First I got the outermost layer of the flower, which is the purple petal design. I changed the original image to have 4 long edges coming out of it to give it a sharper look. Then I took the inner yellow layer but used the inside petals of the layer instead of the layer itself as it became evident that the thick yellow layer was covering too much of the delicate outermost purple layers and ruining the look of the delicate outer layers. I did the same with the blue layer as it was very hard to take a very delicate blue layer and paste it on the sheet, so I decided to use the blue petals instead to create a different design.
I enjoyed making this sticker because when I think of layers I immediately think of flowers. I am a nature lover so normally I like to make things that have to do with nature. The main problem encountered was that the stickiness of the vinyl stickers posed a challenge in pasting the sticker as a whole on top of each other. Some parts of one sticker were pasted before others so this led to creases in some areas but I learned to paste them in a way that there were no creases formed. There was also a bigger challenge with the outermost layer of the sticker that it had portions inside the inner boundary that had to be removed to make the inner layer smoother. The blue layer was very, very delicate and very hard to properly paste in the right spot so the problem ended up changing the project in that I used the blue petals instead. I learned that I should think more practically about how my stickers will paste on top of each other when designing it in my head in addition to focusing on the aesthetics.
For my copper tape project I created a mothers day card. I wanted to include a silhouette of our family so I spent most of my time creating and editing my pictures on Inkscape.
edited the picture on the right to be the left picture to resemble my family (my mom is in the middle)
edited the words to connect the letters using the node tool
Using the silhouette as my inspiration as to wear to place my LED, I could tell that it was difficult to see that my mom was the second from the left so I made the LED light her up from the background and used word “mom” to be the switch for the circuit.
I hope she likes her card, I had a lot of fun using the silhouette cutter and editing the pictures on Inkscape.
In the dark (showing the light emphasizing my mom in the picture)
finished pop up mothers day card
For the final project I chose to make a skirt for my mom. I chose to use linen for skirt so it was breathable in the summer, and I chose linen over cotton just so I wouldn’t have to add a slip layer if because most of the cotton fabrics were see through.
I found a tutorial for a half circle skirt and followed it accordingly so I wouldn’t buy too much fabric as I had done for my iteration project and wouldn’t be “winging it”.
I first started with cutting out my fabric. Since the measurements were very exact (math and radii were involved) and the skirt was very long I used measuring tape and chalk in a way I never thought I would.
strategy to make a circle (tape chalk to the edge of the measuring tape so I could keep track of the radius)
Afterwards I started the sewing process. This was a bad idea because when it came time to print the design on my fabric, I had to wait for the paint to dry before flipping my skirt around and print on the backside rather than just print on the separate pieces and then sew them together.
stamping tool made from laser cut wood and clear acrylic plastic for handles
backing I used underneath the fabric so the stamp could press down
after stamping the top half of the skirt
My original plan was to have embroidered flowers on the bottom of the skirt but the spacing of the prints was so close together that I decided that big embroidery would just crowd the skirt and make it too busy. My original idea was also to include buttons but I also didn’t end up doing this because of the same reason. The skirt looked very incomplete without anything so I wanted to do a border along the edge because I knew it wouldn’t disrupt the flow of the skirt or make it look too busy and unwearable.
Chose to do a satin stitch without the embroidery machine
In this project I learned how to do a hidden hem with the blind stitch foot but because I was dumb I didn’t realized that my white bobbin thread was showing on the front of the skirt so I tried to cover it with the satin stitch I used for the border but I couldn’t make the width of the stitch smaller to cover the hidden stitch as the fabric kept getting caught in the machine.
By the end of this project I learned so many new skills and learned to make a clean finished product without and compromises to quality. I first started out this semester with a jean skirt that I will never wear because I’m too afraid it’ll rip every time I sit down. Now I’ve made a skirt I’m confident my mom can do whatever she wants in.
unfinished edges from first sewing project
By following the tutorial and applying all the skills I learned from my iteration project and the new techniques I learned from my TA, Duncan, I was able to create a something I would proudly say I made and give my mom. Working with a plan and a design in my head and on a schedule, I made something that I think is very high quality.
For my final project I decided to construct a Bluetooth speaker. Some challenges I faced during this project include: Part shopping for the proper parts that would all work together and create a decent sound. Learning how to solder and using it to help add security to the internal wiring of the speaker. Figuring out how to power the speakers in an efficient/mobile way. Figuring out a well-designed layout for the housing/case that fits properly to help hold everything together. I’m proud of a couple different parts of my final work. I really like the aesthetic and physical design that I landed on for the final version and think that given a second go at it I could create an extremely cool looking exterior to the speaker. I also was just proud that I was able to get everything to work. I’ve never had a lot of experience with working electronics besides computers and it was cool to get a chance to mess with something set up so very differently.
My learning goal for this project was perseverance – I wanted to try and take this project beyond the point of simply ‘being functional’ and make it visually interesting and finished looking. I think one thing I definitely took away in the making of my speaker was that perseverance takes a ton, ton, ton of time. Trying things out, looking at stuff in different ways, and really finalizing what you want your creation to be takes thinking and experimentation until you can’t take it anymore. I still think that I have yet to hit my peak level of perseverance – I didn’t quite end up with the final product I wanted by the time the showcase rolled around (I would have liked to have had reactive LEDs and button controls. I didn’t necessarily not meet these goals because I lack the skills to be able to take on the challenges I set for myself, it was more because I didn’t actually force myself to take the time and really try everything as much as I could. I think one thing that I could definitely benefit from more is documenting what my construction process will look like before-hand so that I can get a better idea of problems that may crop up in the process. I’ve also come to realize how much this helps you figure out what you can do at different substages and helps identify different problems you can tackle within projects while waiting on other things to get solved or become available. All that said, I’m still insanely happy with my final product. As stated earlier, I’ve never really messed with electronics much besides computers and it was fun to make something that’s more on the ‘analog’ electronic side of things because I think the simplicity of how stuff like that works is very interesting. I was also really happy with my ability to solidify this product in a very short time. I was in a huge time crunch at the end of the semester and the fact I was able to create a finished product within a week or two is crazy to me. My project is also meaningful to me for two different reasons – one, it’s my first ever Bluetooth speaker (I’ve never had one before) and I got to make it myself and decide how everything would work and what functions suit me. Two, this project (as well as the iteration project) has shown me how I can take all the stuff I’ve learned in this class, as well as others, and apply them to solving problems myself as opposed to hoping that a solution is created by someone else. This autonomy is really powerful in my eyes and something that I definitely want to foster in myself.
I think there are probably two main things that I’ve built in myself over the course of the semester. The first, I would say, is the ability to get over my usual fears of talking to others and trying to have them give advice and/or help when I am trying to figure out an idea/project. The sense of community that gets fostered within a fab lab really is palpable and you realize very quickly how helpful it is to be surrounded by a community of people with similar goals/objectives as you, with skill levels across the spectrum in a broad range of topics. It’s also great to use other people as a way to figure out if what you’re trying to communicate or design is coming across in a way that makes sense or works. The second thing I think that I really gained over the semester is the ability to be unafraid to tackle a variety of different skills/crafts when approaching them from an exploratory place. There’s definitely a huge range of topics we cover in this course and I think that doing that allows people to look to even more varied skills and feel as though they have the ability to at least try something out because they know how to use the resources, tools, and documentation that can point them in the right direction. I think that the openness to at least try to learn different skills (and combine them over time) is something really beneficial that can be taken away from this class. I also think that I have built my confidence in my ability to fabricate and create things significantly. I’m an art minor so I’ve had opportunities to make tons of imaginative stuff, but never to design so thoughtfully and never to create more tangible, interactive objects. This confidence definitely makes me want to come back to making things more often in the future and taking on projects similar to those we did throughout this class.
I think this course has definitely helped me feel more connected to my STEM side in some ways, which I really appreciated a lot. I first came to UIUC for CS and then switched after realizing I wasn’t nearly as prepared as a lot of people coming in. This class felt like it bridged the gap between that style of thinking and the styles of thinking I see in classes like my advertising classes or my art & design classes. Even before I took this course, I would probably describe myself as a maker – I enjoy creating my own things and realizing my own distinctions and personal needs and design principles. I think it has become harder and harder for people to describe themselves as makers as time has gone on, but that nearly everyone can take on the role should they choose to. Making is something that is totally within the grasp of anyone, you just need a lot of persistence, patience, and passion. I think this class (and this semester for me personally, as well) has spurred a lot of those three things in me. I’ve started to realize that you can easily fall into some role where none of those things are really an importance, but I personally enjoy the personal growth that can come out of trying to achieve these things. I do still agree with Papert that the most significant learning is hands-on and personally meaningful. I think this class has really shown that to me. I’ve created a ton of stuff in a very short time that’s honestly super cool and decently practical. I’ve seen this through other classes as well – the one’s where I’m making stuff that is going to benefit me and personify me definitely catch my attention the most and help me hold onto the things I’ve learned the best. I think that having the chance to just get your hands onto different things can really help you figure out how you feel about different topics and hobbies in a much quicker way than just reading about it or hearing about it. Answering tests is great and all, but actually being able to show the knowledge physically is really great as well. I also think that working with your hands also just allows more nuance to the learning process and gives you a bigger connection to what you’re working on.
For the final project, I decided to use an arduino and the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor. Although the sensor was quite basic, I have not used it before, so I decided to use it for the final project. Another reason I used the ultrasonic sensor is because I wanted to create a sonar system with the arduino, as the sonar does use ultrasonic sounds and sensors. I also decided to create the very familiar sonar visuals we see in movies and tv shows. As I am not really well versed in making visualizations, I thought this would be a nice challenge for me.
Process and Finished Product
My first learning goal was to learn how to use the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor. Although it is included in the basic arduino kit in class, I have never thought of using it, and had never felt the need to use it. Using the sensor proved to be fairly straightforward, but synchronising the ultrasonic sensor to the servo movement was a bit challenging. Due to the nature of how the HC-SR04 sensor worked, the time it took to take a measurement varied based on how far the object was from the sensor. Eventually, I discovered a library called NewPing, which allowed me set the maximum distance to scan for, and maintain the same scanning time for each scan.
My second learning goal was to challenge myself to create visualizations for data. I have never been a very artistic person, and creating any kind of visuals, whether it be drawings, or UI design, was very difficult for me. However, as I had something to base my design on, I thought that creating the sonar visualization would not be too bad. Furthermore, when creating the visualization, I worked up from tools that I was familiar with. Once I had a rough design and sketch based on what I could find on the internet, I first started with creating a svg file for the acrylic print. As I did not have to worry about colors, I could just focus on the layout of the visualization, and I think it really helped me to get a solid layout that I could utilize in the graphical visualization. Then I moved onto creating the actual screen visualization. My initial attempts with d3.js did not work out, as getting the data proved to be a problem. So, I quickly switched over to Processing. Although I did not know any Processing, I was able to get a basic grasp fairly quickly, and create the visuals. As I already had a layout for the visualization, all I had to do was copy over the design, make color changes, then add dynamic visualization elements, that would interact with the data from the Arduino.
As a whole, I am quite satisfied with the project. I was able to achieve my main goals, which were to learn how to use the HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor, and to create a sonar visualization that would show what the sensor was reading. I was also able to create a physical representation of the sonar visualization, so that any object that was placed on the physical representation could show up in the Processing visualization. Although my final project does not really have a practical use, I am really happy about the way it turned out, especially the visualization.
Looking back at this class, I realize that I’ve become to embrace failure and learn from it. I’ve been the model student in most of my classes all the way up to highschool, and even at the University of Illinois, I have never really struggled with academia. That being the case, failure wasn’t really something that I experienced often, or even at all. Throughout this class, however, I was exposed to numerous failures, which was not something that I was used to. For example, during the 3D printing section, I had to reprint, and improve my 3D model, either because the print did not work out well, or because the print did not fit the raspberry pi that I had. Even in the end, I had to file the finished casing, so that it would fit my raspberry pi. Another example is the locomoting pom pom bots. In this assignment, I had to do a complete redesign of the bot, as what I thought would work, ended up not working at all. Even with the new design, I still had to make improvements so that it would actually work.
One thing that I was surprised about was how much I enjoyed sewing. I have never used a sewing machine until this class, and honestly, I was not too excited for sewing. However, I ended up really enjoying sewing, and the assignment on sewing took the most time out of all assignments, simply because I enjoyed it. Sadly, the finished project wasn’t perfect, but I was still proud of myself for being able to learn a completely new skill, and being able to apply it in a functional product.
This class showed me that with the right tools, and within a reasonable range, I could make anything I wanted. I also learned a lot of tools and software skills to aid me, and that I could usually find them at makerspaces. Furthermore, I learned that when I don’t know how to use a certain tool, people at the makerspaces were very willing to help out. I also think the hands-on learning fits the class very well, as we all had to use what we learned in the class, to make our projects.
I had no idea what a maker was, but this class gave me a good definition on what being a maker is like. I don’t think I’d be able to give a concise definition of the word “maker”, but throughout this class, I have experienced to a full extent, what being a maker is all about. Being a maker is doing a lot of hands-on work, creating prototypes and projects that I can think of. Although something might not work out, makers try and try again until it turns out better. Even when you achieve what you set out to be, you then soon think of ways to improve your project. Most importantly, you get to have fun while doing it.
My project was a remote for Spotify that uses a Raspberry Pi! Here’s a video and some pictures:
- The most difficult parts of this project were getting my app to properly authenticate with Spotify’s API (their process is a little weird) and also creating a full program that combined objects from different libraries (this was my first time doing it in python). I’m most proud of getting through that last challenge, it took a lot of trial and error, and I gained a lot in terms of skill that I’d wanted to have claim to for a long time.
- My main learning goal was to iterate on my project once I became satisfied with it. I did embrace this mentality and made a sustained attempt to iterate on it once I had a working product. I tried to improve my Raspberry Pi project by automating the script triggers. I wanted to do this so that my project presentation would go more smoothly. I tried two routes: the first was to trigger the script to start when the Raspberry Pi boots. This caused dependency issues with the library ‘spotipy,’ and I really did not want to try to fix that and end up in over my head with a mass of hotfixes that could endanger the program and even the OS as a whole. I then tried to time the script triggers with crontab. I sank all my remaining time into this, and eventually had to give up, as the crontab logs were very unhelpful as to why the program wasn’t running. So, in a way, I ended up meeting my goal, but didn’t really have anything working to show for it. I’ll continue trying to get it to work, and to iterate on it in different ways. I’ll probably try to fill out the design and execution of the remote idea with my electronics at home. This is because this project was something I really care about and it would serve me well (and maybe others) to come up with a well-polished, finished product to show for this.
- I think one thing that is key to my learning is that I need ample time to make mistakes and learn over and on top of them. If I don’t end up giving myself enough resources to make mistakes, things often spiral into a mess of doubt and anxiety and sometimes things turn out right, but either way, cramming stuff in both in terms of time and by way of learning the tool on the object that I’ll be turning in as the end result. Neither of those work well for me. This feeds into how important repetition is for me, since some of my best work is in projects where I made lots of mistakes and iterated lots (sewing project, final project, stickers, etc). I also realized that I’m a lot more active and involved in a project when I believe that I’m going to end up using that experience sometime later. This makes me a bit sad, as it kind of seals my fate as a pragmatist. For example, I was instantly super involved in the sewing project because I knew it was a super useful skill and something I’d want to get artsy with later. But with the pom-pom bots, it’s pretty obvious that I didn’t get super involved as a result of not believing in it as a ‘useful’ experience. Granted, oftentimes I’m good at convincing myself either way of that, but for that project, I was probably just out of steam.
- I certainly feel like I’ve developed my confidence, as a maker, quite a bit. It was naturally difficult to get more relaxed while working in the makerspace, but the people there and this class gave me every opportunity to do so! It was a great experience and I look forward to spending more time on all manner of projects in the makerlab! This course has convinced me that I’ll have a happy longevity in making, due to the opportunities in community, learning, and tools resources that makerspaces offer. At this point in the year, my understanding of what all those things mean has also developed quite a lot. I’ve learned about the culture and societal dynamics surrounding makerspaces at large. Tangentially, it’s convinced me that I should go back to volunteering with the Urbana Bike Project. To call myself a maker is to recognize my incapability of doing nothing most of the time and having to act on my creative ideas. In comparison with my thoughts on the Seymour Papert quote at the beginning of the year to now, I’m in essentially the same standing. I have a good bit more experience on the personally meaningful aspect of it, that at times, that part is just as essential to the hands-on aspect. The hands-on aspect made this class much more significant, to the extent that the class wouldn’t work without being as hands-on as it is. The knowledge and experience gained is vital. To this day, I haven’t forgotten how to use a 3D printer, soldering/electronics tools, CNC lathe, Drill press, band-saw, dremel, arduino, shop-bot, and Autodesk Inventor, all because they were extremely hands-on and involved processes (all of which I learned at least 2 years ago, experiences that I am very lucky to have had). I expect the skills that I learned in this class to stick with me for the same reasons. I’m probably primarily a kinesthetic learner, so thank you for designing this class with people like me in mind!
During these weeks in lab we worked with textiles, sewing, and embroidery. I happened to also be in a fashion class this semester, so I was excited to get the opportunity to learn some new things that could add to my clothing construction repertoire. I’ve also never been around embroidery machines before, so that was an exciting prospect.
During the first week of this lab we had to make small drawstring bags. Since I missed the actual lab section, I ended up constructing this on my own at a separate time. I was definitely still getting a hang of dealing with the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ sides of fabric during this time and as you can see in the pictures, some of the parts of my bag ended up in the wrong spot. I decided to make the most of this and have a bag that has outer pockets instead of the lining that it was supposed to have. I decided to hand sew some parts of the bag for practice as well (although now that I know a little more I always try and avoid hand sewing). Making this bag actually ended up kind of helping me in my fashion class as well, later down the line. When making two whole(!) outfits for my final project I needed some way to secure the waist of some shorts I planned on creating. I thought back to this assignment and realized I could make a similar drawstring (coming out of the sides of the shorts) that would both be functional, as well as stylistically unique.
The following week in lab, we learned to use the embroidery machines to sew vector images into fabric. This is something I’ve wanted to learn about and play with for a really long time since I draw and have created vector images in the past that I think would be really interesting to sew into clothes. In lab I got the opportunity to make myself the majority of a squirrel patch (side note: embroidery can be really time consuming). I was really impressed by how accurate and clean everything looked with my squirrel. I realized there were probably a ton of really cool things I could do for my final embroidery. I didn’t really experience any serious issues with this patch in lab, but when it came to making my final piece I ran into a totally different set of problems in making a patch work out, which I will discuss a little later.
For my final textile product I decided I wanted something that could be useful to me and serve a function instead of something that just looked cool (especially since I was still working on upping my fabric craftsmanship). When I looked through all of my options I eventually came across a pencil bag that I thought would be super helpful because I’m always searching for all of my different art pens, pencils, and other tools which can be spread across my apartment, throughout my backpack, etc. With this bag I would be able to keep everything contained and in one place.
I immediately thought of a drawing I had done a while back that would make the perfect embroidery to put on it and I thought about all the extra clothes I had at my apartment that could possibly used for fabric. I ended up deciding on a tie-dye shirt as the fabric I would use for the outer lining. Once I started working on the actual bag, however, I realized all the mistakes I had unwittingly made. My original drawing, vectorized, turned out to be too much for the embroidery machines to handle. The file size was too large, even when trying to reduce the density of stitches, turn outlines into running stitches, or trying to simplify the vector image. This was a major bummer for me as I really wanted to see that image in fabric form. After I gave up and decided to create a new vector image I began starting into my patch for the outside lining. This is when I ran into even more problems!
I soon found that the embroidery machines don’t quite work with t-shirt material by itself, not matter how taut you get it on the hoop. The fabric I had cut from my t-shirt ended up getting sucked down into the bobbin pit and getting all caught up in everything. I decided to suck it up, cut a new piece (the last I could get out of the t-shirt), and try it again with some stabilizer. The stabilizer did help some, but with my specific design having the heavy filled areas, it still ripped and ended up letting the fabric get caught up in the machine again. I tried one more time to no avail and just decided to get my patch made so I could move on.
I grabbed a piece of canvas and started into it. One of the types of fabric I tried to use to embroidery immediately broke and I couldn’t get it to work no matter what I tried (it was pearlescent and I think it just wasn’t strong enough for the tension the embroidery machine needs). What happened then is still somewhat of a mystery to me. When I started into my canvas piece it was late into the night and I was unable to finish before the fab lab closed up. I left my machine until the next day and started back into the patch. Somewhere along the way it got unaligned which ended up being the final patch you see on my bag. I decided that I was fine with just using that patch to try and get this whole ordeal over with. As per usual, I decided to try and work with what I was given and decided to try and use the patch as a little pouch on the front of the bag, to help give it some utility. After attaching that to the outer lining I ironed some interfacing onto the outer lining to help give it some rigidity. I then attached my inner lining and a zipper to enclose the whole thing. My bag ended up being a little different than what the guide was looking for, but I like the way it looks personally and think it is much more unique than the standard pencil bag.
I had a lot of trials and tribulations in the process of making these objects, but I think that’s a lot of what getting good with textiles takes — experimenting and trying things out until the process makes sense in your head. I definitely think I need to spend some more time around embroidery machines to try and really get my skills up to par there and test out how you can make different fabrics work out with them. I also think that designing projects to be cut into pieces and aligned later takes a certain level of organization skill and planning that I still might not be at yet. Either way, I was still really happy with the items I produced and plan on getting as much use out of them as possible. That’s one thing I really love about textiles — the opportunities are so limitless and it’s instantly gratifying to make an object that can serve some kind of real purpose for people.
I learned a lot about handling machines through these weeks and in conjunction with my fashion class, this time period was a time where I really upped my skills in textiles a visible (at least in my opinion) amount. Being able to figure out ways to turn mistakes into benefits was definitely a skill I pulled out of textile work quickly. I actually bought my own sewing machine recently due to how much fun I have had with all the textile prospect I’ve taken on now and hope to make lots more stuff soon! Since I’m a little late in turning in this write-up, I’ve decided to include some other projects I took on in my fashion class in hopes for a little credit or at the very least to show that I do kind of know my way around textiles. There are more, but here are the highlights:
For the final project, I created a press-fit constellations box powered by wireless inductive coils.
Initially, I intended for the box to be powered by a solar panel circuit. But along the way I ran into some revelations and restrictions that led me to replace the intended solar panel circuit for a wireless inductive coil circuit.
I used an online press-fit box generator to get the 5×5 box I envisioned and I imported an image of the sky into Inkscape to begin working on my design. I attempted to change the image to a vector image by tracing the bitmap but the vector image was choppy. Therefore, I opted to manually create each element of the image one at a time, from the stars to the lines of the constellations. I created the stars in the sky using the circle tool and the star tool in Inkscape. I used the pen tool to create the lines of the constellations. My main goal was to make sure the majority of the constellations would allow for light to pass through so that the constellations could be seen in the dark. For the lines of the constellations, I converted the stroke to a path, and removed the fill to give it a 0.001 inch outline, therefore creating a thicker line to be vectored.
This process took an insane amount of time because I wanted to really get the design right. I felt pretty comfortable on Inkscape, but there was still a lot of features in the program that were unknown to me so I was learning as I was designing. There was a lot of back in forth in designing.
Overall, I was really happy with how the box and design turned out.
My learning goals were to (1) challenge myself by learning and integrating wireless inductive coils into my design and the all the components needed to create the circuit because I was never really knowledgeable or comfortable with circuits before, and (2) to extensively plan out each of my steps before I started the project because I’ve found that I usually just throw myself into the assignments without thinking through all the factors and outcome.
For the first goal, I hoped to create a successful circuit that could power my constellation box. I was pretty much clueless on wireless inductive coils so I did a bit of research to find sources so that I could get a better grasp of all the components and functions. I read a few Instructables, blogs, and watched a few videos. I essentially followed the circuit diagram off of https://learn.adafruit.com/wireless-inductive-power-night-light?view=all and the circuit was successful. Before, I was a bit intimidated by circuits, but now I feel a lot more comfortable working with them.
As for the second goal, I really tried to hold myself to the goal. I created a step-by-step list for myself so that I could try to plan out all the components I would need beforehand. I found it helpful in the beginning but realized as I really started getting to work on the project, a lot of factors were shifting and at a certain point my step-by-step list kind of fell apart. But I still believe writing out the steps of a project is really helpful. It got me to really think about the logistics and design of the box in respect to the circuit as a cohesive piece, rather than the two as separate projects that needed to somehow come together in the end.
I’ve learned a lot in this project and the course. Often times, I got really frustrated when something would go wrong in an assignment. I would end up spending more time than I anticipated in order to fix the issue or coming up with an alternative. I treated arising issues as a barrier rather than an inevitable part of the process. I’ve always considered myself a good problem-solver, but I was never very comfortable when I ran into one. I think now, I have a much better approach to problems. I’m less emotional about them and more productive. I tackle the issues head-on.
As an advertising major, I always saw myself as a strategist. To be fair, I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I’ve always been drawn to the duality of the profession. Analytic and Creative. This course allowed for me to experience with different mediums (almost all that were new to me) and I think it sparked the creative side of myself. I would consider myself a maker. To me, a maker is anyone who devotes their time and their craft to create something. Making is collaborative, challenging, rewarding and unlimited.
For my Final Project, I worked on making a programmable keypad. I idea behind this keypad is that it could be used for multiple purposes, like data entry, coding, gaming, etc. To build it, I needed several tools and materials, like Adafruit Its Bitsy, sottering tools, wood, wires, mechanical switched, keycaps, etc. Through out the project, I was following the guideline from the instructables website. The first step of the process was to sketch different designs for keypad; I sketched many different shapes for the keypad, like square, rectangular, circular, etc. I decided to move forward with the square design, because it was easier to interact with. Then, I build a press fit box, and laser cut it. After fitting the mechanical keys in the top portion of the box, I had to sotter them with the Itsy Bitsy. Sottering was the most challenging part of the entire assignment, because it was my first time doing it. In beginning, it did not work well, but with some help, I was able to sotter the keys with one another.
After that, I connected Its Bitsy to the keys. Again, it was challenging because the Itsy Bitsy was very small, its ports were very tiny; I had to be very careful in Sottering, so that I don’t damage it.
Connecting keys with Itsy Bitsy
Wired all the keys
After wiring all the keys, I had to do the coding part of the keypad, which was very straightforward, and went very smoothly. After coding part, I just had to assemble all the parts, and also attach Itsy Bitsy into the box. Sottering took me most of the time, but it was interesting to learn a new skill. The final product looked like this:
As I mentioned earlier, this is a multi purpose keypad, and it could be used in many different ways. For my final product, I coded it in a way that first three keys were cut, copy, and paste, and the second set of three keys were select left, select up, and select right, and the third set of three keys were undo, select down, and delete. It turned out really well, and it was as I wanted it to be. I am proud of the entire product, and specifically how convenient it could be for the users. For instance, this keypad, the way I programmed it, was doing performing cut, copy, and paste commands with just one keys, while in the standard keyboard, users have to press two keys. It was also great that how it could be used in different platforms like gaming, data entry, etc. The final product turned to be great, and I was happy with it. Below is the video of the final product:
My first learning goal, was to push my creativity in designing the keypad, and do something innovative and helpful. I believe in most of the way, I have met my first learning goal. I tried to push my creativity in designing and coding aspect of the product. In the beginning, I had many different design ideas and sketches for the product. I designed it in shape of gaming joystick, two handed gaming controller, circular shaped keyboard, etc. I chose the square design because it could easier to use, and users are already comfortable using something like this. Also, the idea was that it could be used in different platforms, so if I could have chose the design for gaming, then it would not work in data entry or coding. Because of that, I moved forward with the square design. I also programmed it in way that it could be useful in entering commands, like copy, paste, etc. In the intractable’s tutorial, it was used for typing numbers. My goal was to make it very convenient for the users. This could also be very helpful because of its convenience and usability. This could also used by the elderly people, who have trouble pressing the combination of keys. I believe that the final outcome was innovative. In future, I plan to make it more innovative, by adding some extra features.
My second learning goal was to learn and do Sottering. Through out the project, I sottered a lot. In the beginning, it was a bit challenging, but, later, I got comfortable with it. I enjoyed the learning process. I had nine keys in the keypad, and each key had two terminals in it. So, I had to sotter eighteen times on the keys. I had two to sotter on ten ports of the Itsy Bitsy, so, in total, I sottered at least twenty eight times, through the project. I met my goal of learning to sotter, through sottering to create a final product. I am happy with the final product, because it would very useful to anyone, in daily lives, and it is also very convenient to use.
Through out the course assignments, I have learned many useful skills, techniques, and tools. One of the most useful things that I have learned is the usefulness of prototyping. In most of the assignments, I created many different prototypes for the final product. I learned that how much prototypes can be useful in understanding the design of the final product, and ways to make necessary changes in design. Another important skill that I learned was design thinking. In most of the assignments, we had to come up something different or new, and coming up with something like that required a lot of thinking, creativity, and ideas. The entire process helped me strengthen my design thinking skills. With the help of all the assignments and process, I have become comfortable with coming up with something new. I also loved making things and designing stuff. The process was time consuming, but, most of the times, I was satisfied with the end result. I have definitely developed confidence as a maker and a thinker. It would be very helpful in future projects and goals.
This course was very useful in making me think, from a different perspective. Through out the course, I learned a lot, and it would help me in future goals. I consider myself as a maker. I have learned so many different making skills and techniques, and also learned to apply those is real life projects. In the beginning, I thought that making is straightforward. However, through this class, I learned that it is not very easy, and it requires a lot of planning, thinking, iterations, time, etc., to finalize a product. To create something, it requires a lot of effort and commitment. I think that I am a maker, and anyone who is able to come up with an idea and implement it should be considered as the maker. I agree with the quotation of Papert that it is very important for any type of learning to be personally meaningful. If someone is attached to something, then learning about that is fun and interesting. I think all the assignments were in some ways hands-on and personally meaningful, which made the class, a great learning experience.
For my final project I made a slide puzzle utilizing my own artwork. The inspiration for it was that I wanted to meld my love for both games and art into one project and the slide puzzle to me felt like a good mix of those two interests.
The first thing I started doing was the artwork in the center of the piece. This led to my first challenge, getting out of my art funk. I went through at least 3 different ideas for the art before I settled on the final piece. Once I finished the project the artwork is what I feel the most proud of. Both the line art and the finished art can be seen below.
Then I moved onto the sliding pieces and the overall frame. This ended up being quite easy to do since I found a simple Instructable online to help me. Check it out here: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Wooden-Sliding-Puzzle/
The primary challenge in this build process is dealing with the material I ended up using. Initially I wanted to make the frame out of something like wood or acrylic (acrylic being my number 1 choice), however due to the time spent on the artwork I needed to downgrade to cardboard. The challenge from this was dealing with the difficulty of sliding as well as the inaccuracy of my own cutting. Some of the process can be seen below (The last picture is after the presentation)
I want to get used to utilizing the poster printer.
For the most part I met this goal as it was simply learning to work with a piece of equipment. However in future uses of this machine I should look to explore different types of paper to see how it might change the final product. I also gained some more experience converting between different file types and formatting things for a poster printing, which is small but still useful.
I want to challenge myself by combining my passion for both games and art into one interactive art piece.
By just executing my project I feel like I met this goal as I made something that leveraged my love for art and made something that is playful and somewhat game like. Reflecting on this learning goal I could have taken the project one further and made a slide puzzle that had multiple different correct configurations. Additionally if I had the time I might have crafted something that allowed me to switch out puzzles making one harder than the other. This would allow for a sense of progression to the person playing with the puzzle much similar to a traditional video game. This goal in particular allowed me to learn how to meld different mediums in a way that highlights both of them.
I also want to challenge myself by making a piece with a lot of moving parts, in contrast to my other projects that are primarily stationary parts.
This was the learning goal that I wanted to meet the most, as it was something that none of my previous projects were able to do, except for the Pom Bot. For the most part I was able to accomplish this as the slide puzzle actually slid, however if I had enough time to laser cut pieces it likely would have slide even better. Ultimately I am still happy with my final project, however as I mentioned before I do regret not having the time to make even better.
A common theme throughout many of my write-ups is time management. Throughout these projects I don’t think I’ve gotten better at managing my time making, however I feel like I have gotten better at dealing with the consequences of it. Mainly how as the semester went on the less and less time I actually had to work on these maker projects, however even with the lack of physical time, I was still able to make projects that at the very least got close to my intended vision.
While it didn’t really change my thinking, this course helped reinforce the idea of iteration, which is something that has been highlighted within my own major LES: DELTA and is something that is necessary within my intended career of game development. Many of the projects throughout the semester required me to go back to the drawing board and having multiple different ideas to work off of made things go a lot smoother.
At the beginning of the semester I didn’t really think of myself as a maker mainly because I just didn’t feel very comfortable using many of the things that are associated with making. However after many of the things discussed during lecture made me see how making can take many different forms and it doesn’t have to just be about laser cutting or 3D printing. As a result now I relate a little bit closer to being a maker since I can see my own interests being a part of it.
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 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!
Here are some videos of my light box in action: