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

Final project – Eric Hallstrom

My first thought when rereading my writeups was how bad of a writer I am. There is no story and tons of mistakes in them. It was simple a boring reading. Maybe I can do better in this last assignment. The second though that hit me was that I literally said I failed with every project I made. How does this reflect upon my learning? How does finishing something and saying it failed radiates upon my learning experience? First, I think failing is good and perhaps I feel more comfortable with failing now than I did before this course, it’s too early to tell.  Second, the learning in this course have been very different compared to what I’m used to but at the same time very similar. This might sound like a confusing statement but bare with me.

The typical learning within the academia is to read a book or listen to a dude (yes, I’ve had one female professor during my  five years at KTH), understand the book, memorize certain things and remember what you learned so you can relate your new learning to other knowledge you learned before. And the reason you do this it so you can be right, right? To be right in the way your rightness is based in experience and knowledge, you want to be able to answer questions with correct answers right? But since this course requires tons of creativity, old knowledge is not applicable. Old experiences can’t be used to be creative, experience is the opposite of being creative. Being right is extremely valued in computer science and in engineering in general and in this course, noone is right. This is why this course have been so amazingly awesome and not being right is probably the factor that has contributed most to my learning.

I’m quite sceptic to the maker identity and don’t really see why one must adapt a identity to create stuff. The actual experience when reflecting upon the maker identity has been quite bad to be frank. Maybe it’s not the identity thats wrong but just who actually is a maker. During my time at the fablab I felt that there is two kind of makers. There is the people  who are there and doing temporary stuff, it’s hard to explain who they are but I guess they are the people who don’t ‘hang’ around at the fablab and then there is the people who hang around at the fablab on a continuous basis. The former kind of people seems to be very focused on their own stuff and is almost sucked up in themselves because all focus in on completing the task they have. Comparing this with the latter kind of people which is super helpful and really contributes to the awesome atmosphere at the fablab it’s quite a big difference. However, I’ve definitely developed a confidence as a maker but I tend to put too much focus on the engineering side of things. To move away from the functional and technical stuff has been quite hard for me and this is also here where my initial ideas get stuck. But I guess it’s also here where my confidence is rooted, I know what my technical abilities are which contributes a lot to what I choose to make. I would like to take my maker definition to be a fine balance between art and engineering and it’s definitely something I will strive for in the future.

My final project was a Spirograph which was a nice combination of engineering and art. The challenging parts was the moving parts in the constriction, to have something spinning freely but sits in place turned out to be quite hard.

My first learning goal was a continuation on the theme I’ve been following since this course started – failing. I wanted to fail fast compared to what I’ve done in previous assignments which is something I actually managed to do. I did tons of iterations in different materials from paper printouts, different wood materials and different techniques to create the gears.

My second learning goal was to be able to express art by using my engineering knowledge and I guess this boils down to if I actually succeeded with the project or not.  Succeeding is something that I felt I actually did this time and it didn’t turn out like the rest of the assignments I’ve done this semester.

The main reason for succeeding in this project was me reaching out to others to get input and feedback. I frequently discussed my problems with peers and when Brandon came in to assist and contribute to ideas, that was the turning point for the project. It was in this stage I started to combine wood and 3d printed parts to make up for the lack of flexibility and modifiability that wood has. I did the majority of the cuts with the laser engraver which feels like you have one shot to make it right and if you fail you just wasted tons of material. Comparing this stiffness to 3D printing where material waste is almost eliminated.


During the project I got fluent in Tinkercad and discovered lots of features that I didn’t know about back when we did the 3D printing assignments.  One of the features I requested in the write up was to be able to pivot different objects, this button was just to the right! Together with pivoting and alignment, creating models was really easy and fast which made up for the long printing times.  

As I said before, I’m sceptic to the maker identity. I’m not embracing the identity in the same way I do with being a CS major or a programmer or a baker or something else I really like to do. Can it be because the term maker is too broad? is being a maker the most natural thing we can do? I don’t identify myself with being a human, being a human is just something you are. At the same time, does everyone make stuff? do making stuff just refers to the stuff you make in a makerspace? Or is cooking your own dinner, making connections in a bar, making progress in your work or just making your life healthy? included in the term maker? The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not possible to conclude one definition of what a maker is since it’s such a subjective topic and making is the most natural thing a human can do.


I definitely think this course managed to capture both of Seymours suggestions. However, the focus tended to be on learning the actual equipment for the first part of the assignments and then continued on for the personalisation in the last step of the assignments. This setup was necessary in order to actually create something but I think the last step could include more theory of some sort, maybe some fundamental theory of physics or some psychology theory. I don’t really know what that actually means and the balance between locking down one in the prompts and to have the freedom to personalise it was well done and I wouldn’t prefer this course to be a pure science course that ends up in a big science fair.


Art progress, can you see the which one is the first produced vs the last ?

It’s getting there, spring roll stuck in a vortex


Progress 2

Motor mount

Motor shield to control the stepper motor.

Washers to keep the drawing axis up, 3d printed

Found a steel plate which was perfect for keeping the magnets in place and the wobble is removed!

3d printed motor holder

Magnet holder, printed with the Flashforge printer, the quality is insane!

Printed a washer to keep the central magnet in place because the laser engraved hole was a bit to large.

Mount to connect the gear with the motor,

Best printer out there!

Problem with wood, one day I came back to work on the project and because of the moist in the air the wood had curved…

Initial design without magnets, It was really hard to align the gears on the wobble was insane.

Some electric tejp and screws to keep up the gears, didn’t work very well.

One iteration, was wobbling and didn’t really work..

Gear cutting!

Learned how to use the shapenkoo milling machine, only worked with a very soft wood though.

CNC milling

First pair of gears, this was done with really thick plywood and an insane angle of for the teeth



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Pom Pom Robot

To start, can we take a minute to appreciate how weird inchworms are?

Half of their body forays into new territory, and it drags the rear half along with it. If the idea was to make a strange robot, then an inchworm is exactly what I wanted to emulate.

I started off by just hooking up the two motors to the arduino and making them obey my bidding — making them move together, separately, asynchronously, and so on. I ended up having two motors that just sat there clapping for the longest time, while I moved on.

The next (and possibly hardest) part of this was just visualizing the parts I’d need to make this happen. Given two motors, I had to somehow make this complicated motion work. I broke it down into parts – the midsection and the ends. The midsection does “crunches”, so there would need to be a point at the middle. I also decided to put motor at the front, to have a little head piece. (This decision was arbitrary, though, and would probably also have worked at the back) At this stage, my little worm looked something like this:

I had to hold the “head” of the worm because it kept falling over when it scrunched up. To counteract this, I added half of a popsicle stick at the head. This would help keep balance and also help with traction. Another issue I identified was that the tail didn’t have any grip on the table, so a quick round with the hot glue gun helped remedy this.

This is what my robot looked like at the end of all this:

Finally, in order to get it to move, I figured I could either try tacking on another motor at the end, to try and make a retractable rear grip, or I could try to mess with the timings of each motor so that one end would be pressing against the floor harder than the other. The second one is what I ended up doing, and after much trial and error, I reached a point where my inchworm would inch along (albeit, really slowly).

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Iteration Design – Name Tag

For my iteration design project, I chose redo the name tag assignment. I wanted to make a name tag that was 3D and I wanted to model it after children’s alphabet blocks. To make this, I knew I’d have to learn how to create a box from plywood using the laser cutter. I’ve seen a lot of boxes made of plywood lying around the Fab Lab, so I know it was doable. This is my first name tag!

First, to make the box, I used an Inkscape extension called TabbedBoxMaker. Figuring out how to install the extension was confusing since most of the instructions online involved PC and I had a Mac. The next confusing part was the options to make the box. This included a lot of terminology that I was unfamiliar with, such as “kerf” and “joint clearance”. I played around with the options and decided that the options that were important to me were the box dimensions (length, width, and height), the tab width, and the box type. 

During the laser cutting process, I wanted the laser cutter to cut the rasterized parts of my design deeper. One of the staff, Jeremy, told me that to change the cut depth, I needed to change the speed. Using a slower speed meant that it would cut the plywood deeper, but using too slow of a speed can cause the plywood to catch on fire. Initially, I set the speed to 50% and to make it cut deeper, I ran the laser cutter over my plywood four times for each block. To speed things up, Jeremy changed the speed to 25% so that I only had to cut the plywood twice for each block. That was a pretty neat tip! 


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Iteration Project

For my iteration project, I decided to revisit my initial idea for the vinyl sticker project. I had envisioned making a Yoshi sticker for that but was unsuccessful in that at the time. I grew up playing all sorts of Yoshi and Mario games on my Nintendo and so I thought it would be a great idea to create a sticker for Yoshi! So going back I figured out two aspects I could tweak to make it successful: reduce the number of layers from ~9 to 6 and remove the really thin and delicate alterations from the design as they were not coming out of the cutter unscathed.

This time, even as it worked, I made an error and layered them wrong which resulted in me printing them again and trying to fix the sticker. (I absolutely love Yoshi, and there was no way I was abandoning him again.)  

I managed to get it right this time and successfully made the sticker! Instead of going the originally thought route of creating a Yoshi that looks exactly like the one from the file, I decided to make a pop up style version of the sticker. 

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Project 8 – Iteration Project

For this project, I recreated my name tag that I made on my first week. I was debating either I make another name tag out of the same material(wood + acrylic) but in a different dimension (3D model, like a box) or using the laser cutter on a different material. I already chose my final project to be in wood and acrylic (spoiler!), so I chose to use a totally different material to laser cut.

 <- Initial name tag

Dot told the class about the laser-cut lace, and my heart was set right there. I was going to create a coaster with a doily design. 


I got a silhouette of lace doily from Google, and added my name on it. However, this seemed pretty bare, let alone lonely. I made some more of this design for each member of my family, because, why not?

The fabric I had in hand was aida fabric, which came in the embroidery kit I bought for fun. The material seemed sturdy enough to be semi-waterproof, and it was white, so it could be a good doily. One thing I was afraid of was if it would catch on fire while cutting, since there was no distinctive settings for the laser cutter to cut through fabric. Thankfully, I had staff to help me, and I could cut the fabric with cardboard settings with ease.


One thing I recognized after cutting the doilies was how bare they were. I had each to be 4in*4in, which gave me a lot of white space. To compensate for the bareness, I chose to hand-sew (or embroider) some graphic on it. Being Asian, I chose to go with Chinese Zodiac animals. I had to teach myself how to cross-stitch with different patterns, which took me a while.

If I were to do make the project better, I would embroider on the fabric first before cutting it: the delicate pieces started to fall apart when I tried to grip them while embroidering. Also, I would change the design of the cutouts so that the holes would not be too narrow, which will allow a cleaner, whiter product.


I really liked experimenting with new media, I might give another random material a try.

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Iteration Project

Our task for this week was to reiterate on one of our past projects. I had initially planned on redoing the copper tape project. I wanted to build a boat with LEDs that lit up when placed in water (therefore, water being the switch). The issue I ran into was that even with a lot of salt, the water did not conduct enough electricity to light up even a singular LED with the given 3V battery.

Therefore, I decided to pivot completely, and redo my nametag project. This time, I decided that instead of a simple nametag, I would create a 3D structure that could potentially act like a lamp-shade, and cast a shadow of a logo on the wall.


I decided to go with the Avengers logo. With the much palpable excitement and anticipation before the movie release,  I wanted to create something to make my excitement levels reach higher. Since the Avenger logo is an A, which also happens to be my initial, I imagined it would look cool when the shadow of the logo was casted on a wall when a light was placed inside.

I was happy with the end result since it is something that I will keep on my desk with a light inserted since it would be cool to have my own Avengers Assemble signal.

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Iteration Project

For this project, I wanted to reiterate my paper circuit project. I was dissatisfied with my general approach for the original project, so I decided to scrap the original idea and remake it entirely. My initial project is shown below.

I felt that the artistic aspect was underwhelming for what I had wanted. This flaw along with the fact that the LEDs did not work and that the circuit was not as interactive as I had wanted it to be led me to scrap the project entirely and start over.

My new soft circuit project is a jigsaw puzzle that lights up when all of the pieces are connected. I set out to make this project happen because I wanted a soft circuit that was more interactive than the original setup. 

I created the initial base puzzle using the laser cutter. In inkscape, I created a silhouette of the image I wanted to etch into the board and cut up the entire square area into a jigsaw puzzle in inkscape. The subject for the photo I used was the marina towers in Chicago. I also cut holes in the puzzle pieces as slots for the LEDs to sit in. I planned to create a night scene and paint around the towers so I could use the LEDs as stars.

To connect the circuit, I created a base board for the puzzle with two open slots for power and ground of the battery on the back of the board. I created a copper tape circuit as shown below that connects the circuit through the puzzle pieces. I started by only connecting one LED just to test out the puzzle circuit design. The connections are shown below. 

I spent a lot of time figuring out why this single LED was not working and came to the conclusion that the connections weren’t solid enough to send the current through. I figured that applying a strong border around the puzzle would help solidify the connections between the pieces. I had created a border but it ended up being too wide to hold the pieces. I was also suggested to place copper tape connections on the base of the puzzle to help the connection more. I spent so much time debugging this single LED that I was unable to implement these, changes any of the other LEDs, or paint the puzzle.

It was very frustrating for me to spend time connecting the circuit piece by piece using the copper tape, which was a very tedious process, only to find out that the connections were too weak to work with. I had figured this would be a straightforward circuit to “wire”, but it was very time-consuming and prone to failure. 

I had hoped to see a finished project that came together as I had originally imagined, but my time constraints led me to lower my expectations and I ended up spending most of my time debugging the circuit, which I was not expecting.

If I were to redo this project, I would rely on copper tape on the baseboard rather than on the inter connections between the pieces. I would have also created a simple circuit using a few of my connections between the pieces to make sure it worked before snaking a couple of feet of copper tape around the outer border of the puzzle in the hopes that it would work out just fine. I would have better planned for my plans to go south. 

The final product at this point is show below. I may come back and iterate upon it more and hopefully end up with what I originally had in mind.

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Iteration Project

For the iteration project, I decided to build off of our sticker assignment. For instance for my sticker project, I made a girl who had on sunglasses. After looking at it again, I realized how cool it would look in a more 3D version. Because of this I decided to use the laser printer to cut out acrylic pieces so that I could put them together. I then stacked the acrylic together to make a nice piece. Also I used the stickers to add a little more detail to my 3D sticker design to hopefully make the design pop more. Lastly I decided to use an LED because I thought it would compliment the clear piece well and cast a glow behind it. 

When you look at my piece, You can see that it actually has 3 layers of acrylic. My base piece consist of a clear piece of acrylic where I cut out the whole head shape of the piece. I additionally rastored on the original details of her face so that we could see it and also so that I could have an outline for my other acrylic pieces. I then cut out a piece of black acrylic that I could use for her hair. I then decided to attach it behind the clear piece instead of on top because I thought it looked way better. I then cut out pieces of blue acrylic to use for her glasses and mouth. I ended up really liking it because I think it added more dimensions to the piece and it added a pop of color. 

Also for the sticker portion, there was actually a lot more that I wanted to do with the stickers but unfortunately I could not separate the stickers out of their original position. I tried cutting it multiple times under higher settings but I still had no luck. Because of this, my sticker portion isn’t as clean or detailed as I would have wanted it to be. Overall though, I tried to use stickers to add more detail to her glasses and her hair. 

Ultimately, I think that the assignment was fun and I enjoyed seeing a 3D dimension version of my sticker design. If I had to change anything, I would upgrade how the stickers looked on the piece and maybe make the LED light stand out more since I had to press it for it to really work.

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Iteration Project- Aisha Motan

The project i chose to do my iteration piece around was the laser name tag. My previous one had some issues with the globe. This time around, I wanted to incorporate other techniques I have learned thus far in the class. They first thing I did was design my project on a piece of paper and I realized I wanted to run with my previous world idea. This time, I wanted it to be more focused on that. Originally, I designed my project to raster in the globe, however the day i went into use the laser machine it was down so I thought to myself what can I do to make this equally creative but still incorporate all my ideas. From that, I laser cut a circle and removed the globe from inside of it so it just rastered my name on to the bottom of the circle. Here is the progress picture of the laser cutter and the design on the computer.


Then, I used the globe design to cut out a sticker of the globe, I did two layers of the sticker, the ocean part blue and the land part green. Getting the pieces where they were supposed to go was very difficult because of how small the vinyl pieces were but all in all i was really happy with how the globe fit together and it ended up being my favorite part. Here is a picture of globe sticker I created. 

Another difficult part was centering the globe onto the circle which a major part of my original design. The next step was getting that on there which I did by using the transfer tape. Then came a more complicated part. I wanted to add lights around the world to make it look like there were stars surrounding it. I added two lights on each side. Getting the copper tape to loop around and connecting the negatives to positives was difficult but drawing it out on paper before starting helped so much. I ended up getting all four to work and I was really happy with the end product. I like this name tag much more than the last one, especially because of all the new tools I used to get it to look how i wanted it to look. Here is my final design with the lights and with the lights in a darker setting. 

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Project 8- Iteration on 3D Printing

For this week’s project we got to work on a previous project in the class and redo the project to expand upon the idea, utilizing the skills we have learned in this class to improve upon the concept and design. I chose to work on the 3D printing lab, the prompt I used in this lab was, 

Imagine a themed set of flatware or dishes for dining that is more interesting or creative than existing versions. This will involve designing several parts for a set that are tied together in some substantive way. You may wish to consider certain sorts of users as well as places people eat, or specific kinds of foods that they might match.” 

The design I came up with the first time is shown above. I worked in tinkercad to develop a set of flatware that could be carried in a portable manner for people who pack a lunch and want to conserve plastic (from plastic one use silverware). The design I came up with was a “swiss army flatware”. When I got into the designing of this the first time I was unable to complete all the parts I imagined, and I was only able to print a small version of the flatware. In my previous blog post I stated,

“I think conceptually I had the right ideas, however I should print another iteration to solve these problems and still need to see how the capsule would function with the moving pieces, to see if my ideas will actually function well.”

So I was excited to revisit this project and see what all I could accomplish. First, I knew I needed to print the design to be bigger, so that they were a realistic size that could fit in someone’s hand. I printed the design at the Illinois Makerlab. It took about 5 hours. I though the larger print would solve the previous issue I had with my knife being a bit thin and fragile, however, I think looking at how the print came out I should’ve increased the thickness of this a bit before printing.

I also had to design how the silverware would be enclosed. In class I drew out some options, fabric capsules, acrylic, 3D-printed, and wood. After discussions with my TA, Sara, about the pros and cons of different options, I decided to design a press-fit box version using wood. I lazer cut a first prototype of the box after printing the flatware to see the dimensions of the object and figure out how I wanted the moving parts to function within the box, I had to think through how the silverware would come out of the capsule one at a time. This was a bit tricky. I ended up lazer cutting 2 press fit boxes.



A lot of options I came up with that would aid in pulling the silverware out of the box, hindered the use of the silverware or the design of the box. I came up with a solution, after talking through some different ideas, and I realized I needed a few other parts to be 3D printed. I chose to create spacers that would hold the 3 silverware pieces at specific heights, and I created a handle to attach to the back of the silverware so that the pieces could be “swung” out of the slots on the box. I also had to measure slots for the silverware to come out of the box, and estimate the height of each so they lined up with the silverware on the peg. Above are the designs for the box and the extra 3D pieces, and below this are the in progress images of me putting all these different parts together.


I ran into many issues with this iteration project that I had to spend time thinking and designing alternative solutions for as I went. Before starting this I thought the iteration of my first idea would be relatively simple, however there were so many aspects I hadn’t considered. Like how the parts would move out of the capsule, how would the silverware remain at the height they needed to be to get out of the slots smoothly, and how would someone actually use this? The one thing I still feel concerned about with this design is that it’s too large and cumbersome for someone to actually use. Also the box shape, with sharp corners do not fit comfortably in my hand, and the silver ware only move 90 degrees, making it impossible to use the tool (180 would be much better). However, I think given the materials and skills I have that this gave me an opportunity to think more about moving parts and physical design issues and that I feel I succeeded in building upon my previous idea. 

“Inside the box” problem solving


Final Product

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Iteration Project

For this iteration assignment, I am remaking my original light-up card. Here is the original light-up card.

My goal is to create a 3D outdoor-scene based on the game “travel frog”.

The idea is that when I press a bottom, the house and a tree light up. And then when I turn on the power, there should be some other effect on the building.

The first thing I started with is the press-fit box. This box is used to hide Arduino motherboard. There are two holes on the side of the press-fit box. The one on the top is for the sensor, and the side one is for the USB cable. I searched a lot on the internet in order to find how to make a press-fit box. After I finally decided to ask a staff, he told me that the Fab lab has a program for it!

And then, I moved on to the top layer, which included the 3D scene and copper tape circuit. One problem I have is: since the house (or the rock) is made of aluminum foil, it might affect the conduction of the circuit! I turned out doing the circuit on a plastic paper and glued the paper onto the foil. Last time When I did the light-up card, the circuit is flat. But this time I need to find a way to connect the tree, the house, and find a place to the pattern. I draw a circuit first, and then see how it will work connecting all the design.

This is the part one of my iteration assignment.

I was not quite sure what sensor I would like to use. But because I have used the distance sensor and buzzer before, I would like to try something new. Therefore, I choose colorful auto flashing LED. After I connected the LED, jumper, and Arduino, and put it into the box, I found a mistake. The hole is too small to let the USB head go through. So I reprint the side with laser cut.

This is my final product. –> Watch the video IMG_5024

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