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

Author Archive

Final Project

My final project is a stuffed animal called Monster Fo. because it is about food. Monster Fo. can tell you what to eat and how to cook it. You can put it on your bed like a usual stuff animal. And when you wake up, you can shake it and let it decide what your meal will be!

In the feedback of my 1st final project proposal, Duncan asked me, “What constitutes a well-done project for you: how well it matches your original design, how well it functions, or how pretty it looks?”
For my Monster Fo. The project, I want it to look good but also want it to be well-functioned. From the 3D printing assignment, I actually wanted to make something that is usable and looking good. Yet, I ended up doing a more artsy project, a 3D print of me as a chopsticks holder. I realized it’s not only a design. When we are making a prototype which is usable, we need to consider the possible material, the tool and the technique we should apply.
Not until iteration assignment, I started drawing the ideation sketch. The iteration project is to make a 3D paper-cut model for the game “travel frog”. There are three components: 3D paper cut design, copper tape circuit, Arduino hidden in a press fit box.
There are also several problems I had for iteration assignment which influence my process for the final project. I first printed the press-fit box, and then I started making the design. However, I tore it apart from the wood and re-do it because I noticed the circuit should be hidden under the design as well. Moreover, when I finally finished the code and put Arduino inside the box, I noticed that the box is too small for the Arduino, and the hole is too small for the cable. Apparently, if I printed the press-fit box again, I will need to do everything again. Luckily, I can re-print the side and make the hole larger, so both fit. After I submitted my iteration assignment, I knew that it’s not what I wanted. At least, it did not look like my ideation sketch.
It is like computer science’s divide and conquer algorism and also like writing an outline for a long paper. The ability to divide a big project into smaller one helps a lot. The ability to manage the time for each component is also crucial. Those are the most significant thing I have learned over the course of these assignments.
After several failures doing these assignments, before I started my final project, I draw a detailed ideation sketch and separate the project into five components: press-fit box, the skin of the stuffed animal, food token, cookbook, and the recipe.

Food token is like the lottery. One side of the token is the image of a food, such as broccoli, egg, chicken, and etc.
Press-Fit box is the mouse of Monster Fo., which is used to store food tokens.
The skin is the outside of the Monster Fo. It’s made of fabric. There is an open tooth, where food token can come out, and a zipper on the bottom of it to put tokens back.
The recipe is a collection of the card. On the card, it lists the ingredient used and steps to make the food.

A design I did not use eventually. But its suppose to be the cover of the original cookbook idea.

The backpack is used to store recipe. There is a screen printing logo in front of the bag to show that the monster and the backpack is a set.

None of those is really hard to me. However, it’s still my first time sewing a stuffed animal, especially it contains a box, so I cannot just leave a tiny hole and put stuffing inside. One challenge can be, how to make it more like a stuffed animal, that it can be soft and stuffy. I solve it by making four pillows like stuffing surround the box. When I made the first pillow, I realized if I want to find the thread, I will need to do it on the opposite side. Luckily, I can hide the first pillow, and work better when I was making the skin. I am really proud of how cute the monster looks.
One another challenge I had is that, it’s quite time-consuming. This is relevant to my learning goal: time management.
I challenged myself to do a well-done project in time, thus a well-functioned and good looking stuff animal. It’s also Duncan who told me to do a timeline. It’s the best suggestion I got for my final project.
I made a timeline. The first component that needs to be done is the food token. In order to know how big the press-fit box should be, is to know how big those token need to be. The second component is the press-fit box since it affects if the stuffed animal can function or not. And then I used the box to scale the stuffed animal, used the stuffed animal to measure the size of the backpack, used the backpack to measure the size of the recipe.

I also gave myself the backup day. I did use it because the whole sewing process took me one more day. One day I used for resting and continue the screen-printing part. In addition, to use the knowledge I learned from the previous assignments, I questioned myself, “do you give yourself iteration time and what does iteration mean to you?” It’s not like changing some part to make it works, but maybe the whole process: the part I can improve after everything is done.
The Monster Fo. looks cute and can function. Yet, I would like to do a 2nd Monster Fo., the one that can get the token more easily and look not like any existing character.
Although I finished my project on time, I do not think I give myself a time to do an iteration. I believe that in order to publish a product or even a paper, it must go through many iterations. A final product might not look like the first sketch but are better for a better user experience.
The final project is meaningful to me. Not only because I learned so many tool and techniques, but also how can I manage on time. Recently, I spent a lot of time in my student RSO. When we are planning an event, there are many things we need to consider, and every part is built on one another. It’s as complicated as making a Monster Fo. I believe in the future, no matter which project or environment I am in, this will be a very important skill.
Last but not least, at the beginning of the semester, I wrote that everyone should be a maker. It is still true, people constantly making something, such as grew a child up, write a book, or even bake a cake. But I don’t think everyone called themselves as a maker. I do not consider myself a maker after all. People who called themselves as a maker might be someone who constantly making a product. This product can be sold, can be for interested. But most important, they themselves are aware of their passion and aware of this making process.

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Iteration Project

For this iteration assignment, I am remaking my original light-up card. Here is the original light-up card.

My goal is to create a 3D outdoor-scene based on the game “travel frog”.

The idea is that when I press a bottom, the house and a tree light up. And then when I turn on the power, there should be some other effect on the building.

The first thing I started with is the press-fit box. This box is used to hide Arduino motherboard. There are two holes on the side of the press-fit box. The one on the top is for the sensor, and the side one is for the USB cable. I searched a lot on the internet in order to find how to make a press-fit box. After I finally decided to ask a staff, he told me that the Fab lab has a program for it!

And then, I moved on to the top layer, which included the 3D scene and copper tape circuit. One problem I have is: since the house (or the rock) is made of aluminum foil, it might affect the conduction of the circuit! I turned out doing the circuit on a plastic paper and glued the paper onto the foil. Last time When I did the light-up card, the circuit is flat. But this time I need to find a way to connect the tree, the house, and find a place to the pattern. I draw a circuit first, and then see how it will work connecting all the design.

This is the part one of my iteration assignment.

I was not quite sure what sensor I would like to use. But because I have used the distance sensor and buzzer before, I would like to try something new. Therefore, I choose colorful auto flashing LED. After I connected the LED, jumper, and Arduino, and put it into the box, I found a mistake. The hole is too small to let the USB head go through. So I reprint the side with laser cut.

This is my final product. –> Watch the video IMG_5024

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Pom-Pom Bot

This week we are doing pom-pom bot with Arduino servos. The goal is to make it move. I have no idea what’s the mechanics behind the movement of moving from point A to B. Before I start my physical construction, I plan to make something that looks like a snake with puffball, but my plan does not work out.

Before I actually start working on the initial construction, I googled Arduino with servos. Most of the designs are walking bot with well function feet and knees. But then I found another tutorial with only two servos, which looks like an insect.

pom pom bot-1So here is my 1st prototype. It’s able to move from point A to point B with only one servo (another servo does not respond…). The problem of the 1st prototype is that one of the servos does not respond and the other problem is that it’s only a skeleton.

I decided to stop there and waited until another open hour to continue my 2nd prototype. But because of Easter, the Fab Lab did not open.

The first thing I worked on for the 2nd prototype is the pom-pom design. I combined the foot with puff balls with the goal to make something like dog or horse. But somehow it blended with the idea of snakes and caterpillar and become a weird creature.pom pom bot-2nd

So then, after I uploaded the program onto the board, I noticed that the reason it kept walking at the same point is that the leg is not balanced. So one of the legs did not lift. I made the leg thick and put hot glue at the bottom of each leg to increase friction. And how it moves is to move backward.

I think the whole process that bothers me the most is how to make it move. And I am too focused on that, but with zero knowledge of how to do it. So after all, I am unsatisfied with the design and unsatisfied with the movement.

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Arduino introduction

In our lab session, we learned how to use Arduino to make LEDs SOS light and how to combine LEDs with ultrasonic distance sensor. We followed the step on “the Arduino Instruction tutorial”. All the descriptions are clear. I have never used Arduino before, but a classmate who sits next to me has much experience with it, so I asked him for help a few times. At first, I have a little trouble understand how the loop works, so he explained it to me.

After I went home and think about what should I do for the assignment, I first came up with a storyboard. I have a scoliosis problem for a while, and the doctor told me to keep a good posture. I found it really hard to maintain a good posture. So I think, maybe I need a device that constantly remind me if I am sitting correctly or not.

The Arduino device is pretty simple. I basically need an ultrasonic distance sensor and a buzzer. So I watched a youtube tutorial and modified to goal to make the distance condition the condition that I want. I went into several troubles. At first, the controller board was not working while uploading code. I couldn’t find any mistake, so I used another controller board, and then it works. Secondly, when the program was running, the buzzer does not sound normal, so I used another buzzer…. There is a mistake I made during  both lab section and open hours, I plug the jumper into wrong plug, so the sensor does not run normally. Everything besides that work fine.


One interesting thing I found is that, the buzzer we used is different from the youtube video, which has a long leg and a short leg. I took a clear looks at it I fount out that the line behind it give clues of which one is long, which one is short, which one is plus, and which one is minus.

It’s not clear on this photo, but on the back of the buzzer, there are some line indicates long and short

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Soft Circuit

In the past two weeks, we learn embroidery, sewing, and e-textiles. During discussion time, we made a simple one to two color embroidery and e-textiles. For the assignment, I was thinking about using simple and clear graph. I was first looking at the polygon shapes of different animals. It was a trending in tattoo design. However, for the polygon design, they usually have many similar colors. So I simplified it to 4 colors. My friend said I am a wolf. It’s the first time I heard someone describe me as a wolf, so I pick a wolf image as the embroidery. I used the PEDesign 10 to convert the image into the sewable image.

The second wolf that I wanted to print, but the textile does not work well. So I gave up and return to my first version.

The circuit is too lose, and I sewed it onto another piece.

I want the LED to be the light of its eye, but the final result has a slight misplace.


I think one thing I should have noticed earlier is the soft circuitry. The tread is so loose that sometime the circuit will not work. And also if I sew the circuit on the different piece, I need to consider where exactly I want the LED to be. Also during embroidery, the textile is likely to squeeze together, so I think it will be better to embroidery on another piece besides the four species.
These problems are what I would change if I had more time. And I think I need to learn more about using a sewing machine. Duncan helped me a lot with this assignment. I learned how to go back and forth with single stitch and single color. I also asked classmates for help regards to the different foot for embroidery and zipper.

The three unexpected thing that happened is that: I did not ask if there are extra embroidery machine so I wasted one or two hours in the lab to wait for someone finishing their works. The second unexpected thing is that not all image can be auto-convert to the sewable pattern. The third unexpected thing is that some textile is not good for embroidery. Last but not least, I really like this assignment and the result of the pouch looks fairly good to me.

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3D Modeling / Scanning / Printing

At first, I tried to come up ideas for each of the three prompt, and tried to play with each design methods. I used Sculptris to make a monster and found the grab tool very useful and interesting.I also use TinkerCAD to make an unfinished frog. 


After those practice, I decide to prompt 3. Prompt #3 asks us to use a 3D scare to create a work of art that might go on our coffee table at home. It reminds me a common scenario happens at home with my roommate. Here is the story board.

It is basically a chopsticks holder. But the holder is shaped into a copy of me. After scanning, I wanted to make the 3D scan more geometric and less detail. I asked a classmate, he taught me how to use blender to reach the goal I want. And then I use tinkerCAD to add my name behind the model. I also rescaled it. Then I was done with the design! It’s my first time doing a 3D prints, so I am every excited about it. But also because it’s my first time, I am worried about how will it turn out.

I was told that it takes three hours to print it. I came back the next day to pick it up. It’s looks like there are a lot of support structure. I then needed to learn how to clean the model after it prints.  When I was cleaning all the supported part, I accidentally tear down the letter “J”. I found the supports quite difficult to clean. Maybe I can think of another way to not have that much supports. If I had more time, next time I would like to do a organic model.

To sum up, it’s a simplified version and more geometric shape of a 3D scan Joy. I opened my arm during scanning because I want it to hold chopsticks or memo. In case I one day forgot who is this 3d print, I put my name “Joy” on its back.

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Project #3: Copper Tape Light-Up Card

For this lab, I was thinking to make a light-up card for a recent popular game in Asia, called 旅かえる. The game is about a travel frog, and player acts like the parent who helps pack its package. So the basic idea is that the frog’s house lights up when it’s at home.
The first problem I have is that, in the game, we need to swipe left or right to get the whole scene. So I screenshot 7 images of the front door, and make it into a wide-angle image. I first thought of the panorama photo, and use an online tool called “Dermandar”, which generates both panorama photo and wide-angle photo. I found out the wide-angle photo is what I actually looking for.

And then, I measured the distance between the entrance and the window, in order to make the circuit light-up in the right place. After I finished the circuit, I cut the window and a leaf, and use another paper to make a new window and a leaf so the light can show.

After I finished everything, my friend asked me did I draw everything, I said, no, I printed it. He said if I drew it, it will be more amazing. I also notice that I can make it more 3d if I do paper-cut work on its house and leaves. I am not satisfied with what I did this time. I am thinking about doing a better one later.

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Project #2 Vinyl Stickers

I want to make a “BioNerd” collage. Last week, I saw Valentine’s chocolate advertising. The chocolate is like the 3d print of human organs. My friends said it’s a good idea because he is a Bio nerd. So I decided to make organ sticker collage with the word “BioNerd” in the center.

I used school’s Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape to do the graphic design. I don’t know if illustrator has a tool to make an image into vector. So I used Inkscape to transform the image and used illustrator to edit the image. However, a multilayer sticker collage took more time then I think. One reason is that I need to limit it to a certain amount of color. Another problem is the process of splitting and combining while thinking about how would I print it out. So I ended up only having 3 organs and 1 skeleton.

I made several mistakes during the design and printing process. I saved my vector file on shool’s desktop and forgot to save it on my google drive. Luckily, I still have a PDF file. And when I stuck all the sticker together, I mess up a layer that should come first. I would say, maybe I will do sticker only have three layers next time if I ever do it again.

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Project #1: Laser Name Tag

At first, I have no clue what I want to make. I knew that I want a name tag that I can use everywhere. So I google laser name tag, business name tag, designer name tag and so on. Then, I saw a name tag which has a speech bubble surrounded by a bunch of doodles. I think this is just right for me. I also like doodling and I draw weird characters.
I copied down some doodles on my notes, unfinished banners design (a blending of Chinese character “language” and “computer”) from a long time ago, and then combined with some middle-school doodles I draw.

I did not know Inkscape before, but I used adobe illustrator and photoshop several times. So the original unfinished banner is saved as a vector in the library of my Adobe account. I tried to combine every vector, but then I chose to hand draw everything on a piece of paper and use Adobe Capture to make it into a vector and put it into the Inkscape document.


I could not decide what material should I use. I like wood, but for such detailed doodle, I am afraid it would burn. So I chose a black acrylic. It turned out much better than I thought. I was not satisfied with the doodles I have, but it looks really good afterward. One mistake I made is the font. I forgot to save the font with the file, so the font is not my original design thinking, but I didn’t want to print it again. I would like to make another name tag sometime in the future, I want to draw something that’s more organized and try using more Inkscape.

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