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

Final Project

  1. As the semester comes to an end, I’ve learn a lot about myself as a maker and a creator. Makerspace has allowed me to explore my comfortability with creating things such as soft goods through sewing and even coding.  Before entering this course, I was relatively uncomfortable with coding and never worked with an Arduino, but I am intrigued to learn more and possible even buy my own kit in the future. Many of the skills that were taught in Makerspace were relatively new to me, which got me out of my comfort zone. I would’ve never learned how to sew or laser cut if I wasn’t forced to do it for an assignment. I think that makerspace has allowed me to explore new areas of creating and encouraged me to keep teaching myself new making techniques. Through my studio write-ups, I learned that I used to spend too much time brainstorming, rather than making the product. As an industrial design major, I focused a lot of form over function. In a sense, Makerspace was an even ground between function and form where I learned how to make things work, but also tried to make the product look nice.

 

  1. For my final project, I decided to create a hydroponic system where users can water their plants through a phone app. The goal was to combine something I was uncomfortable with (coding) and something I’m comfortable with (craft fabrication) and design a product. I wanted to spend less time brainstorming and more time figuring out the mechanics of the system so that it can actually function. I decided to go to the fab lab to meet with Andrew and discuss the mechanics and functionality of the system. We wrote down the list of supplies that we would need to create the system and I started to sketch and brainstorm some ideas. I ended up with the idea of creating a plant system that can be hung from a computer desktop so that the user can have something else to look at the reduce eye strain.

After brainstorming and sketching the idea, I headed to the art and design building woodshop to cut the wood using the bandsaw. After cutting the general shape, I sanded the edges and measured the size of the plant pots. I used the drill press to drill holes into the piece so that the plants can fit into the holes. I then used a wood stain on the wood to create a rustic look, then use polyurethane to make it waterproof. I also drilled four small holes on each corner of the wood pieces to screw the i-hooks into each piece to hang the strings from the hooks. Eventually, I got my drippers, tubes, and water motor from Amazon. I connected everything together to test the water flow. One slight problem that I ran into was that the tubes needed a connector to connect the tube to the motor. I ended up using a heat gun to melt a larger tube and use it as a connector to connect the motor and the other tubes. The drip system worked perfectly after that. I also wanted to create a water reservoir out of acrylic, but the vacuum form didn’t end up working so I used the bandsaw to cut acrylic sheets and hot glued them together. The hot glue mostly worked, but it wasn’t fully leak proof. I improvised and ended up using a small bucket instead.

In terms of the app, I realized I didn’t have enough time nor coding experience to create it. I ended up creating a mock app that would mimic the functionality of the real app. The app would have a “press to water” button so that the user can water their plant when they’re away from home. They can keep track of the amount of times a plant has been water through their plant tracking calendar and there’s a section for the user to search information regarding their plant’s health.  

 

  1. My goal was to quickly iterate so that I can fail quickly and make a functioning model. I planned my project out very well so that the system would actually function. My model ended up functioning to a certain degree and the mock app was close enough to what I wanted to make for the real app. I also wanted to do some coding to create the app, but I realized I would need a lot more time and coding experience to make a functioning app. Overall, the project was a success even though I didn’t incorporate code. To counter this, I created a mock up app so that people could have a general sense of what it would look like and how it would function. I was happy with the project because I created a self sustaining plant system project for industrial design last semester and wanted to use this final project as a way to iterate and create something slightly better. I would love to continue work on this project and possible develop a functioning app.

  1. I would call myself a maker because I often create objects and products for classes and for fun. I think anyone should be able to call themselves a maker as long as it shows craftsmanship and that they’re making something meaningful to them. The quotation was meaningful to me before the class because I often made prototypes and models for class and they were hands on and the products I created were usually meaningful. I’ve always been a hands on person so I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot.