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

Makerspace final project: A marvelous photoshop

Makerspace: The Final (Project) Frontier


Ian Howe



Question 1: Show us what you made for your final project.  Include at least two in-process photos and two final photos (or videos!) of your final project. Include a couple sentences about what challenges you faced and what you are most proud of but do not write a full step-by-step report of what you did.


I’ll start with the in-process pictures and go from there. Here was the state of my project in early December: 

This is the version of the poster that I printed and presented during Wednesday’s project demo:  


And here’s a link to the imgur album that I used during the demo to show my process of photoshopping Scott:


At long last, here is the link to the “final” version of my photoshop project. I’m using quotations here since I’m of the opinion that there is always room for improvement, but in light of my learning goal of avoiding perfectionism(which I’ll discuss later), I think this project is in a finished state that I am more than happy with. 


I’m linking some of these images externally since the full-res file is 75MB, and google has a good way to see the full quality of the image when it’s hosted on their site. 


Overall, I found that one of the main challenges I faced was finding time during the weeks leading up and through finals. I’m pretty good about scheduling my time, but I had a lot on my plate so I often had to squeeze some hours into this project before bed or between classes. I also found that the quality of the reference photo I received made a huge difference in how easy it was to implement into the project. Simple and contrasting backgrounds made cutouts much easier to set up, but also the color and intensity of lighting made a big impact on the final image as well.


I think I’m most proud of my work on Michal (the guy blowing bubblegum on the left side of the image), and Ted (the guy drinking a particularly large bottle on the right side of the image), as the color tones matched well and felt very integrated into the project. I think the biggest compliment I received while working on this project was that someone who was initially seeing my work didn’t realize at first that Ted was even photoshopped in! I also think I did a good job on photoshopping Gamora (the green woman), since the color tones fit well and I was able to build on my experience with Scott’s face swap to produce something that I felt was high quality in a relatively short amount of time (I think I got that one done in under 30 minutes!). 


Question 2: What were your learning goals for your final project? Write at least one paragraph per learning goal about what you hoped to learn as you worked on this final project and what you actually learned. 


Some questions to help your thinking: What did you learn that surprised you? Did you meet your goal? If you failed to meet your goal, how did you iterate your plan and what did you learn in that process? Are you happy with your final project? Is your final project meaningful to you? Why?


Learning Goal 1:  Learn the basic / intermediate techniques of compositing in photoshop, and utilize these techniques to produce a poster that is cohesive


I was surprised to learn how many different tools and techniques can be used to get the results that I want. I think there’s a level of mastery in photoshop I hope to achieve in which I’m not just using the tools that can get the job done, but I’m also using the tools that get the job done the most efficiently. For example, I didn’t learn until the near-end of the project that there was a special photo filter that could make images more orange / blue depending on my preference. Since the reference image for the project has a lot of orange light, this made my job a LOT easier! What used to take 4 adjustment layers across 15 minutes could now be done with 1 layer in 2 minutes with this photo filter. 


I also learned a lot more about efficiently cutting out people from images and learning how to use better practice for organizing my project in general. Back in high school, I would use the eraser tool to cut people out, but this is a destructive action and therefore it was much more difficult to “un-erase” something. For this project, I wanted to do things right, so I made very liberal use of layer masks to accomplish the cutouts I wanted while still maintaining image quality and accessibility. 


Overall, my goal was met. 


Learning Goal 2: Understand the complexities and concerns with making an image for a poster


I have never worked with posters before, and learning about their high-quality prints put a whole new emphasis on maintaining image quality that I hadn’t dealt with before. Overall, I think I did a good job with image quality given my limitations. My original reference photo of the avengers was not a high quality as the poster I wanted to print, but photoshop’s built-in image upscaling technology did a pretty okay job making it work. I contacted the original owner of the image to see if I could obtain / purchase the higher-resolution version of the image, but unfortunately I never got a response. I’m very thankful that we live in an era of phones with great cameras, as every reference photo I got was high quality and looked great in the final poster. 


Learning to use the poster printer was also a bit tricky at times to get the correct formatting, but I was able to get the help of people at the Makerspace to assist me in understanding how the poster worked and what settings to use. I think at this point I’d feel good about taking care of a poster print on my own now!


 Overall, my goal was met. 


Learning Goal 3: Balance time spent on the project to ensure completion and avoid the goal of “perfection”


This goal was probably one of the more difficult ones to achieve, but I did a good job of accomplishing it. I started the project with 10 people initially, and as I made progress on getting reference photos and implementing people into the project, I carefully assessed whether I wanted to add more people until I got to the final amount of 20 people. Some elements of the project didn’t look quite right to me, but I often assured myself of the fact that some changes to the project would take a long time and have a very minimal impact, so I chose not to focus on them. Once I had all of the faces implemented, I worked on adding some additional elements and decided to call it a day. While I’m sure I could spend another 100 hours getting this project to perfection, I feel confident that I’m happy with the work I’ve created thus far and can move on to something new if I choose to do so. 


Question 3: After rereading your lab assignment write-ups, what is the most significant thing you have learned over the course of these assignments? This is not a question about tool learning, but rather a question about yourself as a learner. 


Some questions to help your thinking: Have you become more comfortable with certain kinds of tasks? Have you surprised yourself with what you enjoyed doing? Do you feel you’ve developed your confidence as a maker and what does that look like? 


In light of the learning goal I just mentioned, I think the most significant thing I’ve learned is accepting that I’m a novice at most of the areas that we worked in across assignments, and that I can feel accomplished and proud of my work even if it’s not the most glamorous or perfect result. I felt very prone to mistakes while working on textiles in particular, and even though the head of my fox kinda fell off a week after finishing it, I’m proud of the effort I put into it and how good it turned out looking despite it being my first attempt at textiles since my middle school sewing class. 


Question(s) 4: Has this course spurred you to think about yourself differently? And/or future goals and interests in life? Do you consider yourself a maker? What does that mean to you now that it didn’t at the beginning of the semester? What does it mean to you to call yourself a maker (or not)? Who do you think should call themselves a maker? 


I think this course has spurred my to think about myself differently. I feel much more empowered in regards to the different creative outlets I can take advantage of, and I also feel much more open to try making something new in order to learn a new skill or solve a problem that I used to think was impossible to get done myself. I think overall I would consider myself a maker, it terms of the fact that I feel that I have the capability to make something myself instead of just buying something from amazon. 


People can call themselves whatever they want, but I think I’d say someone is a maker if they choose to engage in any sort of DIY or tinkering project that they feel personally invested in. 


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Final Project: Spider Robot

Hello everyone,

For my final project, I decided I wanted to make a spider robot that would walk using four legs. I wanted to incorporate a raspberry pi and allow Bluetooth connectivity since I have never used either of those before, and I wanted to learn how to use them. In order to complete this project I needed to do the following things:

  • Learn how to use the raspberry pi and program it using python in order to control the four legs of the robot
  • Learn how to utilize the Bluetooth functionality of the raspberry pi in order to give the robot commands from my phone
  • Cut the pieces of the robot using the laser cutter

My first step to the project was to create the CAD drawings that I would cut using the laser cutter.

CAD Drawing created using Fusion 360

I ended up having two servos for each of the legs. The first servo would allow each leg to move in an arc in the xy plane. The second servo would be used to rotate about the z axis. This would allow the robot to pick up its leg and then move to a different position. Once the leg is in a specific position, friction would then allow the robot to move forward. Luckily, I was able to find a bunch of different models for the individual servos, the raspberry pi, and the servo control board. This allowed me to easily model everything together resulting in each of the pieces fitting together. The main issue I had with assembly was actually the servos themselves. The hardware screws didn’t really work out when attaching the wooden legs to the servos, so I had to add some super glue in order to get it to stay on. The servos also still had some give to them though.

This is what the current robot looks like:

I was pretty happy with how the body turned out and how the raspberry pi and the control board fit. The screws I used were very good at holding in place.


The coding portion was actually pretty straightforward. I had to install some python packages onto the raspberry pi then I was able to get right into coding which was nice. Python was easier than I expected since I was able to import packages then use them pretty easily. It was pretty similar to coding on the Arduino just with a different language and access to more packages.

I ended up coding different functions for each walking process. So I had a function for moving forward, a function for moving right, etc.

For the Bluetooth, I ended up using the pybluez package that would allow me to start a bluetooth client and connect with my phone. I downloaded an app called bluetooth serial controller that allowed me to send data to the raspberry pi. In the program, depending on the data sent, that would determine what moving function to use.

The following is the code I ended up writing:


In the end, two of the servos ended up dying me once I finished the build, so I wasn’t able to get it to implement and test all of the movement functions that I wrote, but I was able to get it to scoot forward. This was a little disappointing and in hindsight I should have used more robust servos. I believe the servos would have been strong enough to life the robot, but they had a ton of give to them and I would have rather had it where I would screw the wooden parts into the servos. I was able to get the bluetooth working and I was happy with what I was able to do with the raspberry pi. It allowed me to learn more about something I have always been curious about.

Overall,  I really enjoyed this course. I always enjoyed tinkering with things, so being able to do that in a class was fun.



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Final Project Fall 2019

This assignment was somewhat ambitious. Not as ambitious as the sewing project, but very similar. My biggest challenge was I could not get the 3-D printer to print the flower Taurus constellation so that I could make a mold of it. My first print failed as did my second and third attempts. The second attempt, I was able to see why it did not work. It was too many loops and the loops were not connecting to the bed of the machine. It was just clumpy globs of plastic. I discussed this problem with Maxx and we attempted to tweak the design via photoshop (I had initially used Inkscape and then, transferred it to TinkerCad).  Maxx showed me how to tweak my original silhouette via Adobe Photoshop. Yet, when I reprinted it, it still failed in the print. Consequently, I did not try again, but I did think about trying to use the silly putty and molding the shape from my bare hands, but I did not have the time to do so.   

My next challenge was I did not make a good mold for the rings. I had made an open-face mold initially, and the rings were misshapen. After talking to Duncan, I had partially done the molds correctly as the silicone molds had enveloped the 3-D printed rings completely. However, the silicone molds were not used, because they had not cured properly and were both “juicy” and hard, at the same time.  The silly putty-esque mold that I had covered the rings with were too hard to remove the models from that I decided to make them open-faced. When I attempted to make two open-face molds, they did not sit together on top of each other as they should. They just fell off, so I tried to remedy the situation, but should have made entirely new molds, instead of trying to connect two separate molds.  

My learning goal was to learn how to use Epoxy resin as it was an entirely unknown medium. As I had mentioned in my proposal, I have made jewelry before, both wire-wrapped and using melted silver. I enjoyed those forays and wanted to try something new.  

Epoxy resin was a learning curve as I was not sure how it worked. I did watch a few YouTube videos and I read the instructions from the box very carefully. My first examples were really bendy when I pulled them from the molds and I was concerned that I had not gotten the ratios right. It looks like I pulled them too soon and that’s why they were very flexible.  

As for reaching the targets I set for myself, I definitely did better about coming into the lab more often. I found that for my other assignments that I did not have the time to come in the way the assignments needed me to. This is why I gave myself specific days to come into the lab. It kept me accountable and forced me to go, even when I was tired.   However, I still needed to have longer time to work on projects. Like the previous assignments, I felt rushed and that I did not have the amount of time I needed to complete them. For instance, I was still putting finishing touches Wednesday morning.  
I did iterate and included glass in my project, but I should have requested extra time outside of the normal business hours.  

I believe that I became much more comfortable with the tools and software needed in the class. I am not an expert, but I could work any of these in a pinch. I had used a makerspace before and was very interested in learning more of those skills. Unfortunately, I will never be an electrician as the assignment with the copper tape was completely out of my purview. I could not get it to work, even after following the drawings that were given to me. I feel like my favorite assignment was the sewing section. Although I am not the best, it was the most fun that I had this semester and it might be because it is the most practical of the applications we learned.  

 Overall, I still would not call myself a “maker.” While I enjoyed the assignments and I have definitely have spoken positively about the class to my fellow Library and Information Science graduate students, particularly those who are interested in working with youth and teens,  I personally do not see me doing some of these items in the future. It’s most likely because I struggled with having the time and energy to adequately devote to this class. The open hours conflicted with my availability. No matter how much I enjoy something, if I do not have the time to devote to it, I personally believe that I should not use the terminology.   I believe “Makers” are anyone who has the time to devote to creating any type of product. Anyone can be a maker as long as they dedicate time to creation. I just do not have the leisure time necessary to devote to any product creation.  


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Belated Locomotion Adventures

The process of working with Arduino and motors began with our in-class activity, in which we needed to make use of a motor in some way/shape/form. After being inspired by our rooster-themed scratch paper, I decided to build a scene that involved a man in a house opening his front door, seeing the rooster that had likely been obscenely loud that morning, and then angrily shuts the door. 


Initial sketch for in-class design.


Here it is in action!


And here’s a view of the inside of the house:


The hardest part of working with this setup was aligning the servo to move the door in the way that I wanted to. I wound up benefiting from using a flexible pipecleaner to represent the angry man’s arm, since I didn’t have to get the angles exactly right to get some good movement. Playing with the arduino code was fun, I have a CS background so I felt pretty confident moving forward with the later iterations of this week’s assignment.


Onto the main project! Since I only had access to two motors, I wanted to try basing my design off of a water strider:

They seem to have a good sense of balance since they can walk on water, and while I had no expectations for my robot to do the same, I think the long, straight legs would correspond well to the way that I could setup the servos.


I designed the strider bot to use it’s front 2 legs to move, with another two legs in the back and the front to help with overall balance.


These legs would be put on an angle so that they weren’t vertically sweeping back and forth. I planned to make the base of the bot out of some cardboard, the legs out of chopsticks, and strap it all together with some good ol’ scotch tape. 


sketch for water strider bot, including a top and front view!


One of the more unexpected challenges with arduino programming for this bot is that the code has to run single-threaded. Normally I’d like to have the legs programmed seperately and then just run at the same time, but since the code could only run on a single thread, I had to figure out how to setup the legs to move differently within the same for loop. It was a bit tricky to handle, but after finicking with delays and start values for angles, I had something that was relatively close to what I envisioned. 

Constructing the bot was a bit tricky, since I had to sit the servos on a very particular angle to get the results I wanted. My roommate recommended that I try cutting holes in the cardboard base I was using to help get the angle I wanted, and I think that worked out pretty okay! I setup the holes and then went crazy with scotch tape to get the motors to stay where I wanted them.

I also found a lot of difficulty getting the static legs to work right. taping them vertically was tricky, and putting them on an angle was also difficult. For the sake of the prototype, I tried using both a vertical and angled orientation to see which one worked out better. For the angled legs, I cut V-shaped holes on the edge of the cardboard and slid them into place, and securing with scotch tape. That worked pretty well!

As you can see in the video, the StriderBot wasn’t exactly keen on wanting to move around. I also had some issues with the scotch tape not adhering well, and there were many failed video attempts where I would have the bot start trying to move, but then a leg would fall off or something. 


For StriderBot 2.0, I wanted to counteract some of the non-moving issues by changing the angle of the static legs to be less vertical, so that the moving legs would push against the ground more. I also accidentally discovered that if I put all of the legs at the same angle, the top ends of the chopsticks could be taped together to provide some additional structural integrity!

I also wanted to implement something at the end of the servo chopsticks that would give more traction when the bot was moving around, so I attached wrappers to the moving feet. 

In addition, I decided to secure some of the loose ends of the robot with Duct Tape. The only duct tape I had in the house was wood-themed, so between that and the cardboard and the chopsticks, striderbot has some good woodland camouflage going for it.

I also changed the pacing of the bot’s movements so that it would move back and forth a tad bit quicker.


And here is the redesigned bot!

As you can see, the results were still less than ideal for this revision, so I would need to pursue either stronger servos, or a better grip on the legs. Perhaps sandpaper might be a good option. 


And here is the final version of the code for my robot: 






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Final Project – Knife Whetstones and Base

For my final project I chose to create a set of knife whetstones and a wooden base to hold and store them. Having no prior knowledge of woodworking, this project was an introduction to a completely new topic to me, and I needed a lot of help from the TAs to build the base. I didn’t expect to actually go to the CU Woodshop to get the wood, but it was awesome that James was willing to meet me on a Saturday and show me how to pick what to get. One unexpected challenge was that we needed to make a rip cut across the whole board and plane down the thickness. However, the shop said they wouldn’t be able to do that until Tuesday, which would be too late. So we just bought the board, and I had to change some dimensions of the design to account for this. Neil then managed to use a circular saw to cut the board into the right lengths, and he explained the whole process as he did so. Thanks to their help, I was able to finish the base, and I’m definitely proud of how it turned out. I also learned how to actually sharpen knives, and after using the whetstones I could definitely tell a difference! (Look at how thin the tomato slice is….. amazing.)

I established three learning goals for this project. In the later projects for this class I was getting bad at turning things in on time, so my first learning goal was to have the project done one day before it was due. I did manage to meet this deadline, but I finished my project on that day so it was cutting it close. I spent too much time in the planning phase that I only had a week or so to gather the materials and build the actual components, pushing up these steps to the deadline. 

The first design I made on TinkerCAD to get a better visualization of what I wanted

The second goal was to set up periodic benchmarks of progress to ensure that I completed the project incrementally rather than procrastinating up until the last minute and doing it all at once. At first I thought I was making steady progress by fully using class time to research designs and draw out my own. It turned out, however, that because I didn’t set up the entire benchmark plan, I lost track of how much time each step should take and spent too long planning. So I initially did complete the project in steps, but at the due date drew closer, I had to do a lot of things quickly and didn’t have as comfortable a buffer space between each step as I had envisioned. 

The last goal was to learn about a subject completely new to me in order to practice teaching myself new things and doing the research on my own. I chose woodworking because it is very practical to know, as you can use it to build furniture, hand carvings, home improvement structures, and all sorts of other things. Because it’s so useful and there’s so much to learn about it, I wanted to make this project a sort of introduction to it in order to continue learning after the class is over. I was definitely satisfied with the knowledge that I gained from this project, as both James and Neil were very helpful in teaching me the basic tools, terminology, and materials of the craft. 

Picking out the right board at the CU Woodshop

Overall I am really happy with my final project. I may have still procrastinated a little on it and not fulfilled every goal exactly, but I got the most important things out of it: 1) the project itself works as I can see the improvement in my knives, and 2) I got a good experience of learning about a new field and using more advanced materials in making things. I think the only further adjustments I would like to make to it is to add a clear varnish to the wood and to insert small rubber bumpers on the bottom of the tiles and the wooden base in order to prevent everything from sliding around. This project is meaningful to me because I will continue to use it after the class ends, and it has piqued my interest in pursuing these kinds of projects in the future. 

All the materials for the whetstones

Throughout the class, I have realized how much of a perfectionist I am, and how because of that I either go all-out on a project or I’m pretty unmotivated or discouraged from working on it. But ironically at the same time I’m a terrible procrastinator. So the repeating pattern often ended up being that I would plan out a huge grandiose idea and get super excited for it, but then would remain in that idealistic planning stage for too long until the deadline was too close. Then I would get stressed about executing the whole plan but nevertheless would do all it took to get it done; sometimes I made the deadline and sometimes I didn’t. But fundamentally, I hate making something I can’t be proud of at the end. The quality of the end product must be worth my time and effort, so I want to do everything it takes to make it good. 

One thing that I really appreciate about this course is that it has sort of brought back a side of me that missed having fun working with these kinds of cool projects. I actually enjoyed making different things as a kid, eg. knitting and crocheting, but I stopped as I got older because I just got too busy with school and other things. After three and a half years of computer science classes in my undergrad career, this kind of environment of creating things was really refreshing and fun to work in. I think this course has enhanced the kind of maker I personally am, as now I can make not just software and web apps but also tangible objects. After this class I think my future interests lie in working with sewing and textiles, and also potentially woodworking and furniture making. (Lowe’s is like….. basically a store for building your own Makerspace in your garage, hahah.) 

As for my understanding of what a maker is and what it means to call myself a maker, I think the foundation for being a maker lies in the mindset. Many times people might say, “Oh, why do you need to make that yourself when you can just buy it somewhere? You’d save so much time and money!” Sometimes that is the case and that makes more sense. But this course has taught me that the joy of making lies not in the product, but in the process of creating it. Joy comes from the inspiration and inception of an idea, the adjusting of mistakes as you go along through trial and error, and finally seeing your vision come to life and being proud of it. This is the process of making art. In addition to it, though, making things yourself allows you to use the things you’ve made for yourself and for others. And when you give things you’ve invested the time and effort into making yourself, they hold much more meaning to you and the recipient. 

I’ve had a lot of fun in this class, with both the creations I’ve made and the people I’ve gotten to interact with along the way. Thanks to all the course staff for this experience, I’m grateful I got to take a class like this before graduating. 

The final product: simple, functional, and elegant!

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Final Project – Justin Kim

For my final project, I knew I wanted to use the laser cutter extensively, as the laser cutter project was my favorite assignment in class. While I knew I wanted to use the laser cutter, I was not sure what to make with laser cutter for my final project. During my iteration project, James gave me the idea to make a board game from laser cutter, and from that idea, I decided to make a board game holder for my favorite board game, Settlers of Catan.

I made a card holder and board holder using laser cutting techniques learned in class, and a game piece called the ‘Robber’ using the resin printer. There were too many challeneges and screw-ups I faced during this project. One of the challenges was that the board was very big and it took an average of 40 minute per half of the board on the laser cutter, meaning that time was very limited when using the laser cutter. Also using acrylic for the card holder meant that it would not fit perfectly in place with the other pieces, as I learned later on, as acrylic has different properties from wood. The easiest part of this process was the resin printer, as all I had to do was load up a file and learn how to prepare the resin printer.

The learning goal I had was to take this project slow and steady, and not to make mistakes that would consume a lot of my time from the project. I failed to meet this goal, as there were several mistakes from materials and printers itself that forced me to redo several steps of the project many times. 

At the end, I think this class has made me reflect about myself a little. These projects would have not been possible to do without asking for help from instructors and the various fablab employees. Also, the instances when I tried to do a project by myself without asking for help were the most disastrous ones, no matter how easy the project looked. These projects made me step out of my comfort zone to ask people for help and discuss what ideas they have, or what projects they are doing. I am a little sad that I only got to know less than half of the class, and the fact that I also missed an opportunity (final project fair) to talk to the other half and see what kind of projects they did, and get to meet new people in general.

I wish I had worked on this project during thanksgiving break, and communicated with my instructors more so I could have had time outside of open hours to work on this project. Even though this is a final project, there were so many things that I could have improved on to make the quality and the polish of this build much better. I feel as if for each project, there things I could have done better.

As a maker, I think I have the confidence to “make” something whenever if I have the desire to do so. I now know the resources and knowledge that are available for me to take on a project on my own. I used to think I am a creative person, but I do not think my assignments reflected my creativity at all. For each assignment, my end product always turned out to be something that does not look impressive at all, but rather simple. It always looked like it cost less time than it actually took to create. I think this is due to the nature of learning steps I had to take during the project, and how everything was very new to me. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this class, even if it was more time consuming that I expected. It felt like I was part of a community instead of a class.

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Final Project– Joy Shi

For my final project, I decided to make a stained glass lamp. This is something completely new to me so I had no idea what I had in store for me. Before starting my project, I did a bit of research and watched some YouTube videos related to stained glass. In all honesty, it looked pretty easy. By the end of my project, I can confidently say that it was not easy.

There were definitely a lot of challenges that I faced while making this project. One of the challenges is having all the individual glass pieces to fit together. Since the pieces all come from a different color, it was hard to fit them together. There were some pieces too big while others were too small and left a gap. With this sizing issue, also made it hard to nail down the pieces when I was soldering.  However, later I started using tape to hold all the pieces together while I soldered. This became a very fast and efficient way for me to get the soldering done. Even with all these challenges, I was very happy with the finishing results. 


Learning goals for this project include learning stained glass, asking staff members for help, and keeping myself accountable by making deadlines to stay on top of the project. For the most part, I believe I did reach my goals.

I now have experience with cutting and soldering glass on. With more practice and time, I believe I could’ve made the individual glasses fit more nicely. Since all five sides were all the same design, it became easier and faster to solder everything together. If one were to analyze each side of the cube, there are definitely improvements from the first side I did. 

This project was definitely not possible without the help from Amrutha. Without her knowledge on stained glass, I would’ve been completely lost. As a completely beginner, I am very thankful that Amrutha was able to guide me and take time out of her day to come and help me with this project. With Amrutha around, we were able to conquer my challenges and both learn from it. 

I, however, underestimated the time each part was going to take so my deadlines were not always met. In the end, I did keep myself accountable and didn’t rush through this project. My deadlines became more of a checklist for me where I set goals of what I wanted to get done each time I went to the FabLab. 

This class has taught me a lot about myself. I personally likes to solve problems on my own. In a way, this class has forced me to ask for help when I am stuck. It made me realize that stuff can get done a lot faster when someone who knows what they are doing is helping you. I also realize that making things requires a lot of time and patience. I struggled with this in the beginning of the semester because I didn’t manage my time well and a lot of times had to rush towards the end. This is also why I made one of my learning goals to meet deadlines. Having set days to get things done has definitely help keep some stress away. 

I do not consider myself as a creative person at all, so I definitely struggled with some of the projects for this class. Even though my projects were never above and beyond but rather very simple, I liked learning about the process behind each project. I think a maker does not necessarily have to be creative, but someone who creates something physically or digitally. By taking this class, I have become more interested in physically making things. The programs and machines that we have learned throughout the semester has made me more interested and hopefully I will create make more projects in the future. 

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Final Project

  1. Video

  1. Challenges I faced – I wish that I found more of this blue acrylic. I looked in several stores to find blue translucent, but could not. And the fab lab had 1 sheet, which was not enough, so I had to use another color. Also, getting things to look neat (especially the glue underneath the acrylic and the burn marks in the wood).
  2. Most proud of – the way everything actually fits and is intended to be like that.  

2. Learning goals

      1. # 1: Become better versed at the laser cutter and wood to control what I’m making instead of just being satisfied with what the machine ends up doing to my piece, which happens more than I would like for it to.
        1. I achieved this, because I was able to control the sizing for the acrylic and make it fight just right between the wood. I also used the templates provided in the tutorial, but some of them were wrong, so I had to tweak it myself to my own size, especially for the size of wood I was using. I learned that the laser cutter is not actually as scary as I thought it was. In the first week of the class when we did laser cutter, I did not like it at all. All the settings were confusing and I didn’t know the difference between raster and vector, and setting up the file seemed confusing and like a lot of steps. But after this project, things seemed pretty streamlined and I enjoyed setting up my file because it gave me that sense of control and confidence I was looking for. 
      2. # 2: Apply my ‘need for perfection’ side to create an art piece. This piece requires all the parts fitting together and that’s what I’m most nervous about. I’m also challenging my time management skills.
        1. I also think I achieved this. I made a timeline for myself. I think the biggest thing that helped LOL was that that I accidentally thought that this was due on Tuesday in class, which was a whole week before it was actually due. So, I put in a lot of time last weekend and finished it. The best part was that once I cut all the pieces, putting them together was a nice little break in my day – it was peaceful and I enjoyed using my hands to create something pretty. And, the parts do fit together so I think that I did achieve this goal as well.


  • Most significant thing you have learned over the course of these assignments – I think I learned that I am impatient when it comes to creating, and have since gained patience. At the beginning of the course, if something didn’t work, I would just toss it and do something different (instead of troubleshooting and trying to work it out). I think that changed when we did Arduinos, mostly because I couldn’t just scrap it. I was forced to sit there and figure out why it wasn’t working and to eventually make it work. I am actually thankful to have picked this up because it’s a life skill that helps me to not give up so easily and try to work around problems creatively and logically. 


  • Has this course spurred you to think about yourself differently? And/or future goals and interests in life? Do you consider yourself a maker? What does that mean to you now that it didn’t at the beginning of the semester? What does it mean to you to call yourself a maker (or not)? Who do you think should call themselves a maker? 
    1. Yes, I am more confident in my abilities as a maker than I was before. I am more self sufficient and able to just google things and watch videos rather than asking for help at every step, which isn’t bad, but I feel less dependent that way. I don’t know if I consider myself a maker, but I definitely like working with my hands and using my creative side to create cute things that bring me happiness in life. 
    2. I think a maker is anyone who simply creates using their hands- using tools they have at their disposal and a guide – either the internet ot a tutorial or some sort of self learning tool. It’s that like raw, prototype, non-industrial creation that makes someone a maker. 
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Seth Sawant Iteration Assignment

This week’s assignment was to to either build upon a previous week’s project or to start it over from scratch. Because we’re soon starting the final project, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to combine two projects into one to create a larger more and ambitious design. I also wanted to make something that was functional and something that I think that I think would hard to find commercially, so those things with in mind I brainstormed various ideas. The final project I settled on was creating a temperature display for my apartment, as one of the first pieces of information that I need in the morning is the outside temperature so I can dress accordingly. At the same time, I wanted this to be something I would want to display in my apartment, so the means of displaying the temperature will be a mechanical display similar to that of an odometer or a mechanical counter. For the iteration project portion of this, I tackled just the electronics aspect of the piece, namely the method of acquiring the temperature information and driving a motor based on that data, leaving the mechanical (and more complex) part for my final project.

The DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor I used.

For the backbone of this project, I decided to use Adafruit’s Feather HUZZAH micro controller, which is an Internet of Things focused device with built-in support for low energy Bluetooth, WiFi, and useful power-saving features built in. The chip can be programmed numerous ways; I started by trying to use MicroPython, but got frustrated by the unreliable programming method which involved connecting to the HUZZAH over WiFi and using a web-based terminal to update the code. Instead, I used the Arduino IDE which was less effort but required a little setup by installing some special board packages.

For acquiring the temperature data, I used two methods: one was to use a temperature sensor to get the ambient temperature of the room, and the second was to pull the weather data from the internet to get the outside temperature. The thinking behind this is that for my final design, I want the display to periodically switch between the inside and outside temperature to highlight  the ccool transition between digits that mechanical displays have. For the ambient temperature I used another piece of Adafruit kit, a DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, which comes with an Arduino library which makes getting readings from the device easy. Although I didn’t use the humidity readings in this project, I’m thinking of adding the ability in the final project to alternate between showing the temperature and the humidity. To get the outside temperature from the internet, I used a weather API called OpenWeather which gives basic weather information for free, and used the Arduino HTTP library to send the API requests. Finally, to display the temperature data to the user I made a simple dial out of cardboard and a servo to act as a stand-in for the final, more complex display. Although the servo worked in this case, I realized that because servos can’t rotate more than one full rotation it probably won’t work for my final design; I’m considering other options like using a stepper motor or a regular DC motor, which can rotate indefinitely in one direction.


#include <ESP8266WiFi.h>
#include <ESP8266HTTPClient.h>
#include <ArduinoJson.h>
#include <Servo.h>
#include <Adafruit_Sensor.h>
#include <DHT.h>
#include <DHT_U.h>

#define WIFI_TIMEOUT 5

const char* ssid = "NETWORK_NAME";
const char* password = "NETWORK_PASSWORD";

HTTPClient http; //Declare an object of class HTTPClient

double outside_temp_k = 273.15;
double outside_temp_c = 0;
double outside_temp_f = 32;

double inside_temp_c = 0;

Servo dial;
DHT_Unified dht(14, DHT22);
sensor_t sensor;

void setup () {
dial.attach(2); //attach servo object to pin 2 of the Feather
WiFi.begin(ssid, password);

int timeout = 0;
while (WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED && timeout < WIFI_TIMEOUT) {

void loop() {
if (WiFi.status() == WL_CONNECTED) { //Check WiFi connection status
http.begin(""); //Specify request destination
int httpCode = http.GET();
if (httpCode > 0) { //Check the returning code
String payload = http.getString(); //Get the request response payload
DynamicJsonDocument doc(1024);
DeserializationError error = deserializeJson(doc, payload);
if (!error) {
outside_temp_k = doc["main"]["temp"]; // gets the temperature in kelvin
outside_temp_c = outside_temp_k - 273.15; // convert to celcius
outside_temp_f = (outside_temp_c*1.8) + 32; // convert to fahrenheit
} else {Serial.println("Error contacting OpenWeather API!");}
http.end(); //Close connection
} else {
Serial.println("No network connection!");

dial.write((int)outside_temp_f); //-20 to 120 to 0 to 180 range.

sensors_event_t event;
if (isnan(event.temperature)) {
Serial.println(F("Error reading temperature!"));
else {
if ((int)event.temperature != (int)inside_temp_c) {
inside_temp_c = event.temperature;

// ESP.deepSleep(2000000); connect GPIO pin 16 to RST for this to work


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Arduino Iteration Adventures

My iteration project was built as a stepping-stone from my newly-acquired Arduino skills to my final project. To do so, I built a box with a map of my local area on the front, and a number of LEDs that lit up at 13 different bus stop locations to indicate where certain buses where. 

before we dive into the process, here’s the final result:

The three lines near my house are green, gold, and silver, as pictured above. 


My previous project for Arduino was a strip of NeoPixel LEDs that could be controlled using a joystick:

Arduino Adventures


This iteration project began with a sketch of some ideas I was considering:

Option (A) was the one I decided to construct, with the integrated LEDs. Option (B) would have involved a sort of clock/timer with rotating servos to indicate approximately when the next bus would arrive. Options (C) and (D) involved using LCD screens, which were a little too advanced for what I was looking to work with for this project.

To design the front of the box, I found a site call snazzy maps that could modify the look of google maps to be whatever I wanted. So I took a screenshot of my local area with just the roads visible and converted it to an SVG for the engraving process. I then found a different online tool to construct the SVG files for my wood-engraved box.

The initial SVG for my local area

The final SVG for the front-facing part of my box, with holes designating bus stops



I was initially looking to use individual LED bulbs for each bus stop, but if I wanted to use a multicolor LED, I would have 4 pins on each bulb, and 13bulbs in total… so I decided to change my approach and use NeoPixels. Since I was primarily concerned with accuracy on the map for the bus stops, I hadn’t considered the troubles I might experience when attaching NeoPixels to the board. this resulted in a bit of a haphazard setup, with the NeoPixel strip contorted in order to line up each hole in the board:


I then went over to the Makerspace and learned how to solder! I tried looking at a few youtube tutorials to help me along, but it was still quite a time-consuming process. I asked Niel about how he goes about soldering, and he showed me a technique that involved applying solder to each component separately, and then bringing them together and heating to attach them securely. This made the process much easier, and I was able to successfully attach all of the neopixel strips together. In particular, I made sure that I had the data line all heading in the same direction to avoid trouble later down the line.


My first attempt at soldering NeoPixels

First set of LEDs attached, and they work!

The completed soldering job, with Clear tape in place to secure the pixels onto the board


Now that the LEDs were setup, I began programming the device! Since I would need to connect to the cuMTD servers to get bus data, I decided to use a Wifi-enabled Arduino. I then installed Postman onto my laptop so I could test my API calls to MTD, and then implemented them into the arduino code once I felt confident. 


I ran into some trouble when making API calls through the university wifi, as they likely have security measures in place. With that said, the project is working successfully at my apartment! Here’s the code I used, which utilized a mix of NeoPixels, HTTP requests, and WIFI connectivity code: 

Some issues that I was facing with the implementation is that random LEDs would light up for colors that I haven’t even programmed in, as seen here:

My best guess as to the source of this problem was due to power surges in the data signal for the LEDs. After getting access to a resistor and a capacitor, I was able to mitigate this issue. 


Here’s a video of the final product in action:




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Iteration Assignment

Ideation: For this week, I wanted to improve my sewing skills because while I had a lot of fun during sewing week, I saw my technique had abundant room for improvement. So, I went back to the google drive folder of patterns and picked a plushie. I made bags last time, a drawstring one and one with a zipper (which was more difficult than the drawstring one). So, I decided to challenge myself and work with stretchier fabrics like felt and plush, which was a jump from working with pure cotton on the bags. The plushie also was more of a sewing challenge because it had a variety of strokes used (zigzag, straight, and basting). While I am not iterating the exact bags I made from that week, I am taking my sewing skills and techniques further by creating something more difficult and considerably different than last time. 

Images of previous project:

Construction: Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures of my build process, but I can describe the process in detail. I first cut out the pattern, and there were a lot of pieces. Then, I started sewing together the face. After that, I went ahead and put the sides and bottom together, which brought the squares to 3D. The places I had difficulty were the legs, because the fabric had to be squished a little to get lined up on both sides, so it came out a little frayed. 

Reflection: This project was actually fun to make. The hard part was understanding some of the directions actually, which the lab assistants helped to explain and show. Also the good part was that I didn’t have to start over on any of the pieces this time. I learned what y-seams, basting, and gathering / gathering stitches are. So, I feel like a more sophisticated sewer (not sure if that is the word for someone who sews yikes) than when I first began. Of course, my most favorite part was stuffing. The end result came out pretty good! I was impressed with my abilities and now I have a cute little plushie to put on my bed. 

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Iteration Project – Record Streamer – Isaac Iyengar


The goal of this project was to extend my nametag project from the beginning of the semester. That project was a simple press-fit box with stained plywood, and a black acrylic hot glued on top. The black acrylic was cut and rastered to resemble a standard vinyl record. 

I started collecting records once I was gifted a record player from a friend, and it helped me explore a lot of old Jazz and Soul music and collect some of my favorite Hip-Hop albums as well. I like listening to music on my record player and even just seeing the motion of the record, however, I also use Spotify a lot, so I wanted to have a record player that would instead play Spotify.

I wanted to iterate on this project because I wanted to make a motorized version that would spin the record and also function as a music streaming box. The Raspberry Pi fits this specific use case. Essentially its a smart speaker in the form of a record player. 

Here’s a link to the original project:

Rotating Record:

Unfortunately, the Raspberry Pi was not able to drive the DC motor on its own, so I used an Arduino instead which received bytes of data via serial indicating whether to spin the record or halt from the Raspberry Pi. I used a DC Motor following the circuit schematic shown below. The Arduino code would simply wait for signals to spin or stop spinning sent via Serial and write to the motor accordingly. 


Completed Circuit for DC Motor Control:

Music Streaming:

I explored using the Spotify Web API for this since it allowed for a lot of different functionality with the music such as receiving the current song playing, album art, and various playback functions. However, the Web API for my use case required authentication for every single API call, which is impossible to do in a headless setup of the Pi. Instead, I opted to use Raspotify which allows the Pi to function as a connectable device from Spotify Connect. This essentially made the device a connectable speaker. This worked perfectly and audio would seamlessly play through the speaker connected to the Raspberry Pi. 


Below is Demo Video from before the project was in the enclosure and synchronization between playing music and motion of the record was setup.



To design the enclosure I used an online press-fit box generator and cut out holes for the speaker, cords, and ventilation. I sprayed plywood black and etched a pattern into the design to expose the bare wood where the wood was rastered. This created a really cool white on black look to the record case. I also attached a clear acrylic laser cut record to the DC motor so you could see the record spinning. The enclosure also has a slot that currently contains a computer speaker that was taken from a computer monitor. 

Below is a photo of the finished laser cut job.

Speaker inside enclosure:


Improvements to Current Design + Reflection:

This implementation requires WiFi, which isn’t great to use in a headless RPi setup since this would require SSH from another laptop to modify the file that specifies which network the device connects to. This works fine from my room, so I’m going to modify this design to work as a Bluetooth device. 

Spotify Connect is fairly limited as a means of streaming music, I’d like to be able to incorporate an LCD display into the record player that shows the current song playing, and push buttons that allow the user to have playback control. One design feature I really want to investigate is incorporated some sort of accelerometer into the record to determine if a user places there hands on the record or spinning the record, and have this be the means of playback functionality. For example, a user could stop the movement of the record with there hand and this would pause the playing. This would be similar to an actual record player.  There are services like Mopidy that I’ll need to investigate some more which allow for much better streaming of music, and incorporation with SoundCloud Last.Fm and other streaming services, all in a really nice UI that I could display on an LCD touch screen. 


Mopidy Front End:

One improvement I really want to do is to take apart a record player, and put the hardware inside this enclosure and control it through the Pi. This would be a really cool improvement since this project would then be able to stream music and play records as well. 

Overall though, given the time constraints for this project, I’m really pleased with the results. It’s definitely a significant improvement from the original record player nametag project. I was successful in playing music through the Pi, while rotating the record. My favorite part about this project is definitely the enclosure which turned out really nicely with the black etched wood. 


Here’s the Final Product:

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