Solar Powered Website
First, I bought a cheap solar panel, a battery, and a solar controller to connect the two and provide an output. After a bit of googling to make sure they were compatible, I was able to get a straightforward solar battery, capable of (slowly) charging my phone:
And then on the software side, I got a simple website up on a raspberry pi. However, I wanted a way to prove that the website and the raspberry pi are connected, so I added a button to the website that would turn on/off an LED on the pi. (Forgive my home’s awful wifi password)
And this is the final result after hooking up the raspberry pi to the solar controller, and toggling the LED light from the website!
Learn to work with solar panels/controller
- This was one goal that, like many other skills I learned in the class, was much more accessible than I anticipated. Like with 3D printing, laser cutting, soldering or sewing, it wasn’t a hard skill to learn, but I was just intimidated because it sounded difficult. Learning to hook up the battery and solar panels to the solar controller was as straightforward as googling the terms I didn’t know and making sure the voltages matched up and that the final output current would be enough for the raspberry pi. Most of the things I imagined would be impossibly intimidating were mostly taken care of by the solar controller, making sure that the battery isn’t overcharged and keeping things safe.
Learn how to use a domain name
- This was something that was surprisingly hard to figure out. Not because it was hard on its own, but because all of the available resources seemed to assume I know a lot more or a lot less than I did. So many guides I found either suggested that I use a click-and-drag website creator like Squarespace, or began diving into the huge world of multiple servers and web frameworks. Eventually, scrapping together bits and pieces from a couple of online sources and shoehorning in the few things I knew, I was able to get the domain to point to the raspberry pi website.
Starting the project earlier
- I originally said in the project proposal that I would send Duncan a project update twice a week, every Sunday and Wednesday. I was (almost) able to do this, missing a day or two and often sending them on either the Monday or Thursday. However, I did keep pretty well on the overall track of spending a week on the power supply, a week on the raspberry pi website, and the last week polishing both.
Maintainable & neat on both software and hardware
- The polishing week was definitely a great idea because otherwise It would’ve been several light and heavy things dangling from each other by rather thin wires. In the video, you can see that the battery, controller, and solar panel are one cohesive unit 🙂
The code was also surprisingly simple.
- Divided up into three parts, the first third sets up the server on the raspberry pi. It starts “listening” for new connections, and where the data for the website formatting/style is stored.
- The second third sets up the pi so that it can control the GPIO pins. These are the external pins on the raspberry pi, and is what I use to power and unpower the LED.
- The last third actually controls the LED based on the the website visits. When someone clicks the button, it checks if the light is on and runs a command that toggles it. Then, it sends them the index.html file which is the same website again, redirecting them to the same page.
This project was inspired by a website my friend showed me over the summer, and you can find it here: solar.lowtechmagazine.com/about.html
When I first saw this website, the immediate thing that went went through my mind is the thought “wow, I wish I knew enough about the technologies involved to be able to do that. But with so much electrical and website-hosting knowledge involved, I’m sure I’ll be able to in a few years.” Really, I gave up before I even begun. I did no research, instead I just trusted that I wouldn’t be able to do it and instead assumed that I’ll eventually be able to do, without any sort of timeline. After taking this class though, I learned that I do that very often. I wanted to take this opportunity to look back at something that I’ve dismissed before and really work through it without any preconceptions about its difficulty or possibility. I think that after this class and the assignments, I’ll be a lot more eager to take on new skills and challenges without being intimidated by them.
This course has definitely been my favorite class this semester, and one of my favorite in all of my courses so far. It’s also made me realize that “making” is something that I had always enjoyed, but never had a word for. In my highschool was a room called the “Engineering Room” and it was just a place with free supplies and tools open for anyone to come in and use. It was my favorite room to spend nearly all of my after-school time in, and it was what made me pursue a major in Mechanical Engineering. However, when I came to the school and started taking courses, I found it to be so much different from what I did in the “Engineering Room”. I was suddenly aware of the difference between tinkering and engineering, and realized I liked one much more than the other. It was because of this that I switched majors into Computer Science, because it allowed me to tinker so much more than Mechanical Engineering had.
And now after taking this course, I learned that there is a word and a community behind the thing I loved to do: makers. I had always called it tinkering, prototyping, or “lego-bricking”, but I’m so glad to have discovered that the true word is Making, and that there are millions of like-minded people dedicated to create a welcoming and accessible community of teachers and learners alike.
Iterating on the first Arduino project.
The project was something that could definitely work well in theory, but ran into a lot of issues and shortcomings that I didn’t initially expect. The original idea was to be able to type out words without the use of fingers or fine motor skills. It would be used in a way like this:
- Once the ultrasonic sensor detects your hand, it keeps measuring the distance. It uses this distance select a letter.
- Once the sensor detects a sudden change in the distance (in that, you moved your hand away from the sensing area), it would select and type the letter corresponding to the most recent letter.
But it had a lot of problems.
This seemed like a good idea in theory, but a lot of its shortcomings can be summarized through this:
(sorry for the dark video, the screen was just too bright in comparison)
Digging into what might be the problem for it being inconsistent, I printed out what the sensor measured as distance and got this:
Despite its errors, it did work well enough for a short demonstration and video for the assignment, but it really was nowhere near what I imagined. The whole thing needed a better frame to make the hardware more reliable, and an entire software rewrite to accommodate for the small errors. Even with that, I found some oversimplifications in my original description of the project.
So immediately, the distance measurements are unreliable. I saw three sources of this, and three solutions to them that I would try to implement first:
- When you’re really far out (the letter Z is ~50cm away from the sensor) you can’t really tell if the sensor is facing in your hand’s direction.
- I need to make some solid frame that holds the sensor perpendicular to some ruler/surface
- “A sudden change in distance” is really vague and hard to quantify. Especially with an unreliable sensor like this.
- Once I get the frame, have something at the end so I can tell exactly when a hand is/isn’t on the sensor path.
- “Hands” are oddly shaped and aren’t always detected too well.
- Use a 90 degree reflector instead
First, making more reliable hardware
I knew that about 2cm per letter was a good amount of room where it doesn’t take too much space, but you also don’t have to be too precise. So, I started preparing a ~55cm long scaffold to hold the sensor and display. I created a cutting pattern for an open box using Boxes.py, and added a few more cutouts of my own for the sensor, screen, and wires.
The pieces at the top will make up the open box, while the 4 bottom pieces in the cut pattern will be used to solve problem #4 and create 90 degree reflectors.
Once cut, I started putting together the pieces!
My proudest part of this, really.
The ultrasonic sensor was a amazing fit, with 10/10 positioning of the wiring hole. I was honestly way too happy for just getting this one bit so perfectly 🙂
Downhill from there
The display might look like an almost perfect fit, but the cut hole was just barely too small because of a tiny part of it I didn’t account for. I amend this later.
The 90 degree reflector! I heard that using angled pieces like this more reliably reflect lights and sounds back to the source, so I thought it would help a lot.
I made the mistake of cutting a little too big a piece because I didn’t correctly tolerance it when measuring, cutting, and Pythagorean Theorem-ing.
And then finally, it’s all coming together! Some last things to fix though.
Measure once, cut twice
Now as I mentioned before, the screen was not fitting perfectly, and the reflector was cut too big. I quickly fixed those issues.
The oversized reflector was marked, cut, then put back:
And then for the screen, this tiiiny part of the screen/wires were getting caught in the wood and would not let it fit.
And so, a bit of careful carving out the wood later, I managed to make some room. (There’s a pretty guilty-looking utility knife in the background)
After some hot gluing, taping, and writing the letters on the board as a guide, it came together pretty well! From a hardware perspective, it had everything to make the ultrasonic sensor as reliable as possible, addressing all 4 of the problems.
Actually writing good code this time
It was now time for the software rework.
After toying with the old version of the code, I saw several issues that I should address similarly:
Issue #1: No matter how reliable everything is, I’ll get the occasional outlier from the ultrasonic sensor.
The first method used the statistical mean of ~30 samples, but outliers affected that a lot.
Instead of using the mean, I now used median. That way, huge outliers won’t have any affect as long as they’re not the majority.
Issue #2: As I move my hand away to “select” a letter, I might accidentally select an adjacent letter instead.
For example, say the user wants to select ‘h’ which is between 18cm and 20cm. The sensor might return series of numbers like this:
- 19.3cm (h)
- 18.8cm (h)
- 19.1cm (h)
- 21.2cm (i)
- 57.8cm (hand completely moved away)
Once the sensor realizes the hand completely moved away, it needs to select the letter that was most present in the last few seconds (which is ‘h’), not just the most recent measurement (which would be ‘i’).
I solved this by keeping track of the ~7 most recent measurements, and then taking the median value once it realizes the hand moved away.
I set a delay at the end so that the user gets some moment to see that the letter they want has been selected.
Issue #3: There’s no good way to tell if you’re in the ‘border’ between two letters.
If you take a look at the past video or images, you can say it displays a “Distance”. This was meant to serve the above purpose, but it only really works for me because I know roughly where the letters are supposed to land. But even then, it’s not very useful because I don’t know the thresholds memorized of course.
I had all this screen space to work with, so I thought I could put a pretty intuitive indicator of how “centered” you are on the letter! It would work like this:
If you’re currently selected on the letter ‘c’, and perfectly centered, the display would show something like this:
Otherwise, if you’re selected on the letter ‘c’ but a little over to the left:
Or if you’re a little over to the right:
Hopefully that would indicate that you should move your hand a little over to the right to get a more precise selection of the letter ‘c’.
And with that, we’re done!
I’ll let the video speak for itself 🙂
Most of the trial-and-error in this project was really in the programming. Seeing what seems like would intuitively or theoretically work, trying to make it work, and not being sure if my method is bad or if the program is buggy. There was one hour where everything was working fine, but it would inexplicably type “z” no matter what. I was completely sure I was writing the correct letter to the LCD, and then I realized I was just overwriting the correct letter with “z” just a couple milliseconds later because of a bad if statement 🙁
It was also a lot of tinkering with how many samples I should take for a reliable median, many samples I should “remember” for the selection, as well as how much space to give per letter. If these numbers were too big then the system felt sluggish, but too small would lead to more mistakes.
Then, there was the reorganizing and commenting everything, because holy moly the original code I wrote was awful.
When I saw how well it was working in the end, I was genuinely so happy with its consistency and reliability. The typing, the “Ready” notice, as well as the visual guide and feedback for each letter was all exactly how I imagined it to be. (Almost) everything fits together perfectly, and there’s so little about it that feels hacked together or improvised. I really can’t express just how “complete” this project feels, really having made no compromises in terms of quality, accuracy, or usability.
One thing I considered was laser cutting the letters onto the board, but I thought it would be better to hand-write them on so that I can fiddle with the letter spacing and locations in the code. Next time though!
For the in-class assignment, I thought a hatchet + log would be a cute and simple thing to create.
Using some cardstock and gray/black sharpies, I managed make a fairly accurate hatchet and a brown log.
Then, I glued the log onto a large popsicle stick as well as the servo and hatchet. It was through some trial & error that I got the angles right. The Arduino program was mostly similar to the Sweep program with modified angles & delays in it, with the final result:
And then for the out-of-class project, I wanted to make a rowboat! It would have a boat base, and two grippy oars that it would “row” itself with.
I realized that a repeated back and forth of the 180 degree servos might not let it move anywhere, but looking at the videos of previous bots, it looked like it might not be a problem.
In many of the videos, a slow forward motion and a rapid “reset” motion seemed to work in consistently moving the bot forwards. I thought that the reason for this might be because the slow forward motion lets the feet grip onto the floor better, while the rapid backward motion causes some slipping.
I trusted that the issue might not be something that needs solving, and began a prototype build.
This part was where I made the mistake of not taking many photos – but I originally had imagined this boat using only one servo. Since the two oars will make a symmetric motion, I thought about connecting the two oars in the middle, and letting one servo move both oars.
It was about an hour into this idea that I realized it’s a bad idea. It adds a lot of complexity, cramps the space, and requires a lot of precise holes and measurements.
So, crapping that idea, I kept the frame and attached two servos. Each oar has a dab of glue at the ends to keep it from slipping. Then the prototype/proof-of-concept was complete!
Then, I made someone to row the boat with some pipe cleaner, attached some actual paddles to the ends of the oars. I glued the little guy’s hands so that it can actually grab the oars :’)
And here’s the pretty simple circuitry:
The actual code wasn’t too different from the regular Sweep code either. After changing some delays, I just had to make sure that one motor goes from 0->180 while the other one goes from 180->0 since each servo is rowing on the opposite side of the other. Then, here was the final rowboat in action!
And by then I had already gotten out the googly eyes and then decided against putting them on the stick figure. So:
I felt that the hardest part of this project was the “getting it off the ground.” I especially felt this when going with my original design of using a single servo, but when I was trying to figure out how big, how far apart, or how narrow things should be. It felt like everything depended on everything else, and I couldn’t find a way to “incrementally” create what I had in mind without creating the whole thing at once. This was mainly because of the issue of not only moving parts, but parts that would swivel and slide past each other. I knew I could make drawings and measurements, After that though, I’m really glad that I opted for a two servo design.
Another difficulty was, really, just getting the boat to go straight. One oar kept getting better contact than the other, making it turn rather sharply to the right. I tried fixing this problem by adding shims to the bottom of one end, but that made it begin to turn the other way. After some iterations of trial and error, I finally got it moving straight enough for a 9 second video 🙂
For this Arduino project, I used the ultrasonic sensor with the LCD display to create a way to type with using only a single limb! (Or any large, blunt object) Perhaps for those who have lost a limb or fingers. In a situation such as this:
They could send text messages, or do any action that typically requires typing, albeit slowly!
The distance from the sensor determines what letter you’d like to type:
And then when you lift your arm/object, it will choose the currently selected letter to type! And then you can repeat this as many times as you’d like to type out words:
The code for this is a little awful
I define a bunch of functions for getting the range, defining a character for that range, ‘displaying’ a character (without selecting it) and ‘selecting’ a character
In my look, I take an average of 30 measurements, and remove any measurement that came out as 0 (which is the result if the distance is really far)
Then, we get a character from that distance by using the speed of sound. Each letter of the alphabet gets ~2cm of space.
If there’s a sudden change of greater than 30 centimeters from the average, it assumes that you took your hand away and the selects the “average” letter
For the drawstring pouch, I decided to have a sky-blue gradient outside, with a bright green inside. I really liked the blue for its color, and my old backpack also had a distinctive neon green inner lining, so I thought it would be a nice tribute to that.
After cutting four squares of the fabric, I sewed them together. The blue fabric was attached together in-class, and I wasn’t paying too much attention to the fabric color. Red seemed like an ok choice since it’s a very visible fabric to work with in my novice hands, though I did regret that in hindsight.
Then I attached the two pieces together and ironed the seam
After making the stitches that made the “tunnel” I chose to go for a nylon yarn/ribbon for the drawstrings. To stop the end from fraying, I put a tiny dabble of hot glue on each end – and this is the finished product!
For the custom project, I thought I would go with a shiba cube, with the IPL logo on its side. IPL is an RSO that I’m a part of, and I thought maybe we could use a mascot!
Of course it’s a mascot, so it has to have hearts! <3
We also have to have 4 colors, so that’s that. I also had to rotate it because, as you’ll see, the scrap piece that I’m sewing onto doesn’t really have the horizontal real-estate to fit onto the embroidery hoop otherwise, and I needed the embroidery piece to follow the fleece’s nap/stretch direction.
Embroidering! The scrap piece is, fortunately, just barely big enough to fit in the hoop.
This is after the embroidery, and cutting out the needed section from the scrap.
Continuing on, I began sewing together the face! This was my third attempt at getting the two pieces attached.
The first time, the brown piece slid much more under the sewing machine than the gray piece. By the time I got to the end of the seam, they’ve become misaligned by nearly a centimeter 🙁
The second time around, the stitch had gone way off the seam and began stitching into the brown fabric without attaching the gray fabric in some areas. I later discovered that it was mostly my fault for trying to do a much more difficult zigzag stitch on this piece, rather than a simple running stitch.
The third attempt came out perfect!
The aftermath of failures + seam rippers :'(
Stitching in the eyes, the right eye was my first attempt and came out perfectly with a zigzag stitch. The left eye was a failure, and it was at this point that I asked myself “why am I using a zigzag stitch?” The directions mention that it might be a more aesthetically pleasing choice, but is also more difficult. I don’t know why I thought I was ready for more difficult. So, the left eye’s (failed) zigzag stitches were removed and re-done with a much better running stitch.
Then the eyebrows – this was my proudest applique yet! It was just perfect 🙂 Not using a zigzag stitch definitely helped insanely.
Look at it! It’s already so adorable and it was at this point I got incredibly eager to see the final product.
Sewing on the legs was probably the hardest part of the whole piece. Attaching a curved piece to a straight one after making cuts to stretch it, using thick fabric of the same color. Definitely could have gone much worse though.
It seems like I skipped a lot of steps – because I forgot to take pictures – but this is after sewing together 5 of the 6 sides together, along with its ears! Then I closed the box, leaving it with a small hole for inverting and stuffing. While going through the edges, I was terrified that I would accidentally sew together its feet or ears to the body.
And then finally, here it is in all its glory! The corners were much harder than I expected (if you look at its foot, the corner definitely created some puckering/pinching) But otherwise, it came out so much better than I thought!
Although I’m 4 and a half days late on this assignment, I’m so glad that I got to create something like this. All the other assignments in the class so far felt like fiddling and tinkering – creating some sort of prototype or proof of concept. It’s a sort of making that I do really enjoy, but it’s hard for it to produce something that feels final and polished. This however, I know I’m going to keep around for a long time, because it genuinely feels like it came out so refined! And now I know how to repair it too!
And while creating it, I discovered the amazing and enormous world of sewing and embroidering. The number and types of stitches, techniques, fabrics, and realizing that each of these things all have their quirks and methods (before this project, all I ever knew was that fabric has a ‘bias’ that stretches. That was about it.) Best of all was realizing that all of these things are things that I can learn about, and learn to do.
This project, more than any other so far, has made me say: “Wow, I genuinely thought that I could never do something like this.”
I think this project genuinely and most fully embodies the essence of why I wanted to take this class. Laser cutting, electric cutting, 3D printing, and sewing were all skills or technologies that felt so far out of my reach. I figured that these things would take weeks or months to even begin to understand, and so never pursued learning them. But after seeing the course description, I realized I might be wrong, and I’m so glad to have been.
I think project was difficult, more difficult than any other project we’ve done. But, it was also my favorite so far.
For the brief in-class CAD project, this was what I made.
On the left is the alien, there are many people after him because he looks a lot like something they want. Unfortunately he’s unable to fend them off because he’s his limbs are paper-thin.
On the right is the castle that he lives in, the door is a very secure combination lock. Really, it’s the only place he feels safe.
Importing him into meshmixer and losing all the colors, it looks quite dull:
My attempts at making it less dull – wielding tools that weren’t meant for the sharp corners and flat surfaces of TinkerCad species – I was met with disastrous consequences:
But after a bit of messing about, I managed to get my intended, spongy appearance out of it.
Very low-poly esque, if I do say so myself.
As for the four sketches, they are shown below:
On the left: Flatware for my enemy. A fork that more closely resembles a tuning fork, a spoon that’s got a 90 degree bend down so you have to dip the whole handle in, a knife that’s sharp & serrated on the handle also, as well as a plate that’s convex on top and pointy on the bottom so you can never balance it, or food on top of it.
In the middle are the cultural object as well as our contemporary artist & artwork of choice.
The mask is a HaHoeTal. “HaHoe” is a folk village in South Korea, and “Tal” means mask. Masks like these are used in Korean storytelling of dramas and comedies. There were also the occasional exorcisms, but they’ve gone out of style.
The mask usually has incredibly grotesque and exaggerated emotions so that you can tell the mood and personality of the characters represented by the mask. These performances are called Tal-Nori (mask-play). I thought I would create one for myself, with the features of who I am: in a way by trying to combine a scan of my face with the traditional structures of a wooden mask with exaggerated wrinkles, smile, eyebrows, etc.
The contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami, is a Japanese artist that began a movement within the art community called Superflat. It’s where he combines the traditional look of wood block-prints, with the modern style of vibrant colors & characters. One thing he’s trying to push onto the Western scene is the mix of art and commerce. In the U.S. , what he calls “high art” costs millions of dollars, and could never be in the possession of the everyday individuals. However, in Japan, art is in the hands of ordinary citizens all the time, in the form of manga, anime, posters, etc etc. So, he tries to create art that can be appreciated, bought, and owned by both connoisseurs, as well as the typical individual.
In the spirit of this publicly-available art, I thought I would take one the characters very recurrent throughout his art (a character called Mr.DOB) and try to create a 3D keychain out of it.
The thing I need: Wallet, phone, keys & watch holder. The things I lose the most are: my wallet, phone, keys, and watch. After I get home, I always take them out/off carelessly and just toss them somewhere, only for me to not find them the day after. I thought it would be great for me to have a designated place for me to put them, so I also know where to always look for them.
(I realize this can be solved by just designating some corner of my wardrobe, but my room’s a mess)
This organizer would be attached to a wall with some Command strips, and have two compartments for my wallet & phone, as well as two hooks for keys & watch.
Then for the two roughly-CAD designs, this is the evil flatware complete with bent spoon, double-sided knife, topsy-turvy plate, and (tuning) fork.
And this is the rough CAD for the phone/wallet/keys/watch holder:
I wanted to go with the holder as the final printed object, because it just seemed more useful than the evil flatware. It was at this point that I realized a few things:
- There’s a lot of extra material. Does a holder like this really need a top?
- The keys & watch can slide off very easily off of the pegs, they should be hooks instead.
- It’s going to be fairly difficult to get things in/out of this, there’s a lot of sharp edges that things can get stuck.
So the first thing I did was erase that, and make small models of the size of my wallet and phone:
Then I begun with this design: Something to really just barely be enough to hold the phone and wallet. No bells & whistles, just two slots.
Then I thought, this design could probably use some backing, to give some leverage to the Command strips.
And then I realized a hole in the backing would probably be useful, in case I want to hang this from a hook instead of just sticking it to a wall. I also added some hooks to the side, which wouldn’t have been possible without the align tool because creating a new Workplane wasn’t aligned to the corners 🙁
And that was the final product! Wallet/phone mockup on the left for scale
Here’s the TinkerCAD link – it should be public!
And after printing (for a whopping 10 hours), this is the final result:
The phone is, of course, not on there as it was used to take photos.
With the project finalized, there were definitely a number of things that caught my attention only after printing it. The first, is there’s really no good way to hang a watch from a hook. In my head I pictured it hanging looped (like in the picture) but I realized that means I have to close the watch strap again after I take it off – not something that’s ideal. The keys fit there perfectly, but I feel that was more luck than planning.
Another thing that I realized, is that this is a lot of material. I set it to have only 10% infill, which definitely saved a lot of time and cost, but I feel I definitely could have designed it to use even less material (maybe a fence-like design, rather than solid walls). Otherwise, I’m happy with the design, and am very glad that the 10-hour print didn’t fail.
For the in-class project, I chose the quote “There is no darkness so menacing, so dense, so difficult, that it cannot be overcome by light”
And pressing on “Light” lights up the word “Darkness” which I later realized doesn’t really make sense poetically.
Behind the “Darkness” are two batteries connected in parallel:
Folding up the bottom piece of the paper completes the circuit.
As for the final project, I wanted to make the classic old-school ‘fortune teller’ origami piece with 4 LED’s on each end.
The very first thing I did was fold the Fortune Teller, then marked which parts of the paper were visible in the completely folded state.
Then, I unfolded the paper. Now that I knew which parts of the paper would end up where, I could plan out the circuit:
After actually laying out the copper wire & batteries, it looked like this:
(On the left) the batteries are on one side of the paper, and the copper wires would then go through the paper.
(On the right) after going through the paper, the batteries then connect to two rings on the other side of the paper. The inner ring connects to the negative end of the batteries, and the outer ring connects to the positive side of the batteries.
You can see from the picture on the right that I connected all the LED’s to the positive end, to the resistor, which doesn’t connect to anything (yet). Since everything connects to the positive ring, and will individually connect through a resistor to the negative ring, it was a parallel circuit with 4 LED’s.
I then folded up the fortune teller again, and connected the resistor ends to copper contacts on the insides of the fortune teller.
After a lot of it not working, head-scratching, re-taping, and debugging, I finally got to a working (but finicky) the final result:
And here’s the awful mess that was the inside of the fortune teller
In a lot of ways, I’m surprised that the final project worked as well as it did. It’s so hard to see where electricity can and can’t flow, as well as why or why not. I also learned a lot about planning ahead and how much it can help. If I didn’t unfold the paper to draw the circuit before I actually started putting down the copper tape, I can definitely see myself ripping off the copper tape and re-applying them so much more than I already did. One thing I didn’t plan ahead that I really should’ve, is exactly where the contacts will be to act as the switches. In the drawn diagram, I draw out where the led’s, resistors, negative and positive terminals should go, but never drew where the switches would be. I did get it working, but unfortunately the switches had to be a bit impromptu after folding it up – and since I crossed over some folds with the tape, this can’t be unfolded again.
I’m really glad with how the final project turned out. Two of the lights do flicker a bit, unless it’s held juuuust right, but I’m completely satisfied with its current state.
For this week’s project, I wanted to make the surprised pikachu sticker that became fairly popular in the past year. This was the image that I initially started with:
With multiple colors, I thought it would be a great project, with a fairly neat final outcome too. The first thing I noticed was that if I put the facial features on top of the yellow, I would have to be very careful with the alignment – but I also thought it wouldn’t matter too much exactly how precise it was.
When I ran the pixel trace, I noticed that many of the colors picked up features that I didn’t expect them to – I think there were very slight outlines that the program picked up. I had to cut those out of the path manually:
After having it finally separated into its individual components, this is what it looked like:
The top layers would be easy to line up, while the bottom two could be done manually with tweezers since the shapes had a fair amount of error tolerance. One thing you might have noticed that I did not realize would be an issue at the time, is that the center brown component has a very thin outline. This proved difficult to manage, as well as the extremely tiny nose. However, with some deliberation and intense tweezing, I managed to get a very nice final result:
The mouth, eyes, ears, nose, all lined up perfectly. The only issue was that the very thin brown line had broken.
I mentioned this last time also, but I learned (again) that things come out a lot smaller than I think, and that 4 inches is smaller than I imagine. If I had a better intuition for the size and thinness it would be, I don’t think I would have left the thin brown line there. However, the clear transfer tape helped tremendously in the finalization of this project and I don’t think I would’ve been able to line up the pieces without it. Next time, I think I will try my best to avoid thin lines in general. Whether I do a thin outline or the whole piece, I realize nearly the same amount of material is being used up or thrown away anyway, so there’s no point in trying to conserve perimeters.
I put the sticker on my laptop, but on the outside portion. This proved to be a poor idea when the small pieces started to quickly fall off the yellow backdrop, (especially the brown strip, which completely fell off by the end of that day.) I think I’l definitely aim for bigger in general next time.
The final nametag
When we were first assigned the nametag project, I knew I wanted to do something music related. I’ve always loved listening to and playing music on the piano & guitar :). I was also probably inspired when I first opened inkscape and when the text tool was selected, the font had already been set to symusic.
I immediately started looking online for music staff silhouettes, but of course I didn’t want them to be perfectly straight. I saw a few examples that captured the feeling or design I wanted, but wasn’t quite the right size to fit my name, or was almost but not exactly to my liking.
And one common theme I saw is that the proportions were awful in all the examples I could find. The notes were tiny! Also, I’d of course have to get rid of them to fit my name on there. So I learned how to use the pen tool with splines, drew one line that I felt had the right length, thickness, and ‘wavyness’, then also learned about the spacing tool to create 5 copies and space them equally apart.
Of course, through all of this, there were several members in the FabLab helping me discover and use all of these tools.
Then I found a trebel clef symbol, and fit it onto the 5 lines (proportionately). Then I drew my own double bar line at the end, because I realized it seemed a bit empty on that corner.
My original intention was to have all the space in-between cut out (between the staff lines, in the letters of my name, etc) but I realized that would make my nametag quite too flimsy, especially towards the right side where there would be barely any material left. So, by the suggestion of a FabLab member, I decided to raster the image onto a more solid back.
After laser cutting and rastering, the members who have already helped me so far made a final suggestion – to add a magnetic nametag fastener on the back, and it turned out great!
Magnets on the back
Reflection: (I’m not sure how explicit this has to be)
Overall, the nametag definitely came out a lot better than I originally thought that it would come out. I also learned that laser cutter rastering doesn’t come out quite as dark as I thought, and I have to be more careful in balancing the grayscale – I’d expected the letters of my name to be much darker than the musical notations but they turned out very similar shades (despite being 100% black vs 30% gray). I feel that I’m much more comfortable in inkscape, because even two days ago I had only the vaguest idea of its features and capabilities, although I know I’m just barely scratching the surface.
I think one last thing that I have to get better at is getting a sense of scale from the computer screen to the final product – I had originally thought it would come out much bigger. Because of that, there were some design/sizing decisions that I was about to make that the wonderful FabLab members safely steered me away from (I’d almost made a 1.5-inch wide nametag)
This project has me very excited for the later ones to come, I had so much fun creating this nametag despite being a relatively small project. I love the open ended nature of the makerspace, providing both creative and technical freedoms 🙂