I created a very poor implementation of a circuit design that I was very proud of. In the below video, I discuss issues with the quality of my implementation –
poorly secured battery, and a
poor work-around to prevent the battery from draining, and
poor connections between components.
I wanted to create a name tag, that was a wooden cube with a button on the top, and this button would turn on an LED. It would incorporate wood working, and circuit design. My plan was to redeem my poor copper circuit by addressing its issues in the following ways.
Secure my battery in place with superglue (I verified that this was safe).
Secure connections between components with Soldering rather than tightly wrapped copper tape
Circuit design where open circuit when button is unpressed, so that battery does not drain
Additionally, for the button design, I drew inspiration from Brandon’s Midi Controller project. I used the same design process and parameters as he did, and arrived at a well functioning ‘button’ with my name tag on it.
I also soldered the wires of my LED circuit to my LED. This was my first experience with soldering – my friends in Mechanical Engineering taught me to solder, and I took it from there. It was a rewarding process, I was surprised at how easily the solder material would melt and reform, and impressed by how secure the connections it created were.
I investigated and determined it was safe for me to solder one of the wires to the coin cell battery I was using (my initial plan was to secure it with copper tape). I soldered the black wire to the bottom of my battery.
My plan was that when the button was pushed, the battery would be directly beneath the button, and the button would make the blue wire touch the top of the battery and complete the circuit.
An issue I had was that if I just taped the blue wire to the base of mu button and pressed the button, it wouldn’t always reliably complete the circuit. I needed to always push the button at the location where the blue wire was taped below, so that that point was the lowest point and touched the battery.
I needed to create a larger surface area for the button to complete the circuit. So instead of the button pushing the end of the blue wire onto the button, it would push a copper tape onto the button. The copper tape would secure well to the button, and would ensure that it would have a larger area of contact with the button.
I had to find a way to connect the blue wire to the copper tape however, and here my MechE friends pointed out to me that I can solder the blue wire onto my copper tape! I was so excited about this possibility, I tried it and it worked perfectly. I am now a huge fan of soldering.
After I stick the tape to the bottom of my button, the full circuit looks like this.
To create the sides of my cube, I used popsicle sticks, and cut them down to the right size using a wood saw. Here’s how the finished product functions!
I’m very happy with how this project turned out. To test that I met my goals, I threw my cube against a wall and shook it in my hand very hard (in an attempt to loosen the connections. The soldered connections stayed intact, the heaviest component (the battery) was tightly secured with superglue, and the connection was always completed (irrespective of where my finger was positioned on the button) due to the larger surface area provided by the copper tape.
I’m glad that I was able to address all the shortcomings of my earlier copper tape project and create a much more reliable design.
During the week of the Iteration assignment, I opted participating in the Make-a-Thon.
My team was named “MOVI” and the goal was to design a protective guard for a prosthetic leg. Prosthetic legs are very sophisticated and are extremely valuable. Yet those products are worn at the part of our body with the most movement and thus are exposed to scratches, impact, and lots more other threats in daily life. The reference model, C-leg, cost more than $100K. It has been a pain point among users, especially the active ones. To make the matter worse, people wearing only one of these are told to fell on the prosthetic side when imbalanced. Because, falling to the other side will make it rather difficult, if not impossible, to get up by themselves.
There are some prosthetic leg covers in the market. But most of them are like the same model: a dull thick bulky black cushion covers every section of the prosthetic leg. This leads to a problem, apart from the aesthetics, the back of the prosthetic knee is an area filled with delicate moving parts. The bulky protective sleeve covers that area and makes it very difficult to bend the knee.
Thus we got the needs of users:
easy for putting it on-and-off
protection against scratches
cushioning of physical impact (mostly in case of a fell)
not blocking knee flex
Our team started the design with a 3D scanning of the prosthetic leg. The model was then printed using three 3D printers and glued together.
For the prototype, the team proposed a solution combining a hinge in the front and straps in the back for the top need. The user reported that the phase 1 prototype lacks coverage of the leg. So we created the phase 2 prototype, just to specify the max area of protection that is necessary, considering need 2, 3 and 4. Therefore, we’ve combined the two prototype together and came up with the final design.
The final design adopted the hinge-straps design and used a two-layer solution for protection and aesthetic needs. A hard shell with patterns is put on the outside. In the future, users should be able to customize and switch the shell for their taste or even the mood at the moment. Two pieces of cushions are fixed inside of the shell. Each cushion used a heavy fabric cover with foam pads inside. To help further protect the user, we’ve inserted a layer of sheet metal between two layers of foam pads inside the cushion. Two extra cushion pads are added to the top for knee protection. Two straps go through holes on the shell. We fixed velcro strips onto the straps.
Our team was well-paced during the make-a-thon, and each step was well executed throughout the event. After rounds of presentations and expert review, our team got the championship of the competition.
During the event, I helped in the 3D printing post-process, and led the efforts in the fabric department. Cleaning and gluing the PLA parts were rather easy with the training in class. But I’ve got quite some challenge in the sewing part. I was quite confident before going into it. It was not long before I recognized the challenge. The cushion pad was of an irregular shape, with five corners of varied angles. And there was a significant thickness. For solving this problem, I design the two piece of fabric of different sizes, with all the side panels included in the front piece. While sewing the corners, Duncan gave me some useful tips. Cutting off some fabric inside the corner is key to a smooth outside. I’ve got some of them right, some of them not so.
Just when I felt a relief finished sewing the cushions, there came the straps. “It’s just an extended square, not so different from the little pouch we’ve done in class!” That thought was so wrong. The fact that we’ve chosen a waterproof rubber coated fabric and a very thin strap width made the task very challenging. Flipping the strap inside out was not far from a mission impossible. It was a combination of stick and brutal force and dedication that helped me finished those two straps.
I am very happy about the results, and the fact that our team has developed something useful in real life.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Laser name tag
Copper tape circuit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
For this assignment I decided to take a whack at combining what I learned from the name tag assignment and the Arduino assignments and create a little ‘light show machine’. The plan for this creation is to combine more complex woodcut patterns with motors, LEDs, and an Arduino to make an object that spins the designs over top of lights to make cool patterns.
I started out this assignment in class by drawing out some ideas and creating a general sense of what I was going to do. Once I started thinking more on making my light show machine, I realized that 3D printing parts would be a great way to house everything very securely and making sure that everything kept from falling apart. Given the time constraints I had, I realized I could make small 3D prints to help create the most essential parts of my machine.
After planning out my design, I went on to laser cutting. I had designed a file in Illustrator and made the design go radially, resulting in a sort of flower-like pattern for the wheels that would be spinning on my machine. Creating this pattern was easy enough, and I realized that I could go back later and create multiple different types of patterns in the future for different kinds of visual effect.
After laser cutting my wheels, I went on to setting up circuits with my Arduino and component parts (breadboard, resistors, etc.). I sat the breadboard on top of the Arduino to try and save lateral space and make the final device more column-like as opposed to plate-like. I had to work with some components during this part that I hadn’t worked with before — RGB LEDs and a 6V continuous servo motor. Wiring these in was a fairly simple task, however I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to run the motor and both of my RGB LEDs off the same power source feeding the board (at least without a motor controlling chip, which I should’ve asked about at the fab lab; my Arduino kit didn’t contain one). To help alleviate this problem I set up a separate controlling chip to power the wheel off of a 9V battery. The Arduino controlling the LEDs would then be powered by a computer or power brick (what I used to help make this thing a bit more portable — an initial goal of mine.
Once I got that all set up I went about mapping out 3D designs for my adapter to help hold the wheel to the servo and a bracket to try and contain the breadboard and Arduino on the bottom, while housing the motor. I got help from Brandon and worked in Fusion to map everything out to the mm. This part way definitely new for me, but got pretty understandable pretty quickly, so I’m glad I now can work software like that better.
After printing out my component parts I headed home to assemble everything and add a piece of wax paper to the wheel that was closest to the LED (to help disperse the LED light and make it more ‘glowy’ as opposed to super direct beams). I housed my final machine in a roll of duct tape and some cardboard for the time being, as I didn’t have time to accurately measure everything and create a 3D printed housing (although at this point, I definitely want to do that).
Getting everything to sit in a way that kept the servo from getting jammed was definitely a challenge, as was finding ways to house everything that are neat and still accessible. Another problem that I realized far too far into this project was that continuous servo motors can’t be controlled speed-wise in the same way that stepper servos can, at least without additional parts. I wasn’t able to take care of this before turn-in so my light show machine looks a bit more like a glowing jet engine, but I still think it’s cool.
I would say that as much as I would have wanted this project to end up looking really finalized, there’s still some stuff I could add to it to make it better. I plan on 3D printing a housing for everything once I find a way that I can make it all sit uniformly. I also want to be able to make it so both wheels on the machine can spin in different directions, but this may take some more time and effort to crack. I lastly would like to be able to incorporate some type of sensor into this project, but again, I think I may need to take care of some other parts before that happens.
I was really happy with what I made for this project, even if it is somewhat rough, because it really helped me use the skills I already had, expand them, as well as learn new skills I wasn’t planning on learning. The coding on this project was fairly simple, as it usually seems with smaller arduino projects. Housing and measuring things was definitely something very challenging, as well as learning to approach the different design challenges that would pop up in the process of working on my gadget.
I’m excited to keep prototyping my light box and see if I can make one that really looks professional within the next couple of weeks. Maybe if I get it really right I can use it in conjunction with the speaker I plan on making for my final project!
I decided to revisit my Copper Tape project since I had a bit of trouble originally completing the structure and getting the circuit to work, as the copper tape is very difficult to get working in series due to limited voltage.
This time, I wanted to add in a bit of locomotion, adding in the canards and ailerons to the aircraft. To accomplish this, I would need to make use of Arduino and actual (thank gods) wires, building a more robust circuit and working with a more stable power source. Ideally, I wanted to find an Arduino PS2 joystick so I could add in some interactivity (i.e. all surfaces pitch up when the controls stick is pulled up, etc.), but I had to settle for having the control surfaces sweep back and forth. Since I wanted to add in space for servos and an Arduino board, I had to work with a bigger surface, prompting me to switch to the Laser Cutter and a 12″ x 24″ plywood board for the baseplate. As such, I had to upscale and modify my original paper template, sectioning off the control surfaces.
Build Process and Modification:
My first iteration was to get a basic feel for the circuit layout and size, so I used a 12″ x 24″ board as the base. It would later turn out that this board wasn’t large enough to accommodate the servos and Arduino Uno controller comfortably, so I would need to choose a bigger base for the later iteration. While laser cutting, the large board had warped slightly and this caused the laser to be out of focus at times due to an inconsistent z-distance. For example, note the minor offset cuts on the baseplate in the picture below:
The first issue was to attach the canards (forward winglets) to the baseplate via a servo. Since the canards were cranked at a certain angle, I had initially intended to tilt two servos, one for each canard, and rotate those independently. However, since space on the baseplate was limited, I decided to use one servo and link the two canards together via a bent paper clip. To prevent the paper clip from rotating in place from the servo’s control arm, I had to secure it in place with a bit of hot glue…
Okay, a lot of hot glue.
The first thing to get used to was working three servos in parallel. This usually would be a bit problematic with only two ground pins in the Uno board, so I had to hook them all up to the breadboard to get them working in parallel
For the prototype, I decided to keep it simple and simply attach the servos to the control surfaces (instead of using control horns and push rods as is the standard case with RC aircraft). After working with the Arduino IDE I was able to get the servos moving independently simultaneously:
The theme of this project was iteration. Iteration is when you take a current version of something and modify it and make it better. There is not one sure fire way to iterate on a project to make it better so the sky is the limit on this project. The only catch was. that we had to use at least two techniques in conjunction, with each other, when making the iteration.
For this assignment I decided to iterate on my arduino concept project. In that assignment I simply made an arudino print text to a LCD screen. The text that was printed was dependent on which button was push, left button, or right button.
Pictures 1 & 2: Picture 1 shows actively reading input. Picture 2 shows (printed on the LCD screen) what could happen if you pressed one of the buttons.
How I planned to make an iteration was in three ways: physicality, better back end, and finally content. Before the iteration, the product was a skeleton that barley did anything. It was a ton of fun to breath life into this project!
What I mean by “physicality” is, changing what the project looks like. To change the project physically I considered what I wanted to make over. Being me, I wanted to make a game. What is the most iconic physical manifestation of a video game then? An arcade cabinet. An arcade cabinet is the name of the console that 70’s arcade games were put into. Classics like: Mrs. Pacman, Galaga, and Street Fighter can be found inside arcade cabinets.
Here we have my plan on paper and my inspiration. Once I saw this adorable little thing on the right I got to work jotting down dimensions. I modified the drawing a bit because I thought it would be easier without it. the dimensions on the left are relative to the arduino parts that I was using. Funny enough, the base of the cabinet ended up being a square (the picture is wrong). the length of the LCD is 3.25 in and the width of the arduino is 3.25. Besides the neat presentation, the case also allows for handheld game play. The player can play the game in the palm of their hands instead of being anchored to the table.
On the left we have the assembled shell. ideally what it would look like when completed. This shell was created by putting together two halves (center) with some wood glue. The back half of the shell turned out to not work with my design. The wires for the LCD prevented the back half from being put on. The red marking on the right picture was a marking telling me where I needed to cut. I ended up remaking the entire back half with a big window for the wires.
Picture 8 & 9: Completed Front & Completed Back.
The front of the cabinet looked amazing. On the left side of the picture we can see the little window where the wires get to peak through. The six cords coming through the middle are for the two buttons I will use for input. In the back we have some awesome wiring that I very proud of despite it being simple. The LCD and arduino are held together in place my rubber cement. I used rubber cement because it is what works best for gluing plastic to wood. I have a full back panel that I did not put on, for ease of access reasons, that makes the back look even more clean while giving me access to the power supply. This was the most intensive change done to the original project.
Better Back End
A better back end simply means that the coding was improved. What I did differently was, instead of just simply printing text to the screen using a void loop function, I implemented switch case functions with global variables. Switch case is basically a better if statement. Switch case functions get to bounce around depending on the situation, very manipulable through the use of global variables. Once a situation occurs I can change the global variables so that the program can jump to the right situation instead of just going down the list.
Content is the game side of the project. Within the switch cases, I spun a simple dungeon crawler game. What the player picks, or doesn’t pick, will affect them as they travel through the dungeon. Also, a mechanic in the game will be the buttons changing purpose. In the original project, I made the buttons only print yes or no. Now, the buttons will change purpose per the situation. Before a battle, two lines of text will display what the buttons do. For example, I have text saying “left is defend, right is attack” before a battle. This text tells the user that the buttons now serve a different purpose. Overall, I will use this mechanic to force the player into situations where they have to ponder the consequences of their future actions. The mechanic gave the game its name, “True Dichotomy.” Because, there are literally only two options thus the true dichotomy.
In the link provided one can see the project in motion. The switch case allowed the “really, no” text to come out. Since the variable counting the number of times left was pressed was one, instead of presenting nothing it jump to the next option.
Overall, this project was a ton of fun! This is one of the few times where an end project actually turns out how you wanted it to turn out! One aspect of this project I would change was in the planning phase. instead of doing: construction -> coding -> turn in. I should have done: coding -> construction -> turn in. I felt that I needed to construct the physical object before I coded the game, but that was wrong. I just needed the skeleton to code the game, and debug it. This left the end product feeling rushed. Other projects got in the way last week, so I really only was able to go to the FabLab today (extra time really helped!) thus I was only able to code the game for a couple hours. Coding the game before all this would have saved me a ton of time and stress! One final change I could make to this product is a portable battery. While one isn’t too anchored when playing the game, the 1.5 foot USB B-type cable doesn’t allow the user to stray to far from a computer. have an external power supply would really increase the portability of this product. Again, this project was super fun, and now have some thing to put on my future office desk!