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

Posts Tagged ‘Section: Duncan’

Iteration Project: Make-a-thon Participation

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:

  1. easy for putting it on-and-off
  2. protection against scratches
  3. cushioning of physical impact (mostly in case of a fell)
  4. not blocking knee flex
  5. good looking


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. 

Continue Reading

Final Project: PiCrawler

PiCrawler Assembly – Field Test


is my final project for this course. It is a voice-controlled robot that can move in all directions on the ground. 

The robot integrated a Raspberry Pi (as the master for control), an Arduino (as the slave managing servo actions), and a mechanical base with two panels of “legs”. An offline speech recognition module called “Snips” is used for the project. A generated Snips assistant was configured and installed onto the Pi. Then a Python script was coded and set as a native service on the Pi. The script handles internal messages from the Snips assistant and parses them for robot command. The command will be sent to the Arduino using serial communication (USB A male to B male cable). The Arduino will then call servo functions based on the message. Currently, the robot can react to five commands: forward, backward, turn left, turn right, and stop.

The mechanical base was designed using Klann’s Linkage. It has the advantage of smooth progression and heavy load lifting, from the “D” shaped pattern from its legs.  The robot was based on two panels of such linkage, each panel has two sets of legs. The robot can move forward or backward when the panels are all moving in the same direction. And it can make turns when the two panels move in different directions, similar to that of a tank.


Challenge 1: Power Solution

Since I had very limited knowledge of power supply of robots, I decided to take this part of the project first. And it’s proved to be a wise decision.

Each of the servos has a stall current of 1.5 Amps at 6.0 V. The Arduino can be powered with a variety of options. The Pi needs stable 5V and 1.5 to 2.0 Amps for reliable performance. I was thinking a high throughput power bank would be enough for all of these. But after putting everything into a test. It was pretty obvious that even a 15W dual USB output power bank won’t be enough. Then I turned to the idea of auxiliary power supply — using the power bank for the Pi and Arduino (board only), and one to two battery packs of 4x AA batteries for the servos. In theory, two battery packs are needed in a parallel setup, since the AA batteries have a reference current of 1.5 Amps. But in testing, I found that one would be enough for the robot to move. Since the load and frictions were not terribly enormous. 

Power Solution

Challenge 2: Assembly

Proving the movement and leg patterns in software was one thing. But putting everything together and get a useable assembly is another story. With all the printing relief, and those many layers of acrylic parts, and screws, and spacers, I was not very successful in my first attempt. Quite some time were spent on sanding and drilling, reassembling and testing of the linkage. Even getting the screws was a challenge. Because, I used 4mm holes in the design, which would fit M3 screws smoothly. But none of the local stores has enough metric sized screws and nuts for me. So I spent many more hours switching everything to #6-32 screws (from the Imperial size chart).

Legs Panel Testing


In multiple layered mechanical linkage project, extra (I mean, quite a lot extra), precautions should be paid to load balancing, stability, and relief (or spatial allowance). With all the consumer level machines of laser cutting and 3D printing, and all those environmental variations going around, many measurements could go one way or another. And the gears will tilt if the loads are not balanced. There is still a lot to improve of my design. The frame is not stable enough for holding the body. The body design should have put those heavy batteries closer to the center of support. And the gear section needs a redesign, on a certain level, for a stable and smooth power progression. But I did have learned a good deal of lessons from this project.


Test with Voice Command

Continue Reading

Final Project

Question 1.

I made an art mobile that can be used to lit the room and showcase my photos. I often light my room at night only with Christmas lights and I wanted to make something that incorporates Christmas lights and decoration. I wanted to make something that is artistically aesthetic and also display my photos. I’m really proud of the photography/photoshop skills that I developed for my project. This is some skills that I can use it after this class for various occasions. I’m proud of my cloud room decoration overall. It looks artistic and useful in terms of displaying my photos. A major challenge I faced was the Arduino part of the project that I was initially going to include. I wanted to make the photos drip down out of the “cloud” (paper lanterns), but I couldn’t figure out a way to make that happen. Since this piece of decoration is meant to be hanging from the ceiling, it was strong enough to support multiple Arduinos inside the “clouds”. 

I hot glued pieces of cotton onto the paper lanterns. This process took a while because I wanted to make fluffy clouds that look realistic.

This is the inkspace design for the acrylic stars I made

This is my final product. I wish my blue lighting got delivered on time. I also I could showcase this during the final presentation in a dark room so I can show the full effect.

Before the photoshop

After the photoshop

Question 2.

Learning Goal 1: I want to use Arduino to display my photos more emotionally appealing by making the photos draping down in a timed matter. 

My number one learning goal was to use Arduino. It’s something that I didn’t really enjoy using back when we learned how to make pom bots. I wanted to challenge myself by using Arduino. I thought it would add a cool effect to my project too. However, it was difficult to make it happen. The first problem was that the Arduino motors weren’t moving in a way I wanted. I imagined my photos all folded into one and drapes down out of the “cloud”. Especially the LED lights being inside, it was not only fire hazard to multiple cords inside, but the clouds also weren’t’ strong enough to have something inside. I didn’t want to take a risk of ruining my whole project by using the Arduino. I talked to my classmates after I finished making it. They suggested some potential ideas on how to use Arduino. It’s something I never thought of and I will definitely consider using them in the future. I failed to meet this goal. I learned that sometimes it’s the solutions to your problems are much closer than you think. I could have talked to my classmates in the beginning process about my challenge. I think the key part of being a maker in the makerspace community is utilizing all your resources. This is the most precious thing I learned. I had a great chance to talk to my classmates. 


Learning Goal 2: I will spread out my tasks throughout the week to prevent myself from procrastinating. 

Most of my projects were done last minute because it was difficult for me to come to the fab lab in the evening during weekdays due to my other commitments. However, I knew I didn’t want to push my final project to the last minute. I set tasks for each week so I don’t do everything at once. Since I had to learn how to take photos with a DSLR camera, I watched tutorial videos every night in the first week. I had to ask my friends who are experts in photography in my own time to learn all the little things (aperture, shutter speed, appropriate light settings, etc). It rained so many days so I had to really look out for good weather to take pictures. I think I succeed in not doing everything last minute. I had all my photos taken and photoshopped done in advance. However, I had to make my clouds a little late because all the materials came late. I didn’t’ want to work on my project on the day of the presentation. I had to come in for a final touch. Due to this, I didn’t fully meet my goal number 2. 

Learning Goal 3: I want to push myself to make something that can make me happy even if I fail because I learned so much from the production of it.

I wanted to challenge myself from using tools that I’m not really good at. However, I also didn’t want to push myself to do something that I wouldn’t enjoy. They are so contradicting to each other that I had to do something that met two goals in the middle which was using the tool that I’m still comfortable at using but not really an expert at. I was very bummed after giving up on using Arduino. I decided to use laser cutting. I wasn’t really confident at doing the laser cutting. I got a new idea at the last minute to add shiny stars to make the clouds look more like hanging in the sky. So I designed the shiny stars and laser cut using the universal. It was my first time that I did the whole process without any problems. I felt like I can even help other people who don’t know how to use it. It was an amazing feeling. I’m actually really happy with my shining stars (mirror acrylic) because it adds so many artistic values to my final piece. 

Question 3

I think I have never felt this insecure as a student in a class before INFO 490. I was the slowest learner in my lab section. I always asked the most number of questions. I was the last one to understand the same tasks in my class. I felt like my project was never as cool as another person’s. It was a constant feeling of failure and insecurity. It took me a while to tell myself that I’m good at certain things. I think I have really cool ideas. I may be a slow learner to learn how to use tools to make my imagination come true. But I had the creativity and also desire to create something original. This class taught me how everything we make in this class can’t be compared to each other. There is no such thing as “mine is cooler than yours”. I definitely felt sad when the Professor asked why I didn’t execute certain things. He didn’t know as an audience that I already have attempted to make those but I just failed to execute them. It was a very meaningful learning experience for me to understand the interaction and the silent communication that happens between the artist and the audience. I don’t think I’m an expert at any tools we learned in this class. I still have more experience with the tools we have used. However, I think I learned what makerspace community is. I can’t thank enough people who never got annoyed from me asking so many questions and were always willing to help me even if they were busy. 

Question 4

Although I was never happy about anything I made for this class, I feel proud as I’m writing this post. I didn’t even know that I was going to be doing all this when I registered for this class. I’m proud of being an original maker. That means, I always challenged myself to be original with my creativity. This is why I consider myself a maker. I created something out of my imagination. I’m not sure if I will put myself to create something tangible like the stuff we make in the fab lab. I will definitely use the skills I learned in everyday life. I think even my cooking skills make me a maker. I’m writing this blog as a person who has basic skills. However, I’m definitely more curious and passionate about creating something after this class. I think I have tough love for this class because there were definitely moments where I felt like a failure. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated to ask questions from time to time. However, I made good friends from this class and met so many good people!! I honestly wish I had more chance to be friends with my classmates. They are so freaking cool. I hope I remember to utilize my resources and ask as many questions as needed in many situations so I can execute my imagination fully and challenge myself.

Continue Reading

Copper Tape Project

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.

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. 

Continue Reading

Final Project

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. 

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. 


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. 

Continue Reading

Final Project Reflection

For my final project, I was inspired by a pokéball-themed Nintendo Switch cartridge case that I found on YouTube.  My initial idea was to make six pokéballs and case/stand based on the recovery machine in pokémon centers. After considering the amount of time needed to complete the project, I cut the number of pokéballs to three, and changed the idea for the case/stand to the incubator that contained the three starter pokémon in the first episode of the anime.  I also decided to have one of the pokéballs contain a small Pikachu plush rather than Nintendo Switch games. With that in mind, I needed to decide what pokéballs I would make. I, initially, was going to make one regular pokéball, one master ball, and one unique pokéball that I would design. After discussing my idea with Duncan, it was decided that I would instead design three unique pokéballs.  The two pokéballs that would hold Nintendo Switch games would be based on the Overwatch logo and the Smash Ball item from the Super Smash Brothers series. The last pokéball would be based on Pikachu.


I had quite a few challenges in this project.  The spring releases weren’t as strong as I had hoped they would be.  I had some trouble keeping the buttons positioned so that they could hold the balls closed.  I had multiple parts break during assembly, and two parts fail halfway through their prints. I hadn’t anticipated that so many parts would break, so that threw off my schedule for the project.  Due to this shift in my schedule, I was only able to paint two of the pokéballs and use a primer on the case/stand. Despite the setbacks, I am very proud of how well the Smash Ball came out. I also feel that the laser print design for the case/stand came out well, considering that it was my first time using Fusion 360.

Overall, I had three learning goals: Improve my time management by making a schedule of what I needed done by a certain time, making more use of the tools at my disposal, and asking for help whenever I was confused.  I did accomplish my learning goal of making a schedule for better time management, but I did not account for the possibility of parts failing. Not including the case/stand, I needed to print fifteen separate parts. I began printing on Thursday with a plan of printing six parts that day, four on Friday, and five on Sunday.  I created this plan factoring in that on Friday and Sunday I would only need to use 2 printers at once, so that I wouldn’t be preventing others from completing their own projects. The plan seemed realistic, but I did not anticipate that multiple parts would fail. The setbacks caused by the broken parts caused my plan to fly off the rails, snowballing to the point in which I was having the last two parts of one pokéball printing from Monday night to Tuesday morning.  Due to this result, I feel that I only partially accomplished my goal. I created a schedule, but I failed to stick to it due to a lack of flexibility in said schedule.

I definitely feel that I made use of the tools at my disposal while working on this project.  When I made my 3D Printing and Scanning assignment, I simply imported my scans into Meshmixer, used the analyze tool to fix any errors, plane cut them, and then moved it over to Tinkercad to stitch the scans together.  For this project, I actually used different tools such as inflate and flatten in order to morph the pokéball shells into the shape that I desired. I used Fusion 360, a software I had never used before, to design the laser printer file for the case/stand.  I used power tools for a project for the first time. I needed to use a drill to widen the holes of the hinge of each pokéball. I actually also had to use a soldering iron and a heat gun for the first time to help secure the buttons into place. I also did foam smithing for the first time, using contact cement to glue foam to the wooden skeleton of the case/stand.  I also painted something for the first time since I was about 6 years old, so that was fun. I definitely feel that I accomplished my goal of making better use of the tools at the fab lab.

For my final goal, I made sure to ask questions.  Typically, when I feel stuck in a project, I would sit feeling defeated for a while.  This time, I made sure to ask questions as soon as I felt that I did not know what to do.  One person that I cannot thank enough is Brandon, who helped me with a large portion of my project.  He taught me how to use Fusion 360 so I could design the case/stand. He taught me how to use a soldering iron and heat gun, and how to do foam smithing as well.  When I was feeling lost after my parts broke, Brandon helped me get back on track by helping me with the case/stand while new parts were printing. I am very thankful for all of the help I received while making this project.  If I hadn’t been asking questions as soon as I had, my project would have been in much worse shape.

Over the course of the semester, I feel that I truly did learn something in this class.  Before this course, I never really went out of my way to make new things. In this class, I learned how satisfying it is to come up with an idea and bring it into reality.  Before this class, I never thought I would ever need to learn how to sew. Surprisingly, I would say that the project I am most proud of is the stuffed animal that I made in the Sewing and Digital Embroidery assignment.  I may have gotten frustrated at one point while making it, but overall, I truly enjoyed making it. This class has definitely improved my confidence as a maker.

This class has made me feel different about the very concept of making.  Since high school, I have wanted to work in some sort of lab as a chemist, making different products for the company that employs me.  Whenever I thought of the word “maker,” I always felt that the term applied to a select few that create inventions that have a lasting impact on the human race.  This class has taught me that anyone can be a maker. This class gave me confidence in my ability to make things. It really showed how anyone can make something if they have access to the tools to create.

One of the most important lessons I received in this class is that it’s not the grade that matters; it’s the effort that really counts.  I eventually got to a point in which I stopped caring about my grade, and started caring more about the projects themselves. I’ve enjoyed a lot of classes in my four years at this university.  This is by far the most fun I’ve had in a class. Thanks to this class, I feel that I will feel more confident when asked to make something.

Continue Reading

The Power Glove

Patrick Hurtado (phurtad2)

Final Project: The Power Glove

The Final Product













Video of the Power Glove in Action


Issues Encountered and The Pride Found

I chose to use many new modules, such as the ESP32 and the MCU-6050, which were decidedly more complex than what my project required. I also ended up using new tools, such as soldering and using Bluetooth, which complicated things further. Compiling code onto the ESP32 module only worked half the time, and learning to use Bluetooth ended up being much more complicated than I thought, since it had to comply to Bluetooth standards. This project also necessitated that the entire device would fit within a glove, and to do that would require soldering the modules onto a perforated board as opposed to attaching everything via breadboard, something I had zero experience with.

Ultimately, I am proud of finding the solutions to all my problems. Despite the project taking more time and the problems encountered were more complex than expected, I am proud of taking the time to dedicate making the project a functional reality.


ESP32 Module and MPU-6050 mounted onto the perf board


Original wire setup for the flex sensors

Learning Goals

The first learning goal was to learn about hardware and E-Textiles, as well as learn more about wireless devices and how they work. My second was to evaluate my product of two weeks to the original 1979 Nintendo Power Glove, which had a team work on it over the span of eight weeks. I wanted to see how the advancement of technology could change what is possible and by whom.

For the first goal, I definitely felt I learned a lot about a field I did not know, particularly hardware. I learned about prototyping with perf boards, the benefits of that instead of going straight to a PCB, as well as circuit design and how to solder. This is also the first time I needed to work with fabric, and so I had to figure out a way to keep the flex sensors snug to the finger of the glove while still needing it to be easily removable. Ultimately, I feel like I gained a valuable and diverse skill set through this project, and thus I feel like I accomplished my first learning goal.

For the second goal, my end product was successfully able to play Pokemon Yellow and Tetris on the Game Boy. While possible, no participants were able to successfully complete World 1-1 in Super Mario Bros. This is on par with the original Nintendo Power Glove; the motions that players needed to use to play a game like Mario were too precise for the Power Glove to cater to. The same was true in my prototype. While I had to change how to take certain actions due to hardware limitations (such as replacing relative position tracking with a gyroscope), the problems that plagued the original Power Glove are also found in my prototype, which was constructed at a fraction of the cost over a shorter amount of time. Therefore, I believe my product is a fair representation of the Power Glove, and that the advancement of technology, while helping to reduce the costs, did not make the product any better or more intuitive than it did in the late 70s.


Solder job and jumper cables done on the perf board. Flex sensors are attached modularly via the purple wires.


The final hardware setup of the Power Glove before installing it in the glove


What I Learned From INFO490 – Makerspace

One of the biggest things I have learned about myself is my level of dedication I can to seeing something to the end, regardless of the medium it’s being done in. There have been several points in this class where I am working on a project and I forget that I’m technically doing this for a grade; in my eyes, it’s all about completing it for the sake of the product itself, and not for the sake of getting a good grade. I believe much of this inspiration came from the staff at the Fab Lab itself; seeing people just passion for making and creating struck a drive in me to do better and make better.  



I believe this course definitely had an impact in what I do in the future. I don’t want to be limited by my capacity; this class has shown me the resources readily available to me, and the amount of potential one can draw from fab labs if they simply take the time to draw it. I do not want to stop making or designing or creating simply due to a lack of resources or knowledge. In my opinion, whether or not I am confident to call myself a maker is as important as the grade I get from making these projects. In my head, anyone can be a maker, if they simply try to create; the title has no qualifications on the product itself. I found deep enjoyment and satisfaction from making this semester, and am confidence I will continue to pursue this interest in the future.

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

Iteration Project – Overalls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the final product:

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

detail on the back of the straps


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

Continue Reading

Iteration Assignment – Nicholas Agate

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Birds Silhouettes:

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

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

Two-Piece Box Design:

Wood Staining Tutorial:




Continue Reading

Iteration Project

Two projects that I was most excited about were also two projects that didn’t go well. They are laser cutting and stickers. I wanted to iterate laser cutting and add a new feature that I have not added before which is the photos. I wanted to make an acrylic photo frame for a collage of photos. Something that I can display and use it every day. 

This is the initial design of my project. The symbol that represents each picture is engraved (rastered) on the acrylic piece that covers the photo.

I first made a main piece of the acrylic panel using the inkspace. I had to get a 12in by 6 in clear acrylic.  I wanted to make a bigger frame but that would have costed a little more. First, I made different sizes of rectangles and squares for the pictures.

I had to make sure the size of the shapes for resizing my photos for corresponding sizes. 

I then had to save the shapes for the wood panel on the right position so my back wooden panel has the right texts on the correct position not covering the picture frames. 

I made the same shapes so I can attach to the original clear pieces so we can easily pick up the pieces to see the photos. This time, I added the symbols to raster on the acrylic. It was difficult to find acrylic scraps that are not aggressive colors and has enough spaces for my shapes. I had to run back and forth a lot to laser cut.

The rastor is kind of hard to see because the colors of the acrylic were not bold enough. I didn’t have a choice to pick other colors so that was a bummer.

This is how it looks like with the pieces in.

I used the poster printer to print all the photos. For some reason, it took me longer than I expected. I had to upload my photos from my iPhone to google drive. Download them and resize all of them to match my shapes. Then, I put them in one file and print them which the printer gave me a little hard time. It was hard to figure out things by myself but it felt good when I got them all printed. The photos are blurry because I had to resize them so small.

this is what it looks like when the photos are in the shapes and the puzzle pieces are covering. 

I combined two shapes so I can pick them up easily. As you can see in the above picture, the shapes are peaking out. 


Overall Thought…

It turned out pretty well. Not as good as how I designed which would have taken too much time (this already took me almost 10 hours). I definitely feel more confident about laser cutting. Thanks to my classmates and people at the fab lab for helping me. It was so stressful as usual. But I’m excited to give this as a gift to my boyfriend. I hope my time and effort were worth it. 

I wanted to make holes to screw all the panels together but I ‘m too scared of shattering my acrylic pieces. For now, they are taped down. I will look for ways to put them together more neatly. I’m glad that I developed my laser cutting and inkspace skills through this project. I felt like I’m not confident enough in any of the materials/programs we have used so far prior to this project. However, now I think I can make more stuff using these materials/machines/programs. 

Continue Reading