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

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.