned quite a bit, but not as much as I’d hoped. I was only able to play test the game once before presentations, so I wasn’t able to iterate as much as I would’ve liked from a design stand point. However, what I did learn was quite interesting. In my first draft, I was so focused on the complexity of the rules and how interesting the mechanics could be, that I didn’t think about how those mechanics impacted time. The first play test we did took just over two hours, so it was quickly decided that changes needed to be implemented to reduce the amount of time it took to play. In particular, the issue of how quickly players progressed from the start was important, since it seemed to take a while for the game to ramp up. In addition, adjusting the requirements for what you need to fight bosses was also important to change. However, I did receive positive feed back about the core mechanics, so I believe the main thing to do in the future is simply to continue play testing and iterating on that. Overall the process opened my eyes to how easy it is to become overly absorbed in certain aspects of a project, and helped me appreciate just how much work goes into producing a well balanced and fun board game. Despite not being perfect, I do think the game has a solid core, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with it so far. I don’t know if I’ll be able to, but in the future I would like continue working on this game and refining it, maybe even turn it into a proper product if I become confident enough in it.
Looking back through my write-ups, I’d say the most significant thing I’ve learned is how to fail. In most classes failure is cut and dry, and as soon as you fail that’s it, you have no chance to try again. In this class it’s been actively encouraged to fail, and then try again so that you can learn from your mistakes. In most courses failure simply results in a feeling of dread and anxiety for your grades. Here it spurs you to improve because you actually have the chance to improve, and I think this has greatly improved how much I’ve learned from this course because of it. Most importantly what this means is that I feel I can more confidently fail and move on from said failure in the future, which will be a very important skill not just in work, but in life too.
This class has definitely spurred me to think about myself differently. Because of this class, I’ve relearned how to enjoy making. Prior to this class, most experience I’ve had with making were in my major, in sterile, grade driven experiences. All my previous experiences in making have been dull and life sucking, but over the course of these assignments I’ve learned that I still have the spark and drive for creativity. It’s been quite a liberating experience for me. On some projects I was not able to do as much as I’d wished, or didn’t fully implement what I’d want, but it wasn’t failure on a points or grade based level, it was failure on a personal level because I was invested in the projects themselves for their own sake, not for the sake of some grade that is supposed to somehow tell an employer my capabilities.
I look forward to continuing to work as a maker in the future, whether in my work, or simply as a hobby. To be a maker is simple, after all: use your creativity to produce something. Previously I had thought of it in a more bland way, thinking making was just creating a product, but now I think the spark of creativity and the drive of passion are essential to being a maker as well. And I think I’ve gained these thanks over the course of the semester, in no small part thanks to this class.
I feel more confident in myself as a creative thinker, and more passionately about my work as a maker, and for that reason I’m incredibly glad I’ve taken this course.
For my iteration assignment, I decided to revisit the 3-d modelling assignment. In that assignment I made a lot of models that I wanted to print, but was only able to do the practical motor wall for iRobotics since the competition was coming soon during that time. The model I wanted to print the most and had the most fun making was my 3-d rendition of the painting Scream, which was altered by replacing the titular characters face with my own:
To continue with this theme into the iteration assignment, I decided to make a full 3-d diorama of the scene to place the model into. I planned to use a laser cutter to make the background in three separate stages: first the “frame” for the painting, then the pier/dock behind the screaming person, and finally the background bay/sky.
I needed to do measurements to make sure the sizes matched the painting, so I did the printing first to get a proper size of the model in order to scale the background properly, as you can see noted down in the corner of the above picture.
Here is the model when I uploaded and as it’s printing
Here it is just out of the printer:
And after a bit of clean up, voila! A screaming Jacob!
I found this process decidedly less difficult than I thought it’d be, but I think that was in part thanks to the fact that I’d been 3-d printing parts in my free time for senior design, so I knew to add the supports and raft, and how to tweak fill and other odds and ends to my liking. I don’t think the lighting does it justice, but I really liked how the model came out even on its own, and was excited to turn it into a real piece of art!
Next up was drawing out in inkscape the parts for the rest of the painting.
Initially I did a lot of tinkering around, my main method to recreate the painting was to trace over it, but I decided to directly trace the bitmap of the painting for the sky, and then edit out the nodes of the other portions of the painting. In addition I decided to make the sky its own piece, adding a bit of extra depth to the background. You wouldn’t believe how time consuming getting that pier down was, I tinkered with the angles and nodes of the different shapes quite a lot, and much to my chagrin the first time I did it I forgot to save and the file was lost, forcing me to restart from scratch. The main thing was that I rastered the darker parts of the painting, and left the lighter parts untouched to give the illusion of lighting like in the painting. In addition, I made sure to cut holes in the railings so that the background could be seen through them, adding more depth and really selling the 3-d feel of the final product.
Here were the pieces I settled for as the final parts, and a comparison to the original painting.
And here we next come up to final parts just before cutting, You’ll see an additional base to support the different pieces and small support blocks to hold the up.
Here we have the piece as it’s being cut. (in this case it rastered first, technically)
Of the two main components, I’d say the laser cutter was definitely the most frustrating for me, constantly tinkering with the angles of the railings to properly align and then tracing over the raster outlines proved quite annoying. In addition the first time I cut the pieces out, I accidentally set the raster to the same settings as the vector, so I became very confused we the laser started cutting out a a mountain shaped hole by going back and forth. However, I felt pretty rewarded by the outcome after I assembled all of my pieces together:
I really liked how this assignment came out, and am glad I did it, even in spite of some of the frustrations I had. The only issue I have is that the front frame dried in place slightly crooked, and I don’t want to try to force it into place since I don’t want to snap the wood, but otherwise the model came out better than I’d imagined it would! However, you may have noticed the small hole I put in front of the model, this was originally planned to add an LED under the face, but I realized that there wasn’t enough clearance under the base to put one there, so I decided against putting one there in the final product.
It does look pretty good on top of a desk lamp though.
For my final project, I’d like to try my hand at creating a board game inspired by board games I’ve played such as evolution and munchkins!
To build this, I’ll use at least the laser cutter and the poster printer, but may end up using the 3-D printer as well. The main idea I have behind the game is for the players to have a lot of choice and be modular in play style, with multiple equally valid strategies to complete the game. This will help extend my learning by encouraging me to create from a unique design perspective in my experience, driven by how fun and playable something is rather than a technical or functionality perspective. Finally, I will need the support on the design and testing of the game, which I can through online research and my friends/peers, help in creating laminated cards, which I can get from dot, and a board for the game using the poster printer, which I can get from James/Duncan.
The first main learning goal of my final project is to learn how to use the poster printer to make a game board, and also how to use/design smaller objects with the laser printer since I’ve only done larger pieces so far. My second learning goal is to also learn about game design and playability from the perspective of a creator instead of a player.
For this design, I wanted to make a robot that dragged itself across the floor with an arm. I decided I wanted to give it an alien look, and wanted to give it a look inspired by the face huggers from the aliens movies. I think just using popsicle sticks, glue, and rubber bands will be all I need to construct the robot. Below are the bare-bones of my pompom bot I built in class, and later used in the construction of my first prototype.
Most of my different prototypes were in the different iterations of movement style, as actually getting the robot to move was much harder than I had anticipated. In my initial design I tried to make the robot move with its arm in one big sweeping motion, having the shoulder joint lower first, then having the elbow joint turn 90 degrees rapidly. This caused the bot to fall over a lot, so changes to the weight of my robot and the speeds/angles of the motors would be necessary.
For my next iteration I decided to give the bot a broader body, and to try having it push with the arm at the rear, rather than pull from the front. I also shaped the popsicle stick on the front part of the arm to be somewhat more pointed, to allow for better grip. This ended up being able to move, but not very well, and went to one side for some reason.
For my final design, I really wanted to get the forward dragging motion correct, so I used a body similar to my second design, and tried to apply that to a design with forward movement. I tuned the angles to move between 45 and 135 degrees, and that seemed to work well.
Here are some pics from the building process, I decided to use a green color and a bunch of eyes to give it a cartoony, but alien look. I also had to keep the profile lower to the ground to get it moving.
My initial tests for this design didn’t go great:
So I decided to try added some more friction to the arm with a rubber band:
And it works pretty well! The bot itself has a much larger body than my initial design, and the additional friction at the tip and changes to the angles the arm functioned at really seemed to help. I was surprised with how much difficulty I had with a lot of this design. I had figured it would be a piece of cake, but there were a lot more nuances to it than I had anticipated. In the futures I would want to try running multiple arms to further imitate my original inspiration and give it a creepier look, and maybe try for actual walking rather than dragging as a form of locomotion.
Overall I was pretty satisfied with my final design, and had a lot of fun making it to boot. Many of the issues were in minor details of the build, but just as in the first arduino lab, it was a familiar kind of process, so it wasn’t frustrating to debug these issues. Learning to use the servos was a lot of fun, and will actually be useful for me in other classes as I need to work with servo motors in my senior design class.
An additional note, I took a number of videos, but the website wouldn’t allow me to upload them to the page, so I only had the shortest videos I made available.
When I initially had started this project, I had initially decided to go for a simple concept: a “get out of the way” horn, using an active buzzer, and an obstacle detector.
I assembled my parts, and then began implementing them in my first set of code.
After some basic testing, I found that my initial iteration was wrong. The obstacle detector went low when it detected something, so I had to change that to correct it.
With that change, my initial project was working. But I thought that it would be boring with how easy it was to make and how little effort I needed for it, especially given my background, so I decided to change my project, whilst still incorporating what I already had. When going over the list of sensors we had, I discovered we had a laser and a button switch, and I hatched a new idea: a safer laser pointer that automatically shuts off and buzzes when pointed at someone!
After I added these sensors to my arduino board, I was ready to implement them into code. My code had gotten larger, so I couldn’t take a screenshot natively on the arduino coding interface, so I started to copy and paste my code into notepad and take screenshots after I hit what I believe to be important changes in my project.
On my first try, I had decided to have the button use an analog feature to turn on the system, by implementing the enable signal on the obstacle detector using an output signal from the arduino. However, I came to realize that this feature could be implemented more effectively in code by simply using that same input signal in an if else statement that locked the rest of the system’s logic behind that button press.
However, even after implementing it this way, I was still having issues getting the system to work. After some experimentation, I realized the same issue as with the obstacle detector also applied to the push button. So I had to switch the turn on case from high to low.
After that final change, the system worked well! Here’s a video demonstration:
A little difficult from a usability perspective, but for a bare-bones prototype it did a good job in my opinion. I was pretty at home throughout the making process this time, so I didn’t really find any part to be too difficult, the only problems I had were the same as in any other coding project with minor niggling issues that needed to be debugged. I found the process to be fun, especially since I hadn’t used most of these sensors before. In addition, the resources provided for this assignment were very helpful and informative, so learning these new sensors was a breeze.
The first decision I made for my project was on the embroidery logo, I decided to do the wario-ware logo, both because I really like the the aesthetic of the logo, I like the game series and Wario as a character, and I thought the logo would look humorous on my project.
I put the logo through inkscape, and cleaned the different layers, then put the logo through PE design to prepare it for embroidery later.
For my sewing design I initially wanted to do the tote bag., and I chose a canvas for the outer later since it was a nice sturdy material, and a soft blue interior material.
However, I realized the material requirements for the tote was quite large, and I decided against making it. Instead I used the same material for the box pouch. Here is the cut out material as I prepped it.
I then began embroidering the logo onto the fabric piece that would become the handle of the bag.
However, the first time I ran the machine, the needle broke.
I restarted the process
And it came out pretty well! There was a weird issue on the nose where the sewing machine embroidered, but otherwise I thought the result was good.
Next I turned the embroidered piece into the proper handle piece:
Afterwards I worked on the bag proper:
I then attached the handle to the bag:
I found this process relatively difficult, and needed to retry it multiple times, since for this part I needed to make sure I sewed the handle to only the top layer, but kept accidentally getting the bottom.
The final step was for me to sew the corners inward so that it stands up as a box.
Understanding the instructions to this part was difficult for me, but after consulting someone from the lab, I figured out that I was supposed to pull the corners out so that the lines were aligned, and then stitch.
Here’s the final product!
Overall I think I did a pretty good job with this project, and was satisfied with the result, especially since it took me over eight hours to finish. I had some difficulty sewing certain parts and with embroidering, but it was a learning process, and I really think it helped me with 3D visualization and understanding how to manipulate objects in more novel ways. Overall I can’t say I found this project to be most enjoyable, since it was so time consuming it became kind of a slog at times, but otherwise I liked it,
My TinkerCAD model for a Wizard’s Tower and a 3D scan most terrifying. Unfortunately my meshmixer model for the wizard’s tower was deleted/lost, so I can’t upload a picture of it anymore.
For part 2 I chose to do the following three assignments, and worked on them in this order: I made a wolverine style set of cutlery in TinkerCAD, made a rendition of The Scream using my 3D scan in meshmixer, and finally I needed to 3D print a part for my RSO, iRobotics, so I made measurements for and designed a cover in SolidWorks, since that’s the CAD my RSO uses most often. I had also wanted to try using a different software for each different assignment, in order to get a different taste of each method.
To start: The Cutlery
I started by first creating some brass knuckle styled grips as a base for all of the utensils to attach to. I quickly decided I wasn’t a huge fan of TinkerCAD due to how imprecise everything was, despite being presented in a familiar CAD style. It just rubbed me the wrong way. The four finger holes were just made with cylinders, but the palm grip was a pain. after some finagling, I found the scribble tool and decided to use that, since even though it was imprecise, it didn’t look that bad in the end.
The first utensil I end up making was the fork. I first made the side profile using the scribble tool, then turned it over, stretched it, and cut out prongs and a handle using cubes and cylinders. Overall I think this was my best looking one, as it came out looking pretty good.
The knife didn’t end up quite as pretty. It was made purely with the scribble tool, and it shows. My artistic expertise is unmatched. Overall not super satisfied with this one, but I’m not very sure what method I’d use to make a better version.
Next up is the “spoon”. I decided to combine all three spoon heads together because imagining someone trying to eat with that makes me giggle. It was a simple enough design using some cylinders and half spheres, that were in turn cut in half.
And here we have the final assemblage in all of its glory! Dinnerware for the biggest of wolverine fans, or people who just want a challenge!
Up next: The Scream
To start, I cut off my 3D scan for every part below my shoulders, then deleted some choice parts of my wrists to make the next few steps easier. I then imported a large oval and positioned it with an end just touching the neck to act as my body. From there I used a combination of the draw and drag tool to move around the body into a shape more closely resembling the art piece I was trying to capture, and to make arms that would reach to my wrists.
From there I imported some spheres onto the wrists, then use the shrink smooth and drag tools to create cuffs for my shirt.
Here is the final product in comparison to the piece I was trying to capture. A big issue I had initially was the fact that Meshmixer doesn’t have any subtractive tools, they all either slightly change the current surface or add on top of it. Fortunately the drag tool was able to do an okay job of subtracting from the model. I overall had more trouble using Meshmixer than TinkerCAD, but after I learned the ropes I found the process of using it to overall be more fun, since it was more like I was sculpting, rather than using a precise tool.
Finally: My 3D printed part for iRobotics
For some background, the robot I work on in iRobotics is similar to the ones seen in the T.V. show Battle Bots. In general I work with the electronics, in particular the motors and speed controllers for our robot. For our robot this year we decided to use outrunner motors for our drive system, and the weird thing about them is that instead of spinning just the central shaft like a typical motor, they spin the rear part of the outer shell. However, this causes us to run into a few problems from an electronics stand point, since that means we now have a spinning piece on the outside of our motors that other electronics can’t touch without risk of getting caught on it. Fortunately we have an in-house 3D printer at our work space, so I was able to print there.
Here are the initial measurements and CAD designs I had for the walls. A fairly simple design that would slide into place and block off access for most wires, whilst leaving space for us to power the motors.
However, when I talked to my team leader, Tor, he said I had left out a few things in my design. Firstly, we had a corner piece I had been intending on attaching afterwards, but he suggested I instead have a separate file with the two pieces attached and to soften the edge by using a fillet. In addition I hadn’t included a way to fasten the piece to the robot, and he suggested I add some drill holes near the base. Finally, he thought it would be a bit risky to have that much open space near the tops, and asked that I minimize them and round the corners.
After I redesigned the pieces, I passed it by Tor again to make sure it looked good, and then asked the manager for the 3D printer, Eric, if the part would be food in the printer. He gave me the thumbs up and I went on ahead to the printing process.
Here is the machine in our work space as it prints out the first piece.
Here is the second piece all 3D printed. I didn’t get a picture of the other piece because it had disappeared into the depths of the parts bin, and it was late enough that I decided retrieving it would be an adventure for another day. We did some test fitting and it appears to fit well, but we couldn’t install it yet because we’re currently painting the frame, so we can’t assemble it all together.
Overall I was satisfied with the results of my work, but I can’t 100% test the results until Thursday, so I won’t know for sure if it’s up to snuff. I am relatively comfortable with SolidWorks, so I didn’t have a hard time at all using it. TinkerCAD reminds too much of SolidWorks, but without all the nice features to make me comfortable. MeshMixer was completely unique in my 3D modelling experience so far, and I’ll reiterate that it felt a lot more like sculpting than like a rigid tool, and I liked that a lot. It was a fun experience, although learning the ropes or dealing with suboptimal tools was a bit frustrating at times.
For this design I decided to continue working with an alien theme, since I find aliens to be a fun and aesthetically pleasing concept. Since we had to make a paper craft project here, I decided to try my hands at making a drawing of aliens attacking a city pop to life, both physically popping up on paper, and adding lights to certain elements of the scene to make it look more interesting.
Getting the paper to pop up was a lot harder for me to wrap my brain around than I had expected, it took me a number of practice sheets before I felt confident doing it on this one. I decide to place a green LED up in the cockpit of the spaceship to make it stand out more and look more alien, and place some orange LEDs down near the flames and explosions to make them stand out more.
I felt quite foolish making this mistake, considering my background, but thankfully I was able to adjust my circuit without having to start from scratch. In addition, the right orange light glows rather weakly, so it shows up much more poorly than the other two LEDs, which I wasn’t super happy with. But in the end I decided to roll with it.
Overall I was not totally satisfied with my end product, and I wish I had more time to devote to the project, but other classes got in the way of doing so. I am still happy with the process of doing the project and had a lot of fun designing and creating this piece, but there were several little things about the final product that still bug me, such as the one really weak orange LED, and the fact that the coloring on the paper somewhat hampers the LEDs from showing through. I found the paper craft to be surprisingly hard to learn on my part, and was quick to move through the circuitry, which came to bite me in the butt later when I realized I had wired it up incorrectly. Next time I will need to make sure I don’t overlook the basics, and that I don’t underestimate something that seems simple. On the other hand, working with circuits in such a novel way is quite refreshing for me, seeing circuitry used for form rather than function was a huge change of pace compared to my normal experience with it. So I am quite glad I took part in this project, even if I’m not completely satisfied with my results.
During the lab section I created two stickers, one was a fusion between an alligator and a gorilla (A Gorillagator or an Allilla, your choice), and the other was the superman logo.
As for my main sticker project, I decided I wanted to do an alien abduction, but didn’t want to be cliche and have it abducting just a single person or a cow, so I have it abducting an entire house instead. I didn’t use any originally existing logos, because I thought that would be boring, so none needed to be modified.
I then prepared for moving to the cutter by separating the layers into constituent parts.
Next I chose the vinyl I would use to actually cut out my sticker. Unfortunately there weren’t any black pieces large enough to serve as the back piece, so I instead used a dark gray and used a silver for the saucer to make it stand out more.
Here’s what it all the layers looked like after being cut out, but pre-assembly and in the order of layers from left to right:
And here is the final product after assembly!
I was satisfied with the results of my project, but would change a few things. For example, the brown on my sticker is very dark, and can be hard to differentiate from the dark grey layer below it. In addition, it was difficult aligning some of the smaller pieces with areas I had lain out for them, and so the sticker isn’t perfect. But overall it was a fun experience, and I enjoyed the process a lot!
For my name tag, I wanted to make something that represented what I liked about being an electrical engineering major. My biggest design challenge was finding something to represent the part of electrical engineering that is hands on, how it helps people’s everyday lives, and to still keep the overall design aesthetically pleasing.
I came to the conclusion that a radio would be the perfect thing to model my design after, seeing as taking apart and reassembling radios is a hallmark of electrical engineering as a hobby, and that it is a product of electrical engineering that truly changed the world. It also helps that it is a nice design.
I decided when doing the radio that I wanted to do multiple layers of material when I started the project, so I have four distinct parts.
These parts consist of: a front face, a back plate with antennae and name, and two dials.
I decided to cut the fials out of the back plate since that space wouldn’t be visible when the tag is worn, and saves material and space for other people.
I also had raster markings on the face plate where the dials would be in order to make it easier to glue on after the design was cut.
After finalizing my design, I had to make the tough decision of what kind of material I wanted to use. After looking at the various acrylics and weighing the differences, I decided to stick to wood because I prefer the aesthetic.
Up next comes using the laser to cut out my design from a piece of plywood, then assembling the separate pieces with wood glue.
And finally, the finished product in all its glory!
On reflection, I have to say that I had more fun with this assignment than I originally thought I would. I think the overall design turned out looking very nice, but is simple enough to be easily identifiable at a glance. I do however wish that I had kept a better perspective on how thin the antennae was going to be when finally cut out, because it is very fragile, and if I had made the design wider at that section it would probably be much less of an issue.