Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Illinois Informatics and School of Information Sciences
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

3D Printing – Scott Kim

For the brief in-class CAD project, this was what I made.

On the left is the alien, there are many people after him because he looks a lot like something they want. Unfortunately he’s unable to fend them off because he’s his limbs are paper-thin.

On the right is the castle that he lives in, the door is a very secure combination lock. Really, it’s the only place he feels safe.

 

Importing him into meshmixer and losing all the colors, it looks quite dull:

My attempts at making it less dull – wielding tools that weren’t meant for the sharp corners and flat surfaces of TinkerCad species – I was met with disastrous consequences:

But after a bit of messing about, I managed to get my intended, spongy appearance out of it.

Very low-poly esque, if I do say so myself.

 

As for the four sketches, they are shown below:

 

On the left: Flatware for my enemy. A fork that more closely resembles a tuning fork, a spoon that’s got a 90 degree bend down so you have to dip the whole handle in, a knife that’s sharp & serrated on the handle also, as well as a plate that’s convex on top and pointy on the bottom so you can never balance it, or food on top of it.

In the middle are the cultural object as well as our contemporary artist & artwork of choice.

 

The mask is a HaHoeTal. “HaHoe” is a folk village in South Korea, and “Tal” means mask. Masks like these are used in Korean storytelling of dramas and comedies. There were also the occasional exorcisms, but they’ve gone out of style.

The mask usually has incredibly grotesque and exaggerated emotions so that you can tell the mood and personality of the characters represented by the mask. These performances are called Tal-Nori (mask-play). I thought I would create one for myself, with the features of who I am: in a way by trying to combine a scan of my face with the traditional structures of a wooden mask with exaggerated wrinkles, smile, eyebrows, etc. 

 

The contemporary artist, Takashi Murakami, is a Japanese artist that began a movement within the art community called Superflat. It’s where he combines the traditional look of wood block-prints, with the modern style of vibrant colors & characters. One thing he’s trying to push onto the Western scene is the mix of art and commerce. In the U.S. , what he calls “high art” costs millions of dollars, and could never be in the possession of the everyday individuals. However, in Japan, art is in the hands of ordinary citizens all the time, in the form of manga, anime, posters, etc etc. So, he tries to create art that can be appreciated, bought, and owned by both connoisseurs, as well as the typical individual. 

In the spirit of this publicly-available art, I thought I would take one the characters very recurrent throughout his art (a character called Mr.DOB) and try to create a 3D keychain out of it.

 

The thing I need: Wallet, phone, keys & watch holder. The things I lose the most are: my wallet, phone, keys, and watch. After I get home, I always take them out/off carelessly and just toss them somewhere, only for me to not find them the day after. I thought it would be great for me to have a designated place for me to put them, so I also know where to always look for them.

(I realize this can be solved by just designating some corner of my wardrobe, but my room’s a mess)

This organizer would be attached to a wall with some Command strips, and have two compartments for my wallet & phone, as well as two hooks for keys & watch.

 

Then for the two roughly-CAD designs, this is the evil flatware complete with bent spoon, double-sided knife, topsy-turvy plate, and (tuning) fork. 

 

And this is the rough CAD for the phone/wallet/keys/watch holder:

 

I wanted to go with the holder as the final printed object, because it just seemed more useful than the evil flatware. It was at this point that I realized a few things:

  1. There’s a lot of extra material. Does a holder like this really need a top?
  2. The keys & watch can slide off very easily off of the pegs, they should be hooks instead.
  3. It’s going to be fairly difficult to get things in/out of this, there’s a lot of sharp edges that things can get stuck.

So the first thing I did was erase that, and make small models of the size of my wallet and phone:

 

Then I begun with this design: Something to really just barely be enough to hold the phone and wallet. No bells & whistles, just two slots.

 

Then I thought, this design could probably use some backing, to give some leverage to the Command strips.

 

And then I realized a hole in the backing would probably be useful, in case I want to hang this from a hook instead of just sticking it to a wall. I also added some hooks to the side, which wouldn’t have been possible without the align tool because creating a new Workplane wasn’t aligned to the corners 🙁

 

And that was the final product! Wallet/phone mockup on the left for scale

Here’s the TinkerCAD link – it should be public!

https://www.tinkercad.com/things/aIg8JOU4ltk-phone-wallet-keys-and-watch

 

And after printing (for a whopping 10 hours), this is the final result:

The phone is, of course, not on there as it was used to take photos. 

With the project finalized, there were definitely a number of things that caught my attention only after printing it. The first, is there’s really no good way to hang a watch from a hook. In my head I pictured it hanging looped (like in the picture) but I realized that means I have to close the watch strap again after I take it off – not something that’s ideal. The keys fit there perfectly, but I feel that was more luck than planning. 

Another thing that I realized, is that this is a lot of material. I set it to have only 10% infill, which definitely saved a lot of time and cost, but I feel I definitely could have designed it to use even less material (maybe a fence-like design, rather than solid walls). Otherwise, I’m happy with the design, and am very glad that the 10-hour print didn’t fail.

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Paper Circuits

Project 1

For the first project, getting the wire to fold at corners was fun to learn. Seeing the bulb light up certainly made my day in the class.

Project 2

For project 2, I picked the quote about having a bright inner light. I liked this quote because everyone has an inner light they should allow to come through. I created the art to have two led’s: one near the the heart and the other over the head creating a halo around my cartoon. I picked the other LED to be near the head because the soul is understood to reside near the forehead in many cultures. 

Project 3

I started building the final project by first finding inspiration for pop-up cards on google. I decided to create a birthday card so it would be useful to gift to a friend on their birthday. I cut out the required paper shapes: H, B, D, the cake and candles. 

 

Next, I created a parallel circuit with 2 orange and 2 yellow LED’s. I calculated the resistance needed in the circuit. I used three batteries and a 120 ohm resistor which worked out perfectly fine. I used the resistance meter to check that my circuit was complete everywhere. The wires weren’t conducting around the bulbs so I had to make the wire conducting for my bulb wires by wrapping the non-adhesive side of the copper tape around each wire in a bulb and taping the wrapped wires to the red sheet. 

 

Then I stuck the above red sheet on top of a bigger red sheet and pasted orange paper on top of this red sheet to paste the cake on the pop up cut out on this orange sheet and the letters HBD on top. The 4 LED’s were on the corners of this orange sheet. I folded the card and my circuit stopped working. I again checked the circuit with a resistance meter and it was the switch. My battery wasn’t placed correctly with the switch to give power to the circuit when I folded the card, so I had to try making another switch for the folded card to make the circuit work. I had to tape the battery to the card as well. 

Finally, the circuit came together and I had my birthday card. 

Reflection:

This assignment was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed creating a birthday card. The hard parts were making the wires conducting for the bulbs, getting the circuit to work as a folded piece of paper as I had initially tested it on a flat surface and getting the battery to stay in place. It was fun combining art and science together to be creative and I really enjoyed it. It’s important to test the circuit in its desired state before putting the art together to create the card is what I learned. I also learned that I can be creative with science too! 

 

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Justin Kim – Vinyl Stickers

This is the first sticker I made, using the wings from an eagle and a hippo. 

The 2nd sticker made in class.

Design and Build Process

This is the final product of the improved sticker I made. The sticker is an emote from my favorite game, League of Legends. At first I wanted to make a sticker using the character pingu, but I could not find a vector version I liked, and using the color function for drawing bit map trace was a mess using image, so I decided on the dabbing penguin from League of Legends. It was made using four colors, white, black, blue, and yellow. I first printed out the body outline using white color and separated the layers into each color, and used the pincers and tape to transfer the separate color parts on to the main white body.

The third sticker was of vault boy from the fall out series. It was made using three colors, yellow, blue and peach.

 

Reflection

If I had to redo this project, I would choose to make a sticker that I can gift to someone. Instead of making stickers that only relate to me, I would love to make a sticker that my friends could put on their laptop. Also, my final product had a couple of flaws I wanted to point out. Th eyes were too small, and the vector lines were not polished enough, which resulted in the right eye being disfigured. The blue outline of the penguin was also slightly disfigured as well. I was definitely not skilled enough with the transfer tape and had to resort to pincers on most parts.

 

 

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Priyanka Chopra Assignment 2

Build process

First I got the outermost layer of the flower, which is the purple petal design. I changed the original image to have 4 long edges coming out of it to give it a sharper look. Then I took the inner yellow layer but used the inside petals of the layer instead of the layer itself as it became evident that the thick yellow layer was covering too much of the delicate outermost purple layers and ruining the look of the delicate outer layers. I did the same with the blue layer as it was very hard to take a very delicate blue layer and paste it on the sheet, so I decided to use the blue petals instead to create a different design. 

Reflection:

I enjoyed making this sticker because when I think of layers I immediately think of flowers. I am a nature lover so normally I like to make things that have to do with nature. The main problem encountered was that the stickiness of the vinyl stickers posed a challenge in pasting the sticker as a whole on top of each other. Some parts of one sticker were pasted before others so this led to creases in some areas but I learned to paste them in a way that there were no creases formed. There was also a bigger challenge with the outermost layer of the sticker that it had portions inside the inner boundary that had to be removed to make the inner layer smoother. The blue layer was very, very delicate and very hard to properly paste in the right spot so the problem ended up changing the project in that I used the blue petals instead. I learned that I should think more practically about how my stickers will paste on top of each other when designing it in my head in addition to focusing on the aesthetics. 

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Christian Amato Nametag

For my nametag project, I really wanted to put something together that was unique and utilized both rastering and vectoring well and efficiently. Ideation Phase My ideas for the project stemmed mainly from my interests and hobbies. In the beginning lecture with Duncan, he suggested we all play around with an animal silhouette, which led me to choose my favorite and most feared animal, the bear. Bears are crazily capable of attacking predators, they run, climb and swim making any prey extremely vulnerable. Just a fun fact and a part of a conversation I had with friends about what animals they are most fearful of. Next, I decided that I wanted the rastering portion to be a cool font that was mostly rastered but left little indentations that were unrastered as well. This led me to think of an album cover I had seen previously, A$AP Rocky’s Testing album. I like the lines through the font, and I thought it would really add great character to the piece. Next, I decided to add some more information about me, my year and my major/minor. I also thought it would be a good idea to add little depictions of some of my hobbies, hence the golf club and the half-mile sticker. Execution I knew that I wanted the nametag to represent me and my school and that is why I chose to do it on an orange acrylic board. As you can see, the rastering did what I thought it would, and the name tag really didn’t pop at all. Before I snapped a pic, I thought it would be a good idea to somehow fill in the lines with a sort of paint. I decided to go for the full U of I theme which just happens to look more like a Chicago Bears theme with the vector that was cut out by adding the navy-blue paint marker. This is what was the result after I had gone over the whole canvas in blue paint marker. I then found some Isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel and wiped any excess marker off the top. Which left me with this. I am so happy with how the results of this turned out. I really learned a lot about using a laser cutter and I am excited to use this as a creative tool for the future. What went wrong/ what could I have done differently? I think the only thing I would change would be to raster some more details onto the bear, like the eyes and some fur marks. I also was told by a staff member that using multi-layered acrylic achieves a similar effect as painting as I did, which I would like to also employ in the future. I am excited to continue to use these machines in the near future! Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment

Original Work

I created a very poor implementation of a circuit design that I was very proud of. In the below video, I discuss issues with the quality of my implementation –

  • poorly secured battery, and a
  • poor work-around to prevent the battery from draining, and
  • poor connections between components.

Iteration Project

I wanted to create a name tag, that was a wooden cube with a button on the top, and this button would turn on an LED. It would incorporate wood working, and circuit design. My plan was to redeem my poor copper circuit by addressing its issues in the following ways.

  • Secure my battery in place with superglue (I verified that this was safe).
  • Secure connections between components with Soldering rather than tightly wrapped copper tape
  • Circuit design where open circuit when button is unpressed, so that battery does not drain

Additionally, for the button design, I drew inspiration from Brandon’s Midi Controller project. I used the same design process and parameters as he did, and arrived at a well functioning ‘button’ with my name tag on it.

I also soldered the wires of my LED circuit to my LED. This was my first experience with soldering – my friends in Mechanical Engineering taught me to solder, and I took it from there. It was a rewarding process, I was surprised at how easily the solder material would melt and reform, and impressed by how secure the connections it created were.

I investigated and determined it was safe for me to solder one of the wires to the coin cell battery I was using (my initial plan was to secure it with copper tape). I soldered the black wire to the bottom of my battery.

My plan was that when the button was pushed, the battery would be directly beneath the button, and the button would make the blue wire touch the top of the battery and complete the circuit.

An issue I had was that if I just taped the blue wire to the base of mu button and pressed the button, it wouldn’t always reliably complete the circuit. I needed to always push the button at the location where the blue wire was taped below, so that that point was the lowest point and touched the battery.

I needed to create a larger surface area for the button to complete the circuit. So instead of the button pushing the end of the blue wire onto the button, it would push a copper tape onto the button. The copper tape would secure well to the button, and would ensure that it would have a larger area of contact with the button.

I had to find a way to connect the blue wire to the copper tape however, and here my MechE friends pointed out to me that I can solder the blue wire onto my copper tape! I was so excited about this possibility, I tried it and it worked perfectly. I am now a huge fan of soldering.

After I stick the tape to the bottom of my button, the full circuit looks like this.

To create the sides of my cube, I used popsicle sticks, and cut them down to the right size using a wood saw. Here’s how the finished product functions!

Reflection

I’m very happy with how this project turned out. To test that I met my goals, I threw my cube against a wall and shook it in my hand very hard (in an attempt to loosen the connections. The soldered connections stayed intact, the heaviest component (the battery) was tightly secured with superglue, and the connection was always completed (irrespective of where my finger was positioned on the button) due to the larger surface area provided by the copper tape.

I’m glad that I was able to address all the shortcomings of my earlier copper tape project and create a much more reliable design.

My woodworking could use more finesse, however.

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Iteration Project: Make-a-thon Participation

During the week of the Iteration assignment, I opted participating in the Make-a-Thon.

My team was named “MOVI” and the goal was to design a protective guard for a prosthetic leg. Prosthetic legs are very sophisticated and are extremely valuable. Yet those products are worn at the part of our body with the most movement and thus are exposed to scratches, impact, and lots more other threats in daily life. The reference model, C-leg, cost more than $100K. It has been a pain point among users, especially the active ones. To make the matter worse, people wearing only one of these are told to fell on the prosthetic side when imbalanced. Because, falling to the other side will make it rather difficult, if not impossible, to get up by themselves.

There are some prosthetic leg covers in the market. But most of them are like the same model: a dull thick bulky black cushion covers every section of the prosthetic leg. This leads to a problem, apart from the aesthetics, the back of the prosthetic knee is an area filled with delicate moving parts. The bulky protective sleeve covers that area and makes it very difficult to bend the knee.  

 

Thus we got the needs of users:

  1. easy for putting it on-and-off
  2. protection against scratches
  3. cushioning of physical impact (mostly in case of a fell)
  4. not blocking knee flex
  5. good looking

 

Our team started the design with a 3D scanning of the prosthetic leg. The model was then printed using three 3D printers and glued together. 

For the prototype, the team proposed a solution combining a hinge in the front and straps in the back for the top need. The user reported that the phase 1 prototype lacks coverage of the leg. So we created the phase 2 prototype, just to specify the max area of protection that is necessary, considering need 2, 3 and 4. Therefore, we’ve combined the two prototype together and came up with the final design. 

The final design adopted the hinge-straps design and used a two-layer solution for protection and aesthetic needs. A hard shell with patterns is put on the outside. In the future, users should be able to customize and switch the shell for their taste or even the mood at the moment. Two pieces of cushions are fixed inside of the shell. Each cushion used a heavy fabric cover with foam pads inside. To help further protect the user, we’ve inserted a layer of sheet metal between two layers of foam pads inside the cushion. Two extra cushion pads are added to the top for knee protection. Two straps go through holes on the shell. We fixed velcro strips onto the straps. 

 

Our team was well-paced during the make-a-thon, and each step was well executed throughout the event. After rounds of presentations and expert review, our team got the championship of the competition. 

 

During the event, I helped in the 3D printing post-process, and led the efforts in the fabric department. Cleaning and gluing the PLA parts were rather easy with the training in class. But I’ve got quite some challenge in the sewing part. I was quite confident before going into it. It was not long before I recognized the challenge. The cushion pad was of an irregular shape, with five corners of varied angles. And there was a significant thickness. For solving this problem, I design the two piece of fabric of different sizes, with all the side panels included in the front piece. While sewing the corners, Duncan gave me some useful tips. Cutting off some fabric inside the corner is key to a smooth outside. I’ve got some of them right, some of them not so. 

Just when I felt a relief finished sewing the cushions, there came the straps. “It’s just an extended square, not so different from the little pouch we’ve done in class!” That thought was so wrong. The fact that we’ve chosen a waterproof rubber coated fabric and a very thin strap width made the task very challenging. Flipping the strap inside out was not far from a mission impossible. It was a combination of stick and brutal force and dedication that helped me finished those two straps.

 

I am very happy about the results, and the fact that our team has developed something useful in real life. 

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Final Project: PiCrawler

PiCrawler Assembly – Field Test

PiCrawler

is my final project for this course. It is a voice-controlled robot that can move in all directions on the ground. 

The robot integrated a Raspberry Pi (as the master for control), an Arduino (as the slave managing servo actions), and a mechanical base with two panels of “legs”. An offline speech recognition module called “Snips” is used for the project. A generated Snips assistant was configured and installed onto the Pi. Then a Python script was coded and set as a native service on the Pi. The script handles internal messages from the Snips assistant and parses them for robot command. The command will be sent to the Arduino using serial communication (USB A male to B male cable). The Arduino will then call servo functions based on the message. Currently, the robot can react to five commands: forward, backward, turn left, turn right, and stop.

The mechanical base was designed using Klann’s Linkage. It has the advantage of smooth progression and heavy load lifting, from the “D” shaped pattern from its legs.  The robot was based on two panels of such linkage, each panel has two sets of legs. The robot can move forward or backward when the panels are all moving in the same direction. And it can make turns when the two panels move in different directions, similar to that of a tank.

 

Challenge 1: Power Solution

Since I had very limited knowledge of power supply of robots, I decided to take this part of the project first. And it’s proved to be a wise decision.

Each of the servos has a stall current of 1.5 Amps at 6.0 V. The Arduino can be powered with a variety of options. The Pi needs stable 5V and 1.5 to 2.0 Amps for reliable performance. I was thinking a high throughput power bank would be enough for all of these. But after putting everything into a test. It was pretty obvious that even a 15W dual USB output power bank won’t be enough. Then I turned to the idea of auxiliary power supply — using the power bank for the Pi and Arduino (board only), and one to two battery packs of 4x AA batteries for the servos. In theory, two battery packs are needed in a parallel setup, since the AA batteries have a reference current of 1.5 Amps. But in testing, I found that one would be enough for the robot to move. Since the load and frictions were not terribly enormous. 

Power Solution

Challenge 2: Assembly

Proving the movement and leg patterns in software was one thing. But putting everything together and get a useable assembly is another story. With all the printing relief, and those many layers of acrylic parts, and screws, and spacers, I was not very successful in my first attempt. Quite some time were spent on sanding and drilling, reassembling and testing of the linkage. Even getting the screws was a challenge. Because, I used 4mm holes in the design, which would fit M3 screws smoothly. But none of the local stores has enough metric sized screws and nuts for me. So I spent many more hours switching everything to #6-32 screws (from the Imperial size chart).

Legs Panel Testing

Reflections

In multiple layered mechanical linkage project, extra (I mean, quite a lot extra), precautions should be paid to load balancing, stability, and relief (or spatial allowance). With all the consumer level machines of laser cutting and 3D printing, and all those environmental variations going around, many measurements could go one way or another. And the gears will tilt if the loads are not balanced. There is still a lot to improve of my design. The frame is not stable enough for holding the body. The body design should have put those heavy batteries closer to the center of support. And the gear section needs a redesign, on a certain level, for a stable and smooth power progression. But I did have learned a good deal of lessons from this project.

 

Test with Voice Command

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Final Project Reflection

For my final project, I was inspired by a pokéball-themed Nintendo Switch cartridge case that I found on YouTube.  My initial idea was to make six pokéballs and case/stand based on the recovery machine in pokémon centers. After considering the amount of time needed to complete the project, I cut the number of pokéballs to three, and changed the idea for the case/stand to the incubator that contained the three starter pokémon in the first episode of the anime.  I also decided to have one of the pokéballs contain a small Pikachu plush rather than Nintendo Switch games. With that in mind, I needed to decide what pokéballs I would make. I, initially, was going to make one regular pokéball, one master ball, and one unique pokéball that I would design. After discussing my idea with Duncan, it was decided that I would instead design three unique pokéballs.  The two pokéballs that would hold Nintendo Switch games would be based on the Overwatch logo and the Smash Ball item from the Super Smash Brothers series. The last pokéball would be based on Pikachu.

 

I had quite a few challenges in this project.  The spring releases weren’t as strong as I had hoped they would be.  I had some trouble keeping the buttons positioned so that they could hold the balls closed.  I had multiple parts break during assembly, and two parts fail halfway through their prints. I hadn’t anticipated that so many parts would break, so that threw off my schedule for the project.  Due to this shift in my schedule, I was only able to paint two of the pokéballs and use a primer on the case/stand. Despite the setbacks, I am very proud of how well the Smash Ball came out. I also feel that the laser print design for the case/stand came out well, considering that it was my first time using Fusion 360.

Overall, I had three learning goals: Improve my time management by making a schedule of what I needed done by a certain time, making more use of the tools at my disposal, and asking for help whenever I was confused.  I did accomplish my learning goal of making a schedule for better time management, but I did not account for the possibility of parts failing. Not including the case/stand, I needed to print fifteen separate parts. I began printing on Thursday with a plan of printing six parts that day, four on Friday, and five on Sunday.  I created this plan factoring in that on Friday and Sunday I would only need to use 2 printers at once, so that I wouldn’t be preventing others from completing their own projects. The plan seemed realistic, but I did not anticipate that multiple parts would fail. The setbacks caused by the broken parts caused my plan to fly off the rails, snowballing to the point in which I was having the last two parts of one pokéball printing from Monday night to Tuesday morning.  Due to this result, I feel that I only partially accomplished my goal. I created a schedule, but I failed to stick to it due to a lack of flexibility in said schedule.

I definitely feel that I made use of the tools at my disposal while working on this project.  When I made my 3D Printing and Scanning assignment, I simply imported my scans into Meshmixer, used the analyze tool to fix any errors, plane cut them, and then moved it over to Tinkercad to stitch the scans together.  For this project, I actually used different tools such as inflate and flatten in order to morph the pokéball shells into the shape that I desired. I used Fusion 360, a software I had never used before, to design the laser printer file for the case/stand.  I used power tools for a project for the first time. I needed to use a drill to widen the holes of the hinge of each pokéball. I actually also had to use a soldering iron and a heat gun for the first time to help secure the buttons into place. I also did foam smithing for the first time, using contact cement to glue foam to the wooden skeleton of the case/stand.  I also painted something for the first time since I was about 6 years old, so that was fun. I definitely feel that I accomplished my goal of making better use of the tools at the fab lab.

For my final goal, I made sure to ask questions.  Typically, when I feel stuck in a project, I would sit feeling defeated for a while.  This time, I made sure to ask questions as soon as I felt that I did not know what to do.  One person that I cannot thank enough is Brandon, who helped me with a large portion of my project.  He taught me how to use Fusion 360 so I could design the case/stand. He taught me how to use a soldering iron and heat gun, and how to do foam smithing as well.  When I was feeling lost after my parts broke, Brandon helped me get back on track by helping me with the case/stand while new parts were printing. I am very thankful for all of the help I received while making this project.  If I hadn’t been asking questions as soon as I had, my project would have been in much worse shape.

Over the course of the semester, I feel that I truly did learn something in this class.  Before this course, I never really went out of my way to make new things. In this class, I learned how satisfying it is to come up with an idea and bring it into reality.  Before this class, I never thought I would ever need to learn how to sew. Surprisingly, I would say that the project I am most proud of is the stuffed animal that I made in the Sewing and Digital Embroidery assignment.  I may have gotten frustrated at one point while making it, but overall, I truly enjoyed making it. This class has definitely improved my confidence as a maker.

This class has made me feel different about the very concept of making.  Since high school, I have wanted to work in some sort of lab as a chemist, making different products for the company that employs me.  Whenever I thought of the word “maker,” I always felt that the term applied to a select few that create inventions that have a lasting impact on the human race.  This class has taught me that anyone can be a maker. This class gave me confidence in my ability to make things. It really showed how anyone can make something if they have access to the tools to create.

One of the most important lessons I received in this class is that it’s not the grade that matters; it’s the effort that really counts.  I eventually got to a point in which I stopped caring about my grade, and started caring more about the projects themselves. I’ve enjoyed a lot of classes in my four years at this university.  This is by far the most fun I’ve had in a class. Thanks to this class, I feel that I will feel more confident when asked to make something.

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Arduino Jacket – Final Project

Question 1

I integrated a computer into my jacket, so that I could play a game on my jacket sleeve!

I used an Adafruit Flora as the computer that controlled the game, and I used sewable circuitry – particularly conductive thread, sewable LEDs and conductive fabric as the inputs and outputs of my game.

A big focus of this project was that this was my only denim jacket – I wear it a lot. I wanted my computer+game design to be robust against the normal usage conditions of the jacket. I roll it up clip it onto my bag, or I wear it on the nasty subway, or I wear it when it is raining. I wanted the computer to be safe from the dangerous environment, and I also wanted to be able to wear the jacket in all the normal situations that I’d wear it in.

I decided that the computer will be positioned inside one of my jacket pockets. That way

  1. it is not exposed to the external environment, AND, 
  2. if it gets loose and falls off, it safely falls into my pocket, and not on the ground.

The computer is still a very delicate item, so despite the pocket safety measure, I wanted the option to remove the computer in a modular fashion. Traditionally, the Flora computer is sewn onto the textile (this would be tough to modularly remove a sewn on item). Instead, I attached the Flora to my jacket with snappable buttons (now its modular, I can unsnap the buttons attaching the item to the fabric).

The way this works is that the LEDs and buttons are sewn onto my fabric with conductive thread. The electricity on these threads is supplied by my computer. so these same threads from the LEDs need to connect to my computer. Instead, the LED threads are attached to the male ends of snappable buttons, which are sewn onto my fabric. The female ends of the buttons are attached to the input/output pins of my Flora computer. When I want to create an electrical connection between the LED thread and my computer, I join the male and female ends of the snappable buttons. The buttons conduct electricity and act as an interface between the computer and the thread sewn into the fabric!

I initially planned to solder the female ends of the buttons onto my computer. The solder would act as a “conductive glue” between the computer and button. This was a hard task, and the force exerted by the button-unsnapping process would always break the solder-connection I had created. I spent a lot of time trying to perfect my soldering process before I gave up. This was the biggest challenge of this project.

I’m most proud of how I solved this problem. Originally, The solder was acting as a “glue”, and a “conductor”. Instead, I used superglue as the glue, and conductive thread as the conductor!

With this method, I circumvent another issue. Some snap buttons can be large, and they run the risk of either touching adjacent buttons or touching adjacent I/O ports. As seen in the above picture, I can glue some buttons far away from their respective I/O port and adjacent button, to ensure there’s no accidental touching of circuitry. I just need to create a longer connection between button and port with the conductive thread.

Question 2

My learning goals were to 1) work with electronic textiles, and 2) also work on a project design that is entirely my own and iterate that design.

I believe I successfully accomplished both goals. I invested a lot of time into understanding how conductive thread and sewable circuitry works, I looked at many different implementations to understand the best practices, and I practiced my sewing technique and improved it majorly also. I hoped to learn how to properly “think” about a sewing project – what are the challenges, what difficult decisions need to be made, how to problem solve on a sewing project. I did learn those things, and I also unintentionally learned how to fix or undo sewing mistakes!

For my second goal, my whole project was my own conception, I borrowed the concept of making the Flora modular with snappable buttons, but I iterated that design by using superglue and conductive thread instead of solder. My design involved 2 types of circuits, so I made sure to sew those circuits into a woodframe and test that my technique would work correctly. After finishing sewing any thread line or snap button or any electric component, I stopped to ensure that the electric connection was still “correct” and worked. This allowed me to catch mistakes early, fix my technique and not repeat those mistakes.

I’m very happy with project, specifically because of how rewarding the learning process was.

I invested a lot more mental, physical, critical effort in the process of learning, and then I felt smart when I applied my new knowledge.

Question 3

What really stands out to me upon re-reading past write-ups is that I was very conservative with my projects. I was afraid of failure, so I tried to structure my projects around the simplest techniques that had the least scope for errors. It shows because I rarely ran into road-blocks and was rarely forced to think laterally and problem solve. I would instead try to change my project to fit the outcomes of my practices.

With this final project, the requirement of formulating a challenging proposal within the structures of the two chosen learning goals was very helpful. It made me iterate my technique and process to fit the project instead of vice versa.

I really feel much more confident as a maker now – I understand now that failure isn’t such a big setback, and that working on sub-samples of the problem will allow me to catch my failures earlier and spend lesser time overall. Because of this, I feel comfortable trying new techniques and incorporating creativity into my problem solving.

Question 4

People often say that your life can turn out completely different than what you plan out of college. You can work on something thats entirely outside your major, and you can be working in a work culture that you didn’t think you’d enjoy. I could not see myself in this position, adapting to my environment and pivoting my life’s direction. Its a little extreme, but I feel differently now.

Working on this project, I’ve shown myself that I can work in a domain outside my expertise (sewing and textile) and adapt and excel. Additionally, I can make a new domain my own by incorporating my expertise in other domains. I didn’t see myself having such flexibility, but now I think my mind has opened to the possibility. I was a little scared about making E-Textile the focus of my project, but I handled it just fine. Now, I wont say “No” based on my prior judgment, because I have the potential to surprise myself. I believe being a “maker” also means not saying “no”.  You have to be able to think on your feet and “find a solution” in the making process.

I learnt the E-textile process by working hands-on on a project that was personally meaningful to me. Both factors really accelerated the rate at which I learned e-textile. I cannot think of another circumstance that would have been more conducive to my learning process. I feel so confident in my abilities to sew circuits into fabric right now.

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Final Project

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 developed a fun strategy-based board game that can be played by multiple players. The game is turn-based and contains mechanics such as chess-based movement and attacking other players. The board is a rectangular grid. Players move and can attack other players. There are obstacles which players can use to shield themselves from attacks from other players. Power-ups are used to enhance offensive bonuses.

I faced several challenges along the way. One part was what technologies I would use. I downloaded models from Thingiverse and printed them with the resin printer, which turned out to be very detailed. Another was printing out the barriers, as with 3D printing it took forever and I was on a time crunch. I consulted James and he provided suggestions such as laser-cutting pieces and assembling them together, but I ultimately did not apply this idea because my project would require me to do those prints 30+ times, which was not feasible in my opinion.

Another challenge was the overall design of the game mechanics. I consulted my friend Miguel, a board game specialist, and asked him for his input on the game rules I had devised. One major implementation that he designed was the concept of a counter-play, since before, players would have no method to defend themselves against an attack.

In-progress pictures of the materials:

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?

 

My learning goals for this project were: to use a new technology that I have not used before, and to push my creativity with this project and come up with unique game ideas. This project would essentially build upon the skills I have learned so far in this class, combining multiple areas into one.

I hoped to learn new technologies. I considered using neopixels for a cool effect but due to not having enough time, instead I opted to learn watercolor painting and produce my materials with different technologies, such as resin printing (which produces more detailed prints) and acrylic laser-cutting (which produced a really nice texture).

I also wanted to create a game that was creative and that people enjoyed. This is pretty difficult overall and even though I spent time considering different pros and cons of gameplay and that I like playing my own game, I am unsure if it would appeal to a wider audience. Rules and game play will have to be carefully tuned to ensure that the game makes sense and is playable, and is one that is truly strategy-based.

I think overall I met both of my goals. I like my game and think the outcome turned out decently.

 

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?

 

This class taught me how to pick up new technologies and how to learn them effectively. I think my TA Emilie accomplished this quite well in her instruction of my section. These assignments would include a short lesson and then building a very simple product, and then creating more complicated versions that would be used in the turned-in lab assignment. Initially I was uncomfortable and wasn’t sure if I should stay enrolled in this class because of the implications of having to force myself to be creative, but I turned out to like it, and so I’m glad I stayed because I’m proud of myself and the things I’ve learned and made.

 

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?

Some questions to help your thinking: What does it mean to you to call yourself a maker (or not)? Who do you think should call themselves a maker? Early on you read a quotation from Seymour Papert who suggested the most significant learning is a) hands-on and b) personally meaningful. Does that quotation mean more to you now than it did at the beginning of the semester? What does it mean to you? Did you experience any learning this semester that fit this definition? Did the hands-on nature of the class make your learning more significant? Why and how?

 

Makerspaces encourage the development of both the technical and the creative aspects of people. It’s a very hands-on and practical area and also open toward people. I think one thing this course has changed in me is that it has helped me want to learn about not just why, but also how things work. I guess this means that I’m a maker.

Notwithstanding, ultimately being a maker is up to how you define it. If you make things, does that make you a maker? There are some specific things that people consider a part of makerspaces but I question that they are requirements to be considered a maker. In my opinion, if you can consider yourself a maker, then you are one.

I think making something hands-on and meaningful is definitely important, and I think I’ve accomplished this during the course of this semester. I think understanding makerspaces develops as you do it more. It’s a constant learning experience for everyone and it doesn’t stop.

 

Rules:

Setup

  • Requirements: 2-4 players, game board, barriers, hearts, and power-ups
  • Each player selects one character.
  • Each player receives three hearts (lives).
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, place a power-up on the board until none.
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, place a barrier on the board until none.
    • During this process, all players should be able to reach each other at all times.
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, roll a die until the number 1, 2, 3, or 4 is rolled. Place your character on the spawn point that matches that number.
  • The youngest player starts first, and turns go clockwise.

 

Each turn

  • The player must move one square, either vertically or horizontally. Diagonal movement is not allowed, and players cannot cross barriers.
  • If the player walks into a power-up, pick up that power-up. You can only have one.
  • After moving, the player can then choose to attack a player or a barrier if they are able to, given their power-up.

 

Attacking

  • Unlike chess, you don’t move to the opponent’s square after the attack.
  • A player can attack other players differently depending on their power-ups (see below).
  • If the player chooses to attack another player:
    • The attacker and defender each roll a die.
    • If the attacker’s roll is higher, the attack is successful.
    • During any of these steps, if you roll a tie, both reroll.
    • Else, the attacker rolls a second time. If this roll is higher than the defender’s original roll, the attack is successful.
    • If the attack is successful, the player returns a heart to the bank, forfeits their power-up at the current spot, and is moved to ANY respawn point of their choosing. Discard the attacker’s power-up.
      • If the defender will have 0 hearts, they are eliminated from the game.
    • If the attack is unsuccessful, end the turn.
  • If the player attacks a barrier instead, then just remove the barrier.

 

Power-ups

  • Offensive power-ups:
    • None: Can only attack from any adjacent tile in all directions (like a chess king).
    • Laser gun (x4, GREEN): Can attack a player in any tile in the same X or Y axis. Does not penetrate barriers.
    • Sword (x4, RED): Attacks like no power-up, except you can attack barriers (to remove them) as well.
  • Defensive power-ups:
    • Lucky coin (x2, YELLOW): If this player is attacked at any time, add +1 to the defender’s rolls.
    • Speedy (x2, ORANGE): This player can move two squares instead of one each turn. Lasts until the player dies.
    • Teleporter (x2, BLUE): This player can choose to teleport to a respawn point of their choice during any turn, as a replacement for their movement phase.
  • Power-ups are single-use and most are discarded after they are used, except for the lucky coin and speedy.
  • Players can only have one power-up at a time, but can be swapped (the other one is discarded).
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