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

Final Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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