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

Assignment 8: Iteration

This week, we were tasked to make something new out of the things that we have learned throughout the semester. Earlier in the semester, I have created a motion sensor LED light where the LED light lights up when motion is detected. To iterate on that design, I decided to create a ‘smart dustbin’ that opens its lid when it detects motion (people trying to throw things). For this project, I have used laser cutting and Arduino. 

Motion sensor LED light

Initial design for project

To make the body of the dustbin, I decided to create a cube out of plywood. I used in order to print out the outline of the box. Using this website, I did not have to figure out the measurements in order to cut off the plywood. I have also measured out my sensor and added in the necessary holes for the box.

After printing having my six sides of the cubes cut off, I realised that I did not consider that a little space is needed in order to put the boxes together. As a result, I had to use a hammer to hit the corners of the boxes together. (I felt really bad because I was making so much noise at the Fablab!) While it was more trouble than expected to put the box together, the box has become really hard to pull apart, which is actually a good thing! 

After putting the box together, I used the code from the motion sensor project and edited it so that the output will move the servo 180 degree (in order to open the lid of the dustbin). Instead of using the PIR motion sensor, I decided to use the ultrasonic sensor.  This took a while as I do not have a lot of coding experience, but thanks to Google, I managed to get it to work! 

Here’s a picture of my final project:

Essentially, the dustbin will detect if someone passes by. When it detects motion, it will send to servo to turn a 180 degree. I initially wanted to place the servo inside the box, but found it hard to make the lid to close once it opens. Thus I decided to put the servo on top of the lid/ outside the box. Since the tip of the servo is connected to the lid, the servo will pull the lid along with it, opening the dustbin. Here, it took me some trial and error to figure out the right tension of the string between the tip of the servo and the lid. Since a looser tension will not close the lid when servo goes back to its initial position, and a higher tension will prevent the servo to turn a full 180 degree. Nevertheless, after some time, I finally managed to get it to work.

Here’s a video of it at work: smart dustbin

However, I realised that the lid is not closing properly after a couple of rounds. I figured that this is because the gap between the two parts of the lids (that is connected by the tape) becomes loose after several rounds, pushing the smaller lid outward. I realised that I should have cut down this section maybe about 2-3mm smaller in order for this work seamlessly. 

Certainly, my project is not perfect and there is still room for improvement, but I’m pretty proud with what I was able to make for this project. 

Continue Reading

Assignment 8: Iteration Project.

For this assignment we were tasked with remaking an idea from a previous assignment in a meaningful way. I choose to re make my vinyl sticker and use different technologies in order to create a more interesting final product. Here you can see a video of my sticker.

From the video you can see that the majority of the sticker came out well, the only major fault was that the letters were not cut out well. The inner section of the “B” and the “R” were missing and one of the “E’s” was crooked. If I were to try and remake this lettering using the vinyl cutter the result would most likely be very similar unless I dramatically increased the size of the font. Instead, I decided to use the laser cutter and layers of clear acrylic to replicate the effect of the vinyl sticker. I also wanted to integrate an arduino and some neopixels in order to make the project more interesting. 

I started by modeling the acyrlic inserts as well as the bottom container in Fusion360. Each of the acrylic inserts has tabs on the bottom that help it line up with the base as well as serve as a path way for the lights of the neopixels to pass through. All together there will be three acrylic inserts in order to make all of the layers.

After I had modeled everything in Fusion360 I was able to start fabrication. For the lower base I used 3D printing to replicate the complex shapes.

Top part of base to hold acrylic

Bottom part of base to encase the arduino

There was some layer separation issues on these prints that didn’t look so great but functionally they worked. For the acrylic inserts I was able to import the sketch from Fusion360 into InkScape where I then made duplicates and merged it with the original SVG file I had from the sticker project. Because the neopixels are slightly offset in order to reduce light bleeding between the layers, two of the acrylic inserts needed to have the tabs on mirrored. In order to achieve this I simply mirrored the svg in InkScape. Unfortunately when I did this I mirrored the vectored content and the rastered content separately. This caused the raster art to be mirrored on it.s own axis as opposed to the axis of the vector shape. This meant that the rastered art did not line up through all of the layers.

Middle insert not lining up with the other two

I was able to modify my vector files so that the middle insert would be lined up with the other two.

After the inserts were completed I was able to work on attaching the neopixels to the base of the stand. Because I was had three rows of LEDs I needed to cut the strand into three sections and then wire them back together in order to make a new strand. This step was simple enough with a soldering iron but I did end up wiring the extensions on the wrong side initially and had to redo them. Once I had my new stand I was able to hot glue it to the top of my base.

From here I just connected the assembly to my arduino and found come code online that cycled all of the lights in a neopixel strand through the rainbow. A video of it cycling though all of the colors can be seen here.

Although this was the second iteration of the project, that does not mean that this is a final product or that there is nothing that could be improved. When designing the enclosure for the arduino I did not take into account the fact that the arduino itself would need power through a battery bank and or an external cable. This means that the base can not contain all of the electronics itself which is a bit disappointing. The holes in the top component of the base also are a bit loose with the inserts in. Additionally I noticed near the end of my project that my acrylic inserts acquired a lot of micro scratches through the process that are sadly visible because of the lighting effects. If I were to iterate through this project again I think I would make some major changes to the base of the piece and be more careful when handling and storing the acrylic. 

Despite these flaws I was very pleased with how this came out. The lighting effects are very cool looking and are even clearly visible during the day! I was also pleased to see that the base I modeled in Fusion360 worked so well the first time.


Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment: Nametag 2.0

Initial Design and Planning

I wanted to redo my nametag for the iteration assignment ever since I found out I actually lasered the wrong side of the acrylic (which is why it was hard to see the raster design :/).  My initial nametag (the build process of which is given here) had the theme of a computer monitor and different parts of the nametag (my name, job titles, etc.) were delimited by pseudo-Linux shell commands.  For my iteration, I wanted to keep the computer theme of the nametag but augment it with an actual computer, namely a Pi Zero W, that other people could interact with from their laptops or phones.  The Pi would be powered by a spare micro-USB phone battery bank I had lying around.

So my iterative design was to use the same text of my first nametag to keep the computer theme going, but make a bigger nametag box that contained a Pi Zero W.  That Pi Zero W would run a web server that other people could access via a web browser (e.g. Edge, Chrome) to interact with the nametag.  Bolting on a large screen to the nametag is a bit overkill and would be distracting, so instead I planned to have LEDs next to the psuedo-Linux commands that, when someone typed in the corresponding command on the Pi’s web page, would turn that command’s LED.

Original Nametag

Sketch of Nametag 2.0.  Interaction between nametag and other user shown (e.g. HTTP requests through a web browser)

Build Process

Pi Zero W and LED circuitry

All of the code I wrote for the Pi Zero W are on Github and you can view it here.  There are 2 main Python libraries I used:

  • Flask to run the webserver.  You can install Flask from any Python package manager worth its salt and you can view its source code on Github here
  • RPi.GPIO to control the LEDs via GPIO pins.  You can find the library on PyPi here

Each LED is a simple series circuit with a GPIO pin as the input voltage, followed by a 330 Ohm resistor, and then leading to ground.  To make the wiring of multiple LEDs easier, I combined some of the wiring onto a mini breadboard.  This especially helped with wiring to ground since there are a finite number of GPIO pins on the Pi dedicated to ground.

One LED circuit.  The top right of the breadboard is the common row used for ground

I recorded a short video while I was testing the LED Python control code, which you can view here


All 3 LEDs Attached to Breadboard and Pi.  Each LED has its own GPIO output pin, but all LEDs are lead to the same ground GPIO pin through a common row on the breadboard

I wrote a test script to test multiple LEDs wired up together and to make sure that I wasn’t turning on multiple LEDs at the same time.  You can see the video here.


Pi Zero W and Flask Webserver

The Flask webserver runs out of port 8080 has two primary endpoints for other devices to interact with it.  The first is “/home”, which returns an HTML page.  Users that want to interact with the nametag will navigate their web browser to this endpoint.  They will see a webpage like the below picture

Picture of the /home webpage on my laptop’s web browser

The user has to type in the same commands that are on the nametag (“whoami”, “ls -l /home/mike/work”, or “sudo rm -rf /bad/vibes”) and dictate how long to turn on the LED.  When they click “Send Command” after typing in their command, the webpage makes an HTTP request to the second main endpoint, /activateLED.  If the command was typed correctly on the webpage, then the LED corresponding to that command will be illuminated for however many seconds the user specified.

Small Tangent About IP Addresses

One problem I didn’t anticipate right away is how to determine what the IP address of the Pi will be, like  In order for two computers to communicate in a network, the sender needs to know the IP address of the destination computer so that the data is correctly routed through the network.

Typically when you browse the Internet, you never have to think about IP addresses because the Internet infrastructure has something called Domain Name System (DNS).  With DNS, you just have to remember a simple string like “” or “” and DNS will take care of figuring out the IP address of the correct webserver.  But with my project, I don’t have DNS at my disposal.  So for another computer to connect to the Pi Zero W in the nametag, the user has to explicitly know the IP address of the Pi on the network the Pi is currently connected to.  This is slightly complicated further because in typical home networks, devices that connect to the WiFi router are assigned private IP addresses via a system called Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) and the private IP address a device is assigned may be different on different days when the device joins the network again.  You can statically assign IP addresses within the private network, but every time you do this a sysadmin cries.

The bottom line is that before I could interact with the Pi wirelessly, I had to hook it up to a monitor to view its network configurations and assigned IP address.  For example, I used a monitor in the Fab Lab to connect the Pi to its Wifi (IllinoisNet_Guest instead of IllinoisNet because IllinoisNet is configured to not allow computers running unusual operating systems, like Raspbian on the Pi, from connecting to that network) and to view its assigned private IP address.  I did this by plugging into a Pi, opening up a terminal and typing ifconfig

The output was is shown above and the parts we care about are highlighted in red.  ifconfig spits out all the network configuration information for all network interfaces of a computer (e.g. Ethernet, WiFi, loopback).  For our purposes, we only care about the IP address for the WiFi interface, which is denoted in the wlan0 section.  Inside that section we care most about the inet line, which contains the IP address of our Pi (

Now that we know the IP address of the Pi, a computer connected to the same network as the Pi (IllinoisNet_Guest) can access its home page by opening up a web browser and going to the URL “”…which is the private IP address of the Pi (, followed by a colon and then the port we want to connect (8080, since that’s the port Flask is running out of), followed he endpoint we want to use (“/home”)

Also, to actually start the webserver I have to input the command to start the webserver on the Pi itself.  Now that I know the IP address of the Pi, I can login to the Pi remotely via SSH and start the webserver with the command

nohup python &

python starts the webserver, the & says to run the command in the background, and nohup allows the command to still keep running after I logout of the SSH session.  This way to start the nametag I just have to SSH into the Pi for a few minutes to start the server, then I can disconnect from the Pi and the webserver will keep running until I power off the Pi.

Making the Nametag Box Pieces

To make the nametag box I measured the size of the whole circuit (Pi + battery+ wiring + breadboard) and found I needed a box at least the size (8 x 4 x 4.5) inches to contain the whole package and have a 16:9 “screen resolution” for the front of the box.

The front of the nametag would be a larger version of my v1 nametag, and the rest of the box would be cut out of plywood.  I designed the front of the nametag by copy-pasting the text element from my v1 nametag’s SVG file and resizing it to fit the larger 8 x 4 inch dimensions. 

The rest of the box was made by making simple rectangles in Inkscape and resizing them to the correct dimensions.

Some of the cut box pieces

I wanted to make the box be a press-fit box, so I manually added tabs and notches to each of the pieces so that they would press into place.  However, after I cut everything out I realized that I misplaced some of the notches and I had to cut more into the notch so all the pieces would fit.  Unfortunately it wasn’t until after I had cut out everything that someone told me about Box Designer, an online application that will generate press fit boxes designs for you.

Final Assembly

Now I could go on to make the final nametag.  First, I drilled out holes on the left side panel to align with the commands on the front of the nametag (the blue lines I drew on the following picture) for the LEDs to sit in. I drilled the holes large enough to fit the LED legs through but small enough that the LED itself would not go through the hole.

Then I assembled the bottom, back, and side panels together.  I used duct-tape to hold the pieces in place while I glued the edges where the pieces connected (since my press-fit design failed).

Then I placed the Pi, battery, and LED circuity inside the box and powered up the Pi with the battery.

Finally, I added on the top and front portions of the box.  I didn’t glue these pieces in place because I wanted some pieces free to be taken off when I had to power off the Pi.


You can see the nametag in action using my home WiFi in this video.


Final Reflection and v3.0?

I’m happy with how the Pi Zero and electronics worked out, but the nametag box could be better.  As mentioned previously in this blog, I could have used the Box Designer to make a press-fit box to save myself a lot of time and actually make a true press-fit box.  But compared to v1.0, the actual nametag is much easier to read than v1.0: the font is larger and I remembered to raster the right side of the acrylic 😛

I was surprised with how much physical space the whole Pi package took up (Pi Zero + battery + USB cable + LED circuitry.  In my head, the nametag box was supposed to be smaller than the (8 x 4 x 4.5) inches the final result turned out to be.

Making the webserver was easy because I’ve used the Flask library many times for various CS classes.  It’s a great library for writing quick HTTP webservers and simple to use.

If I was to iterate on this iteration, I would use Box Designer to make a cleaner box and I would pretty up the /home webpage to make it feel more like an actual computer terminal (something like this).

Continue Reading

Assignment 8: Iteration

Wow, I can’t believe that the semester is coming to an end (graduation is just around the corner, don’t know what to feel about it). So this week we had to do our iteration assignment. We have to take something that we have previously done (or the skills that we have previously learned) and try to make something unique and kick it up a notch.

So, I knew that I wanted to do something with Arduino. This part of the class – although quite tedious for someone who is a newbie in coding – piqued my interest the most. With Arduino, I can create things that I thought I would never be able to do since I am not an engineer. After browsing the internet for ideas, I came to this MakeUseOf article on how to make a mood lamp ( I found this article really interesting because I think it would be a really neat idea to have a mood lamp by my bedside for ambiance. In addition to that, I get to use other materials I have not used previously in the lab such as laser printing acrylics and woodworking. 

I chose this project to explore the possibilities of using the laser printer. Previously, I have only done it to create a simple name tag out of wood. I really wanted to use other materials for experiments. Second, I also wanted to explore the possibilities that an Arduino can manage. The oscillating lights code for the mood lamp is the perfect approach to this intention. 

So first I had to tweak with the Arduino. I created the circuit according to the schematics presented in the article. It took some tries and redoing to get the inputs correct, but after that, I managed to finish the Arduino circuit.

Now came the interesting part. I used Inkscape to create my design for the mood lamp cover. I was inspired by the tesseract in the Avengers movie (the Endgame movie is coming out this week!).

To pay homage to that, I designed the mood lamp cover to be a simple cube. I used the acrylic to create a simple yet aesthetically pleasing design. I was excited when the laser printing was done, however, I did not calculate the thickness of the acrylic would add an extra 0.6cm to my cube, and some of the parts did not fit well. So I had to redesign it in Inkscape and cut it again to create the perfect cube. After that, I decided that I want to create a wooden box below to hide the Arduino. I used the same technique but this time I used wood so that the Arduino would not be visible from the outside. Then I used the hot glue gun to assemble everything. I decided to not stick the lamp cover (acrylic cube) to the Arduino cover (wooden box) so that if maintenance is needed (like a broken bulb or problematic cable) it is possible to do it without disassembling (breaking) the whole thing. All in all, I really enjoyed the process and really proud of what I accomplished. This class had been a very interesting and fun class. To be honest it is the class that I really look forward to every week because I get to make things and learn more about being a maker. 


Continue Reading

Makeathon Reflection – Mohammed Faiz Patangia

Participating in the Make-a-thon was a great experience, and it was fun to work on a product that would help someone. The name of my team was 3D-Balance, and we worked on creating a product that would provide additional balance to the people. We had a mentor, Jenna, who has a prosthetic leg, and because of that it is very difficult for her stand on that prosthetic leg. Prosthetic leg is not strong enough to handle wait of her body, and she also has trouble balancing herself through that leg. Also, because of that problem, she has trouble doing yoga. In yoga, balancing the body is a huge part, and because of prosthetic leg she was not able to do that. We worked on solving that problem.

For our first prototype, we designed a prosthetic leg that would provide some extra balance. The base of that redesigned prosthetic was circular and there would be a rod from that base, which would get attached to the upper part of the prosthetic. This entire product would provide additional balance, because of circular base, and to would not allow the user to have lateral motion, which would prevent user from loosing balance or falling. 

First Prototype

The problem with this prototype was that there would not be anything that would allow the user from restricting the motion. Even if there would be a slight fluctuation in the movement, the user may fall in backward or forward direction. The rod may be all the way in horizontal direction, because there is nothing that is stopping it, and user may fall. We though that we need something that would restrict the movement of the rod, and do that so that the user can control it.

For the second prototype, we worked on something that would restrict the movement of the rod. There was a lot of thought process that went into this, because the task was very challenging; we were thinking about adding the control without any electronics into the product. For this prototype, we had many different ideas and approaches, but at the end, we settled on one design. 

Different Designs

Prototype 2

In this prototype, we added some extra hinges that would get attached to the rode. We used parallelogram logic to design this prototype. This design would allow the rod to move in forward and backward direction. We added two supports to the bottom two parts of the parallelogram structure. The two supports would be made of flexible material, and the they would bend as the rod moves, and they would allow the rod to be back at the initial position; they would work like springs. The base would be the same bas from the first prototype. This design would restrict the movement of the rod, and it would prevent the user from falling. The problem with this design was that it was difficult to create the flexible material. We also started to think in a different direction. We thought that the person, with a prosthetic leg, already has a prosthetic leg, and we may not need to give them entire new leg, but just some supports to it. With prototype 2, they would need to carry the entire thing around every time, while going to gym, doing yoga, etc. For the third prototype, we thought about developing a product that would be an attachments to the existing prosthetic. 

For prototype 3, we designed a product that would attach to the prosthetic, like a sandal. We thought that if it would have a tripod kind of structure then it would give more balancing support to the leg. Our idea was that he could also this product for the elderly people, who have problem balancing themselves, most of the times in bathroom. Instead of 3D printing the design, we laser cut the wood, and then added belts to create a sandal like a structure. We also added some material at the bottom so that it creates more friction with the floor. The idea was to apply compliant mechanics to the product, so that the entire attachment could fold and unfold, when the user needs extra support. 


Final Product

Increasing friction of the base


Participating in make-a-thon was a great experience, and I learned through the process and peers. It was also great that we came up something useful, and something that would help others. I enjoyed the entire experience.

Continue Reading

Iterate the Dinosaur

The original project:

Dinosaur Pom Pom Bot

But it’s a bit fragile & not super practical for actual play. I wanted something I could give to a three year old.

The goal for iteration:

Create a customizable dinosaur puzzle for my nephew. The puzzle itself was to be made out of clear or translucent plexi so you can draw a background on paper or use stickers to make the dinosaurs different colors and give them fun faces.

I didn’t feel like starting from scratch so I found some free dinosaur silhouettes & simplified them by using the node feature of my dear frenemy Inkscape. I felt toes would get in the way of the puzzle interlocking easily so I deleted them. I also resized & arranged them to make a cohesive picture.

Sidenote: I wanted to work at home so I downloaded Inkscape on my computer. I did the 64 bit version for Windows. I tell you this because I had no clue which version to pick & had to ask Emilie.

I used this tool to connect the dinosaurs with lines that would become the edges of the puzzle pieces.

I changed the stroke & fill to make the images into outlines & used lots of copying, pasting, & the difference tool to overlap the dinosaurs. Also the mirror image tool to flip the way they faces.

Major Mistake #1: See how small those notches are in some places & how skinny some of the pieces are? That doesn’t end well….

To make the stickers I planned to use the Silhouette to cut the same pattern as the puzzle, only I wanted to cut it 6 times onto 6 colors so you could pick & choose what color stickers you wanted to put on which piece. For example, you could have the T-Rex red & the Triceratops blue or you could have the T-Rex green and the Triceratops purple. 

I also wanted the eyes to be customizable so I designed those on Inkscape as well.

For these I started with circles & changed them from objects to paths. Then I differenced out the pupils to make the whites of each eye one piece.

Although I ended up redoing the designs a couple of times, I was feeling pretty good at this point. So I went in to the Fablab to use the laser cutter. 

I was pretty flexible on which plexi (apparently also called acrylic) to use so I wound up using the 1/4 inch. This was Major Mistake #2.

Major Mistake #3: I didn’t want to wait for 2 other people to use the Universal so I grabbed the Epilog, which was open. 

Apparently the Epilog doesn’t work as well for cutting through thick things so I had to run it twice. This took me an hour & it still didn’t go through. Other people were waiting & I had to leave soon anyway so I gave up. 

Once I got home I asked a few people for ideas of what to do & determined to score the back with an exacto knife & try to break it apart. This had mixed results.

I didn’t have time to cut out most of my stickers so I prioritized & did the eyes.


I was very frustrated with this project & am not pleased with the result. Oh well. If I mess with it further it will just make it worse, so, we’re calling it done.

Continue Reading

Makeathon Blog

During our initial meeting, I met my group members when we were interviewing our mentors. I asked John about wearing a watch with limited hand mobility and he told me that he doesn’t wear a watch because it’s hard to get on. But my group was originally planning on creating a glove to help people with limited hand mobility eat, so during the presentation on Friday, we did some research and found a lot of products that had already been created. We changed gears and ended up going with the watch band idea.

Our first idea for the watch band was making it easy to get on. We used fabric and some makeshift pieces to make our first prototype, but it was hard to understand how it would work without a real watch face. I used the laser cutter a lot to print clasps that ended up being a part of our final prototype. They were simple, but they also got me extremely comfortable with the laser cutting machines and using Inkscape again.

I had someone from Autodesk help me take a 3D model of an Apple Watch and create clasps so we could attach our fabric to it. Here is a picture of the watch:

Next, we worked with some textiles and the sewing machines to create a solid band that we could attach to the 3D printed prototype. With trial and error, we ended up using a mix of faux leather, Velcro, acrylic laser cut pieces, cloth and the string with different elasticity to finish the band.

It felt good to know that we created something that helps others, and on the side, we ended up tying for first place. Our group worked well together and even though we struggled through some of the processes, we were really happy with our final product. As an example, Friday was a tough night for the makeathon because we spent hours working on the watch band idea and didn’t get very far, but when we came back on Saturday, we had fresh ideas and were ready to work. Things began to flow, and the ideas became realities. Overall, I’m glad I participated in the makeathon and I learned a lot about the making process.

Continue Reading

Drew Zelac – Final Project Proposal

Makerspace Final Project Proposal – Alarm Pillow v2

Tool Areas:

  • Arduino
  • Sewing
  • Possibly 3D printing
  • Soldering

Learning Goals:

  • Learn how to solder, so that the circuit I create will be (relatively) permanent
    • I think this would be a really good skill to learn, especially since I already know how to program. Having this skill would be useful for creating other permanent devices in my future, instead of using a breadboard every time.
  • I want to be creative with this project and create the physical design on my own, rather than using the internet.
    • I have spent four years at this university and my first project was the original alarm pillow. It took 8 weeks, with a team of four, and a $100 budget to create it last time. I want to make a better version that actually works this time, on my own, in three weeks, for a much lower cost. I want to design it all on my own as a test to see how far I’ve come and what I’ve learned in college.

Short Description:

  • I want to create what I call an alarm pillow, which vibrates to wake the user up. This would consist of some insert that goes inside the pillowcase, between the bottom of the pillow and the pillowcase. This insert would be attached to an Arduino with screen and some form of input, in order for the user to set the current time, the alarm time, and turn the alarm on/off.
  • I would need to use an Arduino and code to program the functionality. I would need sewing skills to create the insert. I would need soldering skills to connect the Arduino to the vibration motors that are inside the insert. I may or may not need to 3D print a box around the Arduino and/or around the vibration motors.
  • This extends my learning past what we’ve done so far, since I would be using multiple areas of what we have learned in class, in combination, to create one cohesive device.
  • I may need some support with soldering.

Continue Reading

Final Project Proposal: Nature Themed Infinity Mirror

For the final project I would like to make a nature themed infinity mirror which can be hung on a wall and will create an illusion that makes the mirror seem to have a deeper field of depth. My interest in doing this project was inspired by instructables I watched and the upcoming Champaign-Urbana Immersion Festival. 

Mirror Instructable:

I’ll be using a broken mirror frame I already have. For the front piece I’ll need plexiglass, clear glass, or a clear acrylic sheet that’s 14 inches by 16 inches, glass would be preferable as it has better results.  

Using the laser cutter I would cut this sheet into the specific oval shape I need for the mirror frame. I would also need a mirror that is 14 inches by 16 inches and would cut this using the laser cutter or a glass cutter. If the Fab Lab doesn’t have a glass cutter I would order a mirror piece that is already cut to the exact oval shape I need. Then using an Arduino and a 41in (~3.3ft or 1m) string of LED’s, I would program the LED’s to go off in a certain pattern. I wanted to decorate the outside of this project as well so I could add a new tool or technique to this project. I could do this by making decorative mushrooms using 3D resin printers, sound activated glowing mushrooms, or Ecovative fungus mold. Preferably, I will be able to use Ecovative and make the mold made using 3D printing or milling. From the video’s I watched it seems like it will take about 2 weeks but this may be cutting it close to the immersion festival.


Grow it yourself:

Glowing Mushroom Instructable:

Thingyverse 3D mushrooms:

Supplies Needed:

14x16in plexiglass (or clear acrylic)

1.5ft x 2ft mirror film 

14x16in mirror

3.3ft string of LED’s 

Ecovative supplies


+ Do research beforehand to understand the process of the project I’m trying to do to make sure it’s possible and to reflect a lot on the project before fully deciding on one 

+I want to challenge myself to become more comfortable with using and programming Arduinos through this project

+I want to push myself to learn about and use Ecovative material if possible within time constraints and to use this material or other types of decorations using a new technique to make my project unique from other infinity mirrors

+ Submit my piece to the Immersion Festival in Urbana-Champaign and participate if selected 

Continue Reading

Iteration: Nametag

For this week’s assignment, we had to re-do a previous assignment, using different tools and materials. 

I decided to re-do my name tag, as an infinity mirror. I decided to use led strips, laser cut wood for the sides, mirrored acrylic for the back, and clear acrylic for the front, with mylar film.


Making the Side Panels

For the sides, I had to measure the led strips so that I could have holes in the side panels to have the led go through. Then, I used the epilog laser to print out the sides. When the sides were done, I had to glue them together with wood glue. Holding it clamped proved to be a bit of a challenge, as the sides couldn’t really support the strength of the clamps by itself. I had to cut out some popsicle sticks, and clamp it together to provide support to the sides


Soldering Led Strips

The led strips had to go outside the side panels, which meant I had to cut a strip for each of the four sides, then solder them together. This proved to be the most difficult part of this project, as soldering tiny wires onto the led strips were very challenging. Cutting out small wires were not easy either. After a while, however, I was able to solder all four strips together, and have them working. I used code from a website that provided instructions on how to program led strips.


Front and Back Panels

The front and back panels were fairly straightforward, as they just had to be large enough to cover the sides, and the led strips. The front side was clear acrylic, with my name etched on the front, and the back side was just mirrored acrylic.


Assembling All Parts Together

As I had all of the parts to my project ready, I assembled them together. First, I had to tape the led strips to the side panels, then I applied mylar film to the front panel, so it would be reflective enough to create the infinite mirror illusion. Then, I clamped all three of them together, and applied tape around the edges to hold them all together


Finished Product & Reflection

The new name tag worked very well, and I am very pleased with how it turned out. It required a lot of time to make, and I think it paid off really well.

I had a lot of help from Dot, who helped me get my hands on mylar film, and also Jess, who generously allowed me to use some of her own supplies.

I think that I could have made a better frame, sot hat the assembly was easier and so that it would be easier to take apart, in case I wanted to use a different label for the front panel.

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment

For the iteration project, I drew inspiration from my name tag assignment and the Arduino labs. My name tag had a few elements that I wanted to expand on: the use of black tinted transparent acrylic and the skyline design. Initially, my concept was just to recreate the Sydney skyline and create a backdrop that would allow for LED lights to twinkle through by vectoring holes.

A really rough concept drawing.

As my first step, I began to look up landmark silhouettes on Google, I decided to make a worldwide skyline, picking landmarks and buildings of cities I’ve visited. I ended up with 21 separate pieces total. I wanted to create conformity so I took a bit of time to selecting varying silhouette shapes that weren’t too contrasting in detail from one another.

After choosing the images, I moved over to editing on Inkscape. I had to do a lot of tedious, repetitive editing in order to get the pieces to be vectored and rastored in the way I envisioned. When I selected the images to be vectored, they had defaulted to vector every white space, which was not what I wanted because there were a lot of white space and a lot of these spaces were extremely small. To fix this, I filled in each white space to have a copy of the details, deleted all the path nodes inside each image (in order for the vector to stay within the outside of each silhouette), then placed the filled white space back onto the image. This took a while, and there was a lot of tinkering involved.

Then, I started creating 3mm tabs to create the interactive feature in the iteration project. Essentially, I wanted to let people move around each piece however they wanted. I unified 3mm tabs to each of the 21 pieces and created 5 3mm holes within the base piece.

As well, I tried to create the press-box effect so that the top piece and the base piece of my project would hold together but something went wrong (I think it might’ve been that I had to print the two pieces separately and on different machines) and the tabs didn’t align so I just ended up using one of the 5 4mm hole I created for the 21 pieces as a way to hold up the backdrop, so it ended up working out.

The laser cutting and engraving went pretty well. Unfortunately, there wasn’t black tinted transparent acrylic so I opted for the clear acrylic.



My hand for scale.

The LED lights were pretty simple because we had worked with Arduino in class. I used the ‘Fade’ code in the program to achieve the twinkle effect I was going for. The LEDs fit perfectly within the star cutouts in the acrylic so that was nice.

The lab was a bit bright but you can see the bulbs light up.

Peep the fact that the press-fit effect did not work.

Overall, I’m really happy with the final product. I think it looks super cool and reflects the time and effort I put into the assignment. Initially, I designed the concept with black tinted transparent acrylic so that the wires and bulbs aren’t obnoxiously visible, but I don’t mind the outcome. If I had to improve on anything, I would fix the backdrop pieces so that they could successfully achieve the press-fit effect.


This video shows all the components of the project: IMG_2192


Continue Reading