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

Author Archive

Final Project: 7(+) Rings

Subtitle: this is all just for me, really. Also I’m writing this on a plane on limited sleep so I apologize if it’s a little unclear at points.


Question 1: (Sorry I know this wasn’t supposed to be a full write up but I ended up explaining a lot of it anyway).

My final project was, in a few words: Rings Made Out Of Multiple Materials That I Can Make Myself With Some Level of Customization.

These are the final products that are the rings!

And, because the entire project ended up a little more resin-centric than expected, the rings + some other fun side things I made with leftover resin (I’m not the best at approximating volumes.)

The process to get to the end was pretty winding. I didn’t start out with the clearest idea of what I wanted to do, beyond the most basic idea. I picked up and abandoned multiple methods of making rings once I learned what they did- and what they were and weren’t well suited for. (Such as the CNC mill). I wound up settling on resin, partly because I’d gotten stumped on the other methods and also because I really liked the idea of suspending whatever I wanted in rings.

Now, in order to make something in resin, you need to have a negative- aka, a mold you can pour into, that will harden into the shape that you want. With resin, either the mold has to be able to flex, or you have to be willing to completely destroy the mold every time you use it. I ended up settling on a rubber pour-over mold, which was pretty fun even if the mixture was getting kind of old and congealed.

(I also made an effort with a wood mold towards the end, but I should’ve used way softer wood for the centres, because I wound up not being able to pop the centers out.)

To get the rubber mold negative, I needed a positive. So I laser cut some wood rings to serve as the positive, and in the process, realized they looked pretty nice on their own. That’s actually where the majority of the rings came from, given that the short timeframe I’d given myself and the 24 hr curing time needed for resin didn’t play super nicely with each other. I’m actually really proud of the wood rings, because they were simple in execution and came down a lot to what I thought looked nice or didn’t look nice, which isn’t something I get to do a lot these days.


The resin rings were fun to make too! I’m really proud of how I ended up managing to incorporate metal; by taking little bits and shavings and using those as the suspended pieces in the ring. It looks pretty cool, and I also like how resourceful it makes me feel. There was more than one resin ring made, but they come out cloudy when you first pop them out of the mold, and I only successfully polished one, which is the one in the majority of the photos.

Not everything was smooth going. The rubber mold mixture was a little difficult to work with given the not-really-liquid state of it, so the molds didn’t come out entirely smooth. I think given a few more tries, I could’ve figured something out to make the edges a bit cleaner. The biggest issue with the resin was the 24 hr curing time; it’s on me, some, for setting myself up with not too much time, but I think I’m also just a little impatient, and 48 hours per each round of rings (combined rubber mold curing + resin curing + about 4-5 hours in lab each time I was working on the rings) is just a little too much. It’s even more if you do things correctly and suspend layer by layer so the suspended material doesn’t sink to the bottom over the curing time.  I am just…. Too impatient.


Question 2: I actually fell through on a majority of my initial plans for the new skills. I do plan on coming back to learn to use the lathe at a different point, and I might do the same for the CNC if I have any ideas that might make good use of it. I did brush back up on my Universal laser cutter skills, but not the epilogue. After everything, however,  I did learn a lot about resin casting, and some about pourover rubber molds. I’m pretty happy with the depth vs breadth tradeoff here, and can definitely see myself working with resin on personal projects. …Assuming no strict timeline, that is.


In terms of my other goal- I think I achieved it? For this project moreso than others I was driven a lot more by something that I wanted, that I physically wanted to have and fiddle with. As a result, I think I was a lot more content with the result, even if it went off the rails a bit from what I expected, because I still wanted whatever random thing I was going for. Concessions made because of time or unexpected limitations felt less like concessions and more like… an alternate route. I still want to try again on the resin, but I am also genuinely happy with what I have/learned/got out of the experience, more so than I think I was with previous projects.


Question 3: Two big things: Iteration iteration iteration, and the knowledge that it doesn’t hae to come out perfectly on its first iteration, or even whole. Part of the issue is, of course, giving myself the time to iterate, but also to counter my tendency to do The Entire Project At Once Right Now because sometimes I get overexcited and try to actualize everything I’m imagining at once instead of, like, learning to do things in steps. (See: sewable LED, even the resin rings to a small extent). I think that tendency has also stopped me from doing personal projects in the past, because specifically for personal/art projects, I don’t like starting unless I think I can do it well. But, among everything else, this class has hammered it in that sometimes you just need to start, and be willing to let the first prototype be less than ideal. Maybe this is just leftover habits from too much procrastination; either way, the class has been a very, very valuable reminder of why Iteration!!! Is so important.


Question 4: I have a lot more small skills that I really value, now. For stuff like learning how to use certain tools and machines, I always really want to learn, but am very bad at asking people for help. I then try to learn things on my own, but self driven teaching can be hard, especially when its not something that Needs To Be Done. This class was an excellent way for me to get over that first hurdle of just learning how to use the thing, so I can then use those skills however I want.


I’ve always had a particular love for hands on stuff. Most of it was in the 3d realm, with stuff like sculptures or figures/animals made out of pipe cleaners or twists ties or whatever I had on hand. I also have a particular fondness for power tools. I love making things with my hands- that was nothing new, but I think it’s a pasttime I kind of had to put to the wayside in recent years. This class was a good reminder of why I love this kind of stuff so much and also a very compelling incentive to keep it up afterwards. I think I always scounted myself as  alittle of a maker, but now I remember that I can still continue to be one, as extremely cheesey as that sounds.

Like, all joking and assignments aside- I really, genuinely loved this class a lot, and the way it was taught. It was an excellent experience and I regret almost none of it.*


*the almost is there to account for the 10 hours spent on copper tape. Curse you, copper tape. I love you, love me back.

Continue Reading

Iteration Project: Sewable LED Patch

Subtitle: why do you make your own life so hard, shaoyie


Okay, so, full disclosure I think this is late? I forgot this was due Sunday midnight, between some other deadlines I had running. I’m writing this now because I realize I should have something up; ideally, the finished product will be up only an hour or two after I initially post this. Now that I’ve figured things out, mostly.

(which is.. still not ideal since its like 4 am but ITS ALRIGHT.)

ANYWAY. This is the current product:


For reference, it says: “I believe in a universe that doesn’t care and people who do.” around a line drawing of a whale.

So the process:

The project I was redoing was my vinyl sticker, redone on an embroidered patch.

So for reference, this quote is from a conversation in a video game, during which the characters are looking at constellations. The one the conversation is centered around is this whale, in the bottom right, so I wanted to capitalize on that. Thinner lines aren’t as good for vinyl stickers, so I wanted to try to make it into a patch instead.

Image result for angus nitw whale

That in mind, this was the new vector design I ended up with.

(I’m really quite proud of this one).

First step was embroidery. That by itself was a process. I wanted to make the dark cloud embroidered as well; not just a shape cut out of fabric, so it took a pretty long time. There also wasn’t thick enough fabric in the color I wanted, so I ended up learning how to use stabilizer. The entire embroidery took about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours? I remember this because I stayed about 30 minutes past closing time because I was waiting for the embroidery to finish. 

It went… alright, but the text didn’t come out too clean. I think part of that may have been the font choice (did you know that text doesn’t really translate very well into the embroidery program we use? i know now. You basically have to redo any text you might have on your vector design, which was… fun…….), and also that the repeated punching of the background + text may have made the lines a little more squiggly. The initial product was definitely pretty hard to read.

I spent some time cleaning it up with little scissors + a lint roller, but I don’t seem to have a specific picture of the-after for that.

Other than the text, and the stars coming out more like tiny tiny dots, I was pretty happy with it overall. 

Anyway, step two, LED’s.

Initially, I was going to try to put the LED’s on the points of the whale where the stars in the original image had been. Upon finishing the patch itself, I realized it was… not the best idea. The patch was too thick to have it poke through, and setting it up to let the LED’s poke through probably would have messed up some structural integrity.

So, NEW PLAN: place them around in a sort of framing manner. I was going to use conductive thread + sewable LED’s for this part, which I was pretty excited about. I had 5 LED’s and more or less had the idea of how I wanted to place them.

So I then embarked on a Series Of Bad Decisions.

Bad decision 1: I decided I wanted to sew them all into place first, and just light them all up at the same time. I think at the time, I was 1- trying to make sure I didn’t forget how I wanted to place them and 2- optimize my time in the lab so I wouldn’t have to take home the roll of conductive thread (because I would then be in danger of losing it). That said, it was a pretty terrible decision. Some knowledge of circuits in my mind and vaguely remembering “the positives and negative lines cant touch!” I sewed all the negative threads first.

Ended up with this.

Which is, as you can tell, a mess. I, staring at it, went, “shoot, I can’t really sew the positive lines without them crisscrossing each other.” and instead of, say, taking them out and trying to do each LED 1 by 1, went. “I will force them not to touch”, and sewed on a layer of cloth, to act as a buffer between the negative and positive lines. like, this piece of cloth went over the battery pack, and had holes cut out for where I wanted the needle to go through the holes of the pack. It was, very, very suspicious looking.

[Apparently I don’t have a picture of the back after I did all that. That’s okay. It was a mess. This is a good explanation of my line of thinking]

(It speaks to how sketchy it was that I don’t know whether the actual end result was more or less ugly than that diagram).

And then! After all that! It didn’t work.

(This is actually also a photo of the before-positive. I can promise you it didn’t work though).

Anyway, at this point in time, I had left the fab lab, cut a length of the conductive thread (“just in case”), and been sewing in the positive threads at random moments. Once I realized it wasn’t working, i put it away for a while for future-me to debug.

Over the course of a couple days, in hopes I would not have to rethread everything, I ruled out possible explanations such as:

1- not-working battery (this was actually the case but it didn’t work with a working battery either).

2- the thread didn’t work + needed more contact to work. (it was actually the other way around. I’d assumed it would need several loops of contact to have enough surface area. But even one thread was enough).

3- the LED’s weren’t working. (I couldn’t actually test this one without rethreading everything anyway).

4- I was trying to power too many LED’s. (Per me asking Emilie, a standard coin cell battery could power at least like 6.)

5- repeatedly taking out the battery and putting it back in might make it work possibly maybe. (tested this many times).

After all that, I sighed, and took it apart. (and confirmed that yes, the LED’s worked.)

(this took surprisingly long on its own).

At this point- about 5 PM on Sunday, I also realized I had misplaced my spare conductive thread. So, I was left with a tangle of already-used conductive thread, mostly in short chunks because taking it apart had been difficult, even after I’d realized I would need it, and tried to cut it as sparingly as possible, a pretty limited set of hours, and a good reminder of why one should test things in small increments instead of trying to do everything at once. iteration, shaoyie.

anyway, once I realized you 1- don’t need that much thread to make circuits, and 2- i didn’t have to tie down the battery back with conductive thread, I wasn’t too worried, although already-used conductive thread isn’t very cooperative with being used again.

I did, however, manage to mess up AGAIN, and sew down an LED the wrong way. 

You might see the little tiny plus and minus on there. I did too. Unfortunately I did not heed them when I was sewing it into place. “why not, shaoyie?” don’t worry, I don’t know either.

Anyway, so that leaves us with the finished product! I will improve upon it in the future, possibly, but for now, this is just about it.

The whale says hello!

Continue Reading

Arduino: Locomoting bots

Subtitle: shaoyie is not responsible enough to use a hot glue gun.


Finished product! Dragon!  (Video will be attached below)


I will readily admit I probably should have focused on the “locomoting” part of it a bit more. Got a little too excited about the dragon part, so it uh, it moves. Just… not effectively. Or in the expected direction.

Photo of completed + video:

I promise it is actually moving. Just….. very incrementally. 

  I uhh… did not actually take that many pictures. /Technically/ this is my first iteration- 

Which is, clearly, having some stability issues. It did actually move a little, but was basically falling over every time it took a step.

Which was funny. But also not great.  So I decided to ease up on making it stand on its own, and gave it a little structure frame thing to hold it up properly. 

(This was also when I realized why I don’t normally use hot glue guns. I know the glue is hot. Its a hot glue gun. But I always, without fail, want to poke it.)

In addition, I modified the code a bit to make the steps smaller, so it wouldn’t be flailing its limbs everywhere. The pace of the steps seemed to be generally in line with how walking could actually work, so once I had the general setup down, I kept that. This was actually done by incrementing the degrees of the two legs in one single for loop, which kind of made it so that one leg… lags? might be the best way of phrasing it? behind the other.


The final product still wasn’t as good as I wanted. The legs would actually be moving it properly, I think, if I had some extra time to work on it. The issue had to do with the grip the “feet” had + the way they were alternating; they were basically gripping the floor enough to move a little, but the other food was moving with the right timing to then shift it back. I wanted to modify the frame a bit so it would tilt forward more, so that there is grip when the foot moves back, but not when it swings forward. I ran out of time in the fab lab though, so its still not in primo condition. Maybe I will do some extra fixes before class starts tomorrow? We shall see. 

Continue Reading

Arduino (Lights and Sensors)

Subtitle: I Swear I Know How To Use Computers

Preface: The end product really…. isnt very complicated.  I cycled through trying out some 3/4 sensors because I got overexcited and then after, had a decent amount of difficulty getting my various ideas to work which is hilarious because… I should definitely be better at this. Oh well.


So after spending time in class playing around with:

  • 2 magic ring sensors (able to tell when they’re being tilted, pretty neat.), considering making a steering wheel

Magic rings were fun! Pairing two of them together was an interesting idea, so I spent a pretty decent amount of time with it. A lot of the more neat ideas I had required a little more precision than the magic rings alone could offer, but I was pretty sure that at minimum, a basic steering wheel would be doable with two of them paired up. A tthat point I realized that might overlap a little more closely with what we’ll do next week, so I ended up opting against it.

  • a proximity sensor (self explanatory) +buzzer in hopes of making a “stay away from me” alarm

Another fun in-class idea. The buzzing noises from the buzzers is /extremely/ irritating, so I figured, put that to good use. If someone got too close to the proximity sensor, send it blaring as a “Get Away From Me” thing. Unfortunately, some others in the class also had this excellent idea, so I figured I’d just branch out and try some other things instead. (Although proximity sensors are always cool).

Out of class, I spent a pretty decent amount of time playing around with IR receivers and transmitters, and was really considering working with that, just because, they’re extremely cool! Unfortunately, most tutorials/guides seemed to opt for having an IR remote to play with, to pair up with the receiver. I think if I had spent some more time on playing with the transmitter + receiver I could have figured it out, but I ultimately figured that if I wanted to play with it, I would want to do so with a remote as well, to get the best out of it.

I also.. apparently forgot to take pictures of this too, sorry.

I ended up with the photointerrupter, which is a neat little peace that has a u-shaped bit that transmits a beam across the u-shaped part. When the beam is broken, the signal the photointerrupting is sending back to the arduino changes. 

(Google images photos coming up because I didn’t think to take close up pictures.)

Image result for arduino photo interrupter

Image result for arduino photo interrupter


These are my photos:

Anyway, in terms of prototypes, I was thinking some sort of setup that would turn off a light as soon as a door closes (like when it clicks into place). Specifically, I was thinking of it being triggered by a /screen/ door, or something similar (because otherwise the lights would turn off by default every time you shut the door, which would be irritating). So, once you shut the door, it would close by default.


….I do have a storyboard for this, but its /incredibly/ ugly, so we’re holding off on it. 

Continue Reading

Sewing and Embroidery Project

Subtitle: I Did Not Realize I Could Mess Up So Many Things In So Many Ways, Incredible. 

Other possible subtitles: Embroidery Machines Why Don’t You Love Me, How Did I Lose The Pupils??, I Should Really Figure Out The Ladder Stitch, and Why Don’t I Own Fabric Scissors.

I’m not proud of this project as much as I would like to be (which is even suckier considering its late, oops), but I still learned a lot.

First, the in-class stuff:

I seriously love this bag. I’d love to have another. I might make another, honestly.

This is the embroidery: It’s a head of a white wolf, from japanese folklore called Amaterasu, the sun god, It’s specifically a video game adaptation. It’s called chibiterasu. its adorable.


Final Product!


He’s a kitty bean, and a lovely mint color (although it doesn’t come out super great in photos). Also, yes, his pupils are not there. I have no idea where the eye shines went. More elaboration later.

This is the embroidery part; I was worried about embroidering on the softer mink fabric, so I decided to make him a lil cape. I was gonna put a hood on it too, but due to me not having fabric scissors, I don’t want to risk cutting the black fabric more than I have. 

The embroidery did /not/ come out good. I would like to redo it entirely, but the embroidery machines gave me a surprising amount of trouble and I didn’t have time to iterate on it. 🙁 Per Duncan’s opinion, that white etchy-look was due to the bobbin thread being loose. It’s supposed to look a lot cleaner (a picture of the PES file is also below). I debated turning it over and using the white side instead, but opted against it in the end.

I might redo the embroidery at some point, just for me, once I have time. I like embroidering, but I have a weird amount of difficulty with the machines. After not having enough time + breaking a needle on a machine + the weird threading issue + starting over a few times on embroidering, I think any time set aside for embroidery needs to have at least an extra hour or too to account for my inability to use the machines properly,

I spent a good amount of time putting together the design myself. Once I knew what fabric I wanted to use, and that I wanted a cape, I wanted some kind of sprawling plant design with maybe some scattered stars but couldn’t find anything I wanted online so I, (admittedly panicking at this time because i was already running on limited time), threw something together. The mess at the top is supposed to be a cluster of mint leaves, while the ferns encircle a line of stars going down.

Sewing wise: The entire plush was hand sewn. In a small part because the fab lab was closing and also I wasn’t entirely sure I trusted the machine for plushie work, and I had….. some… experience with hand sewing.

My stitches are… not great. Admittedly. I also don’t have the best instinct for facing things the right way. or putting the “good” sides together, so…. things took way longer than they had to, honestly. Pictures from the process below.

THESE EARS. These are included because I redid the stitching, I kid you not, 7 times, because I kept on sewing it so that they weren’t mirrors of each other, or so that the good fabric was facing the wrong way, or both. I /kept doing it/. 7 Times. It was a mess. 

Last known sighting of the pupils (a little white fluff in the top left corner). I swear I stuck them with th rest of the fabric when I stuffed it into my backpack to take home for sewing. but they’re gone.

Ladder stitch! Mentioned because I “learned” it and went “oh wow! thats really neat!” and had a moment of “i can do ANYTHING now that I know this!”. It was nice. I’m still very bad at it, but its nice knowledge to have.

“It was at this point, she squinted at her handiwork at like 5 in the morning and went: ” why…….. are the legs……. off center………………….”

Additional fun things: I don’t own fabric scissors, and realized at one point I forgot to cut out a second of one of the pieces, and that I needed to cut the cape so it could be fastened properly. Things that can cut but do not work as well as fabric scissors: Multitool knife, art knife, my spare knife. 

Anyway, funtime goodtimes. 

Lastly, I set up the cape (having brought the fabric home). I cut some of it off so that I could make a little button fasten.

Me, abruptly, at this point: …………. wait, do I know how to sew on buttons? (thankfully, the answer was yes).

It comes unbuttoned!


Overall, not my best work, definitely. I learned a lot, have a lot of respect for anyone who works with fabric regularly. I’d like to do more fabric work, but I definitely need more time than I gave myself for it.

Fun though!

Continue Reading

3D Printing and Scanning Project

Subtitle: Sometimes you try really hard and then realize the simplest idea is the easiest.


Finished product!


Its a little piece of plastic essentially meant to act as a little splint for my injured headphones. Dimensions/curve matched to fit my headphones specifically, with little grooves in the back so I can secure it with rubber bands. 

Here it is in action (in retrospect, probably should have chosen a color other than black, because it doesnt show up super well in photos. 



This is the one done in class:

The other two options I ended up not choosing were the cutlery set, and the remixed cultural piece.

The cultural piece I admittedly spent the least amount of time on. I was going to do something with Malaysian/Singaporean/Chinese roots, so I gathered some icons from each- Merlion, traditional Chinese lion, headset from the lion dance, I was hoping to find a 3D scan of the Batu Caves in Malaysia, but no can do. i spent some time trying to mash stuff together but i.. it just didn’t turn out very well. I have a few screenshots here and there, but I wasnt very happy with how most of it went, so it looks pretty untouched.

The cutlery set was a real option. I started out with “cutlery that is intentionally inconvenient but still usable”, and then just ended up with “all the cutlery in one piece of cutlery”. Granted, its still a little inconvenient to use, I think, but it is very compact. Good for camping and the like. The handle is the knife (with a sheath, of course), and you would probably be able to slide the prongs of the fork back in.

AND THEN. My headphones broke, and I dropped both of these ideas to work on “something you need”, instead. 

This is a physical photo of my headphones after the incident, featuring my excellent rubber band engineering abilities. 

I don’t actually have a picture of it dangling freelly, but in a very rough sense, the ear-parts of my headphones can swivel, and the plastic swivel part snapped, leaving only the cable holding the ear piece attached.

My astounding mspaint abilities at work, explaining to someone what had happened. Blue being the plastic part that had snapped, and the black being the cable.

The original plan was something like this 

I’m not an art major, but clearly, I should be.

Something like a cast, wrapping around. 

So, game on. Originally, I was going to try to get a 3D scan of the headphones, and then build around that. Seemed easy enough. [ It was not. I don’t have photos for most of this, but I swear it happened]

I first tried downloading a scanner app on my phone (Scann3D, from the assignment doc).  It did not go well. I didn’t have a good setup for scanning, and either way the headphones didn’t seem to register well, and it kept picking up on literally anything other than the headphones. At one point it even pretty accurately recreated my keyboard, in the background of the photo, rather than the headphones.

I then went up a level, and tried using the fancy scanner in the Fab Lab, getting help from Colton. He was extremely helpful and great about it all, but ultimately even that gave us only partial bits and pieces, and I would have had to sit there and manually piece everything together. He then suggested making a 3D mold with clay, on the headphones, and simply scanning that, then cleaning it up. Which was a fantastic idea! So, I ordered some clay off of amazon, and waited.

Upon starting working with the clay, I realized that the piece would probably be too small to scan well, and I might be better off getting dimensions instead.

(…. It is worth noting that I… just, kind of forgot, I could probably have looked up the dimensions online. Just know that I completely forgot that until after I had finished the first prototype.)

I tried to get the right dimensions and etc off of the headphones. Here is a photo of me getting dimensions using the clay.


But not with a ruler, because apparently I don’t own a ruler, so I was trying to use my multitool for scale. I also decided against a cast setup, at this point, and instead started going for more of a splint. No wraparound, just a piece at the bottom that would essentially hold the earpiece up, and a top part curved against the band of the headphones. I was still debating on how I would keep it secured at the time of the first prototype.

Anyway, by now it was approximately Monday and I knew I had to start printing, so I gave up on the clay dimensions, went to MakerLab, and just sat there with a ruler.

And it worked! So first, I recreated the headband of the headphones using a ring, and matching it to the diameter of the headphones. I couldn’t get the thickness of the ring right (so definitely no cast, or anything else that wrapped around), but the height and curve seemed right.. I spent a while fiddling, and then printed my first prototype.

It worked okay! I was very excited, but there were two issues: The bottom hook-ish part, as pretty thin, and was also what was holding up a majority of the weight. In addition, it didn’t really have a way to stay adhered to the headphones, although I realized combining this piece and my current rubber band setup made it REALLY secure. 


This in mind, I made my second iteration: thicker (all over), and little hook things on the back so I could use more rubber bands to horizontally lash it in place.

This iteration (which I picked up the next day because I hadn’t had time to stay and wait) actually was… worse. Thickening it had messed up the curve, so it could no longer sit flush against the headphones, and the hooks had turned out funky.

This is the only pic where the hole is visible- thats meant to be there if I want to loop something through to tie it down, but the hooks mean to take the place of that. I just kept it there jic.

So, I made a third- and last iteration. I went back to my old design (I’d saved it in a separate file before making changes, thankfully), just thickened the bottom layer, and then, instead of hooks, made grooves.


Here it is in action on my headphones. + the rubber banding in the grooves.

And all of it together: 

Continue Reading

Copper Tape Circuits

Subtitle: “Despite being tape, and despite my love of tape, copper tape does not love me back and I should probably stick to wires in the future.”

(This blog post turned out… weirdly long, I’m sorry. I took a BUNCH of photos apparently).


When lit:

When not lit:

Inspired by none other than good old Opportunity, the Mars Rover. If you have not already heard the story of what happened, I advise you look at this twitter thread:

and have a couple emotions.


I spent a grand total of 10 hours on this because I 1- got way too caught up in it while working and 2- made both a paper prototype and a circuit prototype.

Paper prototype was done first, when I was figuring out the general design and mechanics of how the fiddly bits would work.

Note the two hastily glued pieces of paper because i got WAY overzealous making the original slit, and the paperclip in the mars.

Circuit prototype was next, and took /some time/. I promise I sketched out the lines, but I went over them with the tape before remembering to take pictures.

(note the LED just chillin, up on top.)
Switch logic.
back of the card + sliding shooting star logic
Inside of the shooting star
rover circuitry. i learned to give myself more space on the actual product.


The rover is the “pop up” part of the card, as well as the placement of 2 of the LED’s. The glow makes it a little hard to pick out, but one is meant to be like the “eye” of the rover, while the other is a little light on the end of the antennae, but their proximity kind of makes the colors blur. Opportunity was printed on cardstock, using the silhouette cutter, specifically with the blade set to 5, because I’d tried to cut with 3 previously and had much more disappointing results (see photos of the mockups: that rover is a lil more fuzzy round the edges.).

cleaner than the prototype, still a bit of a mess

The big round red thing is, yes, meant to be Mars, and initially I was going to do some coloring to make it look more like Mars but its about 3:30 AM currently and my circuits insist on being /very/ finicky, so we’re just going as is. “Mars” is a rotateable disk of paper made of 2 layers, and also happens to be the switch for the circuit. I’m quite proud of how I figure out the rotation- its essentially stabbed through with a paperclip, bent so that it sort of pins it to the paper while allowing it to rotate. The two layers are so I can hide the paperclip.

Along the top, is a “shooting star”, with the third LED. This one was trickiest in terms of figuring out contacts, because its meant to be able to slide along the top, while staying lit. The prototypes below show approximately how it works. There are strips of copper above and below the cutout, for the pos/neg legs. The legs are taped (with more copper) to the paper used as the lever, and then everything is held in place with another, larger piece of paper, taped over the sliding parts. This presses the lever+the LED legs to the circuit on the paper, while still allowing it the freedom to slide.

Because the LED is orange, and the other two are white and blue, it required the least voltage, meaning I had to add a resistor to it to ensure my parallel circuit would feed all three lights.

Real talk: It /mostly/ works. The light is a little flickery. But all of them are kind of flickery, and this one /moves/, so….. win? I cant upload videos here so here are frames from a video of me sliding it.

overall! A very fun experience, but also took WAY more time than I expected. Copper tape is /very/ finicky and a lot of the unreliability is just poor connections between the LED’s and the circuit. I hope this works tomorrow in class, but there’s no way of knowing.

Continue Reading

Multilayered Sticker

Optionally titled: “Shaoyie this is why people dont make stickers with millions of tiny fiddly parts.”

(Apologies for informality, I’m a little sleep deprived.)

So this is the finished product!

everyone press f for the whale, who was meant to be part of the sticker but i messed up tragically with him, and then didnt have the heart to take him out.

Sources first: This quote (and the bear character, named Angus) are from a game called Night In The Woods, which I’m pretty fond of. … without context I realize this quote might seem a little depressing but I promise in context its a pretty heartwarming conversation about human nature and etc. That is also where the whale comes from, although I failed to use him properly.

This was not the original design/idea I was going to go with; I was originally gonna do a cleaner, less fiddly design where I just mashed together some of my favorite video game logos, but logos are pretty well designed and mashing them together kind of felt like sacrilege. So I went for this route instead.

Layers come from Angus’s face, and the lettering. The lettering ended up being very problematic- I intended to use the actual letters, not the cutouts, but they were just…. way too tiny and got all messed up so eventually i gave up and just used the cutout, manually cutting out some weird polygonish shapes. Turned out okay, especially given that they were manually cut and I was using a multitool. and am very bad at cutting straight lines.

i was working on this in an empty lecture hall and i only now realize how strange it must have looked to the person who came in and then promptly left.
ft. my multitool with its tweezers that came in real handy here.

Lessons learned: do not use little fiddly shapes like letters or fine tracing (like the whale) unless you are willing to spend inordinate amounts of time adjusting and arranging and working with very very tiny pieces of sticker. That was probably supposed to be self evident, but. oops.

Last note: I guess theoretically the little circles coming off of the thought bubble aren’t physically attached to the main sticker, but they are meant to be. Emotionally.

Continue Reading

Laser Name Tag

I will preface this post by saying that I, completely forgot about this being due until yesterday. On an ideal day I would have given myself about an hour or two more to fiddle around with materials and design and to generally mess around. As is, I’m probably going to go back and iterate on this design, because I’m not quite happy with it, but oh well.

Anyway, here’s the end result:

… im unsure why this is sideways but i also cant figure out how to fix it right now. sorry.

There are a few very particular things I would like to improve on, probably next time I go back. The most obvious one is that the burning edges was too close to the actual detailing, obscuring some of it. (I know there’s a name for it, and I’m entirely blanking on what it is, but hopefully next time I’ll remember to leave some border space for it.) This is probably also influenced by the fact that I chose a pretty thick piece of wood. I’ll probably choose a thinner one next time and then mix it up with some different types of material. The other is that the entire design feels a bit cluttered. I do like how things are spaced out, but it does feel a touch busy.

There were a couple of specific design choices I made. The first being the choice of wood. I’ve used the laser cutter before, with acrylic, and had a lot of fun with that, but hadn’t done wood before, so I was kind of excited to try it out. Conclusion: I’m still a fan of engraving acrylic, but there’s a particular Look that comes with the charred edges. I’m kind of a fan of it, but maybe not for something that is supposed to have a clean, simple design. Jury is still out on that one.

I, admittedly, panicked under the pressure of “choose something that represents you” and just googled some stuff I thought looked neat, with most of the actual design thought being put into spacing and the like. The exception is the thing in the bottom corner, which is a tattoo from the main character in a video game I’m extremely, extremely fond of. (The Last Of Us, for anyone interested). The downsizing + burning along the edges smudges it some, so its a bit hard to pick out, but I still like how it looks. In general. I like all the things on here- I’m a fan of the swooping, vectory designs of the bird, and also a fan of vine/tree/imagery, from a design perspective. But I think I’ll tack on a couple more video game-related icons, next time, and worry less about “framing” my name, and more about having things on there that matter a bit more to me.

Either way, was still a bigger success than the initial try, during which I misplaced the cutting line and chopped off half of my name. (oops).

Honestly, I would be okay with people calling me Shao but both of my sisters names also start with Shao, so it makes it a little more tricky.

I might update this later once I get the chance to iterate on my design, but still a fun experience overall. Lasers are great.

Continue Reading