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

Author Archive

Final Project – Motion Sensor Solar Powered Desk Lamp

Question 1:

For this final project, I made a solar powered motion sensor desk lamp controlled by Arduino. The lamp is made by cutting a block of wood into three pieces. Two of the longer blocks are for the stand which is connected to the other block for the head with a screw, winged bolt, and washer to make the head adjustable. I faced a lot of challenges in the project which are to create the solar panel, connecting it to the Arduino, programming the Arduino and doing the woodworking as I have never had any experience whatsoever. I am really proud of building the solar panel with the help of Brandon. Never I would have thought that I would literally build the solar panel circuit myself (thought of buying it at first), but after much experiments, it was done!


Question 2:

First, my learning goal was to get more of hands-on experience on building things. I come from Indonesia and woodworking was not something that was really taught to students however, crafting was something that has always intrigued me since childhood. From that, I hoped to gain the basic skills in woodworking and using power tools to create new products from materials such as wood. After doing the project, I have gained the basics in modeling materials such as cutting the wood using an electric saw and drilling using the heavy machine with supervision from the representatives in charge of safety.


The next learning goal I had in this project was to do something more on the engineering side and gain more technical skills. Although I initially thought that I am a maker by heart, this ideology does not really translate using the technical skills that I possess and have to apply to the project. So, by the end of the project, I hope to gain knowledge about circuits and power conversion. After doing the project, although not much, I did gain this knowledge such as if you are using a parallel circuit, you will get an even voltage distribution and more current (yeah, this is what worked for my project).

This learning goal also aided me in another personal goal, which is to get closer to the people in the FabLab. Earlier in the semester, I was so mesmerized with what the members of the lab are doing and really wanted to get involved. However, as the semester, I did not have that much time to come to the lab aside from class hours. So, from this project, I vowed to at least to get closer with someone (aside from my awesome instructor Emilie). After doing the project, I did get closer to one person, Brandon. Brandon was really helpful during the entire project. He helped taught me how to create the solar panel power source and how to connect them to the Arduino. Moreover, he also helped me a lot with the coding part to program the motion sensor and the lights.


All in all, I think that my project was a huge success in my own metrics. Never would I expect, an accounting student like me to create something that so far away from the education discipline I have been going through for the past 4 years and created something that does not require me to make balance sheets or income statements. Although it is successful according to me, there is definitely room for improvements. First, I should have made the cable to the solar panel longer so that it can be moved more freely. The lamp can be plugged to a portable power source, hence it could be a portable lamp. In regards to that, I would think that making the body of the lamp and the Arduino box waterproof would definitely take my project to the next level. I really think that my project is important as it is definitely a step into the future. I think climate change is destroying our world and finding an alternative power source is a step to a better world. The motion sensor is there to limit the power usage as the lamp will turn off if you do not need it anymore and the lamp is entirely solar powered.


Question 3:

This class has taught me a lot in regard to technical skills as well as self-development skills. One thing that I learned from this class is that it is okay to make mistakes. As a business major, we were taught that it is imperative to not make mistakes as it would hinder the efficiency of the whole business process. Although not making mistakes is important, mistakes are valuable experiences that remind us that if one way does not work, you need to find an alternative to it. From mistakes, I learned that although a solution might logical sense, it might not work the same when applied due to other factors. This brings me to another lesson I learned through the whole experience, which is to be resilient. I am not the most efficient and smartest person when it comes to making the projects given in the class. It took more time for me in doing and also designing the projects. However, the class taught me that I have to struggle and stay resilient in finishing the tasks, which actually bore wonderful fruits. I can say that I am proud of the creations I made in the class (although some were really terrible, I know). One thing I found comfortable doing is actually using the Arduino. I was always inclined to this part of the class for its limitless ability. At first, it was hard, but after doing 4 projects with it (2 Arduino projects, 1 iteration project, and final project), I came to enjoy doing it and might I say be decent at it. 


Question 4:

Before taking this class, I thought that a maker is someone who makes something from nothing to something. However, this class has taught me that there is no one single definition for a maker as everyone has different and unique making processes. My definition of a maker is someone using tools to add value to something and tells stories using their creations (kinda borrowed the quote from Adam Savage[1]). By that definition, I am definitely a maker. Every learning experience I obtained from the class had been hands-on and meaningful for me in different ways. I definitely think that the quote means more to me now than it had at the beginning of the semester. With the skills, I gained and the understanding of the lessons’ objectives, I can confidently say that the class had given me a more holistic learning approach to making as it encompasses education disciplines as well as backgrounds. The hands-on experience helped me understand the matter at hand as I do not need to visualize the concept, as I can just try it out with the devices that are available in the lab.






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Assignment 8: Iteration

Wow, I can’t believe that the semester is coming to an end (graduation is just around the corner, don’t know what to feel about it). So this week we had to do our iteration assignment. We have to take something that we have previously done (or the skills that we have previously learned) and try to make something unique and kick it up a notch.

So, I knew that I wanted to do something with Arduino. This part of the class – although quite tedious for someone who is a newbie in coding – piqued my interest the most. With Arduino, I can create things that I thought I would never be able to do since I am not an engineer. After browsing the internet for ideas, I came to this MakeUseOf article on how to make a mood lamp ( I found this article really interesting because I think it would be a really neat idea to have a mood lamp by my bedside for ambiance. In addition to that, I get to use other materials I have not used previously in the lab such as laser printing acrylics and woodworking. 

I chose this project to explore the possibilities of using the laser printer. Previously, I have only done it to create a simple name tag out of wood. I really wanted to use other materials for experiments. Second, I also wanted to explore the possibilities that an Arduino can manage. The oscillating lights code for the mood lamp is the perfect approach to this intention. 

So first I had to tweak with the Arduino. I created the circuit according to the schematics presented in the article. It took some tries and redoing to get the inputs correct, but after that, I managed to finish the Arduino circuit.

Now came the interesting part. I used Inkscape to create my design for the mood lamp cover. I was inspired by the tesseract in the Avengers movie (the Endgame movie is coming out this week!).

To pay homage to that, I designed the mood lamp cover to be a simple cube. I used the acrylic to create a simple yet aesthetically pleasing design. I was excited when the laser printing was done, however, I did not calculate the thickness of the acrylic would add an extra 0.6cm to my cube, and some of the parts did not fit well. So I had to redesign it in Inkscape and cut it again to create the perfect cube. After that, I decided that I want to create a wooden box below to hide the Arduino. I used the same technique but this time I used wood so that the Arduino would not be visible from the outside. Then I used the hot glue gun to assemble everything. I decided to not stick the lamp cover (acrylic cube) to the Arduino cover (wooden box) so that if maintenance is needed (like a broken bulb or problematic cable) it is possible to do it without disassembling (breaking) the whole thing. All in all, I really enjoyed the process and really proud of what I accomplished. This class had been a very interesting and fun class. To be honest it is the class that I really look forward to every week because I get to make things and learn more about being a maker. 


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Arduino 2 : Locomoting Bots

This week, we learned how to use the Servo motors to create simple movement. I really enjoyed the learning experience (although it was quite hard since I am a business student). I initially made a chicken that is flapping its wings. My design was to put one motor on each wing and put the chicken on a popsicle stick for support. The initial sculpting was easy, however dealing with the coding was quite tedious. It was hard for me to make sure that the wings (foam attached to the motor) are moving in different directions to mimic a chicken flapping its wings. After various trials and errors on the code (and a very insightful help from Emillie), I made it work. Below are the finished product and the mechanisms behind the wing.

Here is the link to the video: Flapping Chicken

This reiteration is not correlated to the first prototype because the first robot I made does not really move from place A to B. So I decided to make a new one. My PomPom bot is based on a fish.

I wanted to make this fish

I decided to put the motor on the back to imitate the fish’s tail. I used two popsicle sticks for the structure and attach the two servo motors in the back like depicted in the picture below.

I used three popsicle sticks as the base and attached the servo motors at the back

At first, it was quite difficult to get the right velocity to make sure that it moves. However, after several times of tweaking the code, I finally got it to move as desired. Here is the video link if you want to see how it moves: The Skeleton of the Robot

After getting it to move, I decided to use the craft foam as the fish’s body and add googly eyes to make it more lifelike. The fish is as depicted below:


Used the yellow foam to mimic the fish’s body

I initially used these materials to make the body as light as possible (minimize the strain on the motors). After putting on the foam body and googly eyes, I decided to test to make sure that the robot still runs. Unfortunately, the exterior body seemed too much of a strain for the two motors. Hence the robot just moved in place due to the weight imposed on it. Which made me quite sad 🙁

Here is the video to the finished reiteration: Arduino Fish

If I were to reiterate this project again:

  1. I would add more Servo Motors to use the current designs, or try to minimize the materials used to make the robot lighter
  2. Try to use materials that are lighter such as felt cloth to use as the body



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Arduino Part 1


This week, we learned how to use Arduino. It is a very simple circuit that can carry out simple commands using the command prompt in the IDE. We learned how to code using the IDE to make the LED in the circuit blink using natural body resistance.

For this week, we need to make a storyboard to explain what Arduino sensor we are going to use and make. I chose to use the temperature sensor. Below is the attached storyboard. 

This is the storyboard for my Arduino thermostat

I decided to use the TM63 temperature sensor to as the input, then I also used the LED as an output to the Arduino circuit. In the IDE, I set that if the temperature goes beyond 35 degrees Celcius, the LED light will turn on as an indicator. I got the code for the thermostat from the MakerLab website which was really helpful. Then, I added the code snippet to turn on the light once the temperature hits more than 35 using the IF function and the code snippet we learned earlier in the week. Below is the code and a picture of the Arduino circuit.



Below is the link to the video if the above player does not work:

Arduino Thermostat

This week’s activity was very interesting to me as I have never worked with hardware before. Although it was hard at first, I managed to do it and it was satisfying.

If I were to do an iteration of this activity, I would:

  1. Add more LED bulbs to assess the level of temperatures
  2. Create more If clauses to give a more broad spectrum assessment
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Sewing and Digital Embroidery

This week we were introduced to sewing. It was very tough for me as I have never done any sewing in my entire life. Emilie first taught us how to insert the thread into the needle (thank God for machines nowadays). Then we learned how to sew a line on a piece of fabric. At first it was very hard for me and as a result, I can’t even follow the lines. However, after some tries, I was able to do it slightly better. Afterward, we were to make a drawstring pouch. This part of the class was fairly easier after the training that I had. First, we had to iron the cloth that was to be used to make the pouch. Ironing the cloth made it easier to draw the pattern on which was the next step. After cutting it, we then ironed the cloth pieces again. The process took about 1 hour to accomplish. Although it was hard,  I was quite proud of myself for finishing the task. 

This is the drawstring pouch that I ended up making

The next week we learned how to use the embroidery function of the sewing machine. First, we had to make a design using a program we learned at the beginning of the semester, Inkscape. We then made a vector copy of a colored icon, then break it up so that the sewing program can correctly capture all the elements.  I chose the koi fish design since I am intrigued by the specimen and it would look really cool on embroidery.

To do the embroidery, we must insert the cloth in the loom and change the sewing machine mount to the embroidery mount. This particular mount can house the loom to do the embroidery. After a while, my embroidery of the fish was finished. Below is the finished product:

The finished product is as depicted above. There was something wrong with my machine (apparently some machines have their individual quirks. The bobbin thread kept coming out hence the white threads in on the outline of the fish. I also learned that I need to adjust the power of the sewing machine to get the optimal results. 

For this week’s assignment, I decided to make an electric cord travel organizer, because my old one is missing. After browsing for some time, I found a design that I liked from this link:

It is supposed to be a roll-up toiletry bag. I found it very interesting and scaled it down for a travel cord organizer. 

I first cut 2 cloths from the same fabric to make my organizer more durable. Then I looked for an icon for the embroidery. I chose a wave icon because it would complement the sandy color of the fabric. Below is the vectorized design as well as the PEDESIGN stitch rendering. 

Vectorizing the icon was quite easy. The hard part was making sure that the dark outline covers the different colors behind it as it would make it more complicated to make the embroidery. After that, I exported the design to PE-DESIGN. Here is where the fun begins …. 🙂 

The beginning of the embroidering the cloth went smoothly. However, something happened along the way which jammed my bobbin thread dispenser and left a gaping hole on my embroidery. What’s worse is that the Fab Lab was minutes away from closing when the incident happened, hence I can’t redo the patch. :’)

Anyways,  I made do with what I had and end up making the organizer as depicted below. 

If I were to make an iteration to this product would be:

  1. Check the machines if there are any quirks
  2. Buy the correct thread with the appropriate colors
  3. “Fray” the edges more aesthetically

All in all, this was a very interesting experience. 


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3D Printing Assignment

For the past two weeks, we have been taught how to use “print” 3D files using the 3D printer in the Fab Lab. The first week, Emilie introduced us to TinkerCAD. TinkerCAD is basically an easy, browser-based 3D design and modeling tool for all. She asked us to create a castle using the shapes available and make a creature to live in it. The process at first was quite hard, but I eventually got the hang of it.

After creating the creature, we were then taught how to use Autodesk Meshmixer to better our 3D creature. First we downloaded the file then imported in Meshmixer. Emilie then taught us on how to use tools to smooth out our 3D creatures and even add some extra features unto it. I decided to smooth out parts of my creature and add a human head on the creature’s forehead.

For the end of the week, Emilie told us to think of ideas based on the prompts that were given in the assignment requirement.
1. Themed Set Of utensils: I imagined a set of chopsticks that can be plugged on to add ons that are in the shape of a fork and a spoon for space saving sakes.
2. Make a part I need: I need an Apple Watch stand

The next meeting, Emilie taught us how to use the 3D scanner using two methods. The first method is using the iScanner that is connected to the iPad. My group took turns in scanning one another for the experience. It was an interesting device to use. The second method was using the Kinect which is to be connected to a computer. This method requires the person holding the scanner (ME) to be still while the subject spins. All in all it was a great experience.

This a 3D scan of my face after going some editing process in the Meshmixer software

Then Emilie told us to create the 3D model of the idea we came up from last week. After weighing my options, I was more intrigued to make my first choice because it would be more interesting than the latter choice. I used TinkerCAD to create the 3D design of the utensils. I have to admit, even though the design looks very simple, it takes a lot of time to get the measurements right and keeping everything in shape. I ended up spending about 3 hours just for the design only.

This is the design I ended up with. The indentations on the base of the spoon is where the chopsticks go in to act as a handle

I then printed the design I created in the lab. The process took a long time so I left it in the lab to print. Another thing that I realized that I needed to add some supports so that my design was cooled down correctly. I used one of the Flashforge printers because the design I had in mind was not that complicated.

I initially thought I had some errors in the design process, so it did not print correctly. However, after coming to the lab for the third time, Emilie told me that the printers I had been using were not correctly calibrated. Hence my file won’t even print. So I tried using a different printer, and after almost 2 hours of waiting, my design was successfully printed.

I tried peeling off the supports but it created defects to my original design 🙁

I was quite excited when my 3D printed utensils were ready. However, that all changed when I was trying to peel off the supports. It kinda chipped my original design, hence the chopstick end cannot fit in the indentations of the spoon/fork head. Moreover, the supports on the spoon head won’t even budge no matter what force I did to it. So this prototype needs some more adjustments in future iterations.

If I were to reiterate the process again, I would:
1. Separate the 3 items into three different files, so that I can print using different colors using 3 different printers
2. Use a bigger printer to accommodate the size of my original design
3. Create a screw mechanism at the end of the chopsticks so that it would stick to the utensil addon better.
4. Tweak the mechanisms a bit to create a support that is easy to peel and won’t ruin my design

All in all, I really enjoyed the project we had this week. I really had to channel in my inner designer to complete the project. What I realized from this project is that one needs to have a good design in order to create something. In addition, I also learned that it is okay to fail sometimes, we should take those failures as lessons and apply it to better our future iterations or other designs.

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Copper Tape Paper Circuit

This week’s assignment allowed me to access my inner engineer (and failed miserably on the first try). In my opinion, making the circuit is easier said than done. We were given a template and just had to follow the instruction to make a circuit. Although the directions were quite clear, I had trouble in setting up the LED lights and also making turns using the copper tape.

Basic series circuit using 1 battery and 1 LED light bulb. (Which I initially struggled with)

After getting to know the basics of how circuits work, we were to pick a quote and make an artwork out of it. Moreover, we were to incorporate 2 or more light bulbs in the said artwork. I struggled with finding the right quote and design the artwork. After scrolling through Pinterest and Google for 30 minutes (yes, I wasted 30 minutes of lab time just to look for ideas), I came up with a simple artwork.

The quote I chose was “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” This quote spoke to me as it reminds me to go above expectations in everything I do as not much people would do it. I decided to incorporate three light bulbs of red, yellow and green respectively to make a traffic light. I incorporated this element to remind me that even though not many take the extra mile, there would still be some rules that we still have to adhere to.

At first my I used one battery (as shown in the paper circuit template) to light it up, but it did not. So I figured that it needs more power to light the bulbs, hence I added another battery and it worked really well as pictured in the pictures below.

For the next task, I used three LED light bulbs to be incorporated in the pop up card. The night before doing the assignment, I looked for ideas in YouTube and Pinterest for the project. Then I found one popup card of a snake’s head whose mouth opens up when the card is opened. So I decided to make a dragon, and make the lights to be inside the mouth so it mimics a dragon about to spit out fire.

The idea was fairly simple and I decided to use a series circuit as it is the simpler choice. I struggled on designing the circuit and calculating how much batteries were needed. After some trials and errors I finished the circuit and I was quite happy with it.

The circuit may look really simple, but believe me I spent 2 hours trying to figure out the errors that occurred before getting it to be fully functional.

After getting the lights in the circuits to work, I moved on to making the features of the dragon and assembling it to look like one. After spending 1-2 hours cutting out parts and sticking them on to the card, I finished the popup card pictured below.

Overall I am very happy with the design I came up with and the end product. Although it was quite a hassle making the circuit and cutting these individual pieces, the end product really gave me joy.

If I were to make improvements to this product, I would:
1. Make the switch in a place that makes more sense (like maybe on the right bottom corner and maybe give a sign to notify people where the switch is)
2. Use the silhouette app to cut the individual items so it would be more uniformed and precise. Moreover, it would be less time consuming.

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Multilayer Stickers

This week I learned how to make stickers using Silhouette. I first was introduced to sticker making using the Inkscape program that I have become quite accustomed to. The exercise was to combine two animal silhouettes to make a nonexistent animal. I decided to combine a snake with the wings of a bat and added horns for aesthetics. I call the creature, Timore Draconis which means terror serpent in Latin.

Here is my “Griffin” sticker.

After this little exercise, Emilie taught us how to make multilayered stickers using the Inkscape program. I decided to make a sticker of Jake the Dog from Adventure Time because I just love the show. I decided to create a yellow colored silhouette as the base sticker. Next, I printed the black outline of the character. I also cut out white circles for the eyes. Using the transfer tape, I moved each layer one by one to get the image that I wanted. I was quite really happy with how it turned out.

I then decided to print a sticker of my own design. I did not know what to design for this sticker until I saw a drop of water falling from the tap. It inspired me. The philosophy behind my sticker is that a drop of water holds a force that could create an impact. Hence the wave doodle inside a water droplet.

Using Inkspace, I converted the silhouette of the water droplet into vector. I duplicated the vectorized image. The first one is to be used as the base, whereas the second one is to cover the sticker base. Using the circle tool, I made a circle in the second layer for the wave symbol. Then I vectorized the wave symbol to make an outline. I also duplicated the symbol and ungrouped them to print individual colors of the symbol’s parts.

The task was quite arduous since there are a very delicate parts of the stickers. The wave symbol outline got folded a bit, hence the outline is not quite even.

If I were to improve this sticker I would:
1. Make the outline of the wave symbol thicker so that it would not be that fragile
2. Prepare vinyl with colors that would complement my vision more
3. Do the layering more carefully

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Storyboard Assignment

In the last lecture, Jeff told us to make a group of three, and create a storyboard for a pre-determined idea. My group mates and I decided to make a storyboard for a mobile application for the Fab Lab. After brainstorming, I decided to call it the FABApp!

Storyboard for the FABApp!

The setting for the FABApp! we decided to do it from the point of view to a student just exposed to the Fab Lab for the first time. In the storyboard, the student can be seen very excited to go the the Fab Lab and create something. However, it all changed when he realized that there are a lot of machines alien to him and no one was around to help him. He was also concerned if he started to mess around on his own, it would put him and the lab in danger. When he was about to give up, he remembered that there is an application for the Fab Lab that acts as both a guide and manual to the machines in the lab as it has AR tech. When you scan the QR codes on the machines, a 3D model that you can rotate will pop up and have explanations of the machine parts. Moreover, they can also press a button labeled “Guide” to access the educational video and also text form of the directions. After accessing it, the student was able to use the machine without the help of anyone in there.

To be honest, I was quite overwhelmed with this assignment. I was never good at drawing and quite concerned on how to simplify the idea I had while also not leaving any necessary information out. However, I did some sketches and I was satisfied with this version.

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Laser Name Tag

This project is a first for me. I have never gone to the Fab Lab ever. It was the first time for me in my 2 years here on the campus. This is also the first time that I work with a laser printer. which was really awesome in my opinion. Before doing this project, I always thought that laser printers would be a huge machine with a very visual laser like those machines you see in science fiction movies.

The first name tag I did is a very simple and very orthodox name tag. I followed the instructions that Emilie showed me and my fellow classmates in the lab. I started off with the rectangle and rounded the edge for aesthetic purposes. Then I added my name and an Apple logo on it. My approach for this first iteration is simplicity, hence the lack of ornaments or elements on it. The second reason for going down this approach is due to the time constraint posed at that specific lab section. Attached below is the finished product.

This is the first iteration of my name tag. Simplicity is the approach I went for in this product.

I’d like to make some changes to the second iteration of my name tag. Some changes I would like to make would be:
1. Change the outline of the name tag to be less rounded –> to create a nice sharp looking name tag
2. Add some ornaments on the tag to make it less plain
3. Include my last name to make it less ambiguous
4. When I saw the apple shaped hole I created, I wondered if I can create it to be functional
After taking these considerations into mind, I created a design to be synthesized in the Fab Lab.

This is the design that I came up with

I decided to add some geometrical lines that create more “depth” to the name tag I created. These geometrical lines are also filled with different shades of grey and black to create a shade difference in each of the geometrical shapes. Moreover, I moved the Apple logo that I cut to the top left of the name tag. That way I can use it as a key chain or as a bag tag aside from it being a name tag, making it more versatile.

This is my newly designed name tag being etched
This is the finished product

So, I was quite happy with how the product turned out, however the different shades that I purposely created did not translate into what I had imagined. If I were to remake this model again, some of the changes I would make would be:
1. Reducing the size of the name tag to a more suitable size
2. Set the darkness of the shade to be more contrasting
3. Choose a thinner plywood

This project has been a wonderful experience for me. Learning how to use machines such as the laser printer has widened my horizon of the possibilities of creation in the future.

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