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

Iteration Assignment – Andrew Holler

This week in Makerspace, iteration. One of the core concepts of our Makerspace course is designing, and in design one of the largest topics is iteration. Iteration is the concept of taking a project and repeatedly modifying it to gain new or different value. Our task was to take a past project of the semester and iterate upon it to create something from combining tools, mediums, and methods of making. I immediately knew that I wished to to do something with the Fab Lab’s laser engraver. Since the first project of the semester, name tags (see my original below), I’ve been wanting to laser cut again. This was an opportunity to do that. I particularly enjoy the design and creation process of projects using the laser engraver, and it’s fun to watch your project be made before you. I was excited to make it better so I began thinking of ways to use other experience from the class.

 

I tried thinking of what other assignments I could integrate into my project. Our assignment suggested using old 3D models that we may have. I found a 3D scan that we took of our head and shoulders (see below), and thought it would be quite fitting to have my profile engraved onto a name tag. I took a screen shot of my scanned 3D profile and included it into my design.

I reworked my old design and included more trees, a different font for my name, two layers of background mountains, and planned to paint two Colorado C’s onto the finished product. I would cut the left and right profiles of my face out of the name tag and replace it with clear acrylic. I would make deeper cuts and layer/burn according to image depth. Below you’ll see my results. I was very happy with how well it went. The only issue I ran into was having to use the Architecture lab’s laser engraver, as the Fab Lab’s was temporarily broken.

Below you’ll see the final product. This was created after laser-cutting my profile out of acrylic plastic, gluing the pieces in place with epoxy, and finally painting it with some acrylic paints.

Overall, I’d have to say that the iteration on my name tag not only worked, but also made it better. The design is more robust, has more elements, but still stays simple enough for a name tag. In addition, it expresses things about my personality and where I am from. This time around I was able to apply laser depths more effectively to give the effect of image depth. I was proud of the idea of using my profiles in my name tag and I think it gives a further personal aspect to the name tag. The font for my name is a more techy font and expresses my personality better. These are all reasons that I believe I made a successful iteration of a past project. An even further iteration of the project might even include LED’s to light up the profiles. However, I am proud and wouldn’t change it as it is now.

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment – Constellation Bear

This week, I chose to iterate on my original nametag assignment, pictured below. I enjoyed working with the laser cutter the first time, and felt that I could design something more aesthetically pleasing now that I had more experience in Inkscape. The Difference, Union, and Exclusion tools we learned during the sticker unit were very helpful during my design of this project. I also wanted to try my hand at painting the birchwood. For my design, I decided on a Trinket-powered twinkling LED constellation inside the shape of Ursa Major, the bear. Although this was an iteration on the nametag and used many of the same tools, I chose not to include my name, as I wanted to make a decoration I would actually hang up. This was exciting for me, since it felt like the first project I had gotten to completely design with almost no restraints. 

I had never worked with a Trinket before, but was able to build off my knowledge from the Arduino week. The Trinket has five pins, and I decided to use all five of them to power ten LEDs. This would allow me to fade five sets of two LEDs in and out at different intervals from one another, apparently randomly. 

During the paper circuits assignment, I learned that working with copper tape was significantly easier, cleaner, and flatter than soldering wires to LEDs. I couldn’t do all my power wiring with copper tape, since I had five sets of LEDs in parallel, and the tape would’ve crossed over itself. However, I did all the ground wiring with copper tape, and it saved me a significant amount of time and wire. Alternatively, if any of my classmates plan to solder for their final projects, I highly recommend using the helping hand clamps to hold your pieces steady. They saved me a good deal of time and headache.

I learned a lot from the iterative part of this project, Inkscape design, now that I had more design knowledge at my disposal. Unfortunately, since I was not iterating on the Arduino portion, I ran into some unanticipated issues with power draw. Two of the Trinket pins successfully light up their LEDs, but the two coin cell battery packs cannot light up all ten LEDs in their current configuration. 

For the final version of this project that I’ll keep in my apartment, I’ll most likely revamp this project with one long, parallel circuit, and remove the Trinket interface. This will allow me to power all the LEDs in parallel. After the video was taken, I also sanded down some of the LED surfaces so that the light wouldn’t be quite as blinding.

In conclusion, I’m really glad that this assignment was part of the curriculum. I enjoyed being able to come up with my own process and figure out the materials and procedures I needed to use for it. 

Continue Reading

AmyLi_Iteration Project

Before starting the project, I knew I wanted to do another iteration of the 3D project. I knew that the phone I made in the beginning looked unproportional and that I wanted to make it slightly better. Initially, I wanted to create a 3D action figure that uses a LED light, but I did some more brainstorming and decided to design a phone case with a fidget component attachment on the back. I wanted to do this because I wanted to create a more proportional 3D print and give it a function. I figured that many people carry their phone on them at all times and when it comes to people fidgeting, it’ll be more convenient for people to have a fidget component attached to their phone so that they can use it without having to carry both their phone and fidget toy.

 

While working on my project, I took my current phone case and measured the dimensions so that the 3D print would be proportional. Additionally, I used autoCAD to create the phone case because it has more available features such as fillets, extrusions, and the ability to assemble multiple parts.


I decided to draft a phone case by combing a component of the fidget cube and placing it at the back of the phone case. I measured the approximate comfortable distance to place the fidget component on the case. I ended up using the circular disc from the fidget cube because it produces no noise and it isn’t bulky, so it doesn’t interrupt the flat surface of the case.

I sent the 3D print through multiple (4) times, but I received an error for printing the circular disc or the fidget component at the back of the phone case. The case came out to be the correct proportions, but I couldn’t figure out why the disc kept on failing. I think it was because its too small for it to print, so I might have to create a wooden disc through laser cut or hand make in the woodshop. Other than that, the phone case come out with the correct proportions. Overall, it was nice to create another iteration of our old projects. The case came out fine, but it was stressful trying to create multiple 3D parts. I tried to send the print through so many times that I ended up getting frustrated.

  

 

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment – Nick Desai

The previous project I was least happy with was the vinyl sticker assignment, where I had a lot of trouble with designing the pieces so they would be easy to put together, and with aligning the vinyl layers on top of each other. I had a couple ideas by the end for how to do that better, but ran out of time to re-do the sticker. For this assignment, I used my ideas for improving the design – printing a bottom guide layer to help with alignment, and using the clear transfer tape to more easily see what I was doing – as well as mixing in laser cut acrylic parts and a NeoPixel strip controlled by an Arduino.

Here’s the old sticker, in all its misaligned glory:

 

For the next iteration, I changed the design so that the sword would be entirely etched onto clear acrylic, and the sticker would sit on top of it. Using a guide layer and clear transfer tape, as well as a couple improvements to the grouping of layers to take advantage of the guide layer and reduce the number of fiddly bits I had to work with, I made the next version of the sticker, which has much better alignment:

After that, I bought some acrylic (since none of the scrap was quite big enough) and cut out the sword piece.

I also figured out how to use a NeoPixel strip – I had to solder wires onto the contacts at the edge of the LED strip, since the strip didn’t have wires built in. The first strip I tested was buggy (even after verifying the connections were good, it had issues displaying on some of the LEDs), but I got a replacement, which worked fine.

Putting the LEDs and the acrylic together:

I really liked the result here, with how the light caught the engraving on the acrylic.

To make the piece stand up on its own, I laser cut some base pieces and glued them together. I also changed the code to cycle quickly through the rainbow, since I liked the visual effect that gave.

Continue Reading

Iteration – Rebecca Tu

This was my original nametag. I had created it out of wood.

When I created my original nametag, I had trouble laser printing the skyline since the Space Needle kept snapping or getting burnt off at the top. This made me realize that it would be better to try to use vinyl stickers for the shapes instead since the vinyl cutter would not make the thin shapes rip. I needed to stick them onto a material that would stick well, so it couldn’t be wood anymore. I used acrylic. This was how it turned out. 

Unfortunately, I had not meant for the acrylic to be so large compared to the skyline and the mountain. However, the laser cutter was broken for a while the day I went in to use it and there was a long queue so once it was fixed, I felt bad taking other people’s time if I were to reprint again. The edges look a little burnt because the first time I tried to cut it, it didn’t fully cut so I had to recut a second time.

The led light was easy to attach on. If I could do another iteration, I would shrink the acrylic size and enlarge the sticker size to hide the battery in the back.

Iteration part 2:
I actually decided to redo the vinyl sticker to make the mountains and the skyline fit better within the shape of the nametag.

Here is the most updated version:

Continue Reading

Iteration project – Eric Hallstrom

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

– Winston Churchill

This project turned out to probably be the most failed project in this course so far for me. I had two objectives, make a pouch with a 3D printer side and make a traffic light brodery picture on one side that lights up each light as you drag the zipper. Both of these objectives was to upgrade my previous sewn pouch that had neither of these features. However, the 3D printer side turned out to be really good but the failure was me sewing the fabric side way to tight so the pouch looks like a tight bended banana. Because of this failure my second objective failed because the room for the zipper is very tight and the pouch isn’t even straight.

Even though I had to drop the big failure of the project to begin with, let’s start explaining the journey that led up the failure. I got the idea to make the one sided pouch when we brainstormed ideas during last lecture and was very intrigued by the idea of combining different material. I also wanted to remake the pouch because I really enjoyed sewing last time we did that.

This project was basically divided into three parts. The first part was the 3D printing part where I got lots of help from Andrew. We did the print on the tassle 3D printer which was quite hardcore and I’m certain that it wouldn’t go as smooth as it did with Andrew’s help. The print took 29h and I didn’t have access to printer outside opening hours so the small success in this project is definitely because of Andrew.

The second part was the sewing part, this part consists of sewing the fabric to a pouch and combining the printed side with the fabric. The sewing part went fine and I managed to add a zipper inside the pouch which was a nice feature and helped a lot when working with the soft circuits inside. Not to be forgotten a big part of this was to do the actual brodery. I did a more minimalistic traffic light compared to the previous pouch I made. It took some time to get used to the software for the brodery which I can now say have a horrible interface. For example I made the patch to fit inside the rectangular piece you and sent it to the machine but nothing showed up. After about 30 min of trouble shooting someone said it won’t show up if the patch is to large and that was exactly what the problem was, it was to large. The brodery went  fine up to a point when the thread got stuck in the handle a top of the sewing machine :

 

Thread spool got stuck in the handle.

Ouch, sry Duncan

New patch with fill stitches.

Old patch with satin stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the completed patch I could start sewing the inside and outside fabrics together which went fine but required some repetition to get my head around the flip it outside in part.

Now on to the third part where the soft circuit came into picture. I really messed up the last soft circuit I did because of the conductive thread was way too close to each other so I spent a significant amount of time thinking of how I should do this. My plan was to have a 3 rails just beneath the main zipper and then fasten the positive side on the zipper that would touch and slide along with the rails where each rail was connected to a LED’s positive side so when sliding past that railing the circuit would close and the LED would light up. This turned out to work really well actually. Mostly because I did the circuit very carefully because of the lessons learned from last time.

 

Circuit on my first pouch

Diagram of how to connect the LED with the rails

Inside of the new pouch

Clean circuit on the new bag!

New circuit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pitfalls during this project was clearly my failure of executing the most vital with perfection. I really made sure that I wouldn’t fall into the failures I did on the last iteration and I can clearly say that I spent a significant amount of just thinking instead of doing.

 

The stuff I learned from this project is to have some sort of testing model that could be made of paper or something that resembled the actual bag. This is an interesting parallel to software development where I in most cases unit tests would have saved several hours of debugging and troubleshooting. Maybe a 3D model of the pouch would have helped but that would have been very time consuming. But the essence of my failure is the lack of failing fast. When I attached the 3D part with the fabric I just kept going and didn’t notice how tight it was until it was time to flip the bag inside out. Since this was the most vital part of the project several iterations would have been better than just doing it in one go and notice how bad it turned out afterwards.

 

If I had more time on this project I would have corrected my mistake and cut out a bigger piece of fabric to be on the front so I would have more slack in the pouch and it wouldn’t look like a uptight banana.

To conclude this project I didn’t meet my two initial objectives, 3D printed side of the pouch and a sliding LED circuit. Reasons for this was that it turned out that the sliding LED rail was depending on a straight bag. I guess it’s good to have independent objectives when doing a project. Even though my failures this project was really fun and required a significant amount of time, more than any other project which is one reason for my disappointment because I spent so much time and turned out to be the worst project so far. But I’m still stoked on sewing and as Winston would say, success is the ability to go from failure to failure.  

 

Completed pouch, like a banana..

Previous completed pouch

Failure…

Last pouch, you can see that I didn’t had enough stabiliser behind the patch so it looks ugl

You can’t see the bend!

3D printed holes to be able to sew.

Zipper failed because of too tight fabric

Sewing went actually good because of the pre printed holes.

One side put together!

Inside view

Second patch, this didn’t fail!

Inner zipper.

With the letters, the print is 1 cm thick, way to thick for this actually..

The print turned out really nice

It bends!

Ninjaflex

30h later

Print!

Continue Reading

Iteration-David Booke

I decided to iterate the name tag assignment. This was because we had learned so many new things that I’d be able to incorporate into my name tag. Here’s a reference picture of my first name tag from the original assignment:

I liked how this one turned out, but it wasn’t super effective as a name tag because it didn’t have my last name and it wasn’t that easy to read. I wanted to use the embroidery and soft circuit stuff that we did for the pouch assignment. My idea was to make a patch with my name on it and light it up from the back using the LEDs and conductive thread. For the design, I decided to do go with a space theme. The LEDs were going to be placed behind stars so it looked like they were shining. I designed the patch in Inkscape and brought it over to PE Design. The embroidery itself took a surprisingly long time. I always underestimate how long it takes (this one took about two hours.) 

The patch isn’t quite as clean as I would have liked, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about that. Now, all I had to do was attach the LEDs and battery pack. This went smoothly since I had a lot of practice doing it from class and from the previous soft circuit assignment. 

The last thing I wanted was to add a backing. This way the name tag would be more rigid instead of just being a patch and you could attach a pin to the back so you could put it on your shirt. I originally was going to use foam for this but there wasn’t really many options for foam. Instead, I salvaged a small circular piece of wood. I super glued the wood to the battery pack. 

I think this is an improvement on my previous name tag for a few reasons. First of all, it says my full name and it says it more clearly. Also, this tag shows one of my greatest interests which is space. I like how the LEDs behind the stars make them look like they’re shining. Most importantly, I like this tag because it utilized both the embroidery and soft circuits. 

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment – Edbert Linardi

For this week’s iteration assignment, I chose to redo the Arduino sensor project. Last time, I only managed to use the rotary sensor to set the LED’s brightness. This time, I wanted to make a mini music player, using the buzzer sensor and the rotary sensor. My idea was to use the rotary sensor to choose the song. It is inspired by music toys for the little kids. This is the first time that I use Arduino’s buzzer output. I was excited to learn how to use this buzzer.

First, I had to produce sounds. I was confused about setting the tone and frequency. I only could produce three tones, which are low, medium and high. It sounds like this:

Then, after spending quite some time researching on the internet, I learned that I could set many different frequencies. I created an array of frequencies for all chords. So, I looked for the chord for a very popular song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I put the chord frequencies into an array, and created a loop to iterate through the entire array. It looks like this:

It is not perfect, since it’s only a buzzer, which has a very limited range of frequencies. Then, I looked for the chord for another song, which is London Bridge. After being able to produce the two songs, I start plugging the Rotary sensor into the Arduino. At first, I couldn’t manage to set the value of the rotary sensor to choose the song, since the Arduino was stuck in the loop and did not care about the rotary sensor’s value. My solution was to create a function that listens to the rotary sensor, while playing the song. It was a success. After rotating the sensor, the song was changed.

Here is the final result:

Finally, I learned a lot about Arduino by doing this project. For example, I learned how the main loop in Arduino works, and global variable is very useful in Arduino. In my CS class, I avoid using global variable, since it is dangerous. Moreover, I am satisfied that the arduino works as I wished. I met my goal, which was to create a mini music player with rotary sensor to choose the song. However, the only thing that I disliked was that sometimes the sensor did not work. I need to rotate several times before the music changes. I believe it is a synchronization problem in the Arduino.

In the future, I want to make a real music player with Arduino, using a real speaker and more complicated songs.

 

Here is the storyboard of my project. It tells about the arduino which plays music, and can be controlled with a certain controller. In my project, the controller is a rotary switch.

Continue Reading

Iteration assignment – Andrew Sun

For this iteration assignment, I decided to upgrade my original Arduino project (see here: http://cucfablab.org/arduino-intro-andrew-sun/) into an actual lockable box, using the laser cutter and a servo.

Here is the original “lock” that I made:

Original idea for the box design:

 

To begin, I used the BoxMaker software to create a basic design that I could modify. I wanted to have a liftable lid on a hinge, so I removed all of the notches which belonged to the top of the box, and added a hole to insert the lid into, along with holes where the LEDs and joystick would stick out. The diagram was quite confusing, since some pieces were flipped in the design – I nearly put the hole on one of the pieces on the wrong side. I ended up cutting out a sheet of paper to visualize how all of the pieces would fit together, before using the laser cutter.


Now I have a box and a l- wait, oops! I forgot to account for the width of the wood, so the hinge didn’t fit into the holes I created. Additionally, I didn’t account for the the wood around the holes, so the lid would have fallen into the box if I just made the lid narrower. I solved this by adding a notch around the hinge, to let it rotate around the hole while keeping the rest of the lid wide enough to cover the entire box.

To create the locking mechanism, I decided to use a latch, with one piece of wood attached to the servo, and another attached to the box. When the servo rotated to 90 degrees, the piece on the servo would move under the piece on the box, which prevented the lid from opening. I had to play around with the position of the pieces to prevent the servo from getting stuck. It helped to use a pencil to mark the position of the pieces, so that I could test various combinations without having to actually glue the pieces together.

Finally, it was time to integrate the Arduino circuit with the lid. Previously, I had used jumper wires to create the circuit; but I found that they would often get stuck under the lid and took up a lot of space within the box. I replaced them with some insulated wire, which I cut to the right length so that it wouldn’t stick up. Unfortunately I didn’t have wire strippers, so I ended up using a pair of scissors to cut off the insulation at the ends, which took a really long time! I couldn’t get rid of the jumper wires attached to the joystick, since the joystick only had male connectors. If I had some extra time, I could have tried soldering the wire to the connectors. My updated code is available here: https://ghostbin.com/paste/j4xwh

Demo of the finished product:

 
 
Continue Reading

Iteration Project

For the iteration assignment, I decided to take a new approach to the coper tape circuit project.  For the initial project, I constructed an origami rabbit that lit up when you pressed its ear.  

Bunny ready to go

A magical glow

This time I kept some of the elements – a boxy shape and an origami animal – but the box was constructed out of plywood and it held a scene containing the animal and other elements.  The scene is of one of my friends and a giant cat in NYC.  This friend once said,

“What if there was a giant cat?”

So now there is!  I started by making the origami cat using an online tutorial.  Since the cat needed to be relatively ‘giant,’ I wanted to see how large it would be before deciding on the dimensions of the box and other elements.  Next came the box.  I had seen several press fit boxes lying around the lab, so I thought with the help of an online box plan generator this step would be simple.  Not so!  My first box strangely did not fit together at all (the teeth were too large/spaces too small).  I thought something had gone wrong with my second box as well, but it was just more puzzling to put together than I had expected. 

Plans and the giant cat

Box #1: A failure

Box #2 cutting: Please work

It fits!

 

 

 

 

 

With the box taken care of, I used the electronic cutter to cut the scene for the night sky and the city skyline.  I assembled my copper tape circuit behind the night sky piece, and added some yellow tissue paper to give a nice soft glow.  I hadn’t planned out a mechanism for turning the lights on and off, but then I realized I could put the battery on the outside of the box and simply slip a piece of paper in and out to act as a switch.  I added some pieces of foam between the paper layers to give the scene more depth.  

After the paper layers, I added the cat in as well as a red paper for the floor.  All that was left was to create a character of my friend!  I used the electronic cutter to cut a picture I had adapted into two-tones using Photoshop/Inkscape.  The pieces in the face were too small to work with, but the hair turned out nicely and gave the general impression.  I experimented with tissue paper and origami paper for the clothing, and decided on an origami dress from another tutorial.  

Circuit and layer assembly

A beautiful night sky

The scene is coming together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final product is pretty much what I had planned!  If I had more time it would be cool to add more complexity to the scene…maybe some lightposts, and trees, etc.  Moving parts would also be another improvement.  I wouldn’t say this is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than my original design (the rabbit), just more complex.  I used what I learned from the original assignment about copper tape circuits and origami to make this version possible.  

 

The scene!

Lights out

Continue Reading

Iteration Project

The basic idea behind this project was to take the name tag, and make a similarly styled desk nameplate. My initial idea was to use the mirrored acrylic, as I did before, but add flickering red lights behind the nameplate, illuminating a picture of a demon in the back of the nameplate. I also wanted to have the nameplate interface with my keycard name tag in some way, by placing 2 switches inside the nameplate that would both be pressed when the keycard was inserted. Possible ideas included turning off the lights, or playing a sound effect from a small speaker. I designed the nameplate to accomodate this, with enough depth for the keycard to fit in, and a slot in the front for it to go into.

My original name tag

However, the lab closures due to the Playful by Design Symposium caught me off guard, and effectively halved the amount of lab time I had to work on the project, so the keycard integration had to be scrapped.

I designed the nameplate to be similar, but not the same, to the design of the keycard. I included some features from the keycard, found a new UAC logo, and identified a font very similar to that in the logo, and used it for my name.

The front nameplate design

When making the LED circuit, I wanted to have my circuit be completely self-contained, and didn’t want to use an arduino, as those are difficult to run off batteries, and were overkill for running a few LEDs. So I decided to use an ATTiny85 microcontroller, an 8 pin fully programmable 8 MHz microcontroller with 8 KB of program memory, and 512 Bytes of RAM. Who needs more?

My first issue was how to power the ATTiny. The ATTiny has an operating voltage range of 2.7V-5.5V. The arduino forums recommended against using a 3V coin cell due to lifespan issues, so I searched for a AA battery pack. Eventually, I found a 4 slot AA battery pack. Unfortunately, 4 AAs gave me 6.5V, outside the operating range. To solve this, I soldered a wire into the last battery slot, and got 4.75V from 3 batteries, very close to the recommended 5V.

Not pretty, but functional

I later found a 5V voltage regulator in a miscellaneous electronics bin, but by that point, I didn’t have enough time to remove the wire and integrate the voltage regulator.

With power out of the way, I constructed a breadboard circuit with three LEDs, and began experimenting with how to make the lights flicker realistically. I wanted the flicker to be somewhat random, but not entirely so. I couldn’t use the delay() function, because I needed the three lights to function independently, with different behavior for each- two blinking with different frequencies, and one breathing. Using delay() would have frozen all three lights in the same position. Multithreading was not an option, because the ATTiny can’t support it.

In the end, I modeled each light as a state machine. The blinking LEDs had three states- ready, running, and cooldown. If an LED was in the “ready” state, it would generate a random number, and compare that to a probability I set. If it passed, then it would generate another random number (the blink time), in a range that I set, and would set itself to the “running” state. In the running state, the LED would remain off for “blink_time” many program loops. Once it had waited “blink_time” number of program loops, it would move to the “cooldown” state, where it would wait some set number of loops, before moving back to the ready state.

The breathing LED simply updated its value every loop, changing directions when it reached the max or the min.

Using program loops to measure time ended up working rather well. Because of how my program is constructed (simple if statements, and some basic arithmetic), no program loop takes significantly longer than any other, making them a good measurement of time. While I could have used a timer interrupt for this behavior (the ATTiny has a timer which support interrupts), and gotten perfectly accurate timing, counting program loops worked well enough for my needs, and was far simpler.

By modifying the probability of a flicker, and the flicker duration range, I was able to give the two blinking LEDs different, but still random, blink behavior.

From here, the next step was to cut out my parts on the laser cutter. I designed my box to fit somewhat like a press-fit box, but not entirely, with only one of the pieces fitting into the others. The top/bottom and front/back pieces do not interlock. The major change with regard to cutting, in comparison to my first project, was that I cut from the front, then rastered the back, rather than doing both from the back. If you look at the edges of my original nametag, especially the bottom, you can see where the mirrored backing was burned by the laser, as it is no longer a perfect mirror. Cutting from the front to the back solved this issue. I discovered that the top left of the PDF is not the top left of the laser cutting bed, but .17 inches from the top and left. This forced me to re-cut the front, as it rastered in the wrong place. However, aside from that, the cutting went smoothly, with no warping of the mirrored backing.

One issue that cropped up later was that the mirrored backing had not *quite* all been rastered off by the laser, meaning that the rastered areas was opaque, rather than transparent. I believe I set the speed too high. This meant that I could not a picture in back, as I had initially planned. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as I realized that hiding the wiring would have been very hard, had the nameplate been transparent.

I soldered my circuit into a perfboard, as I did not wish to freehand solder my ATTiny, and I soldered pin sockets so that I could remove the ATTiny for programming later, if I so desired. I had initially intended to use regular perfboard, and connect components with solder trails, but then I found a perfboard that was connected like a breadboard, which worked extremely well for my purposes.

My perfboard circuit, soldered

I then plugged my circuit in, and it didn’t turn on. By this point, I had left the Fab Lab, due to it closing, and moved to the ACM office in the Computer Science building. The only multimeter I could find there had a dead batter, but luckily it took a 9v, which was the interface my battery pack had. So, I could plug in either my circuit or the multimeter as I went about testing my connections. As it turns out, the diode test setting of a multimeter can be used to test if two positions are connected. When the two test probes are not part of a complete circuit, the multimeter will read “0”. However, should you touch two connected positions, creating a complete circuit, you will get a reading.

Using the multimeter, I determined that the issue was with one of my sockets. One side of the ATTiny wasn’t getting connected to the board. This unfortunately meant I had to desolder the sockets, and directly solder the ATTiny to the board, so I can no longer reprogram it (without great difficulty, as desoldering multi-pin chips is not easy).

Before I assembled the nameplate, I experimented with different methods of weathering the parts. I thought that it would look good if the nameplate was damaged in some way, to compliment the flickering lights. I wanted to splatter red or brown paint to simulate blood, but couldn’t find any. On my failed front piece, I experimented with making scratches, as well as sanding either the back or the front. In the end, however, I wasn’t confident I could make it look the way I wanted, and couldn’t afford to mess up the piece I already had.

my experiments with (left to right) sanding the top, scratching the top, and sanding the bottom (center)

The nameplate was connected with hot glue, both so that I can take it apart later, should I so desire, and because it was the most readily available adhesive. I left one end un-glued, so that I could still access the interior if need be

The nameplate, half built, with the batteries mounted

The circuit inside the complete box

This is the first project I am unhappy with, not because it turned out badly, per se, but because it is quite a bit inferior to my initial conception. I had to make several compromises to this project in order to get it done in time, dropping the demon image, weathering, and keycard integration. Were I to do it again, I would only used red mirrored acrylic for the front, and something like black for the rest, so that the front nameplate stood out. I could have hidden the wiring and put a demon image behind the nameplate by making a partition for the interior, with just the lights sticking through the partition. I also would use a dedicated 8 pin IC socket, rather than the general-purpose pins I tried. This would most likely have avoided the issues I ran into, and saved me from having to solder my ATTiny into the board. Finally, I would have used the voltage regulator that I found in order to avoid my janky conversion of a 4 battery socket to a 3 battery socket. Most of all however, I would give this project more time. Most of the compromises I had to make were made due to lack of work time. A valuable lesson for the future, I suppose.

 

Continue Reading

project #8 : iteration

This week we worked on iterating a previous project. I chose to work on the first project – the laser name tag – because it was the simplest one and I wanted to add all the cool things we learned in class onto it. 

The picture above was my original name tag. I really liked how the engravings showed up on the surface, but it was very plain since it was basically a two toned name tag. For the iteration I planned to add stickers to add more dimensions, and arduino LEDs for effects. 

I aimed to layer the stickers to create a 3-D effect. The image I had in mind was a laser cut wooden house, with a big window that I could look into. The stickers would resemble an actual room with depth to it through the layering. 

I began by making silhouettes of the furniture that would go inside the room. I wanted the room to be resemble a family living room so I added a sofa, lamp and a bookshelf.

 

After the stickers were cut I worked on the name tag. I realized I should have measured the dimensions of the sticker and the name tag BEFORE I started working. Unfortunately, this didn’t cross my mind until after I finished everything. The stickers ended up being too large for a realistic living room 🙁

 

Since I didn’t measure the dimensions beforehand, the holes that were meant for the LEDs were too small. I couldn’t fit the light through it so I ended up looping the wires through both holes to hold the LED in the place. Furthermore, the sticker colors did not turn out as well as I hoped. I wanted the colors to create a dimensional effect but it didn’t really work out or look good.  The room’s wallpaper was also too big, since I didn’t measure before cutting, so I had to manually cut it.

Overall, even though I added more things to the laser name tag, I think I still like my original name tag more because it looks better. The additional things I added made the name tag seem cluttered, and I am not too happy with the outcome. Next time, I would definitely measure before, pick better sticker colors, and make sure the name tag itself can hold the LEDs. 

Continue Reading