For the maker space final project, I knew sort of what I wanted to do. Earlier in the semester I had made a theremin like device, that used ultrasonic sensors to produce different pitches. I wanted to rework that idea into something that was a bit more useable by incorporating that functionality into a midi controller. I hadn’t really worked with MIDI on the hardware level, so there was a little bit to get acquainted with as far as soldering and designing a circuit and making sure the serial data was written properly.
The most challenging part about this project was the housing. I decided that I would learn to use pressfit boxes for my required learned skill. I hadn’t used them before so I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into here, and it turned out to be a surprisingly complex and time consuming thing. I really had to spend a lot of time re-thinking how I wanted to design this box, and take a lot of caution in my measuring and such. A simple box can be just that: simple. This box was customized and includes a shutter flex lid, middle wall and top lid, so there was a lot of modifications I did, as well as vectorizing the shapes for the sensors and usb jack to stick out of. I guess what I’m most proud of with this box is that it does have a nice ‘finished’ quality to it. I believe that most people probably wouldn’t know what it was, but would recognize that there are some strong and nicely crafted design choices, and it has an appealing aesthetic, even if it is kind of bizarre.
One of my original learning goals with this project was to create something that had ‘good craftsmanship’. This was hard to define, but to me that meant that I was going to force myself not to take any shortcuts or anything, but really sit down and try to make a piece of hardware as presentable as possible and also as functional and sturdy as possible. I pushed myself to achieve this in my project in different ways. With the box, I went through a prototype phase to understand how the shutterbox design worked. I then considered multiple ways of modifying the design in different ways to get the effects I wanted. I also spent a lot more time than I ever expected on making sure that everything was going to match and line up. As I said above, the box was an accomplishment in itself, and I feel like I made something satisfactory.
Another aspect was implementing a real MIDI jack. This to me makes the piece more of an actual functional piece of equipment. It’s not just an arduino project that can spit out MIDI over USB, but the fact that it is MIDI capable for physical electronic instruments adds an air of professionality to it. Something else with the circuit design That I did was abandon bread boards. Although the circuit was originally designed on a bread board, I transferred it to perf board. All of the connections are soldered as well. I had done some soldering before, but this really put my skills to the test. I’m happy with the end result, because again I feel like pushing this project past a breadboard phase and choosing to hardwire it gives it a more professional feel, or beyond just a DIY project.
My secondary learning goal with this project was to learn more about press fit boxes. I did learn a lot about them, and I think i’ve talked about them enough already, so I’ll spare whoever is reading this.
My final main learning goal with the project was to become better at implementing my ideas, and turning them into real world pieces. This is a bit hard to explain what this means, but to me this means something along the lines of: How can I get his “idea” nailed down, and turn it into a “thing”, and not just a thing that carries out the idea but a real finished product. For me, I have a lot of ideas, but many of them never actually go through the metamorphosis of becoming reality. Along the way, many things change, and sometimes you realize you have to compromise or something, and the ‘thing’ you make is sort of far away from the original idea. As someone who has been making art of different varieties for a number of years, i’ve become accustomed to ‘going with the flow’ and accepting these compromises, or using them as points of inspiration in themselves. With this project I wanted to take a more deterministic approach, to me meaning that I would pre-plan everything, and try to design each step , with no compromises or shortcuts, and maintain a consistent methodical and ‘contractor-like’ attitude rather than an ‘artist-type’ attitude.
Although this is the hardest learning goal to explain, I feel like it was important to me because as I progressed through the course, This idea of craftsmanship kept popping up. For example, a really great project for me was the textiles project. I spent a lot of time creating a plushie, and I’m extremely proud of what I made, but there were some parts that were rushed through. I know from experience that some things can be rushed through, because having a finished product is a lot more important in some cases, so I tend to just get things out fast, and focus on making it real, not perfect. The course in general has taught me that making stuff is fun, obviously, but what really pays off is iterating through different designs, or redoing parts that were not created very well, and honing into something that you can really be proud of.
I believe this course has really given me more confidence with making things in general. Before this course, I had known how some of these things worked, and had assumed they were within my grasp. Things like arduino I felt like I could learn when I got a round to it, But with this class, it just kind of throws you into the pool and you have to learn to start swimming. So now that I’ve dealt with these things, I feel like I really can tackle bigger projects, that I know I wouldn’t be thinking about If I hadn’t had my experience. I suppose I do consider myself a maker, and I think I’ve sort of always been one. I’ve loved creating and making things my entire life, but I didn’t realize what makerspace or being a maker meant before having took the class. To me, being a maker is about really striving to do your best to create the things you want to make, the best that you can make them and committing your ideas to reality. Many people might think of something and say, “yeah, but I could never do that”, and shrug it off. I feel like a maker is someone that would say, “Hey, I can do something like that, using this tool I learned about before” or “Maybe so and so knows something about this, and they can help me make something”. I think that’s the most important thing about the makerspace community is the idea that anybody can come in and make their thoughts a reality. Not only this, but it can also be fun and easier than you might’ve thought.
Question 1: Show us what you made for your final project. Include at least two in-process photos and two final photos (or videos!) of your final project. Include a couple sentences about what challenges you faced and what you are most proud of but do not write a full step-by-step report of what you did.
I’ll start with the in-process pictures and go from there. Here was the state of my project in early December:
This is the version of the poster that I printed and presented during Wednesday’s project demo:
At long last, here is the link to the “final” version of my photoshop project. I’m using quotations here since I’m of the opinion that there is always room for improvement, but in light of my learning goal of avoiding perfectionism(which I’ll discuss later), I think this project is in a finished state that I am more than happy with.
I’m linking some of these images externally since the full-res file is 75MB, and google has a good way to see the full quality of the image when it’s hosted on their site.
Overall, I found that one of the main challenges I faced was finding time during the weeks leading up and through finals. I’m pretty good about scheduling my time, but I had a lot on my plate so I often had to squeeze some hours into this project before bed or between classes. I also found that the quality of the reference photo I received made a huge difference in how easy it was to implement into the project. Simple and contrasting backgrounds made cutouts much easier to set up, but also the color and intensity of lighting made a big impact on the final image as well.
I think I’m most proud of my work on Michal (the guy blowing bubblegum on the left side of the image), and Ted (the guy drinking a particularly large bottle on the right side of the image), as the color tones matched well and felt very integrated into the project. I think the biggest compliment I received while working on this project was that someone who was initially seeing my work didn’t realize at first that Ted was even photoshopped in! I also think I did a good job on photoshopping Gamora (the green woman), since the color tones fit well and I was able to build on my experience with Scott’s face swap to produce something that I felt was high quality in a relatively short amount of time (I think I got that one done in under 30 minutes!).
Question 2: What were your learning goals for your final project? Write at least one paragraph per learning goal about what you hoped to learn as you worked on this final project and what you actually learned.
Some questions to help your thinking: What did you learn that surprised you? Did you meet your goal? If you failed to meet your goal, how did you iterate your plan and what did you learn in that process? Are you happy with your final project? Is your final project meaningful to you? Why?
Learning Goal 1: Learn the basic / intermediate techniques of compositing in photoshop, and utilize these techniques to produce a poster that is cohesive
I was surprised to learn how many different tools and techniques can be used to get the results that I want. I think there’s a level of mastery in photoshop I hope to achieve in which I’m not just using the tools that can get the job done, but I’m also using the tools that get the job done the most efficiently. For example, I didn’t learn until the near-end of the project that there was a special photo filter that could make images more orange / blue depending on my preference. Since the reference image for the project has a lot of orange light, this made my job a LOT easier! What used to take 4 adjustment layers across 15 minutes could now be done with 1 layer in 2 minutes with this photo filter.
I also learned a lot more about efficiently cutting out people from images and learning how to use better practice for organizing my project in general. Back in high school, I would use the eraser tool to cut people out, but this is a destructive action and therefore it was much more difficult to “un-erase” something. For this project, I wanted to do things right, so I made very liberal use of layer masks to accomplish the cutouts I wanted while still maintaining image quality and accessibility.
Overall, my goal was met.
Learning Goal 2: Understand the complexities and concerns with making an image for a poster
I have never worked with posters before, and learning about their high-quality prints put a whole new emphasis on maintaining image quality that I hadn’t dealt with before. Overall, I think I did a good job with image quality given my limitations. My original reference photo of the avengers was not a high quality as the poster I wanted to print, but photoshop’s built-in image upscaling technology did a pretty okay job making it work. I contacted the original owner of the image to see if I could obtain / purchase the higher-resolution version of the image, but unfortunately I never got a response. I’m very thankful that we live in an era of phones with great cameras, as every reference photo I got was high quality and looked great in the final poster.
Learning to use the poster printer was also a bit tricky at times to get the correct formatting, but I was able to get the help of people at the Makerspace to assist me in understanding how the poster worked and what settings to use. I think at this point I’d feel good about taking care of a poster print on my own now!
Overall, my goal was met.
Learning Goal 3: Balance time spent on the project to ensure completion and avoid the goal of “perfection”
This goal was probably one of the more difficult ones to achieve, but I did a good job of accomplishing it. I started the project with 10 people initially, and as I made progress on getting reference photos and implementing people into the project, I carefully assessed whether I wanted to add more people until I got to the final amount of 20 people. Some elements of the project didn’t look quite right to me, but I often assured myself of the fact that some changes to the project would take a long time and have a very minimal impact, so I chose not to focus on them. Once I had all of the faces implemented, I worked on adding some additional elements and decided to call it a day. While I’m sure I could spend another 100 hours getting this project to perfection, I feel confident that I’m happy with the work I’ve created thus far and can move on to something new if I choose to do so.
Question 3: After rereading your lab assignment write-ups, what is the most significant thing you have learned over the course of these assignments? This is not a question about tool learning, but rather a question about yourself as a learner.
Some questions to help your thinking: Have you become more comfortable with certain kinds of tasks? Have you surprised yourself with what you enjoyed doing? Do you feel you’ve developed your confidence as a maker and what does that look like?
In light of the learning goal I just mentioned, I think the most significant thing I’ve learned is accepting that I’m a novice at most of the areas that we worked in across assignments, and that I can feel accomplished and proud of my work even if it’s not the most glamorous or perfect result. I felt very prone to mistakes while working on textiles in particular, and even though the head of my fox kinda fell off a week after finishing it, I’m proud of the effort I put into it and how good it turned out looking despite it being my first attempt at textiles since my middle school sewing class.
Question(s) 4: Has this course spurred you to think about yourself differently? And/or future goals and interests in life? Do you consider yourself a maker? What does that mean to you now that it didn’t at the beginning of the semester? What does it mean to you to call yourself a maker (or not)? Who do you think should call themselves a maker?
I think this course has spurred my to think about myself differently. I feel much more empowered in regards to the different creative outlets I can take advantage of, and I also feel much more open to try making something new in order to learn a new skill or solve a problem that I used to think was impossible to get done myself. I think overall I would consider myself a maker, it terms of the fact that I feel that I have the capability to make something myself instead of just buying something from amazon.
People can call themselves whatever they want, but I think I’d say someone is a maker if they choose to engage in any sort of DIY or tinkering project that they feel personally invested in.
For my final composite, I created a decoration to be placed somewhere in my family’s house. I made this decoration for my mother as she is very near and dear to my heart. I have not gotten her a gift in forever, so I decided making one would be better than buying something generic. This way, I can have fun flexing my creative muscles with purpose. I want something guests can be surprised by when entering the house.
The decoration idea started as a diorama. I came up with ideas of pretty 3D models, but I designed the diorama with intention for it to be interactive. Specifically, I wanted something people can pick up or play with within the diorama. For people who do not interact with the composite, the decoration is nothing more than a 3D artwork. While I like art, I appreciate utility even more so I went for the most fun art I could. The decoration is composed of multiple pieces that created individually and then later put together on a stage.
The first piece is a wooden box frame that holds everything together from the background scenery to the main objects on display. Using the MakerCase website, I downloaded a box .svg file to create the stand. I used the laser cutter for the box as well as the various shapes for the background. This was relatively easy as we have done a lot of work with lasers.
I completed my learning goals using the woodshop tools for the first time to clean and connect the wooden pieces together. I was also interested in learning how to use the mill, but I was told it would not perform as well. It takes a lot of time to learn the software and for the mill to make cuts. My goal was to make a gradient landscape. That could easily take 10+ hours depending on how much of a gradient scale it is. Instead I iterated the project with foam to create a colorful grass surface with water down the middle.
The second part was also a set. I borrowed a design online for articulated monkeys. I decided to print two of them in different colors and replace half the corresponding parts for a multi-color effect. Using their curved hands and feet, they are able to clasp on to different parts of the diorama. They can be played with and put back anywhere. Unfortunately, the apes were printed with exact precision to allow moving the limbs but not removing them.
The third and final piece is simply a hidden battery pack attached to a breadboard with a programmable AT Tiny. I attached the wires using basic soldering techniques and programmed blinking and fading patterns for the lights. The soldering and programming were both learning goals of mine. While the soldering was easy, making it aesthetically appealing is difficult. I could have soldered the wires into the breadboard if I had a different one, but it was not really a problem. The wires held on enough to support the weight of both apes.
The programming on Arduino was relatively simple because I had access to sample codes. I took the samples and modified the numbers. The lights shine a bright green from opposite ends of the box. The wires also served as vines from which the apes could hang. A gentle push causes the apes to swing back and forth quickly.
The most significant thing I learned over this course was the importance of planning your project. Sketches, prototypes, and write ups help make the process smoother. There were times where I created something and got an unexpected result such as the case with the ape pieces. Had I made room for errors, I could have improved the design and printed it again. However, I learned that I can make quick decisions to find use in my mistakes as well. I am significantly more confident with every tool that we worked with, even though I did not apply all of them in the final project.
I think of myself now as a creative more than before. That is not to say that I was not creative, but I was never able to bring my ideas to fruition. I can definitely consider myself a maker. Thanks to this course I am able to plan steps for a project and follow each one to make the result perfect. Each step of the process is important and requires equal focus. Similar to a chain, the steps of a project are dependent on one another. If I go over any one step too quickly, it could cost me quality for the rest of the steps. Applied creativity is the true definition of a maker. If you can form ideas and create physical/digital versions of them, you are a maker.
For my final project, I decided I wanted to make a spider robot that would walk using four legs. I wanted to incorporate a raspberry pi and allow Bluetooth connectivity since I have never used either of those before, and I wanted to learn how to use them. In order to complete this project I needed to do the following things:
Learn how to use the raspberry pi and program it using python in order to control the four legs of the robot
Learn how to utilize the Bluetooth functionality of the raspberry pi in order to give the robot commands from my phone
Cut the pieces of the robot using the laser cutter
My first step to the project was to create the CAD drawings that I would cut using the laser cutter.
CAD Drawing created using Fusion 360
I ended up having two servos for each of the legs. The first servo would allow each leg to move in an arc in the xy plane. The second servo would be used to rotate about the z axis. This would allow the robot to pick up its leg and then move to a different position. Once the leg is in a specific position, friction would then allow the robot to move forward. Luckily, I was able to find a bunch of different models for the individual servos, the raspberry pi, and the servo control board. This allowed me to easily model everything together resulting in each of the pieces fitting together. The main issue I had with assembly was actually the servos themselves. The hardware screws didn’t really work out when attaching the wooden legs to the servos, so I had to add some super glue in order to get it to stay on. The servos also still had some give to them though.
This is what the current robot looks like:
I was pretty happy with how the body turned out and how the raspberry pi and the control board fit. The screws I used were very good at holding in place.
The coding portion was actually pretty straightforward. I had to install some python packages onto the raspberry pi then I was able to get right into coding which was nice. Python was easier than I expected since I was able to import packages then use them pretty easily. It was pretty similar to coding on the Arduino just with a different language and access to more packages.
I ended up coding different functions for each walking process. So I had a function for moving forward, a function for moving right, etc.
For the Bluetooth, I ended up using the pybluez package that would allow me to start a bluetooth client and connect with my phone. I downloaded an app called bluetooth serial controller that allowed me to send data to the raspberry pi. In the program, depending on the data sent, that would determine what moving function to use.
The following is the code I ended up writing:
In the end, two of the servos ended up dying me once I finished the build, so I wasn’t able to get it to implement and test all of the movement functions that I wrote, but I was able to get it to scoot forward. This was a little disappointing and in hindsight I should have used more robust servos. I believe the servos would have been strong enough to life the robot, but they had a ton of give to them and I would have rather had it where I would screw the wooden parts into the servos. I was able to get the bluetooth working and I was happy with what I was able to do with the raspberry pi. It allowed me to learn more about something I have always been curious about.
Overall, I really enjoyed this course. I always enjoyed tinkering with things, so being able to do that in a class was fun.
First, I bought a cheap solar panel, a battery, and a solar controller to connect the two and provide an output. After a bit of googling to make sure they were compatible, I was able to get a straightforward solar battery, capable of (slowly) charging my phone:
And then on the software side, I got a simple website up on a raspberry pi. However, I wanted a way to prove that the website and the raspberry pi are connected, so I added a button to the website that would turn on/off an LED on the pi. (Forgive my home’s awful wifi password)
And this is the final result after hooking up the raspberry pi to the solar controller, and toggling the LED light from the website!
Learn to work with solar panels/controller
This was one goal that, like many other skills I learned in the class, was much more accessible than I anticipated. Like with 3D printing, laser cutting, soldering or sewing, it wasn’t a hard skill to learn, but I was just intimidated because it sounded difficult. Learning to hook up the battery and solar panels to the solar controller was as straightforward as googling the terms I didn’t know and making sure the voltages matched up and that the final output current would be enough for the raspberry pi. Most of the things I imagined would be impossibly intimidating were mostly taken care of by the solar controller, making sure that the battery isn’t overcharged and keeping things safe.
Learn how to use a domain name
This was something that was surprisingly hard to figure out. Not because it was hard on its own, but because all of the available resources seemed to assume I know a lot more or a lot less than I did. So many guides I found either suggested that I use a click-and-drag website creator like Squarespace, or began diving into the huge world of multiple servers and web frameworks. Eventually, scrapping together bits and pieces from a couple of online sources and shoehorning in the few things I knew, I was able to get the domain to point to the raspberry pi website.
Starting the project earlier
I originally said in the project proposal that I would send Duncan a project update twice a week, every Sunday and Wednesday. I was (almost) able to do this, missing a day or two and often sending them on either the Monday or Thursday. However, I did keep pretty well on the overall track of spending a week on the power supply, a week on the raspberry pi website, and the last week polishing both.
Maintainable & neat on both software and hardware
The polishing week was definitely a great idea because otherwise It would’ve been several light and heavy things dangling from each other by rather thin wires. In the video, you can see that the battery, controller, and solar panel are one cohesive unit 🙂
The code was also surprisingly simple.
Divided up into three parts, the first third sets up the server on the raspberry pi. It starts “listening” for new connections, and where the data for the website formatting/style is stored.
The second third sets up the pi so that it can control the GPIO pins. These are the external pins on the raspberry pi, and is what I use to power and unpower the LED.
The last third actually controls the LED based on the the website visits. When someone clicks the button, it checks if the light is on and runs a command that toggles it. Then, it sends them the index.html file which is the same website again, redirecting them to the same page.
When I first saw this website, the immediate thing that went went through my mind is the thought “wow, I wish I knew enough about the technologies involved to be able to do that. But with so much electrical and website-hosting knowledge involved, I’m sure I’ll be able to in a few years.” Really, I gave up before I even begun. I did no research, instead I just trusted that I wouldn’t be able to do it and instead assumed that I’ll eventually be able to do, without any sort of timeline. After taking this class though, I learned that I do that very often. I wanted to take this opportunity to look back at something that I’ve dismissed before and really work through it without any preconceptions about its difficulty or possibility. I think that after this class and the assignments, I’ll be a lot more eager to take on new skills and challenges without being intimidated by them.
This course has definitely been my favorite class this semester, and one of my favorite in all of my courses so far. It’s also made me realize that “making” is something that I had always enjoyed, but never had a word for. In my highschool was a room called the “Engineering Room” and it was just a place with free supplies and tools open for anyone to come in and use. It was my favorite room to spend nearly all of my after-school time in, and it was what made me pursue a major in Mechanical Engineering. However, when I came to the school and started taking courses, I found it to be so much different from what I did in the “Engineering Room”. I was suddenly aware of the difference between tinkering and engineering, and realized I liked one much more than the other. It was because of this that I switched majors into Computer Science, because it allowed me to tinker so much more than Mechanical Engineering had.
And now after taking this course, I learned that there is a word and a community behind the thing I loved to do: makers. I had always called it tinkering, prototyping, or “lego-bricking”, but I’m so glad to have discovered that the true word is Making, and that there are millions of like-minded people dedicated to create a welcoming and accessible community of teachers and learners alike.
This assignment was somewhat ambitious. Not as ambitious as the sewing project, but very similar. My biggest challenge was I could not get the 3-D printer to print the flower Taurus constellation so that I could make a mold of it. My first print failed as did my second and third attempts. The second attempt, I was able to see why it did not work. It was too many loops and the loops were not connecting to the bed of the machine. It was just clumpy globs of plastic. I discussed this problem with Maxx and we attempted to tweak the design via photoshop (I had initially used Inkscape and then, transferred it to TinkerCad). Maxx showed me how to tweak my original silhouette via Adobe Photoshop. Yet, when I reprinted it, it still failed in the print. Consequently, I did not try again, but I did think about trying to use the silly putty and molding the shape from my bare hands, but I did not have the time to do so.
My next challenge was I did not make a good mold for the rings. I had made an open-face mold initially, and the rings were misshapen. After talking to Duncan, I had partially done the molds correctly as the silicone molds had enveloped the 3-D printed rings completely. However, the silicone molds were not used, because they had not cured properly and were both “juicy” and hard, at the same time. The silly putty-esque mold that I had covered the rings with were too hard to remove the models from that I decided to make them open-faced. When I attempted to make two open-face molds, they did not sit together on top of each other as they should. They just fell off, so I tried to remedy the situation, but should have made entirely new molds, instead of trying to connect two separate molds.
My learning goal was to learn how to use Epoxy resin as it was an entirely unknown medium. As I had mentioned in my proposal, I have made jewelry before, both wire-wrapped and using melted silver. I enjoyed those forays and wanted to try something new.
Epoxy resin was a learning curve as I was not sure how it worked. I did watch a few YouTube videos and I read the instructions from the box very carefully. My first examples were really bendy when I pulled them from the molds and I was concerned that I had not gotten the ratios right. It looks like I pulled them too soon and that’s why they were very flexible.
As for reaching the targets I set for myself, I definitely did better about coming into the lab more often. I found that for my other assignments that I did not have the time to come in the way the assignments needed me to. This is why I gave myself specific days to come into the lab. It kept me accountable and forced me to go, even when I was tired. However, I still needed to have longer time to work on projects. Like the previous assignments, I felt rushed and that I did not have the amount of time I needed to complete them. For instance, I was still putting finishing touches Wednesday morning. I did iterate and included glass in my project, but I should have requested extra time outside of the normal business hours.
I believe that I became much more comfortable with the tools and software needed in the class. I am not an expert, but I could work any of these in a pinch. I had used a makerspace before and was very interested in learning more of those skills. Unfortunately, I will never be an electrician as the assignment with the copper tape was completely out of my purview. I could not get it to work, even after following the drawings that were given to me. I feel like my favorite assignment was the sewing section. Although I am not the best, it was the most fun that I had this semester and it might be because it is the most practical of the applications we learned.
Overall, I still would not call myself a “maker.” While I enjoyed the assignments and I have definitely have spoken positively about the class to my fellow Library and Information Science graduate students, particularly those who are interested in working with youth and teens, I personally do not see me doing some of these items in the future. It’s most likely because I struggled with having the time and energy to adequately devote to this class. The open hours conflicted with my availability. No matter how much I enjoy something, if I do not have the time to devote to it, I personally believe that I should not use the terminology. I believe “Makers” are anyone who has the time to devote to creating any type of product. Anyone can be a maker as long as they dedicate time to creation. I just do not have the leisure time necessary to devote to any product creation.
The process of working with Arduino and motors began with our in-class activity, in which we needed to make use of a motor in some way/shape/form. After being inspired by our rooster-themed scratch paper, I decided to build a scene that involved a man in a house opening his front door, seeing the rooster that had likely been obscenely loud that morning, and then angrily shuts the door.
Initial sketch for in-class design.
Here it is in action!
And here’s a view of the inside of the house:
The hardest part of working with this setup was aligning the servo to move the door in the way that I wanted to. I wound up benefiting from using a flexible pipecleaner to represent the angry man’s arm, since I didn’t have to get the angles exactly right to get some good movement. Playing with the arduino code was fun, I have a CS background so I felt pretty confident moving forward with the later iterations of this week’s assignment.
Onto the main project! Since I only had access to two motors, I wanted to try basing my design off of a water strider:
They seem to have a good sense of balance since they can walk on water, and while I had no expectations for my robot to do the same, I think the long, straight legs would correspond well to the way that I could setup the servos.
I designed the strider bot to use it’s front 2 legs to move, with another two legs in the back and the front to help with overall balance.
These legs would be put on an angle so that they weren’t vertically sweeping back and forth. I planned to make the base of the bot out of some cardboard, the legs out of chopsticks, and strap it all together with some good ol’ scotch tape.
sketch for water strider bot, including a top and front view!
One of the more unexpected challenges with arduino programming for this bot is that the code has to run single-threaded. Normally I’d like to have the legs programmed seperately and then just run at the same time, but since the code could only run on a single thread, I had to figure out how to setup the legs to move differently within the same for loop. It was a bit tricky to handle, but after finicking with delays and start values for angles, I had something that was relatively close to what I envisioned.
Constructing the bot was a bit tricky, since I had to sit the servos on a very particular angle to get the results I wanted. My roommate recommended that I try cutting holes in the cardboard base I was using to help get the angle I wanted, and I think that worked out pretty okay! I setup the holes and then went crazy with scotch tape to get the motors to stay where I wanted them.
I also found a lot of difficulty getting the static legs to work right. taping them vertically was tricky, and putting them on an angle was also difficult. For the sake of the prototype, I tried using both a vertical and angled orientation to see which one worked out better. For the angled legs, I cut V-shaped holes on the edge of the cardboard and slid them into place, and securing with scotch tape. That worked pretty well!
As you can see in the video, the StriderBot wasn’t exactly keen on wanting to move around. I also had some issues with the scotch tape not adhering well, and there were many failed video attempts where I would have the bot start trying to move, but then a leg would fall off or something.
For StriderBot 2.0, I wanted to counteract some of the non-moving issues by changing the angle of the static legs to be less vertical, so that the moving legs would push against the ground more. I also accidentally discovered that if I put all of the legs at the same angle, the top ends of the chopsticks could be taped together to provide some additional structural integrity!
I also wanted to implement something at the end of the servo chopsticks that would give more traction when the bot was moving around, so I attached wrappers to the moving feet.
In addition, I decided to secure some of the loose ends of the robot with Duct Tape. The only duct tape I had in the house was wood-themed, so between that and the cardboard and the chopsticks, striderbot has some good woodland camouflage going for it.
I also changed the pacing of the bot’s movements so that it would move back and forth a tad bit quicker.
And here is the redesigned bot!
As you can see, the results were still less than ideal for this revision, so I would need to pursue either stronger servos, or a better grip on the legs. Perhaps sandpaper might be a good option.
And here is the final version of the code for my robot:
For this project, I decided to push myself outside of my comfort zone and dive into a project I had seen created on YouTube using Epoxy resin and solid wood. The challenges in this project were the wood cutting, utilizing the router table, and pouring the Epoxy resin. I had never used wood stain or finish before, but this turned out amazing and brought out the natural grain of the wood. The Epoxy resin did give me some trouble from the hole that I thought I had filled with hot glue, some of the resin leaked through, making it uneven, but I luckily caught it and put a tissue to under the hole to fill the gap.
My first learning goal was to learn the basics of woodworking. I stated this as my goal because I could always envision myself learning how to use a Laith and I gained a lot of interest in this while seeing on Instagram all the fantastic things that I could create using wood and epoxy resin. I definitely learned a ton about how to use a router, a circular saw and the basics of sanding and finishing woodwork throughout this process. My goal was to get hands-on with cutting the wood myself, and Brandon and Neil helped me accomplish this using the Fab Lab equipment. I originally was going to utilize the CNC machine to bore out the channel for the neopixels, creating a design using Autodesk, but Brandon suggested we use the router table because it was faster and more efficient. From that point, it was all about using wood glue and clamps to get the base together, and then using a drill and bore bits that would allow for me to place the Neodymium magnets where they needed to be to support the structure of the light.
My next learning goal was to use Epoxy resin for the first time. From the beginning, I thought this would be sort of dangerous because of all the warnings on the professional-grade epoxy. I learned from many YouTube videos that utilized this resin that all you need to do is make sure that the area you are pouring is well ventilated and you are wearing a mask. Once I did this, I had no problems pouring it inside, and it turned out way better than I thought. I also utilized an opaque resin color to make the entire light look like it was a solid color, white throughout, and the whole piece turned out fantastic.
My third learning goal as I revised my original was to be diligent in completing the project on time and not to let little imperfections set me back. I accomplished this in many ways, but from the beginning, I set myself on a schedule. I decided that I needed to get all the pieces cut out and finished two weeks before the final presentation date, to which I accomplished before that deadline. From that point, I made sure to go through and test my electrical components and the application for controlling them over and over on my phone to make sure there were no problems with Bluetooth connectivity and that my micro-USB charger was functioning correctly. I made some mistakes along the way, like initially not placing the cut out for the charger on the bottom end of the box, which forced me to change the configuration on the inside to one that didn’t utilize the space most efficiently. Still, I am happy that I made this mistake and made it a part of my project. Overcoming my OCD in this project was the hardest part because its easy to see errors at the end of the maker, but in the end, I am so happy that it turned out to be attractive design, and for my first woodworking project I am incredibly proud of the result.
Throughout this entire endeavor of learning in the maker space, I have surprised myself over and over again from the beginning to the end of this semester. My personal opinion going into this course was that my technical background and analytical side would be all I needed to succeed in the class. As I learned early on, this is not just enough to be successful in the class and that I needed something more to push me forward. As I progressed in this class, I think the central aspect of my ability to create was doing things that I enjoyed as opposed to just meeting the criteria of the assignments. In the sewing section I realized how fun it was to change the stitching patterns on the machines and even though I was basically finished with my plushie early on, before I stitched it all together I went over all the stitches again just for fun in a different pattern to make it stronger I thought. Another example was the Arduino unit and the pom bot creation. I thought it would be awesome to make a little housing for the unit and spent so much time enjoying doing that that I actually neglected the design part of it and learned that I must keep a balance between enjoyment and fulfilling the project criteria. Once I found this balance I really got into the groove and looked forward to continuing my project ideation and execution much more.
I believe the course has propelled me to find what exactly I want to do later in my life. As many of my friends have told me from showing them what I made in this class throughout the semester, I definitely should pursue a career in building. I find that to be something I have been thinking about a lot recently, If I want to go the traditional route in finding a 9-5 job outside of school or if I want to open a woodworking shop or be a tinkerer in my daily life. I see myself being a maker for the rest of my life, and I know even if I do pursue a typical 9-5 job that I will always see areas for tinkering and the need for making things. I think that those who should refer to themselves as a maker are people who just see that there are so many things that could be improved with a little bit of thought, or those who just want to create what they see. Everyone is innately a maker, I believe; I think that some people are just more technically minded in understanding the intricacies of what it takes actually to build something.
For my final project I chose to create a set of knife whetstones and a wooden base to hold and store them. Having no prior knowledge of woodworking, this project was an introduction to a completely new topic to me, and I needed a lot of help from the TAs to build the base. I didn’t expect to actually go to the CU Woodshop to get the wood, but it was awesome that James was willing to meet me on a Saturday and show me how to pick what to get. One unexpected challenge was that we needed to make a rip cut across the whole board and plane down the thickness. However, the shop said they wouldn’t be able to do that until Tuesday, which would be too late. So we just bought the board, and I had to change some dimensions of the design to account for this. Neil then managed to use a circular saw to cut the board into the right lengths, and he explained the whole process as he did so. Thanks to their help, I was able to finish the base, and I’m definitely proud of how it turned out. I also learned how to actually sharpen knives, and after using the whetstones I could definitely tell a difference! (Look at how thin the tomato slice is….. amazing.)
I established three learning goals for this project. In the later projects for this class I was getting bad at turning things in on time, so my first learning goal was to have the project done one day before it was due. I did manage to meet this deadline, but I finished my project on that day so it was cutting it close. I spent too much time in the planning phase that I only had a week or so to gather the materials and build the actual components, pushing up these steps to the deadline.
The first design I made on TinkerCAD to get a better visualization of what I wanted
The second goal was to set up periodic benchmarks of progress to ensure that I completed the project incrementally rather than procrastinating up until the last minute and doing it all at once. At first I thought I was making steady progress by fully using class time to research designs and draw out my own. It turned out, however, that because I didn’t set up the entire benchmark plan, I lost track of how much time each step should take and spent too long planning. So I initially did complete the project in steps, but at the due date drew closer, I had to do a lot of things quickly and didn’t have as comfortable a buffer space between each step as I had envisioned.
The last goal was to learn about a subject completely new to me in order to practice teaching myself new things and doing the research on my own. I chose woodworking because it is very practical to know, as you can use it to build furniture, hand carvings, home improvement structures, and all sorts of other things. Because it’s so useful and there’s so much to learn about it, I wanted to make this project a sort of introduction to it in order to continue learning after the class is over. I was definitely satisfied with the knowledge that I gained from this project, as both James and Neil were very helpful in teaching me the basic tools, terminology, and materials of the craft.
Picking out the right board at the CU Woodshop
Overall I am really happy with my final project. I may have still procrastinated a little on it and not fulfilled every goal exactly, but I got the most important things out of it: 1) the project itself works as I can see the improvement in my knives, and 2) I got a good experience of learning about a new field and using more advanced materials in making things. I think the only further adjustments I would like to make to it is to add a clear varnish to the wood and to insert small rubber bumpers on the bottom of the tiles and the wooden base in order to prevent everything from sliding around. This project is meaningful to me because I will continue to use it after the class ends, and it has piqued my interest in pursuing these kinds of projects in the future.
All the materials for the whetstones
Throughout the class, I have realized how much of a perfectionist I am, and how because of that I either go all-out on a project or I’m pretty unmotivated or discouraged from working on it. But ironically at the same time I’m a terrible procrastinator. So the repeating pattern often ended up being that I would plan out a huge grandiose idea and get super excited for it, but then would remain in that idealistic planning stage for too long until the deadline was too close. Then I would get stressed about executing the whole plan but nevertheless would do all it took to get it done; sometimes I made the deadline and sometimes I didn’t. But fundamentally, I hate making something I can’t be proud of at the end. The quality of the end product must be worth my time and effort, so I want to do everything it takes to make it good.
One thing that I really appreciate about this course is that it has sort of brought back a side of me that missed having fun working with these kinds of cool projects. I actually enjoyed making different things as a kid, eg. knitting and crocheting, but I stopped as I got older because I just got too busy with school and other things. After three and a half years of computer science classes in my undergrad career, this kind of environment of creating things was really refreshing and fun to work in. I think this course has enhanced the kind of maker I personally am, as now I can make not just software and web apps but also tangible objects. After this class I think my future interests lie in working with sewing and textiles, and also potentially woodworking and furniture making. (Lowe’s is like….. basically a store for building your own Makerspace in your garage, hahah.)
As for my understanding of what a maker is and what it means to call myself a maker, I think the foundation for being a maker lies in the mindset. Many times people might say, “Oh, why do you need to make that yourself when you can just buy it somewhere? You’d save so much time and money!” Sometimes that is the case and that makes more sense. But this course has taught me that the joy of making lies not in the product, but in the process of creating it. Joy comes from the inspiration and inception of an idea, the adjusting of mistakes as you go along through trial and error, and finally seeing your vision come to life and being proud of it. This is the process of making art. In addition to it, though, making things yourself allows you to use the things you’ve made for yourself and for others. And when you give things you’ve invested the time and effort into making yourself, they hold much more meaning to you and the recipient.
I’ve had a lot of fun in this class, with both the creations I’ve made and the people I’ve gotten to interact with along the way. Thanks to all the course staff for this experience, I’m grateful I got to take a class like this before graduating.
The final product: simple, functional, and elegant!
My final project was to make a smart garage door controller so I could check if I had remembered to close the garage door, and if not, I could close it remotely.
A lot of the programming and development started with a setup like this:
This was what allowed me to test my code and make sure things were working as expected without having to open and close my garage door needlessly. The end result ended up looking like so:
The web interface ended up very function over form, or utilitarian since the focus was not on the looks, at least not at this time.
Some of the challenges I faced doing this project were the fact that I decided I wanted to use Django as the web engine and framework. This was due to the fact that Django is a Python-based web framework, and one of the easiest ways to interface with a Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins is through Python. I had never written a web page in Django, so this was new ground for me and it required the building of a new skill from scratch before I could even start making what I wanted to. I suppose the part I am most proud of is the simple fact that I managed to implement a few good security measures to make sure this system cannot be easily abused to gain entry to my house.
My learning goals were first to learn how to interface with/use a Raspberry Pi’s GPIO pins, specifically within a web framework. My second learning goal was to reach out to one of the lab employees for some feedback on my project since I had not done so all semester long.
The technical goal was a rather straight forward one and I hoped it would be a lot like any other python programming I had done in the past. In reality, it turned out that using a framework like Django to write web pages kind of makes you rethink how a webpage is presented. There are a lot more interconnected parts and what is usually a simple web page in a language like PHP/HTML written in a single file, is now spread across multiple files all of which are concerned with not only the presentation of the web content, but also the path where it is found in addition to the database connections.
The learning skill goal had more to do with trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. I had done other kinds of electronics projects in the past as a hobby, and still did some electronics repair, so for the most part, I tended to rely on my own experiences and skills for the projects in class. However, I realized I might be doing myself a great disservice by staying in my own head. So I reached out to Brandon at the lab to at the very least use him as a sounding board for ideas I could explore with my final project in the future. This proved very helpful, and allowed me to come up with some very interesting additions that could be done to the project.
I think the most important thing I have realized about myself is that I don’t think very well on paper. a sketch or a plan rarely made it to paper for me, it was usually constructed in my head. Typically, there was the situation where I had a general idea of the end result and some very coarse steps to get me there, and the details of how to do something would get filled in as I started doing it. This was actually rather useful since I did not feel like I had a script to adhere to, the project and the methods were still fluid in my mind so it allowed me some flexibility and adaptability when I would encounter an issue. It usually turned out that I would put the final plan on paper, after I had finished the project since I now had the final draft of it. I guess for me, writing it on paper makes it immutable, so I have a hesitance to starting there, I instead want to end there most in the form of documentation rather than a living document.
This course has not spurred me to think of myself differently, it has only affirmed who I thought I was and what I am capable of. I have always referred to myself as a tinkerer since I like to dabble in a variety of fields some deeper than others, but I at least wanted to know enough about something to understand it and the joy others may take from it, even if I did not share that joy. The term “maker” was not a word I was familiar with, much less something I would refer to myself as. I had heard it in situations where the word seemed to be more than just what the word implied, makers are not just people that make something, they are not just inventors. Those are things makers do, but it is not all they do. Makers seem to also be involved at a community level. While that does seem to true, I realized it is not a trait specific to makers. As such, a maker can just be someone that makes things, however, I would not call myself a maker, for no reason other than I like the title I’ve given myself of tinkerer up to this point. Furthermore, I not really interested in titles like that, I just know I like to do what I like to do, others can call themselves makers, or they can call me a maker, but I always go back to the famous words of Bigweld from the Dreamworks movie Robots: “See a need, fill a need”.
I made a cat(pet) house for my final project. First, I made a comfortable bed that goes inside the house with a blanket and sewing machine. Then, I made the house with baltic birch wood and power tools (Neil helped me with the tools).
The biggest challenge I faced was wood kerfing. I wanted to make round edges for the house, and in order to do that I had to make small cuts on the wood and bend the wood. It was not just a time consuming process, but also a very difficult process that required concentration and accurate calculations. First, I had to measure the outer and inner radius of the round corners and divide the difference by the depth of the cuts. Neil explained to me the measuring and calculation methods. We used autoCAD to calculate and create the prototype for the kerfing. After creating the cuts however, the wood would not bend as desired, so we had to create additional cuts in between the original cuts. I realized that there still could be errors like this even when we have calculated and done everything accurately.
<prototyping on AutoCAD>
Second challenging part about wood kerfing was bending the wood after creating cuts. It required a lot of patience. As the wood was kind of thick, I had to heat/steam it with an iron and wet cloth. However, after an hour of heating and slowly bending the wood, the wood broke as one cut was totally bent in while other cuts were not bending it and sharing the pressure. I later glued the broken parts together, however the whole process of bending was pretty stressful as I had to be careful and hold the iron and wood for a very long time.
What I am proud of is successfully kerfing the wood. Although it was my biggest challenge, it turned out great at the end. It was such an advanced method to try on my first time ever working with woods, but I am very proud of my effort and the outcome.
My first learning goal was to successfully learn about the materials and the tools used in woodworking. I learned a lot about wood and tools through research and Neil’s explanations. I visited the wood shop to get a desirable wood material for building a cat house and learned that birch woods are cat friendly and also eco-friendly as birch tree grows fast so when the wood fell there is no disruption of biodiversity. Neil taught me general knowledge of woods such as the fillings on the wood board and grain direction. He also taught me the wood kerfing method and how it works (e.g., measuring the radius and creating cuts).
My second learning goal was to improve my sewing/textiles skills. It was challenging stitching through the thick blanket textile, so I had to use both auto and manual (to go slow and accurate) methods with the sewing machine. Also, I had to hand sew several parts of the bed such as the openings for the stuffing to go inside of. My sewing skills have improved overall as I have worked on several different projects involving sewing throughout this course.
My final learning goal was to apply and incorporate my creative design and usability ideas on an actual tangible object. I am pretty much satisfied with the design of the cat house as first, it has round edges for aesthetics and also safety, and second, it has good usability for the cats. I created two windows along with the door for the cats sneak through or put their hands through. Also, I wanted to make the cat house that could also be a good furniture in my house, so I made color choices that were modern (black and white) and not too fancy or noticeable.
The most significant thing I have learned that is not technical was being deeply involved in and enjoying the entire process of making. I have participated partially in art-related or creative projects before such as prototyping for an app development project, but being responsible for the whole process was a very cool experience and practice for me. From making design decisions, planning and prototyping to making, completing, and presenting the process and the outcome to a group of people required a lot of time and effort, but I really enjoyed doing it. Owning it, I’d say, gave me a passion for making, design thinking, and sharing.
First of all, I became more passionate about exploring and trying out new areas of making. Throughout the course, I learned a lot of different topics such as sewing, woodworking, arduino, and 3D printing. The more techniques and methods I learned, the more I gained interest in makerspace. I think being a maker is being able to apply your knowledge and skills on your work and sharing with the community. By sharing with the community doesn’t necessarily mean giving or donating your skills or products, but can simply mean sharing your thoughts, creativity, and passion with other people. I felt like the staff members of the fablab are doing a good job at this. I would like to consider myself as a maker if I participate in creative activities more often, which I am definitely planning on doing so. I was inspired a lot by my classmates’ projects, and I want to try out new areas of making.
For my final project, I knew I wanted to use the laser cutter extensively, as the laser cutter project was my favorite assignment in class. While I knew I wanted to use the laser cutter, I was not sure what to make with laser cutter for my final project. During my iteration project, James gave me the idea to make a board game from laser cutter, and from that idea, I decided to make a board game holder for my favorite board game, Settlers of Catan.
I made a card holder and board holder using laser cutting techniques learned in class, and a game piece called the ‘Robber’ using the resin printer. There were too many challeneges and screw-ups I faced during this project. One of the challenges was that the board was very big and it took an average of 40 minute per half of the board on the laser cutter, meaning that time was very limited when using the laser cutter. Also using acrylic for the card holder meant that it would not fit perfectly in place with the other pieces, as I learned later on, as acrylic has different properties from wood. The easiest part of this process was the resin printer, as all I had to do was load up a file and learn how to prepare the resin printer.
The learning goal I had was to take this project slow and steady, and not to make mistakes that would consume a lot of my time from the project. I failed to meet this goal, as there were several mistakes from materials and printers itself that forced me to redo several steps of the project many times.
At the end, I think this class has made me reflect about myself a little. These projects would have not been possible to do without asking for help from instructors and the various fablab employees. Also, the instances when I tried to do a project by myself without asking for help were the most disastrous ones, no matter how easy the project looked. These projects made me step out of my comfort zone to ask people for help and discuss what ideas they have, or what projects they are doing. I am a little sad that I only got to know less than half of the class, and the fact that I also missed an opportunity (final project fair) to talk to the other half and see what kind of projects they did, and get to meet new people in general.
I wish I had worked on this project during thanksgiving break, and communicated with my instructors more so I could have had time outside of open hours to work on this project. Even though this is a final project, there were so many things that I could have improved on to make the quality and the polish of this build much better. I feel as if for each project, there things I could have done better.
As a maker, I think I have the confidence to “make” something whenever if I have the desire to do so. I now know the resources and knowledge that are available for me to take on a project on my own. I used to think I am a creative person, but I do not think my assignments reflected my creativity at all. For each assignment, my end product always turned out to be something that does not look impressive at all, but rather simple. It always looked like it cost less time than it actually took to create. I think this is due to the nature of learning steps I had to take during the project, and how everything was very new to me. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this class, even if it was more time consuming that I expected. It felt like I was part of a community instead of a class.