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

Final Project

Question 1.

I made an art mobile that can be used to lit the room and showcase my photos. I often light my room at night only with Christmas lights and I wanted to make something that incorporates Christmas lights and decoration. I wanted to make something that is artistically aesthetic and also display my photos. I’m really proud of the photography/photoshop skills that I developed for my project. This is some skills that I can use it after this class for various occasions. I’m proud of my cloud room decoration overall. It looks artistic and useful in terms of displaying my photos. A major challenge I faced was the Arduino part of the project that I was initially going to include. I wanted to make the photos drip down out of the “cloud” (paper lanterns), but I couldn’t figure out a way to make that happen. Since this piece of decoration is meant to be hanging from the ceiling, it was strong enough to support multiple Arduinos inside the “clouds”. 

I hot glued pieces of cotton onto the paper lanterns. This process took a while because I wanted to make fluffy clouds that look realistic.

This is the inkspace design for the acrylic stars I made

This is my final product. I wish my blue lighting got delivered on time. I also I could showcase this during the final presentation in a dark room so I can show the full effect.

Before the photoshop

After the photoshop

Question 2.

Learning Goal 1: I want to use Arduino to display my photos more emotionally appealing by making the photos draping down in a timed matter. 

My number one learning goal was to use Arduino. It’s something that I didn’t really enjoy using back when we learned how to make pom bots. I wanted to challenge myself by using Arduino. I thought it would add a cool effect to my project too. However, it was difficult to make it happen. The first problem was that the Arduino motors weren’t moving in a way I wanted. I imagined my photos all folded into one and drapes down out of the “cloud”. Especially the LED lights being inside, it was not only fire hazard to multiple cords inside, but the clouds also weren’t’ strong enough to have something inside. I didn’t want to take a risk of ruining my whole project by using the Arduino. I talked to my classmates after I finished making it. They suggested some potential ideas on how to use Arduino. It’s something I never thought of and I will definitely consider using them in the future. I failed to meet this goal. I learned that sometimes it’s the solutions to your problems are much closer than you think. I could have talked to my classmates in the beginning process about my challenge. I think the key part of being a maker in the makerspace community is utilizing all your resources. This is the most precious thing I learned. I had a great chance to talk to my classmates. 

 

Learning Goal 2: I will spread out my tasks throughout the week to prevent myself from procrastinating. 

Most of my projects were done last minute because it was difficult for me to come to the fab lab in the evening during weekdays due to my other commitments. However, I knew I didn’t want to push my final project to the last minute. I set tasks for each week so I don’t do everything at once. Since I had to learn how to take photos with a DSLR camera, I watched tutorial videos every night in the first week. I had to ask my friends who are experts in photography in my own time to learn all the little things (aperture, shutter speed, appropriate light settings, etc). It rained so many days so I had to really look out for good weather to take pictures. I think I succeed in not doing everything last minute. I had all my photos taken and photoshopped done in advance. However, I had to make my clouds a little late because all the materials came late. I didn’t’ want to work on my project on the day of the presentation. I had to come in for a final touch. Due to this, I didn’t fully meet my goal number 2. 

Learning Goal 3: I want to push myself to make something that can make me happy even if I fail because I learned so much from the production of it.

I wanted to challenge myself from using tools that I’m not really good at. However, I also didn’t want to push myself to do something that I wouldn’t enjoy. They are so contradicting to each other that I had to do something that met two goals in the middle which was using the tool that I’m still comfortable at using but not really an expert at. I was very bummed after giving up on using Arduino. I decided to use laser cutting. I wasn’t really confident at doing the laser cutting. I got a new idea at the last minute to add shiny stars to make the clouds look more like hanging in the sky. So I designed the shiny stars and laser cut using the universal. It was my first time that I did the whole process without any problems. I felt like I can even help other people who don’t know how to use it. It was an amazing feeling. I’m actually really happy with my shining stars (mirror acrylic) because it adds so many artistic values to my final piece. 

Question 3

I think I have never felt this insecure as a student in a class before INFO 490. I was the slowest learner in my lab section. I always asked the most number of questions. I was the last one to understand the same tasks in my class. I felt like my project was never as cool as another person’s. It was a constant feeling of failure and insecurity. It took me a while to tell myself that I’m good at certain things. I think I have really cool ideas. I may be a slow learner to learn how to use tools to make my imagination come true. But I had the creativity and also desire to create something original. This class taught me how everything we make in this class can’t be compared to each other. There is no such thing as “mine is cooler than yours”. I definitely felt sad when the Professor asked why I didn’t execute certain things. He didn’t know as an audience that I already have attempted to make those but I just failed to execute them. It was a very meaningful learning experience for me to understand the interaction and the silent communication that happens between the artist and the audience. I don’t think I’m an expert at any tools we learned in this class. I still have more experience with the tools we have used. However, I think I learned what makerspace community is. I can’t thank enough people who never got annoyed from me asking so many questions and were always willing to help me even if they were busy. 

Question 4

Although I was never happy about anything I made for this class, I feel proud as I’m writing this post. I didn’t even know that I was going to be doing all this when I registered for this class. I’m proud of being an original maker. That means, I always challenged myself to be original with my creativity. This is why I consider myself a maker. I created something out of my imagination. I’m not sure if I will put myself to create something tangible like the stuff we make in the fab lab. I will definitely use the skills I learned in everyday life. I think even my cooking skills make me a maker. I’m writing this blog as a person who has basic skills. However, I’m definitely more curious and passionate about creating something after this class. I think I have tough love for this class because there were definitely moments where I felt like a failure. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated to ask questions from time to time. However, I made good friends from this class and met so many good people!! I honestly wish I had more chance to be friends with my classmates. They are so freaking cool. I hope I remember to utilize my resources and ask as many questions as needed in many situations so I can execute my imagination fully and challenge myself.

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Copper Tape Project

For my copper tape project I created a mothers day card. I wanted to include a silhouette of our family so I spent most of my time creating and editing my pictures on Inkscape.

Using the silhouette as my inspiration as to wear to place my LED, I could tell that it was difficult to see that my mom was the second from the left so I made the LED light her up from the background and used word “mom” to be the switch for the circuit. 

I hope she likes her card, I had a lot of fun using the silhouette cutter and editing the pictures on Inkscape. 

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Final Project

For the final project I chose to make a skirt for my mom. I chose to use linen for skirt so it was breathable in the summer, and I chose linen over cotton just so I wouldn’t have to add a slip layer if because most of the cotton fabrics were see through. 

I found a tutorial for a half circle skirt and followed it accordingly so I wouldn’t buy too much fabric as I had done for my iteration project and wouldn’t be “winging it”. 

I first started with cutting out my fabric. Since the measurements were very exact (math and radii were involved) and the skirt was very long I used measuring tape and chalk in a way I never thought I would.

strategy to make a circle (tape chalk to the edge of the measuring tape so I could keep track of the radius)

Afterwards I started the sewing process. This was a bad idea because when it came time to print the design on my fabric, I had to wait for the paint to dry before flipping my skirt around and print on the backside rather than just print on the separate pieces and then sew them together. 

My original plan was to have embroidered flowers on the bottom of the skirt but the spacing of the prints was so close together that I decided that big embroidery would just crowd the skirt and make it too busy. My original idea was also to include buttons but I also didn’t end up doing this because of the same reason. The skirt looked very incomplete without anything so I wanted to do a border along the edge because I knew it wouldn’t disrupt the flow of the skirt or make it look too busy and unwearable. 

Chose to do a satin stitch without the embroidery machine

In this project I learned how to do a hidden hem with the blind stitch foot but because I was dumb I didn’t realized that my white bobbin thread was showing on the front of the skirt so I tried to cover it with the satin stitch I used for the border but I couldn’t make the width of the stitch smaller to cover the hidden stitch as the fabric kept getting caught in the machine. 

By the end of this project I learned so many new skills and learned to make a clean finished product without and compromises to quality. I first started out this semester with a jean skirt that I will never wear because I’m too afraid it’ll rip every time I sit down. Now I’ve made a skirt I’m confident my mom can do whatever she wants in. 

 

By following the tutorial and applying all the skills I learned from my iteration project and the new techniques I learned from my TA, Duncan, I was able to create a something I would proudly say I made and give my mom. Working with a plan and a design in my head and on a schedule, I made something that I think is very high quality. 

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Final Project (AirB&B)

Siena Walsh

I’m very proud of my finished project “Air B & B”. From inspiration to completion I really put my heart into this project, and I hope that it is as successful out in the garden as it can be! For my final project of INFO 490, I decided to build an insect hotel. An insect hotel, also known as a “bug house” or “bug hotel” or “insect house” is a structure, usually box-like that provides shelter to various bugs. It’s made of materials that promote nesting, and it’s a great addition to any garden not only so that you have more pollinators enriching your plants, but also so that the insect populations can flourish.

The idea for this project came to me during Earth week. I had been thinking a lot about sustainability and what it means to be a friend of the planet. It’s not enough to simply do less harm, we’re at a point where we really need to take action to reverse some of the detrimental practices that humans have undertook. I was also inspired by the story of the bees surviving the Notre Dame fire.

A really brief recap of the steps I took is that I used various materials to create a box, Inkscape to make a sign, and various materials to fill the insect house. Some challenges that I ran into were not accounting for the time it takes wood glue to dry, not expecting the nail gun to run out of battery and running out of recycled paper and cardboard for reeds. I’m most proud of the fact that I used almost every tool in the woodshop. I came in with zero experience, and very intimidated but with Brandon’s help I feel like I really conquered some fears.

 

    

 

For this project, I decided to challenge myself in two very different ways. For the first, I wanted to use only recycled and reclaimed materials and for the second, I wanted to challenge myself to stick to a schedule that gives me more than enough time to complete the project.

I chose to use only recycled and reclaimed materials to continue the theme of sustainability. I recycle at my apartment, but I still feel like those materials can be given a second life before being recycled. Collecting paper and cardboard materials made me more conscious of how much waste my roommate and I produce every day. Someone recently shared a quote with me that said, “what is measured can be improved” and taking note of how much paper I use has definitely helped me reduce my paper consumption. I also visited the Urbana Landscaping Waste Reclamation facility for many of the logs and branches used in this project. The pine cones are old Christmas decorations (unvarnished), the reeds consist of toilet paper rolls, an old tiki torch, pasta boxes, and even a parking ticket, and even the fake flowers are being given a second life. To be fair, the glue, tape, and laser cut sign are all new products, but I couldn’t think of an alternative that would be as secure.

The scheduling challenge was definitely harder. There were a few hiccups along the road that made me redo my schedule completely. I realized that it’s better to get a lot done in the beginning, than spread it out over time. I didn’t account for the time it would take the glue to dry, so I initially had sanding and making the shelf on the same day. I also wasn’t expecting the nail gun to run out of battery after 4 nails, and the Fab Lab to not have the charger. I also didn’t account for fatigue. Using a lot of the tools involved more manual labor than I thought. The hand drill required a lot of strength, and the tool I used to cut the backing was so powerful it made my hands feel numb. I made enough reeds to be satisfied at this time, but I think in the future I will improve the insect hotel by adding more. I initially had more time for “reed making” specifically in my schedule, but other things chipped away at the time, and redundant tasks should be more spread out.

The most significant thing I’ve learned over the course of these assignments is to give yourself like 4 to 5 times the amount of time that you think a project will take. I need to account for not only the physical process but the mental process as well. I didn’t write about it as much in the write-ups as I could, but some of these projects took a lot mentally and emotionally. I was so stressed and fed-up with the 3d printing assignment that when the BIF lab employee broke the product it took me 3+ hours to make, I almost cried in class. The sewing/embroidery assignment was also a nightmare because I had 99% of my embroidery done when the machine somehow started printing my design over itself. I think anything involving creating is really heavily tied to the creator’s emotions, so that when you make something nice you feel really proud and accomplished. But when something goes wrong, it’s hard to not think of yourself as a failure. Or at least that’s how I take it!

But all-in-all I feel much better coming out of the class and having tons more skills under my belt. I’m willing to try some methods again, although scary, and I feel confident enough to teach others some of the things that I’ve learned. I definitely want to try and find a makerspace near me when I return home this summer. I think they’re amazing institutions that provide people with the opportunity to learn new skills, especially without much investment. I personally can’t afford a laser printer or an embroidery machine, and the Fab Lab has made that financial barrier nonexistent. I learned so much and had a great time doing it. I’m really grateful for the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab, and I hope that so many others are able to have this experience in the future.

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Final Project: 7(+) Rings

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

 

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

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

These are the final products that are the rings!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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The Emulation Station

Concept Emerges.

Our last assignment! This project is supposed to be reflective of what we learned about the design process this semester. We had tasks such as: story boarding, paper prototyping, iterative assessment, and more! The only catch for this assignment was that we had to use a medium/tool that we have never used before. In the past we have always been given or had the option to use tools that we have learned in class, so this was all new. At the beginning, we were given a sheet of possible tools to choose from. Upon scanning the sheet for the first time, I saw “raspberry pi” on the list and immediately snapped into wanting to make a video game console. I have seen this done in the past, so I knew it was possible. I just had literally no idea of how to approach making it. 

For the storyboard, it was simple. I wanted to make a portable device that could play games, play them well, and be able to have more than one players playing. 

Picture 1: Initial Storyboard

Little did I know, this idea was ambitious to the point of being impossible. To start off, the games I wanted to play (gamecube) proved to be fundamentally impossible for the pi to run. Many forum posters say it is due to the pi not having a 64-bit architecture like the gamecube does. This is false because I ended up running N64, “64” for 64-bit architecture, games pretty well. In short, the pi just does not have enough power to run the games making it literally impossible to make a custom game cube out of a raspberry pi. To rectifiy this I went back a generation of game consoles to the Nintendo 64. Emulation for this console would prove sketchy but doable! To continue, I wrote “4 Players!!” completely ignorant to knowing what a “player” actually is. A player is something that is giving input that the console needs to read and execute. This is much more taxing on the cpu than a simple AI that doesn’t have inputs but only executions. So, this project was whittled down to a portable N64 game console that could support up to two players and run at 60 frames. 

Research

One of the first steps I had to take was purchasing a raspberry pi. I took about 30 minutes for me to make a decision between the Raspberry pi 2 B and the pi 3 and went with the 2B in the end. The Pi 3 did offer more processing power for 10 bucks more but many said I could emulate the same with a 2b. I took “the same” as the 2b has enough power to run the game flawlessly. I’m glad this was wrong. If the games ran flawlessly I wouldn’t have much to do. Instead, I learned a bunch about computers along the way. 

The other sect of research I had to do was how to interface with the pi. I quickly found that there was an OS designed to emulate games on the pi called “retropie.” To interface with the pi, I need to load an operating system (OS) onto a micro-SD card and boot the pi from there. Getting the OS loaded was easy. Put the micro-SD into a SD adapter -> Put the SD adapter into my computer’s SD slot -> Unzip a folder containing the OS called “retropie” -> Reinsert the micro-SD back into the pi and boot. Research did not take as much time as I thought it would take so I started to worry about if what I was doing was enough. Luckily the pi I bought was nowhere near perfect. 

The Meat and Potatoes

The meat and potatoes of this project was the optimization of this tiny computer. Many hours were spent within menus tweaking aspects of the pi that would either allot me more power or optimize a process. 

Picture 2: My desk during this whole project!

This amalgamation of cables would be my own little raspberry pi lab for the next week and a half. Two monitors, a laptop, 2 keyboard, 2 mice, 2 usb N64 controllers, my pi, and my desktop. Laptop was for loading software/games to the raspberry pi. Desktop was for debugging research. One monitor to interface with the pi. A keyboard to navigate the pi’s command prompts. Finally, the controllers to test game play. This picture was not necessary, but it was amusing to me! 

Picture 3: The raspberry pi 2 model B

This is the Pi I used for this project. In the middle of the board you can see a big green block of metal and a smaller grey block of metal to the right of the green block. These are heat sinks. Heat sinks act as a form of cooling without the fan. Heat is taken from the processor (green) and the Graphics Processing Unit(GPU, grey) and sent upward thorough the little fins. These fins proved crucial as they reduced the temperature of the pi running N64 games from 70 degrees C (highly dangerous) to around 58 degrees C (not highly dangerous). Outside to that modification, the rest of the board is run-of-the-mill. 32GB micro-SD (middle left), micro-USB power supply (bottom left) HDMI (bottom), Ethernet port (bottom right) and 4 USB 2.0 ports (top right).

Image result for retropie config menuImage result for raspi config advanced options

Pictures 4&5: Raspberry Pi configuration screen (left) Advanced configurations screen (right)

I am going to do a quick run down of each of these screens’ options and how I used them to benefit me or why I didn’t use them.

Raspi config, left

  • Expand File system: This formats the SD to the raspberry Pi, already done on my computer
  • Change Password: Security measure, no password was used doubt someone will hack my pi
  • Boot options: Could choose to boot to this screen or the OS, I did OS
  • Wait for network at boot: Have to be connected to the internet to use the Pi, this was disabled.
  • Internationalization Options: Everything was in English so I did not touch this.
  • Enable Camera: You can connect a camera via ribbon cable to the the pi, cameras are not needed for video games.
  • Add to Rastrack: Online pi data tracking
  • Overclock: I had to enable overclocking on my pi. Bumped the processing power from 900Mhz to 1000Mhz. A 7-10 frame difference in testing.
  • Advanced options: see right
  • About Raspi-config: A READ ME file about what each of these menu options does. 

Advanced options, right 

  • Expand File system: I do not know why they had this twice
  • Over scan: Naturally games have these ugly black bars around the screen. Before messing with this, about half the screen was black bars. Over scan eliminates these bars making the game easier to see 
  • Memory split: Oddly enough, I did not have to touch this option. I had the games running at 60 fps without touching it.
  • Audio: One can either play audio through the 3.5 mm jack on the board or through the HDMI. By default, it was through the jack so I changed it to HDMI.
  • Resolution: For some reason, the resolution was really high out of the box. Old games do not need high res do I bumped it down to 640×480. Doing this would put less stress on the GPU and processor because there is less on screen imaging to process. Also, there is a hertz associated with a resolution. This number of hertz is a hard cap at the amount of frames a game can be outputted to the monitor. There were options for 50hz resolutions but this would hard cap our game play at 50 frames, not ideal. 60 hertz for our desired 60 frame gameplay
  • GL Driver: For experimental versions of pi. Did not use.

Picture 6&7: Game Emulator Menu (left) picture taken of the emulation (right)

Each game on the pi is given its own emulation menu from which to control aspects of that games emulation. Every game is a tad different so they must be emulated different. 

  • Default Emulator: Always picks the most powerful one which is the worst one.
  • Select Emulator: Can choose from 7 emulators. The one I picked, “gles2n64”, prioritizes game play over graphics leading to smoother game play but bad in-game menus and the lack of eyes from smash bros characters (right).
  • Remove emulator: Removes the emulator. I do not understand this option’s purpose.
  • Default video mode: I did this back in the raspi-config menu. CEA-1 is the 640×480 resolution.
  • Remove video mode: Removes the video mode. I do not understand this option’s purpose.
  • Select frame buffer: Having a frame buffer makes it so that input is separated by frames. Once can press four buttons at once and have them all be read or, with a frame buffer, can have the first button pushed be read while the others are not read. They are not read because the frame buffer counter is not up. This can make games seem more fluid. Games already have their own frame buffers so I did not use this option.
  • Launch: launch the game and play it. 
  • Exit: save the settings and do not play the game.

The final thing I did was turn off something called retroarch.h settings. Retroarch was a controller setup program that made it so that one could have a specific set of controls per each game. Turning this off allotting me more cores towards emulation.

Overall:

  • Overclocking to increase processor power
  • Changing resolution to decrease computing stress and give the ability for 60 frames per second
  • Fixing over scan to conform the game to the screen.
  • Audio to HDMI
  • Finding the right emulator to show the game
  • Disabling undesired programs (retroarch.h)
  • Adding heat sinks to my CPU and GPU to decease temperature.  

All lead up to a game console that:

  • Can be played for hours without over heating
  • Supports two players easily
  • Can fit in your pocket
  • Can conform to any TV
  • Can hold 32 GB worth of N64 games (biggest game I saw was 50mb, so 640 games!)
  • And most importantly, run at 60 frames per second.

I could go on about how important to me it was that I managed 60 frames. It just produces the best game play bar-none.

Finishing Up

The last bit I had to do was make a box! For this box I laser cut a press fit box. I could have 3D printed a case but a pressfit box took less time and looked better. 

Picture 8: The pressfit case.

I used an online generator to produce a .svg file of a pressfit box. All I had to do was add holes for the ports. Picture 8 was a little bit too small so I had to reprint, the concept was there tho. The reason I cut holes in the top of the box was to allow for the heat to rise. Don’t want our console to overheat after all the work we had done to it.  

Presentation

Picture 9: Console presentation

The presentation went better than expected! I did not run into any issues testing at home pre-presentation but that doesn’t mean bugs will not creep up! This presentation ran for 90 min and the console maintained quality throughout. I had a couple people that stayed and played for awhile. I defiantly got more praise for it than I thought so needless to say I was proud of myself!

Reflection

At the start of this project, when I had to establish learning goals. I said that my tech learning goal was to be able to use raspberry pi as a prototyping device in the future. As for what I would be prototyping, I do not know, but I have the know how of manipulating the pi to get a desired state. Somthing I just thought of being to prototype, as I’m writing this, would be a smart speaker. There is a ribbon cable spot for a screen so one does not have to use HDMI. Then there is the 3.5mm jack for audio. The micro-SD for storage and USB for a Bluetooth adapter as well as speakers them selves. One could use all these aspects to run Spotify on a tiny LCD and play music over Bluetooth (wifi if you have the pi 3).

It is baby’s first computer is what it is, low barrier to entry. A good place to start if one would like to tinker with computational architecture. Which leads me to my educational learning goal. I really wanted to learn how a computer works. I’ve built my own desktop before but that was all plug and play. I’ve never had to manipulate anything on the back end. Going in, I thought I would be just turning down the resolution and overclocking. What I ended up doing was min-maxing cores of the processor. Working in command prompts was also new to me so navigating those was troubling. It was almost like a text adventure but instead of giving command you are writing codes to change directories and call certain programs. Next time I will have to work with computers on a more intricate level I will think back to this project to see if what I did could help. 

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Final Project

Question 1

For the final project, I have created a turn-signal sweater/jacket. This jacket is designed for bikers to use, especially at night. When it is dark outside, it can be dangerous for those who are in bicycle to bike, since they will not be able to signal if they’re going to turn left or right. With this jacket/sweater, they can give a signal to other vehicles on the road. By pressing the button on the respective sleeve of the sweater, the lights on their back will blink, indicating the direction that they are turning.

Before this project, I thought that making this project is going to be difficult and complicated. That is because I have never used the materials that are required to be used, such as washable LED, conductive threat and Adafruit Flora. Since I’m not experienced with coding or have any experience on the board, I had some difficulties getting the code to the circuit. I looked for helped online, visiting the Adafruit website, YouTube and other tutorial websites, but I still could not get my circuit to work. Fortunately, after seeking help from the Fab Lab staff, I was able to figure the code out. I’m certainly proud for figuring out how to set up the circuit. Certainly, I did get a lot of help from Jess, but I did try to sketch out a circuit that I think would work and to my surprise, I got it almost correct!

initial rough sketch

Circuit was successfully attached!

Overall, I am very satisfied with my sweater! Nevertheless, if I have more time, I would do several things differently. First, I would get a darker jacket. Since the conductive thread is dark grey, I think by using a darker color will hide it, making the sweater even more seamless. Although the flora, conductive thread and the LED lights are washable, I’ve been told that too much wash would erode the conductivity. Thus, to prevent this, I would make an insert that can be taken off and be washed. Alternatively, considering that we’re all college students, moving the circuit to a backpack would be cool too!

Final Design (With pocket to store battery)

Final Design: Video

Question 2

For this final project, I have the following learning goals:

  1. I want to challenge myself to create something that is useful to myself and make it usable in everyday life, instead of just a rough concept.  

After my project is done, I’m quite satisfied with what I have. Surprisingly, the project that I made is pretty useful in real life! However, I do regret using a pink sweater for the base. Initially, my plan was to use a black zip-up hoodie that the user can take on/off easily. However, I do not have any spare zip-up hoodies, nor do I have a black sweater. Because the sweater is so light in color, the conductive thread became so apparent against the fabric. Nevertheless, I still think that the final project is still useful. With Adafruit Flora, conductive thread, and the washable LED lights, the sweater is waterproof and washable. I have also sewed a piece of fabric on it to create a pocket to store the battery. Thus, the battery won’t be dangling out when the user is wearing it.

 

  1. I want to push myself outside of my comfort zone by doing something I’ve never done before, using the Lilypad Arduino/Adafruit Flora and sewable circuits. This means I will have to do research on how they work and how to use them and ask the Fab Lab staff for help. 

While I have learned how to use Arduino Uno, I never actually used a different board before. Being a business student, coding is really out of my comfort zone. Based on a tutorial I found online, I was supposed to use the Lilypad Arduino. However, I found out that this was not available at the Fab Lab but an Adafruit Flora would work perfectly as well. I decided to try using the Adafruit Flora and seek the internet for help. However, I found little to no help at all online. I decided to ask around the Fab Lab staff to help me and found out that Jess from the Fab Lab had done similar projects before. Thus, with her help, I was able to work on the code and the circuit.

 

As I look through my past assignments and my past lab assignment write-ups, I found out that I have certainly stretched my creativity over the past semester. I would never call myself a ‘maker’ before. I have always felt that I am someone who likes to stay in her comfort zone and is someone who would always take the easy way to do stuff. However, the assignments have challenged me to do many things that I have never done before, learning about tools like 3D printing, laser cutting, circuit making and many more! As I learn about these tools, I wonder what other things I can create by using the tools.

 

Question 3

As I looked at the things that I made earlier, I noticed how the things I made started out with things that are really simple and ‘safe’ to do. However, as the semester goes, I started to make things that are more interesting. Sure, I did look at the internet for some inspiration, but I did put on my little touch on it to personalize the result. Although my project might not always look as good as the ones that I try to get inspiration from, I am still very proud of the result. I have also become more confident with what I do and am more willing to try. With that, I often go ahead with my gut and see if it works out. Often when it doesn’t, I would trace back what I did and try again. This is especially true with the pom-pom bot assignment. With this final project, I was also able to show resilience. There were many times during this project where I felt that the project was too difficult and wanted to give up to do something easier. Nevertheless, I managed to push my way through and complete the project. 

 

Question 4

There are certainly other makers out there who are making life-changing innovations or something that no one has seen before. Me, on the other hand, is an amateur who only know how to operate the tools in the most basic way. With that in mind, I often think to myself, “does this make me be a maker?” This is still a debate that I often I have with myself. Evidently, often my ideas are not that original. Considering that I am a business major, I also often think, are any of the things I learned in this class going to be useful? However, just like Seymour Papert suggested, the most significant learning is a) hands-on and b) personally meaningful. In that case, I have learned a lot. It is true that what I’ve learned in this class will not be as beneficial as my other business classes when I enter the corporate world. Nevertheless, throughout the class, I have constantly challenged myself to do things that are outside my comfort zone and things that I never do before. These soft skills are certainly important not only professionally, but personally as well. I also like the fact that being able to create new things, I was able to express myself in the things that I create.

 

 

 

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Final Project Reflection – Nicholas Agate

     My idea for the final project was an electric guitar pedal board. I did not previously own a pedal board, and because I play guitar, it is something that I was enthusiastic about making. In all, the project involved utilizing Inkscape, Fusion 360, Tinkercad, Meshmixer, the Universal Laser Cutter, a resin printer (my new tool area), wood conditioner and stain,  plastic primer and pewter spray paint, and a hammer and finishing nails. Please see a few in-progress images below.

     In the beginning, I had a rough idea of what I wanted the board to look like, and I am happy that the final product came out as I had envisioned it. I was planning on making a pedal board that would have dark wood and decorative metal-looking pieces on the side, and the end product definitely fits. I am also proud of the fact that I completely designed all of the pieces for the pedal board myself. I did not use any files from online, and it felt good to design the whole project from start to finish. However, even though I am very happy with my pedal board,  I did run into a couple of issues along the way. The first was that my PDF files of the pedal board were not being read correctly by the Universal Laser. I ended up fixing this by opening up my Inkscape SVGs on the laser’s computer and making sure that the width and color of my lines were correct before saving the files as PDFs. The second problem was due to the strength of the wood glue that I was using. The cross panels that serve as the platforms for the guitar pedals are able to hold up to the stress of pushing the pedals down, however the wood glue that held the panels in place gave out. My fix to this problem was nailing the panels into the sides of the pedal board with finishing nails. Please see the final pedal board below.

     The first learning goal that I had for this project was to incorporate suggestions from those around me, because I think that it is easy to work to your own beat and miss out on valuable input from others. The two parts to this pedal board that came from outside suggestions are the individual cross panels and the metal-looking pieces on the sides of the board. I originally planned to make the board’s top one solid piece of wood, but my roommate, Matt Goodalis, suggested that I use individual strips of wood so that any wiring could be kept out of the way. The second piece of advice came from Duncan Baird, my instructor. He introduced me to the idea of using the resin printers to make objects that I could paint to look like metal. I am grateful for both of these suggestions because they made it into my final product and led it be functional and aesthetically pleasing. By the end of the project, I also learned to further reflect on the design decisions that I make. The input from my roommate especially showed me that some designs can be improved upon if you just spend more time thinking about their practicality.

     My next learning objective was to use a new program that would help me during the design phase of this project. For this I used Autodesk Fusion 360. I found that being able to turn SVG files into 3d objects was very helpful. I was able to take my designs and extrude them, so that I could better understand how the pieces would fit together and look once I had them all cut out. But outside of these benefits that the program afforded, I was also able to develop my planning skills. I have mentioned before that my planning felt week in earlier assignments, so this program allowed me to slow down and consider the shape and measurements of my pieces further. I am glad that I created this goal for myself, because the success of this project has shown me the upsides to extensive planning before making, which I can utilize in the future. Please see an image of two of my pieces in Fusion 360 below.

     Finally, the learning objective of using new materials was satisfied through the use of resin. It was interesting to see how resin was formed in the printers, and the decorative pieces that I created definitely add an interesting dimension to the project. However, if I were to redo this project, I would use a different type of wood. I knew that I wanted to do laser cuts in order to get precise pieces, so I went to CU Woodshop Supply and Home Depot to see if there was any interesting wood that I could use. Unfortunately I could not find any quarter inch pieces that would fit into the Universal Laser, which caused me to go with the plywood staining route. As I said, I am happy with the project’s outcome, but this is something that I would like to have done differently.

     Next, after reviewing my previous posts, I have realized that I tend to push myself more with a tool area once I am familiar with it. I do not necessarily think that this is a bad thing, but I could learn even more by challenging myself earlier on. That being said, I have become a lot more comfortable with making. I am majoring in political science and I am attending law school next fall, and up until this point, I have had very little experience with making because it falls outside of my studies and hobbies. Using machines like the laser cutters and the 3D printers forced me to step out of my comfort zone, and I am glad that I did. I have found that I really enjoy making, and I would like to continue doing it in the future.

     The making area that I enjoyed most in the lab was laser cutting. Besides taking a middle school woodshop class, I have not had a lot of experience with wood working, and I have grown to enjoy it. Most of the staff has a specialty area and if I were to pick one, this would be it. It was exciting to plan out projects and see them take shape while using the laser cutters. And afterwards, I brought the project into my original vision by staining and putting on the final touches. Because of this project, and the class as a whole, I feel comfortable calling myself a maker. It is not something that I would have attributed to myself in the beginning of the semester, but I have learned many new skills in multiple areas, and this final project has especially made me realize that I have the ability to create unique and useful projects. To this end, I hope to continue being a maker by engaging in more woodworking for future projects.

     Lastly, I would again like to thank Duncan Baird and Matt Goodalis, who helped by contributing invaluable ideas to this project. I am also generally happy that I learned a lot in this class while getting the chance to make new friends. Hopefully I am able to stop by the Fablab during future visits to the University of Illinois.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The making of The Dress

The Dress

Using vinyl I created templates for screen printing the pocket.

I used tissue paper to alter the pattern while preserving the original pattern in case I ruined everything.

The almost finished dress still needs a zipper, hem, & for the pockets to be to lined & sewn on.

But look at those sleeves! They’re crisp, beautiful, the right size & on in the right direction!

My proudest moment was the first seam around the neck. You can’t even see it anymore. But the stitches were even. I don’t mean straight. I mean even. You see, my machine was originally sewing weird, loose stitches, & it took between 20 min to an hour of carefully & methodically turning knobs & dials & threading & re-threading to create strong, even stitches.

Other than a finicky machine, I dealt with several other issues, a few of which were triggers for changing my design. Bicycle spokes were going to be too tedious & messy to screen print so I changed to birds. Then I discovered that my pattern was the wrong size & had to switch patterns, which meant redesigning my color blocking. But I persevered.

Over & over, I was grateful for my learning goals, which were:

1) I would like to learn how to do multi-layer screen printing through asking questions of staff and experimenting independently. 
 
2) I struggle with understanding patterns, so I would like to use this project as an opportunity to practice/learn how to use them.
 
3) I would like to afford myself the flexibility to simplify in order to preserve my mental and emotional health, and work on being willing to make adjustments to my project as I go along. 
 
These goals provided a framework for my learning and continually called my attention back to what I cared about most.
 
The first outcome was fairly straightforward and was accomplished in a fairly straightforward way. I asked questions of Emile, Amanda, and every other employee standing close by at the time I thought of a question. In this way I learned of the basic process of multi- layer screen printing including creating a vinyl template for each layer, sticking the vinyl on the screen, applying paint, setting the paint with heat, and cleaning the screens. I mostly experimented with my vinyl pattern, but I also experimented with color mixing and by creating my print. In this way I learned that skinny pieces don’t work well and that you should clean the screen between layers. My pocket was messier than I wanted it to be, but I had enough good patches to jimmyrig it. Honestly, I like the jimmyrigged pattern better than the original one.
 
The second outcome was far less straightforward to learn. Patterns are difficult and they seem to be written in another language. But I followed each step, asked my mother and Grandma questions, and made and fixed silly mistakes, such as sewing the sleeves on upside down. By the end, I got plenty of practice and can understand patterns a little better, but could by no means call myself an expert. Though I am very proud of those sleeves.
 
The third outcome was my favorite. This was the one meant to preserve my well-being. There were still some tears, anger, and frustration. But each time something went wrong, such as discovering my pattern was twice my size, I was able to say to myself “Thank goodness I built that into my plan.” Counting on adjustments took the pressure off and allowed me to continually simplify, or build on, my original plan. I learned not only to simplify, but also to trust myself. I seem to have proven myself trustworthy.
 
Throughout the course, I have persevered, except when I haven’t. I have triumphed, except when I haven’t. I have changed, except when I haven’t. I am still me. Sure, I can win against Inkscape in a fight more often than before and I have tinkered with a few more techniques and technologies than before. But by the end of a semester of struggling with things I’m not good at, I chose a project that played to my strengths. I don’t always do that. I often do what’s needed instead of what I want. So I guess I became more comfortable being and doing what I want. Am I a maker because sometimes I want to make stuff? I don’t know. I’m just me. Can that be enough? I think it can.
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Iteration Project – Overalls

For my iteration assignment I chose to make linen overalls with laser cut buttons. After reflecting on my previous sewing project, I wanted to start this one with measurement and pre-made patterns so there would be less guess work and alterations but I didn’t find any patterns that I could buy that I liked.

So I made to plan to cut the front and the back piece and sew them together. I used clothes that I had to measure out the relative shape, but then I got scared that it would be tight so I cut the pieces pretty big. To make the pieces wearable I had to close the stitches properly and make sure the edges didn’t fray. Because I cut the pieces so big I had to sew one leg, check if it fit, cut the pieces to the right size, and then seam rip to copy the sizes onto the other leg. 

It took really long to make it when I didn’t cut corners. I’d like to fix the crotch but overall, I’m really happy with the way the final turned out. After I made the body piece, I made the straps (without much accuracy). 

And then I made the buttons. I knew I wanted a cloud design on the buttons (Mulan clouds from the opening credits was the image I used for my buttons). I chose wood because it went with the linen cloth I chose for the overalls but I painted to make the buttons more polished. 

first iteration: I liked the color but didn’t like that you couldn’t see the raster

second iteration: used a water colors for a gradient look, didn’t like it because it was too messy and bright against the overalls.

third iteration: checking if water colors would look better with the raster on top

Final iteration of the button: not too flashy, very clean raster, very happy with the results

This is the final product:

The straps turned out a bit long but its a vibe.

detail on the back of the straps

 

I’m really glad I did the project because I learned how to do a lot of new things. I learned how to sew on buttons, and properly close the edges of fabric. Next time I really hope I have a pattern, it would really help make things easier. 

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Iteration Assignment – Nicholas Agate

     For this iteration project, I originally set out to create a box that would hold my vinyl collection, but I quickly realized that the box would be larger, and more costly than I wanted it to be. I then tried to think of another box that could be useful and came up with a gear box for my guitar accessories. I did not previously have any type of specific storage for my guitar gear, so this was an exciting project for me. I ultimately wanted to end up with a box that was lined with felt, had a hole for a lighting insert, had a walled off section to hold picks, and a design that featured bird cutouts, guitar rasters, and my name and the year. I mainly wanted to feature my name as an aspect from the laser name tag assignment because this new box would be the same expression of my love for music, but with an increase in difficulty and complexity. This final box would ideally be in my home or future office and would serve as both useful storage and a conversation piece. Please see the sketch below and original laser name tag below.

     After creating my design, I decided to create a smaller scale box that would be the same design as the final, large box. I did this because I was not one hundred percent sure that the two-piece box was the one that I wanted to commit to. I also wanted to see how the pieces would fit together so that I could have a better understanding of the box for my final design. For both the small scale box and the final box, I used the website www.festi.info/boxes.py. Please see the small scale box below.

     Next, I began making my design alterations to the SVG file that I downloaded from www.festi.info/boxes.py. I imported images of birds that would end up being vectored, and guitar silhouettes that would end up being rastered. I then created peg holes for the new walls and two square holes for lighting access. Finally, I added my name and the year. Please see my Inkscape progress pictures below.

     I then bought some material from Hobby Lobby which included a hobby knife, felt with adhesive, wood conditioner, wood glue, and wood stain. I applied the felt to the bottom of the box and then cut out each hole that the walls would fit into. After this, I fit the walls together and used a rubber mallet to make sure that the walls fit snugly. Please see a picture and video of the felt work below.

 

     The walls of the inner box were difficult to fit into the pegs because of the felt, but I ran into a real issue when I realized that I had not designed one of my square holes correctly. I did not notice that one of the walls in the Inkscape design would have to be flipped when creating the box, so the holes did not line up at all. I also cut all the wood that I would need at school and brought all of the materials to my house for weekend assembly. This meant that I had to wait until the Monday after Easter and after the assignment deadline to laser cut a new piece. If I had observed my Inkscape design more carefully, I could have avoided this. Please see the progress pictures (including the error) and video below.

     Finally, I assembled the box with the new outer wall featuring the square hole in the correct position. Another issue that I ran into came from there not being enough play between the inner walls and outer walls. So, I sanded the inside of the outer walls in an attempt to fix the issue. I then applied wood conditioner and wood stain to the outer walls of the box in order to give it the darker look that I wanted. I had never stained wood before, so I used the website https://www.hunker.com/13401316/how-to-stain-and-finish-plywood. And for the light element, I used an Arduino and a breadboard with an LED. The square hole allowed for the breadboard to be inserted neatly into the box. Please see the sanding, staining, and gear pictures below.

     I think that this has been my favorite Informatics 490 project so far. I was able to take inspiration from my original laser name tag that highlighted my love for music, and make a project that is even more meaningful. I ran into bumps along the way, including the hole misalignment and the play between boxes, but I worked hard to fix these issues. Even with these problems, I had fun making this gear box. As I mentioned earlier, I could have avoided the misalignment issue if I had carefully gone over my Inkscape design, so that is what I would do differently next time. Finally, please see the final product pictures and videos below. Thank you for reading.

 

Sources

Birds Silhouettes: https://www.google.com/search?q=bird+silhouette+svg&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwim48bUsOXhAhUJP6wKHXfcA5AQ_AUIDigB&biw=1920&bih=888#imgrc=NytA04JtWmmu_M:

Electric Guitar Silhouette: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1920&bih=888&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=2ZS-XPPwA8zEswWv0L3wBg&q=guitar+silhouette&oq=guit&gs_l=img.1.1.35i39l2j0i67j0l2j0i67j0j0i67l3.38877.39364..41465…0.0..0.74.263.4……1….1..gws-wiz-img.hJ4nuFrfX44#imgrc=IvEIxUypWts9RM:

Acoustic Guitar Silhouette: https://www.google.com/search?biw=1920&bih=888&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=2ZS-XPPwA8zEswWv0L3wBg&q=guitar+silhouette&oq=guit&gs_l=img.1.1.35i39l2j0i67j0l2j0i67j0j0i67l3.38877.39364..41465…0.0..0.74.263.4……1….1..gws-wiz-img.hJ4nuFrfX44#imgrc=uJi9kKOlyQBurM:

Two-Piece Box Design: https://www.festi.info/boxes.py/TwoPiece

Wood Staining Tutorial: https://www.hunker.com/13401316/how-to-stain-and-finish-plywood

 

 

 

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