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

Textiles – Grant Johnson

During these weeks in lab we worked with textiles, sewing, and embroidery. I happened to also be in a fashion class this semester, so I was excited to get the opportunity to learn some new things that could add to my clothing construction repertoire. I’ve also never been around embroidery machines before, so that was an exciting prospect.

During the first week of this lab we had to make small drawstring bags. Since I missed the actual lab section, I ended up constructing this on my own at a separate time. I was definitely still getting a hang of dealing with the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides of fabric during this time and as you can see in the pictures, some of the parts of my bag ended up in the wrong spot. I decided to make the most of this and have a bag that has outer pockets instead of the lining that it was supposed to have. I decided to hand sew some parts of the bag for practice as well (although now that I know a little more I always try and avoid hand sewing). Making this bag actually ended up kind of helping me in my fashion class as well, later down the line. When making two whole(!) outfits  for my final project I needed some way to secure the waist of some shorts I planned on creating. I thought back to this assignment and realized I could make a similar drawstring (coming out of the sides of the shorts) that would both be functional, as well as stylistically unique.

The following week in lab, we learned to use the embroidery machines to sew vector images into fabric. This is something I’ve wanted to learn about and play with for a really long time since I draw and have created vector images in the past that I think would be really interesting to sew into clothes. In lab I got the opportunity to make myself the majority of a squirrel patch (side note: embroidery can be really time consuming). I was really impressed by how accurate and clean everything looked with my squirrel. I realized there were probably a ton of really cool things I could do for my final embroidery. I didn’t really experience any serious issues with this patch in lab, but when it came to making my final piece I ran into a totally different set of problems in making a patch work out, which I will discuss a little later.

Build Process

For my final textile product I decided I wanted something that could be useful to me and serve a function instead of something that just looked cool (especially since I was still working on upping my fabric craftsmanship). When I looked through all of my options I eventually came across a pencil bag that I thought would be super helpful because I’m always searching for all of my different art pens, pencils, and other tools which can be spread across my apartment, throughout my backpack, etc. With this bag I would be able to keep everything contained and in one place.

I immediately thought of a drawing I had done a while back that would make the perfect embroidery to put on it and I thought about all the extra clothes I had at my apartment that could possibly used for fabric. I ended up deciding on a tie-dye shirt as the fabric I would use for the outer lining. Once I started working on the actual bag, however, I realized all the mistakes I had unwittingly made. My original drawing, vectorized, turned out to be too much for the embroidery machines to handle. The file size was too large, even when trying to reduce the density of stitches, turn outlines into running stitches, or trying to simplify the vector image. This was a major bummer for me as I really wanted to see that image in fabric form. After I gave up and decided to create a new vector image I began starting into my patch for the outside lining. This is when I ran into even more problems!

I soon found that the embroidery machines don’t quite work with t-shirt material by itself, not matter how taut you get it on the hoop. The fabric I had cut from my t-shirt ended up getting sucked down into the bobbin pit and getting all caught up in everything. I decided to suck it up, cut a new piece (the last I could get out of the t-shirt), and try it again with some stabilizer. The stabilizer did help some, but with my specific design having the heavy filled areas, it still ripped and ended up letting the fabric get caught up in the machine again. I tried one more time to no avail and just decided to get my patch made so I could move on.

I grabbed a piece of canvas and started into it. One of the types of fabric I tried to use to embroidery immediately broke and I couldn’t get it to work no matter what I tried (it was pearlescent and I think it just wasn’t strong enough for the tension the embroidery machine needs). What happened then is still somewhat of a mystery to me. When I started into my canvas piece it was late into the night and I was unable to finish before the fab lab closed up. I left my machine until the next day and started back into the patch. Somewhere along the way it got unaligned which ended up being the final patch you see on my bag. I decided that I was fine with just using that patch to try and get this whole ordeal over with. As per usual, I decided to try and work with what I was given and decided to try and use the patch as a little pouch on the front of the bag, to help give it some utility. After attaching that to the outer lining I ironed some interfacing onto the outer lining to help give it some rigidity. I then attached my inner lining and a zipper to enclose the whole thing. My bag ended up being a little different than what the guide was looking for, but I like the way it looks personally and think it is much more unique than the standard pencil bag.

Final Reflection

I had a lot of trials and tribulations in the process of making these objects, but I think that’s a lot of what getting good with textiles takes — experimenting and trying things out until the process makes sense in your head. I definitely think I need to spend some more time around embroidery machines to try and really get my skills up to par there and test out how you can make different fabrics work out with them. I also think that designing projects to be cut into pieces and aligned later takes a certain level of organization skill and planning that I still might not be at yet. Either way, I was still really happy with the items I produced and plan on getting as much use out of them as possible. That’s one thing I really love about textiles — the opportunities are so limitless and it’s instantly gratifying to make an object that can serve some kind of real purpose for people.

I learned a lot about handling machines through these weeks and in conjunction with my fashion class, this time period was a time where I really upped my skills in textiles a visible (at least in my opinion) amount. Being able to figure out ways to turn mistakes into benefits was definitely a skill I pulled out of textile work quickly. I actually bought my own sewing machine recently due to how much fun I have had with all the textile prospect I’ve taken on now and hope to make lots more stuff soon! Since I’m a little late in turning in this write-up, I’ve decided to include some other projects I took on in my fashion class in hopes for a little credit or at the very least to show that I do kind of know my way around textiles. There are more, but here are the highlights:


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Final Project

Question 1:

For the final project, I created a press-fit constellations box powered by wireless inductive coils.

Initially, I intended for the box to be powered by a solar panel circuit. But along the way I ran into some revelations and restrictions that led me to replace the intended solar panel circuit for a wireless inductive coil circuit.

I used an online press-fit box generator to get the 5×5 box I envisioned and I imported an image of the sky into Inkscape to begin working on my design. I attempted to change the image to a vector image by tracing the bitmap but the vector image was choppy. Therefore, I opted to manually create each element of the image one at a time, from the stars to the lines of the constellations. I created the stars in the sky using the circle tool and the star tool in Inkscape. I used the pen tool to create the lines of the constellations. My main goal was to make sure the majority of the constellations would allow for light to pass through so that the constellations could be seen in the dark. For the lines of the constellations, I converted the stroke to a path, and removed the fill to give it a 0.001 inch outline, therefore creating a thicker line to be vectored.

This process took an insane amount of time because I wanted to really get the design right. I felt pretty comfortable on Inkscape, but there was still a lot of features in the program that were unknown to me so I was learning as I was designing. There was a lot of back in forth in designing.


Overall, I was really happy with how the box and design turned out.


Question 2:

My learning goals were to (1) challenge myself by learning and integrating wireless inductive coils into my design and the all the components needed to create the circuit because I was never really knowledgeable or comfortable with circuits before, and (2) to extensively plan out each of my steps before I started the project because I’ve found that I usually just throw myself into the assignments without thinking through all the factors and outcome.

For the first goal, I hoped to create a successful circuit that could power my constellation box. I was pretty much clueless on wireless inductive coils so I did a bit of research to find sources so that I could get a better grasp of all the components and functions. I read a few Instructables, blogs, and watched a few videos. I essentially followed the circuit diagram off of and the circuit was successful. Before, I was a bit intimidated by circuits, but now I feel a lot more comfortable working with them.

As for the second goal, I really tried to hold myself to the goal. I created a step-by-step list for myself so that I could try to plan out all the components I would need beforehand. I found it helpful in the beginning but realized as I really started getting to work on the project, a lot of factors were shifting and at a certain point my step-by-step list kind of fell apart. But I still believe writing out the steps of a project is really helpful. It got me to really think about the logistics and design of the box in respect to the circuit as a cohesive piece, rather than the two as separate projects that needed to somehow come together in the end.

Question 3:

I’ve learned a lot in this project and the course. Often times, I got really frustrated when something would go wrong in an assignment. I would end up spending more time than I anticipated in order to fix the issue or coming up with an alternative. I treated arising issues as a barrier rather than an inevitable part of the process. I’ve always considered myself a good problem-solver, but I was never very comfortable when I ran into one. I think now, I have a much better approach to problems. I’m less emotional about them and more productive. I tackle the issues head-on.

Question(s) 4:

As an advertising major, I always saw myself as a strategist. To be fair, I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I’ve always been drawn to the duality of the profession. Analytic and Creative. This course allowed for me to experience with different mediums (almost all that were new to me) and I think it sparked the creative side of myself. I would consider myself a maker. To me, a maker is anyone who devotes their time and their craft to create something. Making is collaborative, challenging, rewarding and unlimited.

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Final Project – Programmable Keypad – Mohammed Faiz Patangia

For my Final Project, I worked on making a programmable keypad. I idea behind this keypad is that it could be used for multiple purposes, like data entry, coding, gaming, etc. To build it, I needed several tools and materials, like Adafruit Its Bitsy, sottering tools, wood, wires, mechanical switched, keycaps, etc. Through out the project, I was following the guideline from the instructables website. The first step of the process was to sketch different designs for keypad; I sketched many different shapes for the keypad, like square, rectangular, circular, etc. I decided to move forward with the square design, because it was easier to interact with. Then, I build a press fit box, and laser cut it. After fitting the mechanical keys in the top portion of the box, I had to sotter them with the Itsy Bitsy. Sottering was the most challenging part of the entire assignment, because it was my first time doing it. In beginning, it did not work well, but with some help, I was able to sotter the keys with one another. 

First Sottering

After that, I connected Its Bitsy to the keys. Again, it was challenging because the Itsy Bitsy was very small, its ports were very tiny; I had to be very careful in Sottering, so that I don’t damage it. 

Connecting keys with Itsy Bitsy

Wired all the keys

After wiring all the keys, I had to do the coding part of the keypad, which was very straightforward, and went very smoothly. After coding part, I just had to assemble all the parts, and also attach Itsy Bitsy into the box. Sottering took me most of the time, but it was interesting to learn a new skill. The final product looked like this:

Final Product

As I mentioned earlier, this is a multi purpose keypad, and it could be used in many different ways. For my final product, I coded it in a way that first three keys were cut, copy, and paste, and the second set of three keys were select left, select up, and select right, and the third set of three keys were undo, select down, and delete. It turned out really well, and it was as I wanted it to be. I am proud of the entire product, and specifically how convenient it could be for the users. For instance, this keypad, the way I programmed it, was doing performing cut, copy, and paste commands with just one keys, while in the standard keyboard, users have to press two keys. It was also great that how it could be used in different platforms like gaming, data entry, etc. The final product turned to be great, and I was happy with it. Below is the video of the final product:

My first learning goal, was to push my creativity in designing the keypad, and do something innovative and helpful. I believe in most of the way, I have met my first learning goal. I tried to push my creativity in designing and coding aspect of the product. In the beginning, I had many different design ideas and sketches for the product. I designed it in shape of gaming joystick, two handed gaming controller, circular shaped keyboard, etc. I chose the square design because it could easier to use, and users are already comfortable using something like this. Also, the idea was that it could be used in different platforms, so if I could have chose the design for gaming, then it would not work in data entry or coding. Because of that, I moved forward with the square design. I also programmed it in way that it could be useful in entering commands, like copy, paste, etc. In the intractable’s tutorial, it was used for typing numbers. My goal was to make it very convenient for the users. This could also be very helpful because of its convenience and usability. This could also used by the elderly people, who have trouble pressing the combination of keys. I believe that the final outcome was innovative. In future, I plan to make it more innovative, by adding some extra features.

My second learning goal was to learn and do Sottering. Through out the project, I sottered a lot. In the beginning, it was a bit challenging, but, later, I got comfortable with it. I enjoyed the learning process. I had nine keys in the keypad, and each key had two terminals in it. So, I had to sotter eighteen times on the keys. I had two to sotter on ten ports of the Itsy Bitsy, so, in total, I sottered at least twenty eight times, through the project. I met my goal of learning to sotter, through sottering to create a final product. I am happy with the final product, because it would very useful to anyone, in daily lives, and it is also very convenient to use.

Through out the course assignments, I have learned many useful skills, techniques, and tools. One of the most useful things that I have learned is the usefulness of prototyping. In most of the assignments, I created many different prototypes for the final product. I learned that how much prototypes can be useful in understanding the design of the final product, and ways to make necessary changes in design. Another important skill that I learned was design thinking. In most of the assignments, we had to come up something different or new, and coming up with something like that required a lot of thinking, creativity, and ideas. The entire process helped me strengthen my design thinking skills. With the help of all the assignments and process, I have become comfortable with coming up with something new. I also loved making things and designing stuff. The process was time consuming, but, most of the times, I was satisfied with the end result. I have definitely developed confidence as a maker and a thinker. It would be very helpful in future projects and goals.

This course was very useful in making me think, from a different perspective. Through out the course, I learned a lot, and it would help me in future goals. I consider myself as a maker. I have learned so many different making skills and techniques, and also learned to apply those is real life projects. In the beginning, I thought that making is straightforward. However, through this class, I learned that it is not very easy, and it requires a lot of planning, thinking, iterations, time, etc., to finalize a product. To create something, it requires a lot of effort and commitment. I think that I am a maker, and anyone who is able to come up with an idea and implement it should be considered as the maker. I agree with the quotation of Papert that it is very important for any type of learning to be personally meaningful. If someone is attached to something, then learning about that is fun and interesting. I think all the assignments were in some ways hands-on and personally meaningful, which made the class, a great learning experience.

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The making of The Dress

The Dress

Using vinyl I created templates for screen printing the pocket.

I used tissue paper to alter the pattern while preserving the original pattern in case I ruined everything.

The almost finished dress still needs a zipper, hem, & for the pockets to be to lined & sewn on.

But look at those sleeves! They’re crisp, beautiful, the right size & on in the right direction!

My proudest moment was the first seam around the neck. You can’t even see it anymore. But the stitches were even. I don’t mean straight. I mean even. You see, my machine was originally sewing weird, loose stitches, & it took between 20 min to an hour of carefully & methodically turning knobs & dials & threading & re-threading to create strong, even stitches.

Other than a finicky machine, I dealt with several other issues, a few of which were triggers for changing my design. Bicycle spokes were going to be too tedious & messy to screen print so I changed to birds. Then I discovered that my pattern was the wrong size & had to switch patterns, which meant redesigning my color blocking. But I persevered.

Over & over, I was grateful for my learning goals, which were:

1) I would like to learn how to do multi-layer screen printing through asking questions of staff and experimenting independently. 
2) I struggle with understanding patterns, so I would like to use this project as an opportunity to practice/learn how to use them.
3) I would like to afford myself the flexibility to simplify in order to preserve my mental and emotional health, and work on being willing to make adjustments to my project as I go along. 
These goals provided a framework for my learning and continually called my attention back to what I cared about most.
The first outcome was fairly straightforward and was accomplished in a fairly straightforward way. I asked questions of Emile, Amanda, and every other employee standing close by at the time I thought of a question. In this way I learned of the basic process of multi- layer screen printing including creating a vinyl template for each layer, sticking the vinyl on the screen, applying paint, setting the paint with heat, and cleaning the screens. I mostly experimented with my vinyl pattern, but I also experimented with color mixing and by creating my print. In this way I learned that skinny pieces don’t work well and that you should clean the screen between layers. My pocket was messier than I wanted it to be, but I had enough good patches to jimmyrig it. Honestly, I like the jimmyrigged pattern better than the original one.
The second outcome was far less straightforward to learn. Patterns are difficult and they seem to be written in another language. But I followed each step, asked my mother and Grandma questions, and made and fixed silly mistakes, such as sewing the sleeves on upside down. By the end, I got plenty of practice and can understand patterns a little better, but could by no means call myself an expert. Though I am very proud of those sleeves.
The third outcome was my favorite. This was the one meant to preserve my well-being. There were still some tears, anger, and frustration. But each time something went wrong, such as discovering my pattern was twice my size, I was able to say to myself “Thank goodness I built that into my plan.” Counting on adjustments took the pressure off and allowed me to continually simplify, or build on, my original plan. I learned not only to simplify, but also to trust myself. I seem to have proven myself trustworthy.
Throughout the course, I have persevered, except when I haven’t. I have triumphed, except when I haven’t. I have changed, except when I haven’t. I am still me. Sure, I can win against Inkscape in a fight more often than before and I have tinkered with a few more techniques and technologies than before. But by the end of a semester of struggling with things I’m not good at, I chose a project that played to my strengths. I don’t always do that. I often do what’s needed instead of what I want. So I guess I became more comfortable being and doing what I want. Am I a maker because sometimes I want to make stuff? I don’t know. I’m just me. Can that be enough? I think it can.
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Final Project: Slide Puzzle

For my final project I made a slide puzzle utilizing my own artwork. The inspiration for it was that I wanted to meld my love for both games and art into one project and the slide puzzle to me felt like a good mix of those two interests.

Question 1:

            The first thing I started doing was the artwork in the center of the piece. This led to my first challenge, getting out of my art funk. I went through at least 3 different ideas for the art before I settled on the final piece. Once I finished the project the artwork is what I feel the most proud of. Both the line art and the finished art can be seen below.

            Then I moved onto the sliding pieces and the overall frame. This ended up being quite easy to do since I found a simple Instructable online to help me. Check it out here:

The primary challenge in this build process is dealing with the material I ended up using. Initially I wanted to make the frame out of something like wood or acrylic (acrylic being my number 1 choice), however due to the time spent on the artwork I needed to downgrade to cardboard. The challenge from this was dealing with the difficulty of sliding as well as the inaccuracy of my own cutting. Some of the process can be seen below (The last picture is after the presentation)


Question 2:

 I want to get used to utilizing the poster printer.

            For the most part I met this goal as it was simply learning to work with a piece of equipment. However in future uses of this machine I should look to explore different types of paper to see how it might change the final product. I also gained some more experience converting between different file types and formatting things for a poster printing, which is small but still useful.


I want to challenge myself by combining my passion for both games and art into one interactive art piece. 

            By just executing my project I feel like I met this goal as I made something that leveraged my love for art and made something that is playful and somewhat game like. Reflecting on this learning goal I could have taken the project one further and made a slide puzzle that had multiple different correct configurations. Additionally if I had the time I might have crafted something that allowed me to switch out puzzles making one harder than the other. This would allow for a sense of progression to the person playing with the puzzle much similar to a traditional video game. This goal in particular allowed me to learn how to meld different mediums in a way that highlights both of them.


I also want to challenge myself by making a piece with a lot of moving parts, in contrast to my other projects that are primarily stationary parts.

            This was the learning goal that I wanted to meet the most, as it was something that none of my previous projects were able to do, except for the Pom Bot. For the most part I was able to accomplish this as the slide puzzle actually slid, however if I had enough time to laser cut pieces it likely would have slide even better.  Ultimately I am still happy with my final project, however as I mentioned before I do regret not having the time to make even better.


Question 3:

            A common theme throughout many of my write-ups is time management. Throughout these projects I don’t think I’ve gotten better at managing my time making, however I feel like I have gotten better at dealing with the consequences of it. Mainly how as the semester went on the less and less time I actually had to work on these maker projects, however even with the lack of physical time, I was still able to make projects that at the very least got close to my intended vision.


Question 4:

            While it didn’t really change my thinking, this course helped reinforce the idea of iteration, which is something that has been highlighted within my own major LES: DELTA and is something that is necessary within my intended career of game development. Many of the projects throughout the semester required me to go back to the drawing board and having multiple different ideas to work off of made things go a lot smoother.

At the beginning of the semester I didn’t really think of myself as a maker mainly because I just didn’t feel very comfortable using many of the things that are associated with making. However after many of the things discussed during lecture made me see how making can take many different forms and it doesn’t have to just be about laser cutting or 3D printing. As a result now I relate a little bit closer to being a maker since I can see my own interests being a part of it.



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Assignment 8

For this assignment, our task was to revisit a past assignment and make changes that utilize multiple technologies. In class I saw Duncan’s pillow and thought this was pretty cool. So I decided to make a nametag pillow using sewing. Initially I decided to embroider my name, but I wanted to learn how to screenprint my name, so with the help of Emilie I did this.

The frustrating part of this assignment, in my opinion, was using Inkscape to separate layers, like we did for the sticker assignment. My screenprint involved a clip-art penguin and the one I liked had a difficult outline so it made this process a little tedious.

I printed out the design on stickers, as if I were to make an actual sticker. However, the process is actually reversed. Instead of saving what we’d want in a sticker, we use the rest of it and actually discard the “actual” part.

The part that is actually discarded. I arranged it into what it would look like.

After printing out and peeling off the stickers, it was time to do the screenprinting. I got a bunch of black fabric. The screenprinting process involves placing the sticker on the printing board, taping up the background, placing it onto the fabric, spreading paint near the cut-out, and then rolling the “brush” on the hole. I think this was pretty cool.

There were also a couple of issues I faced during this process:

  1. I tried ironing my print. I did not realize that the iron had to be set to a certain temperature respective to the material, so I ended up burning parts of my fabric.
  2. Placement was difficult. On my print, the penguin’s collar is misplaced. It was hard to figure out the exact position for each layer since the rest of the drawing is not very visible.
  3. Using multiple colors when printing my name. I decided to make each letter a different color. I felt that doing it on the same layer would be much more convenient so I used six different colors of paint and rolled it one-pass. This was mostly successful, except one of my letters received an unwanted mixed color. Also, since this was only one-pass, the print is not very strong.

After this, I sewed three sides together and put a bunch of stuffing in it, and then sewed the remaining side to obtain the final pillow.

Overall I liked the final product. Although I faced challenges I think it turned out to be pretty neat.

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Iteration Assignment

This assignment was all about improving and building upon one or two of our previous assignments we did for this semester. I decided to combine the laser cutting and copper tape circuit projects by creating a wood cut-out of a cat with glowing LEDs for eyes.

Below are the laser cut and copper tape circuit assignments I had previously completed.

The first part was the laser cutting. I used Inkscape to create a silhouette of a cat image found on the Internet and added two 3mm-radius circles as eyes (3mm being the radius of the LEDs so they could fit through). In my first attempt, 3mm for each eye ended up being too small. I needed to make the eyes slightly bigger so that the LEDs could fit through, but not enough so there were noticeable gaps. 5 mm ended up being the ideal size. I also wanted to make some sort of stand that could hold the cat upright. Sara recommended trying the press-fit box design, so I used a website called MakerCase to design the box and also laser cut that out.

Then, I bought some acrylic paints and painted the cat silhouette so it looked more like a cat. I wanted to make it look like my cat at home, who is a gray tabby.

Press-fit box parts and painted cat silhouette

The final iteration was implementing the circuit. For this part, I used two batteries, two blue LEDs (as my cat’s eyes are blue), and copper tape to put together a series circuit that would light up the LEDs when the cat leaned against the stand. Thus, the stand also acts as a switch to complete the circuit and illuminate the eyes.

Circuit schema

Unfortunately, when the cat rests on the stand it doesn’t light up very well unless you line it up just right and press down pretty hard. I think I needed to attach the batteries a little more securely so everything remained connected when upright. But it still turned out kinda cute.

Nonetheless, this project was fun to do because it provided us a better opportunity for creativity and improvement. Personally I feel like if I had more time I could have come up with something a bit more useful or interesting, but I still enjoyed getting to be a bit more artistic with what I was doing. 

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Iteration Assignment

For this assignment, we were tasked with taking an assignment we completed earlier in the semester, and either making improvements to it, incorporating skills from other previous assignments, or creating something entirely new from the original concept, incorporating new skills as well.  It was also recommended to incorporate tools/skills that we have not used yet.  I decided to improve my laser name tag from the beginning of the semester.  In the laser name tag assignment, I created a Pokémon card of myself, as shown below.

My idea for my iteration assignment was to create a name tag that belongs on a desk that normally lies flat.  However, when the name tag is exposed to a certain amount of light, the plates flip up in order to reveal two panels: one that is a simple Pokémon themed name tag, and the other a removable Pokémon card of myself.

I made the design for the name tag, and was planning to use the original name tag as part of the iteration.  Unfortunately, the original file was lost, so I redesigned it.  I initially kept the boxes red in order to see where each piece would be in relation to the edges.  I created a semicircle shaped indent in order to make the card removable, two extra plates as a second layer beneath the designed plates, and an indent in the layer beneath the card in order to place a piece of velcro.

I then printed the design, glued the layers together, and added a piece of velcro for the card to stay in place:

I then proceeded to write the code necessary to use two servos to lift the plates.  I also made the circuit, incorporating a photoresistor to detect light.  My code appeared to be functioning properly, but the photoresistor would input a specific range of values that would not change, regardless of the amount of light in the room.

I brought my project into the lab to ask for advice, where I was told that I made a novice mistake; I placed the wires in the wrong direction with regards to the bread board.  After fixing this error, my project finally began to work properly.  Unfortunately, I then discovered that the servos were too weak to lift the plates without support.  Due to this, I decided to make a board and glue the servos to it for more stability.

After gluing the servos to the board, this was the final result (the video is sped up to meet the size requirement):

As shown in the video, the name tag does what it was meant to do.  It lays flat when the photoresistor does not detect light, and rises when light is detected.  In order to not have it move too often, I have it set to scan approximately every 1.5 seconds for light.  The shaking when the name tag reaches its peak was not intended, but I actually find it amusing.  In my opinion, it gives the name tag an even better way to grab peoples attention.

I enjoyed going back and improving one of my former projects.  It was also quite fun to incorporate something that I hadn’t learned yet into the assignment.  There certainly are aspects that I could improve with this project, such as making the plates smaller in order for the servos to have an easier time lifting them, or simply buying stronger servos.  I had fun learning how to use a photoresistor and incorporating it into the circuit.  I can’t say that I wasn’t a little upset with myself when I made a basic error with the wiring, but overall, I had a pleasant experience remaking my name tag.

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Iteration Project – Overalls

For my iteration assignment I chose to make linen overalls with laser cut buttons. After reflecting on my previous sewing project, I wanted to start this one with measurement and pre-made patterns so there would be less guess work and alterations but I didn’t find any patterns that I could buy that I liked.

So I made to plan to cut the front and the back piece and sew them together. I used clothes that I had to measure out the relative shape, but then I got scared that it would be tight so I cut the pieces pretty big. To make the pieces wearable I had to close the stitches properly and make sure the edges didn’t fray. Because I cut the pieces so big I had to sew one leg, check if it fit, cut the pieces to the right size, and then seam rip to copy the sizes onto the other leg. 

It took really long to make it when I didn’t cut corners. I’d like to fix the crotch but overall, I’m really happy with the way the final turned out. After I made the body piece, I made the straps (without much accuracy). 

And then I made the buttons. I knew I wanted a cloud design on the buttons (Mulan clouds from the opening credits was the image I used for my buttons). I chose wood because it went with the linen cloth I chose for the overalls but I painted to make the buttons more polished. 

first iteration: I liked the color but didn’t like that you couldn’t see the raster

second iteration: used a water colors for a gradient look, didn’t like it because it was too messy and bright against the overalls.

third iteration: checking if water colors would look better with the raster on top

Final iteration of the button: not too flashy, very clean raster, very happy with the results

This is the final product:

The straps turned out a bit long but its a vibe.

detail on the back of the straps


I’m really glad I did the project because I learned how to do a lot of new things. I learned how to sew on buttons, and properly close the edges of fabric. Next time I really hope I have a pattern, it would really help make things easier. 

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Iteration Assignment


For this assignment, I wanted to recreate the Name tag while using more tools from the lessons afterwards. Specifically, I wanted to use the silhouette cutters to add stickers to the name tag and add an LED circuit to add a light to the name tag as well. This would use tools from the second and third assignments to expand upon the design and implementation from the first assignment.


As a recap, here was my original product from the original name tag assignment:

My final product for Assignment 1: Laser Name tag.

For this new iteration, I wanted to change up the design while still keeping the guitar theme. For new inspiration, I used a nickname that I have that also serves as my musician name: “Rooney Tunes”. This is also the name that I have on my Instagram account where I post my different covers. My inspiration behind singing the songs I post is based on one of my favorite Bible verses, which I include in the bio in my Instagram account and decided to include in this name tag as well. Because my Christian faith is important to me, I decided to also add a small cross in the corner of the name tag with a light above it to represent the guiding light that the cross is for me in my faith.

Below is the design for the laser cutter:

Laser cutter design for the iteration assignment. This would raster the guitar and cross and vector cut a circle above the cross.

Below is the design for the silhouette cutter:

This was the initial design for the silhouette cutter to attach on top of the laser cut/engraved wood.


For constructing the project, I began by using the laser cutter. The wood was nicely cut out into a 7.5″ x 7.0″ block on a 1/4″ piece of plywood. The guitar and cross were rastered on it and the circle for the light was cut out. I unfortunately do not have any pictures or videos of the process.

The following portion involved using the silhouette cutter to cut out the sticker than would frame the cross and the guitar. Below is what it looked like, along with the additional sticker parts for the pick guard and the bridge of the guitar:

This picture shows the finished laser cut and rastered board along with the outline and guitar accessory stickers.

Following this, the next part was to incorporate the words onto the name tag. This was difficult because the letter were small. I found it difficult to remove the excess parts of the lettering when trying to use the transfer tape. Some part were lost when transferring it, and even on the original cut, the dots for the i’s and j’s did not make it through. Below is the sticker text on the transfer tape:

The text that would be put on the top left corner of the name tag shown on the transfer tape.

After removing the unnecessary bits in letters like “a”, “o”, “e”, and other letters, I proceeded to put the sticker text on the new name tag. It took a little while as well because the small letters clung to the transfer tape, but for the most part, it transferred well.

Next, it was necessary for me to set up the circuit for the white light that would be above the cross. It was a small and basic circuit because there was only one LED. Below is a picture of the final circuit:

The final circuit for the iteration project. The switch can be found at the top right part of the circuit. There is one battery, no resistors, and one white LED.

This circuit worked well and it all came together pretty well!

Final Reflection

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the final product! If I had more time, then maybe I would have added a more complex circuit. I may have chosen a more cooperative font as well. The font was the biggest struggle for my first name tag as well. That first assignment required four iterations once I finally figured out the best size. This one only took one try but did not come out perfectly.

Even though it wasn’t perfect and that may have been a bit frustrating in terms of being patient with transferring as many of the letters as possible onto the main piece of wood, I was content and proud of the final product.I like that the gold sticker frames the guitar and the cross very nicely. The LED light, as well, is a nice touch. If I had more time, I would likely add a better switch or a more clever usage of a switch.

The final product can be seen below:

The final product for the iteration project. The light was a nice final touch. I wrote in the missing dots and quotations for the sake of completing the text on the name tag.

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Iteration Assignment – Nicholas Agate

     For this iteration project, I originally set out to create a box that would hold my vinyl collection, but I quickly realized that the box would be larger, and more costly than I wanted it to be. I then tried to think of another box that could be useful and came up with a gear box for my guitar accessories. I did not previously have any type of specific storage for my guitar gear, so this was an exciting project for me. I ultimately wanted to end up with a box that was lined with felt, had a hole for a lighting insert, had a walled off section to hold picks, and a design that featured bird cutouts, guitar rasters, and my name and the year. I mainly wanted to feature my name as an aspect from the laser name tag assignment because this new box would be the same expression of my love for music, but with an increase in difficulty and complexity. This final box would ideally be in my home or future office and would serve as both useful storage and a conversation piece. Please see the sketch below and original laser name tag below.

     After creating my design, I decided to create a smaller scale box that would be the same design as the final, large box. I did this because I was not one hundred percent sure that the two-piece box was the one that I wanted to commit to. I also wanted to see how the pieces would fit together so that I could have a better understanding of the box for my final design. For both the small scale box and the final box, I used the website Please see the small scale box below.

     Next, I began making my design alterations to the SVG file that I downloaded from I imported images of birds that would end up being vectored, and guitar silhouettes that would end up being rastered. I then created peg holes for the new walls and two square holes for lighting access. Finally, I added my name and the year. Please see my Inkscape progress pictures below.

     I then bought some material from Hobby Lobby which included a hobby knife, felt with adhesive, wood conditioner, wood glue, and wood stain. I applied the felt to the bottom of the box and then cut out each hole that the walls would fit into. After this, I fit the walls together and used a rubber mallet to make sure that the walls fit snugly. Please see a picture and video of the felt work below.


     The walls of the inner box were difficult to fit into the pegs because of the felt, but I ran into a real issue when I realized that I had not designed one of my square holes correctly. I did not notice that one of the walls in the Inkscape design would have to be flipped when creating the box, so the holes did not line up at all. I also cut all the wood that I would need at school and brought all of the materials to my house for weekend assembly. This meant that I had to wait until the Monday after Easter and after the assignment deadline to laser cut a new piece. If I had observed my Inkscape design more carefully, I could have avoided this. Please see the progress pictures (including the error) and video below.

     Finally, I assembled the box with the new outer wall featuring the square hole in the correct position. Another issue that I ran into came from there not being enough play between the inner walls and outer walls. So, I sanded the inside of the outer walls in an attempt to fix the issue. I then applied wood conditioner and wood stain to the outer walls of the box in order to give it the darker look that I wanted. I had never stained wood before, so I used the website And for the light element, I used an Arduino and a breadboard with an LED. The square hole allowed for the breadboard to be inserted neatly into the box. Please see the sanding, staining, and gear pictures below.

     I think that this has been my favorite Informatics 490 project so far. I was able to take inspiration from my original laser name tag that highlighted my love for music, and make a project that is even more meaningful. I ran into bumps along the way, including the hole misalignment and the play between boxes, but I worked hard to fix these issues. Even with these problems, I had fun making this gear box. As I mentioned earlier, I could have avoided the misalignment issue if I had carefully gone over my Inkscape design, so that is what I would do differently next time. Finally, please see the final product pictures and videos below. Thank you for reading.



Birds Silhouettes:

Electric Guitar Silhouette:…0.0..……1….1..gws-wiz-img.hJ4nuFrfX44#imgrc=IvEIxUypWts9RM:

Acoustic Guitar Silhouette:…0.0..……1….1..gws-wiz-img.hJ4nuFrfX44#imgrc=uJi9kKOlyQBurM:

Two-Piece Box Design:

Wood Staining Tutorial:




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Iteration Project: Sewable LED Patch

Subtitle: why do you make your own life so hard, shaoyie


Okay, so, full disclosure I think this is late? I forgot this was due Sunday midnight, between some other deadlines I had running. I’m writing this now because I realize I should have something up; ideally, the finished product will be up only an hour or two after I initially post this. Now that I’ve figured things out, mostly.

(which is.. still not ideal since its like 4 am but ITS ALRIGHT.)

ANYWAY. This is the current product:


For reference, it says: “I believe in a universe that doesn’t care and people who do.” around a line drawing of a whale.

So the process:

The project I was redoing was my vinyl sticker, redone on an embroidered patch.

So for reference, this quote is from a conversation in a video game, during which the characters are looking at constellations. The one the conversation is centered around is this whale, in the bottom right, so I wanted to capitalize on that. Thinner lines aren’t as good for vinyl stickers, so I wanted to try to make it into a patch instead.

Image result for angus nitw whale

That in mind, this was the new vector design I ended up with.

(I’m really quite proud of this one).

First step was embroidery. That by itself was a process. I wanted to make the dark cloud embroidered as well; not just a shape cut out of fabric, so it took a pretty long time. There also wasn’t thick enough fabric in the color I wanted, so I ended up learning how to use stabilizer. The entire embroidery took about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours? I remember this because I stayed about 30 minutes past closing time because I was waiting for the embroidery to finish. 

It went… alright, but the text didn’t come out too clean. I think part of that may have been the font choice (did you know that text doesn’t really translate very well into the embroidery program we use? i know now. You basically have to redo any text you might have on your vector design, which was… fun…….), and also that the repeated punching of the background + text may have made the lines a little more squiggly. The initial product was definitely pretty hard to read.

I spent some time cleaning it up with little scissors + a lint roller, but I don’t seem to have a specific picture of the-after for that.

Other than the text, and the stars coming out more like tiny tiny dots, I was pretty happy with it overall. 

Anyway, step two, LED’s.

Initially, I was going to try to put the LED’s on the points of the whale where the stars in the original image had been. Upon finishing the patch itself, I realized it was… not the best idea. The patch was too thick to have it poke through, and setting it up to let the LED’s poke through probably would have messed up some structural integrity.

So, NEW PLAN: place them around in a sort of framing manner. I was going to use conductive thread + sewable LED’s for this part, which I was pretty excited about. I had 5 LED’s and more or less had the idea of how I wanted to place them.

So I then embarked on a Series Of Bad Decisions.

Bad decision 1: I decided I wanted to sew them all into place first, and just light them all up at the same time. I think at the time, I was 1- trying to make sure I didn’t forget how I wanted to place them and 2- optimize my time in the lab so I wouldn’t have to take home the roll of conductive thread (because I would then be in danger of losing it). That said, it was a pretty terrible decision. Some knowledge of circuits in my mind and vaguely remembering “the positives and negative lines cant touch!” I sewed all the negative threads first.

Ended up with this.

Which is, as you can tell, a mess. I, staring at it, went, “shoot, I can’t really sew the positive lines without them crisscrossing each other.” and instead of, say, taking them out and trying to do each LED 1 by 1, went. “I will force them not to touch”, and sewed on a layer of cloth, to act as a buffer between the negative and positive lines. like, this piece of cloth went over the battery pack, and had holes cut out for where I wanted the needle to go through the holes of the pack. It was, very, very suspicious looking.

[Apparently I don’t have a picture of the back after I did all that. That’s okay. It was a mess. This is a good explanation of my line of thinking]

(It speaks to how sketchy it was that I don’t know whether the actual end result was more or less ugly than that diagram).

And then! After all that! It didn’t work.

(This is actually also a photo of the before-positive. I can promise you it didn’t work though).

Anyway, at this point in time, I had left the fab lab, cut a length of the conductive thread (“just in case”), and been sewing in the positive threads at random moments. Once I realized it wasn’t working, i put it away for a while for future-me to debug.

Over the course of a couple days, in hopes I would not have to rethread everything, I ruled out possible explanations such as:

1- not-working battery (this was actually the case but it didn’t work with a working battery either).

2- the thread didn’t work + needed more contact to work. (it was actually the other way around. I’d assumed it would need several loops of contact to have enough surface area. But even one thread was enough).

3- the LED’s weren’t working. (I couldn’t actually test this one without rethreading everything anyway).

4- I was trying to power too many LED’s. (Per me asking Emilie, a standard coin cell battery could power at least like 6.)

5- repeatedly taking out the battery and putting it back in might make it work possibly maybe. (tested this many times).

After all that, I sighed, and took it apart. (and confirmed that yes, the LED’s worked.)

(this took surprisingly long on its own).

At this point- about 5 PM on Sunday, I also realized I had misplaced my spare conductive thread. So, I was left with a tangle of already-used conductive thread, mostly in short chunks because taking it apart had been difficult, even after I’d realized I would need it, and tried to cut it as sparingly as possible, a pretty limited set of hours, and a good reminder of why one should test things in small increments instead of trying to do everything at once. iteration, shaoyie.

anyway, once I realized you 1- don’t need that much thread to make circuits, and 2- i didn’t have to tie down the battery back with conductive thread, I wasn’t too worried, although already-used conductive thread isn’t very cooperative with being used again.

I did, however, manage to mess up AGAIN, and sew down an LED the wrong way. 

You might see the little tiny plus and minus on there. I did too. Unfortunately I did not heed them when I was sewing it into place. “why not, shaoyie?” don’t worry, I don’t know either.

Anyway, so that leaves us with the finished product! I will improve upon it in the future, possibly, but for now, this is just about it.

The whale says hello!

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