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

INFO 490 Project 7 – Arduino Locomotion

For this project, we were tasked with creating a moving robot out of popsicle sticks and pompoms, powered by an Arduino and some servo motors. I’ve been working with Arduino since middle school, but have never actually tried to make anything moving, so this was going to be a fun experience. Going into this project I did a bunch of thinking about how movement actually occurs, and a rough design of how I can create a moving robot. After moving around the Fab Lab for a bit at a very slow movement speed, and carefully observing exactly what my body was doing during movement, I figured out the bare minimum I would need to get something resembling “movement” happening.

I got to work on programming the Arduino with two servo motors – one for a “front leg” and one for a “back leg”. I simply just took the Sweep example, and modified it slightly so that I could have two servo motors attached. This was fairly easy since, as I mentioned, I’ve been working with Arduino since middle school, and 3 years of college level programming definitely helps as well.

Got two servos working!

I then moved on to making the frame of the robot itself. I decided I wanted a “middle body” for both of the motors to attach to, and to have to identical “arms” for each of the motors.

Gluing the servo horns to some popsicle sticks.

Putting the rest of the body together!

One of the biggest things I noticed about movement is that it’s necessary to have something very heavy with a lot of friction that can be used to propel an object forward – for us humans, our legs do just that. I knew I wanted one leg that was heavier and “stickier” than the other one, and one that was lighter and “slipperier” than the first (kind of weird terminology, but bear with me). I doused one leg in a huge glob of hot glue to give it weight and more friction, and I just glued some pom poms to the other leg to give it less friction.

Pom poms and hella hot glue!

From this point on, all that was left to do was tweak with the code to make sure the servos had the proper ranges and rates of motion. I found that, due to the design of the main body, I could only get ~60 degrees of motion in either of the legs, and I wanted the heavy anchor leg to have a bit of a snappy/jerky movement so that it could “step” forward.

Believe me, it’s moving! (It’s almost like trying to get a picture of a cat)

 

Something I thought was interesting was that the robot was moving in the opposite direction that I was hoping it would move, but other than that it actually worked!

Video!

I’d say this was a pretty fun project, again not very difficult but kind of rewarding. It’s been a while since I’ve had to think about anything mechanically in this much depth, so it was nice to get to experience that again. To harp on it again, the software wasn’t terribly difficult since I’m a very experienced user, but it was definitely a welcome break from the humdrum of school. I’d say in terms of knowledge this was probably the second easiest project (second only to the paper circuits), and in terms of technical difficulty it was also fairly low on the scale (maybe third, not sure). This project definitely took the most planning and thought, since it was necessary to measure out the physical dimensions of everything and plan how to build it so that it would move it a certain way. All in all, a nice, simple project that would be fun for almost everyone (I’m saying “almost” just as an insurance policy in case anyone doesn’t like it – I see no reason why anyone wouldn’t like it!).

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INFO 490 Final Project – IoT Air Freshener

Question 1: After rereading your studio 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.

I don’t think I necessarily learned much about myself in the way of being a learner, so I’ll try to answer this question from a different perspective. The most significant thing I’ve learned about myself is that, for lack of better phrasing, “I’ve still got it”.

For a bit of background, I first got interested in “making” around 8-10 years in middle school, after stumbling onto KipKay on YouTube one day. Very quickly, I became obsessed with the “maker movement”, and got a subscription to Make: Magazine along with a bunch of tools to start working on projects. I got so engulfed in this that I started to spend more time sitting in my “workshop” in the basement than at my desk doing my homework. It was some of the best times that I had ever experienced, because I finally found something that I enjoyed enough that I actually wanted to throw countless hours into.

Unfortunately, due to an increase in the pace of academics and a lack of support from those close to me, I slowly started to shy away from anything “maker” related, and started pouring my hours into video games and school. Not that there’s anything wrong with playing video games – hell I would love to just sit down and play Skyrim for entire days – but it was more just mind numbing entertainment and nothing intellectually stimulating (and I think it goes without saying that school was nothing appealing). From that point on I had a sour taste in my mouth about “making” because, as I had heard multiple times, I kept thinking “what’s the point?” and “when will you make something useful?”

Since then I had struggled to find something that I found as engaging or appealing, and just kind of floated onward through high school and college. In college I’m finally taking classes that appeal to me, but at the end of the day it’s still a chore. Thankfully, by some stroke of luck, one of my group members for a class said that she’s taking a class called “INFO 490” which is all about doing cool things at the Fab Lab. I immediately jumped on the opportunity – since hearing about the Fab Lab my freshman year I’ve been meaning to spend more time there, but could never afford the time commitment. By forcing myself to “make” for a class, I figured I could re-kindle the creativity and motivation that I had lost many years ago, which is exactly what I was missing this whole time.

From the first day of class it was like I never stopped “making” in the first place. The second we were tasked with designing a name tag using the laser cutter, I was incredibly obsessed, and couldn’t wait for the next time I’d be back at the Fab Lab. Instead of fantasizing what it may be to use tools like 3D printers, I was getting “forced” to use a 3D printer. I’ve even been able to spread the knowledge I got from this class; my mom has been wanting to get a sewing machine for the longest time but has hesitated since she didn’t know how to use one – thanks to this class I was able to teach her how to use one. It was reinvigorating – I was finally able to find what I liked the most.

As is evidenced by the quality and level of detail in my projects, I took this class very seriously. Whether it’s the very first name tag I made with a couple RGB LEDs, staying at the Fab Lab with Duncan until 1 in the morning to make sure my soft circuit pouch came out perfect, or my iteration assignment name tag which had a full blown LCD with an interactive menu, I made sure to put 110% into each project and making everything as useful as possible. Even though I ended up falling into the same trap of spending more time on “making” than my studies, it was easily justified since “making” was part of my studies. This was by far my #1 favorite class I’ve taken at this university, and I’m beyond grateful that the Fab Lab exists and that I was presented this opportunity.

Even though it’s been 8 years, I’ve still got it – that’s my biggest takeaway from this class.

 

Question 2: What did you make for your final project? This is less a question and more where I would like to see at least 2 in-process photos and 2 final photos/videos of your final project.

For my final project, I made an IoT enabled air freshener designed to work with Amazon Alexa.

Cracking this bad boy open!

Removing the battery holder to make room for the microcontroller.

Made a custom USB-B to MicroB adapter!

Some more electronics for controlling the button press.

Finished! “Alexa, freshen the room!”

View from the back, pretty sleek!

Most of the process went by fairly smoothly. I initially planned on having a 3D printed enclosure for the microcontroller along with a custom circuit board for any extraneous electronics I would need, but thankfully everything was much simpler than I imagined it would be and that ended up being unnecessary. Any issues I had with the project were easily addressed by the staff at the Fab Lab – most specifically Andrew and Brandon since they had the most experience in these types of things.

 

Question 3: 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.

My learning goals were as follows:

  1. Focus more on iteration during the making process
  2. Learn how to use Amazon Web Services (AWS, the service for interacting with Alexa devices)
  3. Get more comfortable with CAD modeling and 3D printing
  4. Learn how to mill custom circuit boards (PCBs) using the CNC milling machines

Goals 1 and 2 were my main learning goals, with goals 3 and 4 were minor goals (and ultimately unnecessary/not used, given the unexpected simplicity of the electronics).

Regarding my focus on iteration, I was able to attain this goal to a certain degree. Apart from the software aspect, there weren’t many opportunities to iterate in this project, so I didn’t get to as much iteration as I would have liked. I originally thought I’d be doing some more “rapid prototyping” since I was expecting to use 3D printing and PCB milling, however as I mentioned the electronics were unexpectedly simple and didn’t require either of these processes. The way I see myself “iterating” in this assignment is that I was first able to get the core functionality of the software working via a “backdoor” hack on the microcontroller. I see this as an iteration because it was a functional product and a “stop gap” on my way to the final project – the essence of iteration at its core. Regardless, even though I was able to iterate, I don’t think I was able to iterate the way I wanted to, with multiple versions of 3D prints or PCBs made through the process.

My second goal, learning AWS, was also only met to a certain degree. During the initial brainstorming and research that went into this project, it seemed that this would be a fairly simple project, requiring only a couple AWS services to get to work. However, during the development of the project, a bunch of minor discrepancies kept popping up that were specific to just my project. Thankfully Brandon at the Fab Lab has had a lot of experience with AWS, specifically with IoT devices, so I was able to make use of his knowledge and advice. The AWS framework that I needed to develop kept getting more and more complicated and eventually it got the best of both of us, which left me delving into territories not even Brandon knew about. Ultimately this left me unable to complete my project, which is a little devastating. The silver lining is that I was still able to learn a lot about AWS that will undoubtedly benefit me more in the future, I just wasn’t able to learn enough to get this air freshener to work.

Final thoughts on the process: I’m fairly content with this project as a whole, even though it ultimately doesn’t work. I know for a fact that the software on the microcontroller is correct, the modified air freshener module still functions properly, and most of the AWS works properly – this can easily be a pet project that I work on in my spare time to get more familiar with AWS. This project means a lot to me because I’ve had this idea for a while now, and finally being able to see it come to fruition is really awesome. Obviously it’d be more meaningful if it actually worked, but that’s not all that matters (though it’s a major component). I guess an unexpected learning goal from all this is that I pushed myself far enough that I failed, but still learned a lot from it.

 

Question 4: Do you consider yourself a maker and what does that mean to you now that it didn’t at the beginning of the semester?

As I mentioned earlier, I considered myself a “maker” at some point in the past, but that was almost 10 years ago. Since then, I think that the “maker movement” has changed, and I don’t think that “maker” is the best term to describe myself.

At the start of the semester, my definition for “maker” was pretty much the purest definition of the term – someone who “makes”. More specifically though, the term refers to anyone that had some type of niche, creative and “creating” hobby they partook in. Famous examples would be people like Bre Pettis, Ben Heckendorn, and the aforementioned KipKay – a quick Google search should clarify who all these people are in case it’s not clear. This is more or less what I aligned myself to; I liked to work with electronics and power tools, and I was overall a very creative person. So, naturally I aligned myself to the “maker” philosophy.

Throughout the course of this semester, it’s become apparent that the “maker movement” has become something that is more than just “making”. The way I see it, the “maker movement” also encompasses societal themes, such as justice and inclusiveness. We’ve seen many examples of this new take on the “maker movement” throughout the semester, whether it’s the Urbana Makerspace being very welcoming to transgender people or the Dustduino collecting data regarding poor air quality. It’s become more than just creating a gumball machine that works when you knock a specific pattern. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing – it’s just the way the “maker movement” has changed in my perspective.

As a result of these changes, I don’t think I fully align myself as a “maker” anymore. Again, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the current state of the maker movement; social justice is a very important topic, but that’s not what I see in myself as a “maker”. I just want to make name tags with LCD screens and air fresheners connected to my Amazon Echo Dot, without getting boxed in and labeled with a specific word. These are just my thoughts, and it’s ultimately going to vary person to person as to how they define the term “maker”, and some people might even label me a “maker”, but from my understanding it’s not the proper label for me. Maybe “tinkerer” would be more apt – can we get the ball rolling on that? (lol)

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Final Project- CitySpace – Amanda Wolfe

For my final project I created an Urban Planning themed Board Game called CITYSPACE. I wanted to explore designing a game that would engage people with the field of urban planning, putting them in the position of being an urban planner in the game to deal with “building” a city by completing plans to get points to win the game. I faced many obstacles with this project, first being that I have never designed a board game before. I had to spend a lot of time researching game design and thinking through the game play while also thinking about how I could make all the pieces in time to have a product for people to play with before the final presentation. In the end I feel I didn’t leave quite enough time to build all the pieces, I ended up with 2 player beta version of the game, but started out wanting to make it a 4 player game. I also didn’t get to make multiple prototypes for all the different parts, for example, I wanted to redo the cards, but ran out of time at the end. 

I feel that after taking this course I have not only gained many skills in making: laser cutting, 3D printing and designing, Arduino, etc., but also gained a better understanding of how I learn. I tend to spend a lot of time on the idea of a project, fleshing the idea out, which if I leave enough time to execute the idea helps me to create a project when I am proud of by the end. However, if I either underestimate the amount of time something will take to put together or don’t spend enough time on the idea then I get frustrated with the outcome. For example, with the pom pom bot lab I spent most of that lab just trying things, putting different parts together and seeing how the bot would work, and not enough time on thinking through how the design of the bot should look first. I ended up not submitting this lab because I was unhappy with what I had completed. Also, with this final project I spent a ton of time developing the game design, I enjoyed this part, but let myself get a bit too bogged down in the details and felt I didn’t leave quite enough time to execute the project to what I had imagined in the beginning.

I am beginning to acknowledge that producing something in an “unfinished” or early stage is acceptable for some things, and that I need to be less critical. With the pom pom bot I was too critical when I didn’t produce something to my expectations, yet, I knew and could acknowledge that I didn’t spend enough time developing an idea. Instead of submitting what I had done and thinking about it as a learning experience I just didn’t submit it. For the final project, I tried to remain less critical, even when the game wasn’t at a stage that I wanted, I presented what I had and talked about next steps. I got some really useful feedback and encouragement during the presentation from everyone and realized the benefit of allowing myself to show something in it’s early stages to make it better. Being less of a perfectionist has been something I have been working on in general, and I think experiencing these things with making (as opposed to less physical things like writing ) has helped me to see in a tangible form that how I can actually improve something by letting people see things in earlier stages.

My learning goals for this project were:

  • I want to challenge myself to talk to people inside and outside of the field of urban planning while developing the project to understand the many different perceptions of urban planning. I hope that this will help me to refine my project by incorporating what I have observed so that I can create a tool for planners to engage with people so that they can better understand the field.
  • I hope to further develop my collaboration and critical thinking skills by working with the other graduate students in developing a podcast to discuss the connections between the maker movement and urban planning. Collaboration is a key skill in urban planning as all of work I will do involves working in teams, so I hope to think critically throughout this process about how we can each use our strengths to create a unique podcast experience.

I realized as the final deadline approached that my first learning goal was a bit ambitious. I struggled to ask people outside of urban planning about my board game and get useful feedback. I had to spend a lot of time explaining the game instructions and I realized that since many of the people I asked didn’t know anything about Urban Planning they couldn’t really give me any feedback on what they didn’t know. I did get some useful feedback from a friend of mmine, Sabrina, she thought it would be unique if players had to purchase a vehicle of sorts in the beginning of the game, a car or bus etc, and based off which piece you got it could costed more, and would help you travel farther faster, or cost less but you would move slower. I didn’t end up putting this in the game but this is what gave me the idea to explore putting a player piece in the game and making people build roads to reach the places they would build on. But after exploring asking more people outside of planning I realized it may not be a good use of my time to continue this in the early stages of game development and ended up focusing on asking planners what they thought about it. I mostly got positive feedback, people were truly excited to see the level of detail in the game design. I had some useful feedback from a fellow planner Richa Singh who asked me questions about the design to help me think through simplifying the game design. She also helped me to identify plans to use in my plan deck (20 cards) which gives players an objective in planning to complete for points, an example being “a subdivision with 5 houses and 2 parks in suburbia”.

For my second goal I thoroughly enjoyed the process of thinking about, designing questions, and recording and editing the podcast. Susie, Sarah, Kelly and I all have such a range of interests in planning and have enjoyed this class and each have gotten different things from it so I felt that our collaboration made for an intriguing dialog. Making this podcast, thinking about various connections and ways to ask questions to get the person being interviewed to dig a bit deeper helped me to reflect on my experiences in this class and my learning.

Lastly, my final project means a great deal to me. I feel motivated to see it through past the current version and improve upon it. I think it would be a fun way to engage with my friends outside of planning and I might continue thinking of other ways to expand on it in the future. Furthermore, when I reflect on whether or not I consider myself a maker, I would say yes. I think everyone is a maker in their own way. I have never considered myself a very creative person, before coming into Urban Planning I was in environmental science and I mostly did research. I enjoyed doing things that were more “creative” but never felt very encouraged to pursue more hands on making. Through the course of my work in the master’s program here, including this class I feel I have gotten to explore more kinds of “creative” work and making. Yet, the coolest part of this is how I began to see an appreciate the other aspects of my life that are not making in the traditional sense, but now I see them as opportunities for creativity and making. I gained a better appreciation of the other skills I do have through learning more about myself through these projects, and I think that is one of the more significant lessons I have learned. 

Early Stages of Design:

Game Board and Pieces:

  

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Final Project

Question 1:

Over the course of the assignments, I managed to learn a lot about visualization and being able to create something that just starts off as an idea in my head. I actually think that this was very useful because it helped me to utilize my creativity and to test myself to see the kinds of things that I can come up with. I also learned that even though something doesn’t originally turn out like planned, it can still come out to be a cool project.

Question 2:

For my final project, I decided to make a fashion piece. While making the project, I ended up having to start over because of a mishap so that was a bit of a challenge. Additionally, there was a technique that I was doing for the first time called screen printing, so my first attempt wasn’t as crisp as my other attempts. Additionally, I had to cut my second shirt down so the edges are a bit more ragged than I had planned. Other than that, I am really proud of my project. I really enjoyed making the embroidery and choosing the gradient colors for the embroidery. I also enjoyed the colors, font, and shapes that I used for the screen printing.

Original embroidery

Final Project!

In progress

In progress

In progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Question 3:

For this final project I wanted to not only learn more about different tools, but I really wanted to test my creativity ability. For instance, I was really hoping that I would be able to come up with a design that makes sense and that could come together nicely. Since I never designed a shirt before, I was pretty excited for the task. Additionally, one of my goals was to be able to be knowledgeable in different techniques to make an appealing shirt. For example, one of the programs that I used for my embroidery was PEDesign. After this project, I ended up feeling pretty comfortable with the program and I was able to pull images from the internet and turn them into a nice embroidery. I also learned how to do a gradient pattern thanks to a classmate and so it was fun to try different gradient patterns on the different images. Additionally, I enjoyed using Inkscape as well to change the images when I needed to. For instance, I combined 2 different images of a crown and a lion head to make the center piece. I also edited the sun so that it was be empty in the middle.

Another technique I learned about included screen printing. For instance, I used the vinyl sticker as my cut out so I ended up using Inkscape and Silhouette to cut out my font and shapes. After using the vinyl cutter, I then had to learn how to properly screen print. At first I thought it would be challenging, but after the first try, it ended up not being too bad. During my later tries, I learned to press the fabric paint harder down as I was doing the printing. I also learned to make sure that there was tape absolutely everywhere that I didn’t want paint. I lastly learned to be extremely gentle when removing the screen so that the paint looks a lot cleaner on the shirt.

One technique that I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to accomplish was having LEDs incorporated on my shirt. I managed to sew one on there, but my battery was drained by that point and I was unable to get more on there. If I had more time to do the project, that is something that I would have really liked to use.

Question Four:

After taking this class, I think that we should all consider ourselves makers. I say this because we all used different skills and tools in order to create brand new existing projects. Additionally, I think that Papert’s quote is a pretty good one as it is a lot easier to understand something when you are working with it up close and personal. For instance, I learned a lot more about the machines and the computer programs when I explored them myself as opposed to watching someone else use them. Overall, I think that hands on learning is definitely a great way to explore and understand a concept.

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Final Paper

After reading whole studio assignment write-ups, I could see the development over this semester. All the new materials and machines were quite difficult to me in the beginning of the semester. I took a video of the process of using machines and programs. After I attended to the discussion session, I came to the fab lab almost everyday not to forget what I learned. From the laser name tag assignment to final proposal, all of my write-ups are focused on reflection part. Instead of writing what I made, I wrote what is the process and how did I overcome challenges. Even though there were some difficult tasks like arduino or coding stuff, I enjoyed the process of making.

I made a toy set for kids. The theme of the toy is Harry Potter Magic World. Since I am not a Computer science major, I had difficulties with coding the Arduino. My final goal of Arduino part is to make the light on when the sensor detects the Blue or green light: Harry Potter’s  color of magic light is blue. Despite of less knowledge, I finally figured out how to code to make the LEDs turn on when the sensor detects the blue light. I also change the code to turn on  the deep pink instead of green color. I also used the different type of LED instead of light bulb LED since its light was too weak that I could not see in the dark. For the Harry Potter box, I used the wood shop tool to make a hole.

Before I took this course, I really interested in 3D printing. I thought it is wonderful to create what I imagine. Not only making what we want, but also it is useful in lots of fields. My mother is a dentist and she told me about how 3d printing is also used for implant surgery. I wanted to work comfortable with 3D modeling. So, my first goal was to create my own design instead of using the design which is also made by others. Since I used the battery holder in the fab lab, I had to redesign the wand to insert different type of battery and battery holder. I calculate the size and length of battery holder, wire, and LED. I created the hole inside the wand so that I can insert the LED and the wire. It took a long time to design the wand. I used the scanner to design the outside of the wand and then I used Thinkercad to make a hole inside the wand to insert the battery holder. My second learning goal is to be comfortable with Arduino and coding. When I took first class of introduction to Arduino, I had hard time catching up the class materials. I thought Arduino is the one which is most useful in the daily lives. It was easy to find how to connect the sensor with the breadboard. However, I had to code  to make the pink LED turns on when the sensor detects the sensor. I looked through the examples of other codes. The first trial of coding was kind of failure. In the middle of whole classmates who are majoring  in CS, I had to struggle with coding the system that I want.

After wrapping up INFO 490  this semester, I could say that I am a maker. Seymour Papert’s constructionism is exactly made during this course. His constructionism is that knowledge is something a person build in his head. During the whole semester working for the various projects in Fab lab, I am more comfortable with imagining creatively and envision it: to build something tangible, “something outside your head”. In the beginning of the semester, “maker” is the definition of just producing the results. However, the “maker” to me is more focusing on how I can envision what I thought.

 

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Final Project

Throughout the semester, I’ve developed a more comprehensive attitude to making all-encompassing projects. My biggest issue throughout the course of the semester was focusing on making sure that each individual facet of the project was planned perfectly before setting out to make anything. The concept of iteration instills the idea that we should just make something we want to make. Then make it again. And again. And again. I had trouble grasping this concept because I didn’t like the idea of starting a full-scale project on something that I wasn’t perfectly proficient in. I have a bad habit of being too detail-oriented to the point that the full project doesn’t come together because I don’t give myself enough time to try several approaches and variations. So while I aim to create a perfect project on the first try, that’s never really possible, and I should focus more on learning along the way.

I have developed this skill of willingness to fail several times before the final product portrays what I intend it to, and that is a powerful ability to develop. Picking up this skill has also helped me in my time management abilities. If I want to make a project once, I can cut it pretty close to the point of presentation and still output something to present. And doing this leads me to underestimate the scope of my task much of the time. If I commit to making a project more than once, I must start earlier, and that leads to a cleaner, more cohesive final product. After seriously flubbing up some of the earlier projects, I took more time to try different techniques for each of the projects over time, and I was more satisfied with the outcomes and learned a more effective way to pursue any project I planned to make.

For my final project, I set out to design a board game. The rules for the board game are attached as a separate document. The in-process and final images will be attached at a later time.

My first learning goal was to quickly adapt to a totally new skill quickly enough to make a cohesive project with the principles of that skill. The skill, in this case, was game design. My concrete goal was to write a rulebase for the game and be able to craft the board. I initially fell into the trap of attempting to craft a perfect game in one shot, but over time, I was able to catch myself and start by writing up a rough draft and working from there. I don’t have much board game experience, and I was attempting to make a game of my own without reading up on other board games in an attempt to make mine somewhat unique. The idea started off as a territorial survival game between prey and predator, but after some writing and rewriting, it became the final rendition of a game between a spider and a human, with flies scattered throughout the board in random motion. One aspect that surprised me was that I had discovered new additions to the game simply by crafting the physical product. Creating the board and the pieces lead me to be more aware of the semantics of the game and the confusions that may arise for somebody reading the rulebook, while also allowing me to construct more interesting game mechanics. What helped a lot was writing my entire rulebook and having people who are familiar with board games critique and suggest game mechanics. Overall, I’d say I achieved this particular goal.

Another learning goal was for me to create a cohesive project involving several distinct parts and molding the parts together successfully. My project involved the rulebook and the physical manifestation of the game I had designed. I had to create a board with hexagonal slots for the pieces to travel, pieces to represent each of the players of the game, pieces to represent each of the obstacles of the game, and a randomizer for the motion of the flies. As far as what I was able to complete, I do believe everything fit together quite nicely. I was able to etch together a full board for the game as well as the pieces for the flies that fit in. These objects matched the game rulebook well enough to be useful and I am proud that I was able to make the abstract idea of the board game as well as craft the physical pieces involved in the game. In that regard, I do feel that I’ve achieved this goal.

My final goal was to create a completed, playable board game that I would be proud to call my own. Throughout the semester, I had procrastinated and over idealized what my final product would be and tend to fall short of expectations. I intended for this project to be totally complete in at least its basic form by the time of presentation. Unfortunately, I did not recognize how diverse the tasklist was to craft a game until it was too late. I do feel that my product fell short at the point of project submission. However, I do not want this deadline to stop me from continuing the project on my own time during the summer. I did not achieve this learning goal as of now, but I would like to in the near future.

I personally have learned very much from this course. I had a lot of fun trying out the different projects and the ability to be very creative with my work. I do not consider myself a maker, because I personally see making “things” more as a means to an end rather than enjoying the inter-related steps along the way. I also feel that I enjoy learning abstract concepts more than I do making things. I can see myself making something that would be personally meaningful to me, but I do not generally set out to make projects just for the sake of it. In another way, I would consider myself a maker in that if I do have something in mind that I want, I do not shy away from taking the first steps to making it myself. In this class, I had trouble becoming enthusiastic about any of the individual projects on their own, but once I had an idea in mind, that idea would light a passion in me to set out to make that idea happen. The hands-on nature of this course definitely helped me by showing that much of these projects are very accessible when you have the right help, which we certainly did, and I very much appreciated that. As of now, I do not consider myself a maker, but that is something that might change over time, and this class was a good stepping stone for that.

 

Survival Handbook

 

UPDATE: I’ve added photos of my project below

Above: a small prototype for the board layout

 

Above: a 3D printed fly piece

 

Above: the die to be used by the human player to kill flies

 

The top layer for the board

 

The assembled board

 

The assembled board with pieces in place

 

Neopixels I soldered for the electronic spinwheel

 

The simple push button circuit I wired for the spinwheel

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Final Project – Street Map

After re-reading my studio assignment write-ups, I realized that my fear of failure was initially a barrier to actually learning and digesting the information I’ve learned. However, looking back on the actual experience, I felt less and less afraid of that with each lab exercise despite feeling unsure that I understood how each tool worked. Failure happens and, although what failure actually looks like changes from person to person, it provides an opportunity to try again. Creativity feels like a risk, which makes failure all more possible. Perhaps subconsciously I was pushing back on the idea of failing, and what that looked like, because I learned the different ways in which I limited my creativity. There were some projects I wasn’t entirely proud of, others I wanted to iterate over and over, and some I felt I was only starting to learn and wanted to dive deeper into. One project in particular was the Arduino.

The Arduino project was equal parts exciting and frightening. I didn’t know anything about coding prior to this class, so I went into the lab session thinking I would be screwed (I wasn’t). Duncan helped me understand the fundamentals of the code, which helped me appreciate the assignment even more. Getting my pompom robot to walk (with the code + the form of the legs) was fulfilling. I feel as though while my confidence falters every now and then, such exercises have helped me build my confidence as a maker and take “risks” in creating.

For my final project, I made a street map– I stitched street lines onto fabric, incorporating NeoPixels under the street map fabric layer and using a Joystick Arduino to control the lights. My initial idea was to create an item that could be used as a storytelling device in community participatory planning. At first I wanted to embroider a zoning map, but found that the zoning map itself really limited what else I wanted to do (work with an Arduino) in part because of the embroidery pattern and whether or not the lights would even be useful. Here’s where I found myself needing to compromise– I could either keep the zoning map or I could keep the lights and Arduino aspect and transform the form of the item without giving up its purpose. I ended up scaling the idea down to a street map, which I think in the end provides for more interaction and imagination on the user’s part. 

My learning goals were as follows:

  • Technical- I want to challenge myself and manipulate the loop function of an Arduino joystick, as this is the technical tool I have the least confidence in.

Here, I was hoping to dive deeper into the mechanics of the Joystick. I wanted to make it so with the Joystick, individual lights would turn on/off throughout the street map. I learned technical aspects such as making sure the setup I used for the Joystick complemented whatever setup I used for the NeoPixels. Coding still feels like a different language to me, and I didn’t get the lights to do what I wanted them to do. They were able to move (in unison, as opposed to individually) to the input on the Joystick.

  • Nontechnical- I want to create at least two designs of my concept, as I place more emphasis on the project versus learning from the process, and track what component I focus on.

As my in-progress and final pictures show, there were two designs/ways this project could’ve gone. In trying to keep the zoning map, I felt increasingly limited and frustrated as I was racing against the clock. In between both pictures, I reached out to my friends in the class who helped me brainstorm other visualizations of a map, as well as offered their input on how intuitive the map felt (especially given that the map I use in this project is based on my hometown, but the next step would be making this applicable to other places).

  • Nontechnical- I want to develop my communication skills and articulate 1) the problem at hand and 2) how my design would approach this problem.

My storyboard for the concept originally placed users in a tense community meeting where they are trying to solve a problem (rezoning). I had hoped my design would be a more straightforward way to solve the problem (offer alternatives). However, I realized there was a larger issue around dialogue, which changed the nature of the solution. The research I’ve been doing over the last two years (as a research assistant and in my thesis) focus on, not just neighborhood change, but on how people try to mediate it (or what gets in the way of having a dialogue). The solution isn’t the project itself…rather, I think the project could lead to a solution to neighborhood change (the supposed context of many neighborhoods and cities).

The process rather than the project taught me more than I anticipated. Through the various revisions and designs I found myself really letting go of my own preconceived notions of what the project *should* look like, which stopped me from truly incorporating the tools I wanted to work with in a way that felt organic. That makes this project meaningful for me– the thought behind it, as well as the opportunity to get feedback from others and continue developing it as part of my toolkit as a planning practitioner.

I consider myself a maker, though the word maker means different things to me now than it did in the beginning of the semester. The Papert quote definitely resonates, and I do believe that this class and this project incorporated hands-on learning and meaning. During my time in academia, finding a balance between practice and theory felt hard to achieve– I think making adds more to this balance, and directly implicates makers. I feel less detached (and more confident articulating my positionality) from the projects I make, and I think that’s a significant difference from what I’ve been traditionally taught in the academy.

 

 

Final product

Final Template

Initial template

 

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Final Project: Avengers Tower

For my final project, I decided to make an architectural model of the Avengers Tower from Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Reflection:

Question 1: After rereading your studio 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?

Over the course of the semester I learned how to use traditional skills. I had never done sewing before and that had always hated it. The machine was intimidating and figuring out how to put fabrics together was tough. After the textile assignment, I was more confident and was able to figure out how to use the machine. I realize that what really cemented what I learned was when I was able to trouble shoot problems. I do not think it is enough to just learn the baseline skills and complete a project. Learning to troubleshoot on your own is where the learning really takes place. That sewing project allowed to learn something new and intimidating while allowing me to figure out problems on my own.

 

Question 2: What did you make for your final project? This is less a question and more where I would like to see at least 2 in-process photos and 2 final photos / videos of your final project. You can 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 made a strip down architectural model of the Avengers Tower from Avengers: Age of Ultron. I was inspired by the aesthetic of the movie and I was interested in learning to build a scaled model of a building. This project allowed me to explore space and understand the technicalities of building something. This required building draft models and figuring out measurements and preciously how much material I needed.

Question 3: 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?

  1. I am hoping to better my craftsmanship. I feel like I haven’t provided the best craftsmanship for my projects whether it be a poorly sewed bag or the card that didn’t align well with the buttons. I want to create a project that is clean and neatly done.

I wanted to be better at crafting my work. This project gave me ample amount of time to figure out what I want to make and how to make it as well as making multiple iteration of it. Having the ability to iterate is what contributed to the craftsmanship as well as organization and planning. This was a goal I met because I felt my project was neatly cut and mistakes were minimal enough that it did not distract from the rest of the model.

  1. Learning to mix different materials together is something I want to explore. I never used a hybrid of materials before and this is an opportunity to create something that incorporates different materials that have different properties. I can learn to understand the limitations of materials as well as aesthetic exploration.

I was somewhat successful in this aspect. I did combine three different materials: chip board, foam core and acrylic. They were materials I had originally worked with before but I wanted to try something different. I originally wanted to make pieces out of wood but it did not fit with the Avengers Tower’s aesthetic so I opt that out.

  1. Practice learning to model in 3D. The 3D printing section was one area that I really enjoyed doing for this class. 3D printing process is simple enough but learning to model is hard. I want to incorporate 3D modeling into this to help solidify my skills in 3D Modeling software.

I failed in this goal because I did not keep track of time. I did 3D print objects to scale but they were in brown filament which was not part of the plan. I was in a rush to 3D print because the Business Instructional Facility’s Makerlab was closing that day. I did not check the filament color and just ran it through. This was an example of poor time management and overlooking details. I had wanted to populate the model with furniture to make it feel more like how it looked in the movie but I failed. I had left it to last minute and did not consider the time it would take to print and how many people were also going to be printing.

  1. Practice working with copper tape. This one was fun, and I enjoyed it. I liked how it brought out another dimension to something as seamless as paper. I want to explore this more and see how to incorporate into my project.

I ended up switching this goal to learning to use a new 3D modeling program: Rhino. This was something new I had to learn and thought would be perfect in helping me plan the model and see how I can build this in real life. I enlisted a friend who was in architecture to help and he advised me in learning the build the software. This is an in progress screenshot of the staircase curve we were struggling to build.

  1. I want to practice organization. I have been winging my projects recently and found that I don’t produce the best product because I will always encounter problems that forces me to compromise in a bad way. I believe better planning will enable me to expect problems and thus I compromise in a smart way. Better planning will also help me save money since I will know what I want my final product to look like and understand the materials needed to get there.

I mostly succeed with this goal. I was able to plan out how to build the model by using a series of screenshots and drawing everything out. I made lots of scaled models to understand what will be built and how to build it and used 3D modeling software to understand the form better. I also measured every piece to make sure I had enough material as well as buying the right kind of material for this project. I failed in the 3D printing area where I did not account for the time it would take to print and when I would be able to print. I did end up printing furniture but they did not fit with my model.

Question 4: Do you consider yourself a maker and 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?

Being a maker is all about learning and applying those learnings to create projects. Makerspaces are open and chaotic spaces that aims to throw ideas at you. And that is what it did for me. I was inspired and encouraged to play with ideas that I originally did not dedicate time to. I got out of my comfort zone when I learned to use the sewing machine and the sticker maker. Playing with the Arduino allowed me to rediscover what I liked to do. Having the freedom to decide my own project enabled me to be personally fulfilled and allow me time to iterate and develop my idea. Seymour Papert was right to say that learning is about being hands-on and personally meaningful. These skills that I learned this semester are now skills I can use because I was able to make with my own hands and decide what I want to make. Dedicating a block of time to learn was something that many of us originally did not have so this class was a good enabler. I have always considered myself a maker. This class just enabled me to learn more skills and motivated me to do more. I find a lot of joy in making things with my hands and this has enabled me to try things outside my comfort zone.

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Final Project: Cutting Board

Over the course of the semester, the most important thing I learned, in my opinion, how to better pick up new skills, and evaluate the feasibility of my projects. This class pushed me outside areas I had worked in before, primarily with the papercraft, sewing, and sticker projects. In the past, when I learned new things for a project I was doing, I often live-tested my new knowledge directly on the piece I wanted to make, often with poor results. This class, however, forced me to experiment on test pieces first, before moving onto the main project, and this practice was essential, I believe, in the success of many of my projects. To make a project that requires me to learn something new, then, requires me to set the project aside for a while, and focus on the skill.

The end result of this is that I am more cautious when starting out a project, making sure I have all the required expertise before beginning. Small, throwaway test pieces help me gain skill, and enable me to move forward more confidently once the project actually starts. Somewhat paradoxically, caution has helped me gain confidence in trying new and ambitious projects that I might otherwise have failed on for lack of expertise.

This caution served me extremely well in my final project, a cutting board. The basic idea was to make a large (it ended up being 14”x20”x1.5”) cutting board with a juice groove, handles, and a laser etched monogram. This also meant that the wood cost a fair amount, so starting over would have been quite costly.  I had the wood cut and planed at the CU woodshop and the Architecture wood shop, so the pieces fit nicely, and the basic shape of my cutting board came together quite quickly.

Because the wood was rather expensive (and the wood shop is far), I made no cuts onto the board without testing them on a scrap piece first. This served me quite well, as rounding over the corners of my scrap piece on the routing table took quite a few tries. But because I spent quite a bit of time on the scrap piece, the edges turned out quite well.

Unfortunately, even my practice cuts didn’t prevent me from screwing up the juice groove. The first three sides went quite well, but something happened when I went to cut the fourth side of the groove. The router dropped in its casing, causing the bit to go in too deep. This behavior continued as I attempted to even out the depth. I would set the depth in one part of the groove, only to find the bit had dropped when I reached a deeper part of the groove, often worsening my problem.

               As can be seen from the image above, the result was not pretty. Eventually, I decided I could not fix the groove as it was, and took the board back to the wood shop to be planed down. Since I didn’t want to risk the board getting any thinner than it already was, I was forced to abandon the juice groove in the final project.

               After the groove, thankfully, the project went smoothly. After experimenting with several different bits and bit depths, I was able to route handles I was happy with. I sketched roughly two pages worth of logos, before finally settling on the one seen on the final project. After sanding, laser etching, and finishing, the end result is as seen below-

Note- the board is technically upside down in the above photo.

The color of the wood is washed out in the image, but overall, I’m extremely happy with how the project turned out.

               I had four major learning goals for this project, and I feel that I fulfilled them all to a satisfactory degree. I am extremely proud of how my project turned out, and I feel I learned quite a lot while making it.

               My first goal was to learn basic woodworking skills and tools. I hoped to get a working knowledge of the woodworking tools that the Fab Lab had to offer, and to learn about the properties of different woods, wood grains, and wood finishes. In the course of this project, I learned to use a planer, palm router, routing table, spindle sander, and, for some fun after finishing the cutting board, a lathe. In the course of researching, I learned what makes a wood good for different applications (tight grains are preferable for uses where the wood comes into contact with water often), and quite a bit about how to deal with wood’s peculiarities, like that one should never gluing two pieces of wood with their grain perpendicular. This surprised me, as I hadn’t even considered that grain direction could have an influence on the strength of a glue joint. One extremely useful thing I learned was that if two pieces of wood have a small gap between them, filler putty can be made out of sawdust from that piece and wood glue, and used to fill the gap in a way that is almost indistinguishable from the wood itself.

               My second goal was to work on a project where the majority of time was spent refining the project, rather than strictly making it. I chose this goal, because I realized that most of my projects for the class thus far had, to a lesser or greater extent, lacked polished. I had focused on getting a functional and decent-looking end product, but had neglected the refinement that would have made the project truly stand out.

               This board was perfect for this goal. The basic shape was defined within the first 3 hours of working on it, and it was all small refinement from there. Small changes were made to the shape, rounding the corners, flattening the sides, adding small cuts for handles or (an attempted) juice groove. I also spent quite a long time sanding down the piece to remove any blemishes that I could. The logo, while not strictly necessary, helped personalize the board, make it truly mine.

               Overall, I believe I met my goal. Out of the approximately 25 hours this project took, the vast majority were spent refining the board, adding small quality-of-life features, and giving it a (metaphorical) mirror shine. This led to what I believe is my best-looking project yet. The only gripe I have with it is that the handles are about 1/3 of an inch off center. However, this can only be seen if looking intently at the back of the board (see the photo above). By the time I noticed, I was already applying finish, and decided that it was an allowable error. Nothing is perfect, after all, and this error is almost unnoticeable.

               My third goal was to temper my enthusiasm, and force myself to fully consider different designs for the cutting board and logo. I have an extremely bad habit of picking up my first idea and running with it, only to realize that more thought beforehand would have led to a better outcome. Once I had chosen my wood types (which was mostly done for practical reasons, as these types woods worked for cutting boards), I made roughly 20 mock-up designs, which can be seen below. Ironically, my final design was not one of them. I had intended to do the “cherry base, 1 in stripe” design, but with a maple base instead. James made the excellent suggestion, however, to move the center walnut stripe to the top, and I think it really improved the project.

I went through a similar process with the logo. I considered various combinations of my initials, in various styles and various combinations, before finally settling on the hexagonal design. Even this design went through several iterations. I experimented with flat lines, rather than diagonal, and made a design with twice as many lines as the final design, which I scrapped due to it being too busy.

               I believe this process really helped me achieve a better final project. Both of the designs I ended up using were far from my first idea, and the mix of logo styles really helped me decide what sort of logo I wanted. The board designs, meanwhile, made sure I considered a plethora of different designs, in order to make one I was happy with.

               My fourth and final goal was to explore the woodworking spaces on campus, and determine how feasible further woodworking projects and education would be. In addition to the Fab Lab, the most promising shop I found was the Art+Design building’s wood shop, which grants access for the semester for $145. Furthermore, while I may not be able to afford membership to the CU wood shop Dream Shop, they hold classes in everything from bowl turning to longcase clock making. I fully intend to take advantage of both of these opportunities next semester. In addition, I’ve learned that several of the Fab Lab employees are very knowledgeable about woodworking, and excellent resources for future projects. James’s help was indispensable for this project, and his patience in the face of my extreme caution/paranoia was laudable.

               Coming into this course, I considered myself a maker. Coming out, I still do, and for largely the same reasons, but the word has taken on connotations, positive and negative, it didn’t have before. Coming in, my idea of what a maker is was rather simplistic- someone who likes to make things. And I still consider this the defining aspect of a maker, the desire and enjoyment of personal or professional projects that involve making something. This course introduced me to the educational and community aspects of being a maker, as well as the issues the maker identity has with elitism, implicit or not.

               This course helped me realize some of the problems with the maker movement, and the maker identity as a whole. My involvement in the maker movement was enabled in a very large way by my upper-middle class upbringing. My high school had a 3d printer, back before they were affordable. I had free time and spending money to put towards projects. I had easy computer access, to help me reach Instructables and YouTube for tutorials. And I had parents with time to invest in taking me to Home Depot or RadioShack for parts. The Maker movement currently is, and will remain without intervention, a primarily male, middle-to-upper class movement, because it requires fairly significant investments money and time, and largely idolizes male-dominated fields like tech. This causes even more problems when some in the movement begin to believe that being a maker confers superiority.

               There isn’t an easy solution to this issue. Celebrating traditionally female-dominated crafts like sewing and clothing is a start, as is increasing investment and outreach in low-income areas. But I’m not sure if the maker movement can ever completely solve this, as the problems of gender and class that underlie it run deep within society. Ultimately, I have tempered my identification with the maker movement, and removed any judgement I may have had about those who don’t participate.

               On a more positive note, to me, the maker identity is more than just an isolated character trait. It is a sense of being part of a wider community, and one dedicated to sharing knowledge and enabling the learning of skills.  I had no idea that the Fab Lab was part of a global network, nor of the outreach it did. More personally, I had used Instructables before, but I never documented my projects, nor considered publishing them for others to replicate. Now, however, I believe an important part of being a maker is discussing not just what you made, but how.

               Overall, I’m quite glad I took this course. It pushed me into areas of making I may not have investigated otherwise, challenged how I document and plan my own projects, and helped me inform my idea of what it means to be a maker.

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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.

 

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Final Project – Edbert Linardi

I still remember my first time working on the Makerspace class’s first assignment, a simple name tag created using laser cut. I did not have any clue about what to do, and how to do it, since it was my first time doing a graphic design that utilizes a software more complicated than Microsoft Paint, and my first time using a device that is more complicated than a regular printer.

I am not an artsy person. Therefore, I have a hard time making a graphic art. I personally do not really like graphic design. Besides, I felt that I was not a creative person. However, I pushed myself to create the best piece of artwork that I have ever created and designed myself. I managed to create a cool little name tag that I could be proud of. I learned to use Inkscape online, by googling and looking through YouTube. Without realizing it, I tried my hard to be as creative as possible. From that assignment, I concluded that creativity comes when you push yourself harder than you have ever been. Everyone is creative. It only needs a strong desire for someone to be creative.

Moreover, I also learned that I have to not be afraid to fail. In other words, it is okay to fail. Failing is good. By failing, I can create something better by learn from my mistakes. For instance, when doing the copper tape circuit assignment, I was failed for several times, before successfully getting the desired result.

The other thing that I found very important was planning. I was not very good at planning. For instance, while designing the nametag, I did not have any paper sketches. I opened Inkscape and start trying things out. However, sometimes planning is very essential in a success of a project. This is the important skill that I want to learn in my final project.

For my final project, I created a music box that plays music when it’s opened, and stopped playing the music if it’s closed. I was inspired by the little kids’ toys. The box was created using press-fit box maker and the laser cut, while for the music, I use Arduino.

Initially, I sketched my plan on a piece of paper.

I also did a little research about my project on Instructables, where I found a super helpful tutorial about playing music from a SD card in Arduino, and a library for the Arduino. Here is the link to the tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/Audio-Playback-From-SD-Card-With-Arduino/.  Here is the link to the library: http://www.hackerspace-ffm.de/wiki/index.php?title=SimpleSDAudio. I also sketched the design of the box, and thought about the dimensions as well, since it is important to have a fitted box that can be opened and closed.

In creating the box, I failed twice since the actual dimension was different than the one I want. I had to redesign the box, and redo the laser cut.

After getting the correct sized box, I started working on the Arduino. I use HC-SR04 proximity sensor that can measure the distance above it, a SD card reader, and an 8-ohm speaker. For coding the Arduino, I had the hard time tuning the distances right, so that the speaker plays music when the box is opened.

Here is the result of my project, after I got everything correct.

The only thing wrong in this box is that the volume was too low. The speaker was not able to produce a powerful output. I tried to solve this by creating an amplifier using a transistor. However, it only made the speaker not outputting anything.

Furthermore, Sara told me that the only actual learning goal for my project was planning everything right. For this project, I believe that I successfully plan before doing everything. For instance, I put the deadlines for the box, and Arduino. It turned out that I met the deadlines that I set for myself. Besides, I also created sketches and details for the cardboard. Therefore, I can say that I met the main learning goal for this project. I am happy with the final result. From this project, I learned a lot about planning. For example, sketching helps me a lot to design the box.

Finally, I still cannot consider myself as a maker, but I am on my way to be a maker. Being a maker means that I should try many different new things. People who should call themselves a maker are the ones who are brave enough to learn many new things, create cool things, and push themselves to be creative.

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Final Project – BB8

Project Reflection

1) I have learnt that I am much more comfortable with coding now than I used to be before. I am also much more comfortable with asking for help for my projects now: I’ve learnt that there is no shame in wanting to learn more and the staff at the FabLab as well as my peers are very happy to help me with the work! I am also pleasantly surprised that I enjoy circuitry and hardware as much as I did for my assignments. I am also much more confident with using various tools such as Inkscape and TinkerCAD and talking about my projects as well as the helping my peers with suggestions and helpful critiques.

2) I created a BB-8esque robot using everyday and easily available items for my final project. I believe the most challenging part of this project was actually getting the robot to move in the way I wanted it to as well as figuring out the strength of the magnets I used in a way that was beneficial to me.

             

3) My first learning goal was to explore the capabilities of an Arduino in more depth. I did attempt to learn several newer techniques to successfully use an Arduino in my project, but the cost of all the parts to make the project would have been significant. Therefore, I decided to pivot and use something else to make my project. So even though I didn’t get to work on my learning goal as much as I would have liked, I learnt how to find an alternative method to build my project which I believe is a very important skill.

My other learning goal was to create something complicated so that I could learn how to combine different parts into something more. I believe I did achieve my goal as I was successfully able to build my project and make it work, which I believe is a pretty big achievement.

4) I think people who create things be it professionally or as a hobby, should be called makers. I consider myself a maker since I created various projects using elementary as well as intermediate techniques. I do believe that it is appropriate for people to call themselves makers as they are essentially taking separate objects and using their knowledge to create or make something unique. For me, the hands-on nature of this class made making fun as well as more meaningful. Another aspect about being a maker than I learnt is very important is brainstorming with the community as a whole. Makerspace is a place where you can find people to work with you and help you with your projects. I believe by actually making things, I am more enabled to help other people due to the things that I learnt.

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