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

Posts Tagged ‘Section: Emilie’

Final Project

Question 1: Show us what you made for your final project.  Include at least two in-process photos and two final photos (or videos!) of your final project. Include a couple sentences about what challenges you faced and what you are most proud of but do not write a full step-by-step report of what you did.

I developed a fun strategy-based board game that can be played by multiple players. The game is turn-based and contains mechanics such as chess-based movement and attacking other players. The board is a rectangular grid. Players move and can attack other players. There are obstacles which players can use to shield themselves from attacks from other players. Power-ups are used to enhance offensive bonuses.

I faced several challenges along the way. One part was what technologies I would use. I downloaded models from Thingiverse and printed them with the resin printer, which turned out to be very detailed. Another was printing out the barriers, as with 3D printing it took forever and I was on a time crunch. I consulted James and he provided suggestions such as laser-cutting pieces and assembling them together, but I ultimately did not apply this idea because my project would require me to do those prints 30+ times, which was not feasible in my opinion.

Another challenge was the overall design of the game mechanics. I consulted my friend Miguel, a board game specialist, and asked him for his input on the game rules I had devised. One major implementation that he designed was the concept of a counter-play, since before, players would have no method to defend themselves against an attack.

In-progress pictures of the materials:

Question 2: What were your learning goals for your final project? Write at least one paragraph per learning goal about what you hoped to learn as you worked on this final project and what you actually learned.

Some questions to help your thinking: What did you learn that surprised you? Did you meet your goal? If you failed to meet your goal, how did you iterate your plan and what did you learn in that process? Are you happy with your final project? Is your final project meaningful to you? Why?


My learning goals for this project were: to use a new technology that I have not used before, and to push my creativity with this project and come up with unique game ideas. This project would essentially build upon the skills I have learned so far in this class, combining multiple areas into one.

I hoped to learn new technologies. I considered using neopixels for a cool effect but due to not having enough time, instead I opted to learn watercolor painting and produce my materials with different technologies, such as resin printing (which produces more detailed prints) and acrylic laser-cutting (which produced a really nice texture).

I also wanted to create a game that was creative and that people enjoyed. This is pretty difficult overall and even though I spent time considering different pros and cons of gameplay and that I like playing my own game, I am unsure if it would appeal to a wider audience. Rules and game play will have to be carefully tuned to ensure that the game makes sense and is playable, and is one that is truly strategy-based.

I think overall I met both of my goals. I like my game and think the outcome turned out decently.


Question 3: After rereading your lab assignment write-ups, what is the most significant thing you have learned over the course of these assignments? This is not a question about tool learning, but rather a question about yourself as a learner.

Some questions to help your thinking: Have you become more comfortable with certain kinds of tasks? Have you surprised yourself with what you enjoyed doing? Do you feel you’ve developed your confidence as a maker and what does that look like?


This class taught me how to pick up new technologies and how to learn them effectively. I think my TA Emilie accomplished this quite well in her instruction of my section. These assignments would include a short lesson and then building a very simple product, and then creating more complicated versions that would be used in the turned-in lab assignment. Initially I was uncomfortable and wasn’t sure if I should stay enrolled in this class because of the implications of having to force myself to be creative, but I turned out to like it, and so I’m glad I stayed because I’m proud of myself and the things I’ve learned and made.


Question(s) 4: Has this course spurred you to think about yourself differently? And/or future goals and interests in life? Do you consider yourself a maker? What does that mean to you now that it didn’t at the beginning of the semester?

Some questions to help your thinking: What does it mean to you to call yourself a maker (or not)? Who do you think should call themselves a maker? Early on you read a quotation from Seymour Papert who suggested the most significant learning is a) hands-on and b) personally meaningful. Does that quotation mean more to you now than it did at the beginning of the semester? What does it mean to you? Did you experience any learning this semester that fit this definition? Did the hands-on nature of the class make your learning more significant? Why and how?


Makerspaces encourage the development of both the technical and the creative aspects of people. It’s a very hands-on and practical area and also open toward people. I think one thing this course has changed in me is that it has helped me want to learn about not just why, but also how things work. I guess this means that I’m a maker.

Notwithstanding, ultimately being a maker is up to how you define it. If you make things, does that make you a maker? There are some specific things that people consider a part of makerspaces but I question that they are requirements to be considered a maker. In my opinion, if you can consider yourself a maker, then you are one.

I think making something hands-on and meaningful is definitely important, and I think I’ve accomplished this during the course of this semester. I think understanding makerspaces develops as you do it more. It’s a constant learning experience for everyone and it doesn’t stop.




  • Requirements: 2-4 players, game board, barriers, hearts, and power-ups
  • Each player selects one character.
  • Each player receives three hearts (lives).
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, place a power-up on the board until none.
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, place a barrier on the board until none.
    • During this process, all players should be able to reach each other at all times.
  • Starting from the youngest player, going clockwise, roll a die until the number 1, 2, 3, or 4 is rolled. Place your character on the spawn point that matches that number.
  • The youngest player starts first, and turns go clockwise.


Each turn

  • The player must move one square, either vertically or horizontally. Diagonal movement is not allowed, and players cannot cross barriers.
  • If the player walks into a power-up, pick up that power-up. You can only have one.
  • After moving, the player can then choose to attack a player or a barrier if they are able to, given their power-up.



  • Unlike chess, you don’t move to the opponent’s square after the attack.
  • A player can attack other players differently depending on their power-ups (see below).
  • If the player chooses to attack another player:
    • The attacker and defender each roll a die.
    • If the attacker’s roll is higher, the attack is successful.
    • During any of these steps, if you roll a tie, both reroll.
    • Else, the attacker rolls a second time. If this roll is higher than the defender’s original roll, the attack is successful.
    • If the attack is successful, the player returns a heart to the bank, forfeits their power-up at the current spot, and is moved to ANY respawn point of their choosing. Discard the attacker’s power-up.
      • If the defender will have 0 hearts, they are eliminated from the game.
    • If the attack is unsuccessful, end the turn.
  • If the player attacks a barrier instead, then just remove the barrier.



  • Offensive power-ups:
    • None: Can only attack from any adjacent tile in all directions (like a chess king).
    • Laser gun (x4, GREEN): Can attack a player in any tile in the same X or Y axis. Does not penetrate barriers.
    • Sword (x4, RED): Attacks like no power-up, except you can attack barriers (to remove them) as well.
  • Defensive power-ups:
    • Lucky coin (x2, YELLOW): If this player is attacked at any time, add +1 to the defender’s rolls.
    • Speedy (x2, ORANGE): This player can move two squares instead of one each turn. Lasts until the player dies.
    • Teleporter (x2, BLUE): This player can choose to teleport to a respawn point of their choice during any turn, as a replacement for their movement phase.
  • Power-ups are single-use and most are discarded after they are used, except for the lucky coin and speedy.
  • Players can only have one power-up at a time, but can be swapped (the other one is discarded).
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Final Project: MIDI Controller – Arun Abraham

Question 1:

For my final project, I sought to create a Piano MIDI controller that I could potentially use with a DAW (digital audio workstation) when producing/recording music for myself in the future. MIDI controllers are typically somewhat pricey, so I thought this would be a cool alternative.

Wooden piano board created using Inkscape and the Epilog laser.

Initial Raspberry Pi testing before I switched over to the Arduino.
















Some of the challenges I faced when creating this project were with executing on the initial project conception with using a Raspberry Pi. I found a lot of difficulty with setting up the Raspberry Pi and had to continuously get more and more equipment for it to fully work, and even then, I had to scrap the idea because it wouldn’t have worked as smoothly as an Arduino would. I lost a lot of time trying to setup the Raspberry Pi before switching to an Arduino.

The Adafruit MPR121 sensor with wires and metal pins soldered to it,

Example code that combined the MPR121test file that check each of the 12 touch sensors on the board with a tutorial on sending MIDI messages. The results can be seen in the Serial. This was a prototype that had problems because of the overlap of sending data through Serial multiple times.


















Another challenge I faced was with soldering, something I was relatively new to. I had soldered once before 7 years ago and had decided at that time that I would never do it again because it was difficult for me. Luckily, it turned out mostly fine this time, but one of the wires that was soldered didn’t have a great connection to the Adafruit MPR121 board. Another challenge I faced was with getting the touch capacitive data from the Adafruit MPR121 to be translated to MIDI messages that would be read by the computer and any MIDI software or DAW. I tried to do this originally all with the Arduino code but found that I needed a Python script to translate the Serial input from the Arduino into MIDI messages instead. In the videos below, you can see how I experimented with MIDI messages apart from the touch sensors, in order to get that working first. In the first video, I was able to get MIDI data to send from the Arduino but it wasn’t connect to the MIDI player. In the second video, it played through the MIDI player by means of a virtual MIDI port created using the LoopMIDI software and Hairless MIDI <-> Serial Bridge to send the Serial data to the port, which was then set as the MIDI input for the MIDI software I used (Virtual MIDI Piano Keyboard). 

The last challenge that I faced was with getting the MIDI messages to go to the MIDI output device of choice. I was easily able to have the computer output sound when I touched the sensors, but it needed to play through the device, where I would see the piano keys on it being pressed down as I touched it. I had to use a variety of different software to get this work, including a virtual MIDI port, but it ended up connecting smoothly after trying out the different settings and figuring out what worked!

The final setup of the Arduino with the wooden board, sensors, alligator clips, and foil for touch.

The final computer setup with virtual MIDI port through LoopMIDI, the Python script running, and the MIDI player open.
















I am most proud of the fact that I was able to use my prior programming knowledge in Python to process the data from the Arduino! I found it cool that I could use the skills I learned from this class and combine it with my prior skills to create something that was even useful for my own music projects!

Question 2:

Learning Goal 1: I want to challenge myself to incorporate a Raspberry Pi into my project because even though I am a computer science student, I do not feel comfortable dealing with circuits, wires, and microcontrollers/microcomputers (I avoided hardware and ECE classes).

Unfortunately, I was unable to meet this goal because of unexpected circumstances with the Raspberry Pi and the corresponding equipment for it. However, I was still able to use a microcontroller in the Arduino and used libraries that I had not used before in order to make this project work. Likewise, I was able to face my discomfort with using circuits and wires and even soldering as I used the Adafruit MPR121, a new sensor, with the Arduino. I learned that the Arduino is capable of doing a lot more than I originally thought! While I thought it was a very basic computer simply by the fact that it runs a continuous loop, I was surprised to see the sheer number of libraries for it. It was cool to experiment with the different MIDI libraries and learn more about the Serial library as well. It was definitely for the best that I used the Arduino rather than the Raspberry Pi because I think the Raspberry Pi would have added a complexity that wasn’t really needed for the scope of this project. As a result, I am happy with the outcome and the implementation!

Learning Goal 2: I want to personalize the design by adding my own touches to a standard design so that I can push my creativity.

I feel that I was able to personalize the design by creating the piano keys completely from scratch in Inkscape. It was very simple to design, but it was cool to have used the Epilog Laser to raster the piano keys onto plywood for the MIDI controller. Most designs online used aluminum foil or conductive ink, so they were usually constructed on paper, so it was cool to see how it would look on a piece of engraved wood. I would have liked to add color to it somehow, but likewise, the black keys were done with raster, which would have been covered up if I had included a sticker or cardstock by using the Silhouette cutter. Likewise, the foil covered up most of the wood, but it was necessary in order to have the alligator clips attach to it and have the keys be conductive. Though I had a picture of what the board would ideally look like in my head, I learned that it is near impossible to have it look exactly like a design concept simply because all of the tools and material might not be in place. I learned that there is a great need for flexibility, adaptability, and compromise when it comes to the design process!


Question 3:

As I already stated, I think I learned that there is a great need for flexibility and adaptability when it comes to designing and making something. As a computer science student, I’ve seen it as I’ve written code and worked on different projects, but when it has come to this class and the mostly hands-on work, I’ve come to see even more how ideas may need to be scrapped and I have to start over from the beginning when things go awry. It really takes a lot of patience and planning in order to make a good product, and it may even take multiple prototypes to get something working as you originally planned. It may even require tweaks to the original design and omission of things that just aren’t feasible with time, material, or equipment constraints.

One thing that I’ve definitely become more comfortable with is working with hands-on projects. In the past, I steered clear of these projects because I feared the attention to detail that was necessary for these sorts of projects, but I found myself enjoying the projects in these classes (especially the Arduino units) as I became more accustomed to working with my hands. I definitely feel more confident as a maker and feel like my creativity really developed this semester.


Question(s) 4:

I think this course definitely has caused me to think about myself and my potential differently. Apart from coding, I was very hesitant with other forms of engineering, but now, I feel more adventurous and willing to try out new things related to making. Likewise, I felt like my creative capacities were always limited to the arena of coding, but now, I see how I can be creative with other things, like when using Inkscape for laser cutting and stickers or the different sensors and outputs for the Arduino. I think I feel a lot more confident when it comes to potential independent projects in the future, and I would be more willing to do craft work in the future as well.

I think I considered myself a maker before because of my computer science background and the numerous projects and apps I worked on before, but I definitely would identify more as maker now after this class because I’ve had the opportunity to work on several different kinds of projects to expand my skill set.

I think that the term maker really can be a broad term to refer to anyone who can create or recreate an item by their own hands, starting at the design process and then progressing to construction and testing until a final product is achieved. I feel like this is definitely in line with Seymour Papert’s quotation as well because being a maker requires a person to do a lot of hands-on work and requires them to be original in their ideas, which usually makes it personally meaningful. This quotation definitely means more to me now in the context of making because having to design my own projects and think about how they would benefit me or be interesting to me was directly correlated with how driven I would be to complete the project. Unlike with required projects in past classes, I found myself much more interested in these projects once I had come up with an idea. The drive to complete the project that came with the idea would prompt me to learn new things in order to complete these projects and do them well, so I feel like I definitely learned a lot as a result of that. The hands-on nature definitely played a big part because it somewhat forced me out of my comfort zone and forced me to experiment with different ideas so that there would be a learning by trial and error.

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Final Project – Motion Sensor Solar Powered Desk Lamp

Question 1:

For this final project, I made a solar powered motion sensor desk lamp controlled by Arduino. The lamp is made by cutting a block of wood into three pieces. Two of the longer blocks are for the stand which is connected to the other block for the head with a screw, winged bolt, and washer to make the head adjustable. I faced a lot of challenges in the project which are to create the solar panel, connecting it to the Arduino, programming the Arduino and doing the woodworking as I have never had any experience whatsoever. I am really proud of building the solar panel with the help of Brandon. Never I would have thought that I would literally build the solar panel circuit myself (thought of buying it at first), but after much experiments, it was done!


Question 2:

First, my learning goal was to get more of hands-on experience on building things. I come from Indonesia and woodworking was not something that was really taught to students however, crafting was something that has always intrigued me since childhood. From that, I hoped to gain the basic skills in woodworking and using power tools to create new products from materials such as wood. After doing the project, I have gained the basics in modeling materials such as cutting the wood using an electric saw and drilling using the heavy machine with supervision from the representatives in charge of safety.


The next learning goal I had in this project was to do something more on the engineering side and gain more technical skills. Although I initially thought that I am a maker by heart, this ideology does not really translate using the technical skills that I possess and have to apply to the project. So, by the end of the project, I hope to gain knowledge about circuits and power conversion. After doing the project, although not much, I did gain this knowledge such as if you are using a parallel circuit, you will get an even voltage distribution and more current (yeah, this is what worked for my project).

This learning goal also aided me in another personal goal, which is to get closer to the people in the FabLab. Earlier in the semester, I was so mesmerized with what the members of the lab are doing and really wanted to get involved. However, as the semester, I did not have that much time to come to the lab aside from class hours. So, from this project, I vowed to at least to get closer with someone (aside from my awesome instructor Emilie). After doing the project, I did get closer to one person, Brandon. Brandon was really helpful during the entire project. He helped taught me how to create the solar panel power source and how to connect them to the Arduino. Moreover, he also helped me a lot with the coding part to program the motion sensor and the lights.


All in all, I think that my project was a huge success in my own metrics. Never would I expect, an accounting student like me to create something that so far away from the education discipline I have been going through for the past 4 years and created something that does not require me to make balance sheets or income statements. Although it is successful according to me, there is definitely room for improvements. First, I should have made the cable to the solar panel longer so that it can be moved more freely. The lamp can be plugged to a portable power source, hence it could be a portable lamp. In regards to that, I would think that making the body of the lamp and the Arduino box waterproof would definitely take my project to the next level. I really think that my project is important as it is definitely a step into the future. I think climate change is destroying our world and finding an alternative power source is a step to a better world. The motion sensor is there to limit the power usage as the lamp will turn off if you do not need it anymore and the lamp is entirely solar powered.


Question 3:

This class has taught me a lot in regard to technical skills as well as self-development skills. One thing that I learned from this class is that it is okay to make mistakes. As a business major, we were taught that it is imperative to not make mistakes as it would hinder the efficiency of the whole business process. Although not making mistakes is important, mistakes are valuable experiences that remind us that if one way does not work, you need to find an alternative to it. From mistakes, I learned that although a solution might logical sense, it might not work the same when applied due to other factors. This brings me to another lesson I learned through the whole experience, which is to be resilient. I am not the most efficient and smartest person when it comes to making the projects given in the class. It took more time for me in doing and also designing the projects. However, the class taught me that I have to struggle and stay resilient in finishing the tasks, which actually bore wonderful fruits. I can say that I am proud of the creations I made in the class (although some were really terrible, I know). One thing I found comfortable doing is actually using the Arduino. I was always inclined to this part of the class for its limitless ability. At first, it was hard, but after doing 4 projects with it (2 Arduino projects, 1 iteration project, and final project), I came to enjoy doing it and might I say be decent at it. 


Question 4:

Before taking this class, I thought that a maker is someone who makes something from nothing to something. However, this class has taught me that there is no one single definition for a maker as everyone has different and unique making processes. My definition of a maker is someone using tools to add value to something and tells stories using their creations (kinda borrowed the quote from Adam Savage[1]). By that definition, I am definitely a maker. Every learning experience I obtained from the class had been hands-on and meaningful for me in different ways. I definitely think that the quote means more to me now than it had at the beginning of the semester. With the skills, I gained and the understanding of the lessons’ objectives, I can confidently say that the class had given me a more holistic learning approach to making as it encompasses education disciplines as well as backgrounds. The hands-on experience helped me understand the matter at hand as I do not need to visualize the concept, as I can just try it out with the devices that are available in the lab.






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The making of The Dress

The Dress

Using vinyl I created templates for screen printing the pocket.

I used tissue paper to alter the pattern while preserving the original pattern in case I ruined everything.

The almost finished dress still needs a zipper, hem, & for the pockets to be to lined & sewn on.

But look at those sleeves! They’re crisp, beautiful, the right size & on in the right direction!

My proudest moment was the first seam around the neck. You can’t even see it anymore. But the stitches were even. I don’t mean straight. I mean even. You see, my machine was originally sewing weird, loose stitches, & it took between 20 min to an hour of carefully & methodically turning knobs & dials & threading & re-threading to create strong, even stitches.

Other than a finicky machine, I dealt with several other issues, a few of which were triggers for changing my design. Bicycle spokes were going to be too tedious & messy to screen print so I changed to birds. Then I discovered that my pattern was the wrong size & had to switch patterns, which meant redesigning my color blocking. But I persevered.

Over & over, I was grateful for my learning goals, which were:

1) I would like to learn how to do multi-layer screen printing through asking questions of staff and experimenting independently. 
2) I struggle with understanding patterns, so I would like to use this project as an opportunity to practice/learn how to use them.
3) I would like to afford myself the flexibility to simplify in order to preserve my mental and emotional health, and work on being willing to make adjustments to my project as I go along. 
These goals provided a framework for my learning and continually called my attention back to what I cared about most.
The first outcome was fairly straightforward and was accomplished in a fairly straightforward way. I asked questions of Emile, Amanda, and every other employee standing close by at the time I thought of a question. In this way I learned of the basic process of multi- layer screen printing including creating a vinyl template for each layer, sticking the vinyl on the screen, applying paint, setting the paint with heat, and cleaning the screens. I mostly experimented with my vinyl pattern, but I also experimented with color mixing and by creating my print. In this way I learned that skinny pieces don’t work well and that you should clean the screen between layers. My pocket was messier than I wanted it to be, but I had enough good patches to jimmyrig it. Honestly, I like the jimmyrigged pattern better than the original one.
The second outcome was far less straightforward to learn. Patterns are difficult and they seem to be written in another language. But I followed each step, asked my mother and Grandma questions, and made and fixed silly mistakes, such as sewing the sleeves on upside down. By the end, I got plenty of practice and can understand patterns a little better, but could by no means call myself an expert. Though I am very proud of those sleeves.
The third outcome was my favorite. This was the one meant to preserve my well-being. There were still some tears, anger, and frustration. But each time something went wrong, such as discovering my pattern was twice my size, I was able to say to myself “Thank goodness I built that into my plan.” Counting on adjustments took the pressure off and allowed me to continually simplify, or build on, my original plan. I learned not only to simplify, but also to trust myself. I seem to have proven myself trustworthy.
Throughout the course, I have persevered, except when I haven’t. I have triumphed, except when I haven’t. I have changed, except when I haven’t. I am still me. Sure, I can win against Inkscape in a fight more often than before and I have tinkered with a few more techniques and technologies than before. But by the end of a semester of struggling with things I’m not good at, I chose a project that played to my strengths. I don’t always do that. I often do what’s needed instead of what I want. So I guess I became more comfortable being and doing what I want. Am I a maker because sometimes I want to make stuff? I don’t know. I’m just me. Can that be enough? I think it can.
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Assignment 8

For this assignment, our task was to revisit a past assignment and make changes that utilize multiple technologies. In class I saw Duncan’s pillow and thought this was pretty cool. So I decided to make a nametag pillow using sewing. Initially I decided to embroider my name, but I wanted to learn how to screenprint my name, so with the help of Emilie I did this.

The frustrating part of this assignment, in my opinion, was using Inkscape to separate layers, like we did for the sticker assignment. My screenprint involved a clip-art penguin and the one I liked had a difficult outline so it made this process a little tedious.

I printed out the design on stickers, as if I were to make an actual sticker. However, the process is actually reversed. Instead of saving what we’d want in a sticker, we use the rest of it and actually discard the “actual” part.

The part that is actually discarded. I arranged it into what it would look like.

After printing out and peeling off the stickers, it was time to do the screenprinting. I got a bunch of black fabric. The screenprinting process involves placing the sticker on the printing board, taping up the background, placing it onto the fabric, spreading paint near the cut-out, and then rolling the “brush” on the hole. I think this was pretty cool.

There were also a couple of issues I faced during this process:

  1. I tried ironing my print. I did not realize that the iron had to be set to a certain temperature respective to the material, so I ended up burning parts of my fabric.
  2. Placement was difficult. On my print, the penguin’s collar is misplaced. It was hard to figure out the exact position for each layer since the rest of the drawing is not very visible.
  3. Using multiple colors when printing my name. I decided to make each letter a different color. I felt that doing it on the same layer would be much more convenient so I used six different colors of paint and rolled it one-pass. This was mostly successful, except one of my letters received an unwanted mixed color. Also, since this was only one-pass, the print is not very strong.

After this, I sewed three sides together and put a bunch of stuffing in it, and then sewed the remaining side to obtain the final pillow.

Overall I liked the final product. Although I faced challenges I think it turned out to be pretty neat.

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Iteration Assignment


For this assignment, I wanted to recreate the Name tag while using more tools from the lessons afterwards. Specifically, I wanted to use the silhouette cutters to add stickers to the name tag and add an LED circuit to add a light to the name tag as well. This would use tools from the second and third assignments to expand upon the design and implementation from the first assignment.


As a recap, here was my original product from the original name tag assignment:

My final product for Assignment 1: Laser Name tag.

For this new iteration, I wanted to change up the design while still keeping the guitar theme. For new inspiration, I used a nickname that I have that also serves as my musician name: “Rooney Tunes”. This is also the name that I have on my Instagram account where I post my different covers. My inspiration behind singing the songs I post is based on one of my favorite Bible verses, which I include in the bio in my Instagram account and decided to include in this name tag as well. Because my Christian faith is important to me, I decided to also add a small cross in the corner of the name tag with a light above it to represent the guiding light that the cross is for me in my faith.

Below is the design for the laser cutter:

Laser cutter design for the iteration assignment. This would raster the guitar and cross and vector cut a circle above the cross.

Below is the design for the silhouette cutter:

This was the initial design for the silhouette cutter to attach on top of the laser cut/engraved wood.


For constructing the project, I began by using the laser cutter. The wood was nicely cut out into a 7.5″ x 7.0″ block on a 1/4″ piece of plywood. The guitar and cross were rastered on it and the circle for the light was cut out. I unfortunately do not have any pictures or videos of the process.

The following portion involved using the silhouette cutter to cut out the sticker than would frame the cross and the guitar. Below is what it looked like, along with the additional sticker parts for the pick guard and the bridge of the guitar:

This picture shows the finished laser cut and rastered board along with the outline and guitar accessory stickers.

Following this, the next part was to incorporate the words onto the name tag. This was difficult because the letter were small. I found it difficult to remove the excess parts of the lettering when trying to use the transfer tape. Some part were lost when transferring it, and even on the original cut, the dots for the i’s and j’s did not make it through. Below is the sticker text on the transfer tape:

The text that would be put on the top left corner of the name tag shown on the transfer tape.

After removing the unnecessary bits in letters like “a”, “o”, “e”, and other letters, I proceeded to put the sticker text on the new name tag. It took a little while as well because the small letters clung to the transfer tape, but for the most part, it transferred well.

Next, it was necessary for me to set up the circuit for the white light that would be above the cross. It was a small and basic circuit because there was only one LED. Below is a picture of the final circuit:

The final circuit for the iteration project. The switch can be found at the top right part of the circuit. There is one battery, no resistors, and one white LED.

This circuit worked well and it all came together pretty well!

Final Reflection

Overall, I was pretty satisfied with the final product! If I had more time, then maybe I would have added a more complex circuit. I may have chosen a more cooperative font as well. The font was the biggest struggle for my first name tag as well. That first assignment required four iterations once I finally figured out the best size. This one only took one try but did not come out perfectly.

Even though it wasn’t perfect and that may have been a bit frustrating in terms of being patient with transferring as many of the letters as possible onto the main piece of wood, I was content and proud of the final product.I like that the gold sticker frames the guitar and the cross very nicely. The LED light, as well, is a nice touch. If I had more time, I would likely add a better switch or a more clever usage of a switch.

The final product can be seen below:

The final product for the iteration project. The light was a nice final touch. I wrote in the missing dots and quotations for the sake of completing the text on the name tag.

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Makeathon: Accessible Design

I participated in the Accessible Design Makeathon in place of the iteration assignment and joined Team Solestice from Vishal’s class. Our goal was to create an attachable shoe tread that could be used to travel in a variety of terrains. The tread would be lightweight and one that prosthetics users could use to walk around icy terrains more safely and confidently. As the fab lab consultant on this team my goal was to become familiar with the project they had been working on all semester, help make the prototype, and to help them with the tools and resources. I attended the initial meet-up for presentation which is where I meet and talked to various teams, need-knowers, mentors, and team Solestice. I then met with them to discuss their progress, research, goals, their mentor’s perspective, and to prepare for the makeathon weekend.

During the Makeathon weekend I spent 10+ hours with my team to create a useable prototype of their designs. It started off with making a tread mold out of a shoe using a ready made molding mix that we only had to add water too. The first time we did this it didn’t work because it stuck to the shoe because we didn’t oil or put baby powder on the shoe. The second time we used baby powder and got it to work well. Here’s the result:

Then we had to fill the mold with a material that would work well with the mold, created stabilizing friction, was lightweight, and a little flexible. We were advised to use silicone or hot glue. We choose to use hot glue because it was better for black ice and creates enough friction to prevent falling. I spent about 3 hours filling the mold with hot glue. Then to smooth out the top of the mold I used a heat gun to melt and resettle the top layer. In hindsight, using the heat gun and laying glue sticks in the mold may have worked and been more time-efficient, but doing it the way we did resulted in a better prototype that filled all the small cracks in the tread mold. 


Meanwhile the other members of our team worked on the Arduino pressure sensor for the attachable tread. The Arduino would light up attached LED’s to indicate how much pressure the wearer was putting on their heel. We deicide to add this component because prosthetic leg users indicated that they had trouble knowing how much pressure they were putting on it. Adding this would help maximize stability and make our product unique from other attachable shoe treads. 

After the thermal glue tread was finished we started attaching the velcro straps to the tread with hot glue. These straps were stable and tested many time to ensure maximum stability on the shoe when walking. Then we attached the pressure sensor to the back of the tread with the lights on the side. Our final prototype turned out pretty well but we ran out of time toward the end so we were unable to create an enclosure that would contain all the Arduino cords and parts on the back. Future improvements we would have made would include a 3D printed enclosure for the Arduino, a smaller Arduino board and a more aesthetic looking sensor and shoe attachments. 


We also created a poster and powerpoint presentation for the judging and presentation part of the Makeathon and were interviewed by a TV station. The product we ended up with would be beneficial for many people who have difficulty walking outside when it’s icy out including prosthetic leg users, older adults, and people with brittle bones. Overall, it was a long exhausting weekend but I’m really glad that I was able to be a part of this great team and participate in this Makeathon.

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Craig Santo – Iteration

(Iteration on Arduino Week 1)

Original: Simple temperature sensor that shows a color between blue-green-red depending on where the temperature is relative to a low-medium-high set-value.

Light on Low Setting

Light on Middle Setting


My goal was to turn the temperature sensor into a more useful, more ‘physical’ thermometer. Feature-wise, this included integrating more sensors that I’ve never used before: An lcd screen, buzzer, button, and changed the single RGB LED for an array of neopixels. The max-min range of the thermometer is changeable in the code easily. The neopixels start at blue at the bottom, and interpolate up to red at the top. An alarm can be set to go off if the temperature goes above (or below, with a different flag) a certain temperature – and a button can enable/disable the alarm. The lcd screen displays the current temperature.


Pastebin of final code:

I spent a lot of time tinkering with the LCD – the trouble being that there are several libraries with the same name (LiquidCrystal_I2C.h) and it took a while to find one that worked. This library did the trick:

Clean wiring was another thing I struggled with – especially when factoring in the box itself. I used a simple press-fit box and smoothed out an edge on each of the walls.

Otherwise, incrementally adding more components to the arduino wasn’t an issue – adding more sensors is easy enough once you’ve done it a few times.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but if I had the chance to iterate again, I might redesign the box with thought given to how the components will sit.

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Assignment 8: Iteration

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

Motion sensor LED light

Initial design for project

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

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

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

Here’s a picture of my final project:

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

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

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

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

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Assignment 8: Iteration

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Iterate the Dinosaur

The original project:

Dinosaur Pom Pom Bot

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

The goal for iteration:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Makeathon Blog

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

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

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

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

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

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