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

Brandon Steinman – rPi Spotify remote

My project was a remote for Spotify that uses a Raspberry Pi! Here’s a video and some pictures:

  1. The most difficult parts of this project were getting my app to properly authenticate with Spotify’s API (their process is a little weird) and also creating a full program that combined objects from different libraries (this was my first time doing it in python). I’m most proud of getting through that last challenge, it took a lot of trial and error, and I gained a lot in terms of skill that I’d wanted to have claim to for a long time.
  2. My main learning goal was to iterate on my project once I became satisfied with it. I did embrace this mentality and made a sustained attempt to iterate on it once I had a working product. I tried to improve my Raspberry Pi project by automating the script triggers. I wanted to do this so that my project presentation would go more smoothly. I tried two routes: the first was to trigger the script to start when the Raspberry Pi boots. This caused dependency issues with the library ‘spotipy,’ and I really did not want to try to fix that and end up in over my head with a mass of hotfixes that could endanger the program and even the OS as a whole. I then tried to time the script triggers with crontab. I sank all my remaining time into this, and eventually had to give up, as the crontab logs were very unhelpful as to why the program wasn’t running. So, in a way, I ended up meeting my goal, but didn’t really have anything working to show for it. I’ll continue trying to get it to work, and to iterate on it in different ways. I’ll probably try to fill out the design and execution of the remote idea with my electronics at home. This is because this project was something I really care about and it would serve me well (and maybe others) to come up with a well-polished, finished product to show for this.
  3. I think one thing that is key to my learning is that I need ample time to make mistakes and learn over and on top of them. If I don’t end up giving myself enough resources to make mistakes, things often spiral into a mess of doubt and anxiety and sometimes things turn out right, but either way, cramming stuff in both in terms of time and by way of learning the tool on the object that I’ll be turning in as the end result. Neither of those work well for me. This feeds into how important repetition is for me, since some of my best work is in projects where I made lots of mistakes and iterated lots (sewing project, final project, stickers, etc). I also realized that I’m a lot more active and involved in a project when I believe that I’m going to end up using that experience sometime later. This makes me a bit sad, as it kind of seals my fate as a pragmatist. For example, I was instantly super involved in the sewing project because I knew it was a super useful skill and something I’d want to get artsy with later. But with the pom-pom bots, it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t get super involved as a result of not believing in it as a ‘useful’ experience. Granted, oftentimes I’m good at convincing myself either way of that, but for that project, I was probably just out of steam.
  4. I certainly feel like I’ve developed my confidence, as a maker, quite a bit. It was naturally difficult to get more relaxed while working in the makerspace, but the people there and this class gave me every opportunity to do so! It was a great experience and I look forward to spending more time on all manner of projects in the makerlab! This course has convinced me that I’ll have a happy longevity in making, due to the opportunities in community, learning, and tools resources that makerspaces offer. At this point in the year, my understanding of what all those things mean has also developed quite a lot. I’ve learned about the culture and societal dynamics surrounding makerspaces at large. Tangentially, it’s convinced me that I should go back to volunteering with the Urbana Bike Project. To call myself a maker is to recognize my incapability of doing nothing most of the time and having to act on my creative ideas. In comparison with my thoughts on the Seymour Papert quote at the beginning of the year to now, I’m in essentially the same standing. I have a good bit more experience on the personally meaningful aspect of it, that at times, that part is just as essential to the hands-on aspect. The hands-on aspect made this class much more significant, to the extent that the class wouldn’t work without being as hands-on as it is. The knowledge and experience gained is vital. To this day, I haven’t forgotten how to use a 3D printer, soldering/electronics tools, CNC lathe, Drill press, band-saw, dremel, arduino, shop-bot, and Autodesk Inventor, all because they were extremely hands-on and involved processes (all of which I learned at least 2 years ago, experiences that I am very lucky to have had). I expect the skills that I learned in this class to stick with me for the same reasons. I’m probably primarily a kinesthetic learner, so thank you for designing this class with people like me in mind!

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