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

Posts Tagged ‘Section: Emilie’

Amine Ahmed Yahia – Vinyl Stickers

This project was mainly inspired by the griffin sticker, but I wanted to add my own twist on one object instead of two. I used an animated cactus borrowed from Google to start. My idea is not entirely different because it has been done before, but my specific design is unique because it includes my personal favorite plants. I had all the tools and knowledge for this project but not prior to our instruction. I was excited about the multiple colors and layers, but I was worried about how to effectively rearrange all of them into one aesthetically pleasing piece. It took four different colors of 4×4 to make the final product, so it costed approximately $2. However, smaller pieces can be printed out multiple times on one sheet so it saves money.

 Image result for cactus stickers

While working:

 

Hands-on examples are the only way to explain using Inkscape and Silhouette Studio. The handout for multi-layered stickers was effective because it showed step by step. The pitfalls I was looking out for were all technical. Finding the ideal organization of cuts was quite difficult. It took me a while to figure out a background and what shapes I wanted to cut and paste over the next. I care about minor details because although I do not seek perfection, I want to make a quality sticker that is not missing any pieces due to poor cuts. I just downloaded the software so I can start work like this at home. Up until now, I have not done any of the project work at home because I simply do not have enough resources to prototype.

 

 

After finishing:

 

Now that the project is complete, I am looking back to see what could have been done differently. The biggest improvement would be to perform all the cuts in one go. With more time, I would only add more complexity and fine details to the project. There is nothing more I want to do with it except make it look as neat as possible. As I stated earlier, the main inspiration was the griffin with a twist. I like cacti because I think they are cool and sunflowers because they are pretty. I used photos from google so of course I borrowed someone else’s idea. I added to their idea to make it appropriate usage. The instruction on how to work the software was all the help I needed. I decided to complete my project when I started to lose track of the individual layers. I was adding too many changes that my plant-griffin started to look like a blob more than anything else. I made a mistake with alignment of the cactus on its background, but it turned out well. The alignment being off created a popping effect. My goal was to make an intricate, cool sticker for my bike and I surpassed that goal. The stacking of different colors worked well to highlight the individual layers. The biggest revision was removing the backgrounds that did not fit. Three unexpected things that happened include the sticker not peeling off completely, the background sticking off (which did a cool thing), and overlapping cuts. The best moment was putting the stickers together with transfer tape at the end of the cutting process. I did not doubt my completion because there was plenty of time to do multiple tries. I did not give up, but I took pauses from work. Working on the screen for so long (designing) and still losing track of an object is the only frustration. I liked everything in this project especially since we were given such freedom of choice. I am proud of how the final product looks a completely opposite tone compared to the original images. The designing was the most fun and most troubling part of this project.

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Multi-color Vinyl Sticker: Now in space!

This week’s project was to build a multi-color vinyl sticker. I was initially looking for a nice sticker to put on my laptop, but I was struggling to find any given icon/logo/etc. that I felt was representative of who I was. 

My phone (Pixel, first-generation) has a white panel on the top 1/2 of the back of the phone. I usually use a clear case with this phone, so I felt that this would be a great canvas to place a sticker on. 

Reference image for my phone

I wanted to go for a sticker that fit the space I was putting it on, while also having a bit of artistic work. I considered going for a logo that represented my background in PC Gaming, but finding a multi-color solution for that proved difficult. After searching across google images, I came across this artwork: 

Reference Image for Vinyl sticker

This image was a great place to start, as it had 4 colors (black, blue, green, and white) while also being easily manipulated into something that could fit my phone. I also felt that this image would give me some interesting challenges to overcome, such as removing the plane/spaceship, cleaning up the starscape to be compatible for cutting, and removing the subtle shading that persists on many elements of the artwork. 

 

I’ve worked with photoshop in the past, although Inkscape/Vector images proved to be a bit tricky to work with at times, especially when I wanted to create a smooth, rounded edge on the earth across multiple layers. I resolved this by just creating an earth-shaped circle and using the Path->difference tool to ensure all layers could fit together. 

There were a number of alterations made to the artwork:

  • The original starscape was almost completely removed. I took one of the larger stars and copied/scaled it to create a new set of stars that I felt more confident in working for the process of cutting/transferring small elements.
  • The outer edges of the starscape were stretched outward to fit the rectangular space on my phone.
  • The airplane/spacecraft were removed.
  • The color palette was flattened to just be the 4 central colors for the piece, removing shaded borders and the cloud shadows.

Originally I planned to use white vinyl for the clouds and stars, but I then realized that the backing on my phone was already white, so I instead used this as an opportunity to design my piece with this in mind, resulting in cut-out holes for the corresponding clouds and stars. 

In order to ensure this sticker would fit my phone, I went to work on measuring out a lot of the dimensions on my phone, and recreating it within Inkscape. This way I could test to see how well my sticker would fit and make any necessary adjustments, while also giving me the ability to just use the Path->Intersection tool when I was ready to cut out the artwork to fit on my phone.

Version 1 of the phone cutout. The top-left hole for the camera proved to be a little too high up, so I lowered it by 0.5mm for the final version.

In hindsight, I definitely would have considered using a more precise tool to find the proper dimensions on the phone instead of just a basic ruler. Luckily, my sticker turned out to match up with my phone quite well! After making some minor adjustments, I setup the artwork for cutting and went to work on creating the sticker.

The sticker, shortly before transferring to the phone.

Attempting to line up the earth elements against the black background proved difficult, but the clear transfer tape was very helpful in ensuring success. Also, one of the members of the Fab Lab recommended that I use small pieces of masking tape to pluck out the small holes for the stars, which saved me a lot of time and effort.

The final version on my phone, which is photographed against a mirror because I managed to make a sticker for the one place that I couldn’t just take a picture of normally!

Overall I’m quite happy with how this sticker turned out. I think the only major flaw in this design was that the white cloud on the left side of the image above results in a cutout that bleeds onto the area of the phone’s fingerprint sensor, which doesn’t look as good as I was hoping. If I were to adjust this piece, I’d work on either moving/deleting that cloud in particular so that the entire sensor area is surrounded by the vinyl sticker.

 

Bonus Entry! 

My roommate was excited about the stickers I brought home from the previous lab session, so I made a laptop sticker for a silhouette of his choice:

My roomate’s laptop, now sporting a black griffin

I was suprised by the difference in the amount of effort it took to make these two stickers. My phone sticker took upwards of 3 hours, but it only took my 3-5 minutes afterward to make the single-layer sticker from start to finish. I’d imagine with an easier piece I could bring down the production time for a multi-color sticker, but for now, I’m going to stick to making stickers for friends that want a single color!

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Ashley Jun – Sticker

Design and build process

With many of the cute examples in class, I knew that I wanted to make something colorful. As a former bubble tea shop worker (and am still obsessed with bubble tea), I decided to create a cartoonish bubble tea sticker. I started off by looking for a general silhouette of a bubble tea cup like this:

I used only the outline and adjusted several aspects like straightening the straw, only keeping one wavy line, and removing the black circles. To add the “cute” aspect to the sticker I added eyes and a small smile. To make this assignment more challenging, I decided to add a word bubble that read “can’t we all just oolong?” My final sketch turned out like this:

I was able to break apart the original image so that the black would be the base and every other shape would overlay it. My final layers were this (I changed white to blue to make it visible):

I separated each layer before printing and adjusted the sizes evenly. Once I printed each one I began to stack each layer with transfer tape:

However, I ran into one major challenge which was the word bubble. I made the letters too small, so it was very difficult to peel back the sticker and layer the white on top of the black. Some of the letters wouldn’t come off so I decided to remove the word bubble entirely and just keep the bubble tea cup.

My final product including the failed attempt at a word bubble turned out like this:

Reflection

Overall, I had a fun time designing and putting together this assignment. I had to think backwards from how I would have to stick each layer to each other and create shapes in Inkscape to account for that. If I were to do this project again, I would definitely use larger letters and also a attempt different colors instead of overlaying white on black to create a black text in white word bubble effect.

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Daniel Shin – Assignment 2: Vinyl Stickers

Motive

Since I am a fan of the recent movie “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” I decided to make a sticker of the main character from that movie. To further complicate my design, I added the arch reactor of iron man on his chest.

 

Design process

I took a screenshot of spider-man directly from the movie myself and found a template of the arch reactor on the internet. I had to trace out the colors by hand since the image did not have clear borders around the colors. Since I am more comfortable using photoshop compared to Inkscape, I used photoshop to do the trick.

I traced out the primary colors by hand, do some cleanups on the edges, and filled the shapes with solid colors.

I went through a similar process to paste the arc reactor on the chest. Added the missing color and cut off the edge a little to make it seem like it is behind the jacket.

Once the image was imported in Inkscape, it was ready to be printed. However, I noticed that the layers of the colors were all messed up in there order and shapes. To challenge my skills with Inkscape, I reshaped each color the way I wanted them to be as a sticker.

Left is what it looked like when I imported the image. Right is when I edited each color parts.

After a short session of printing and assembling the stickers, I was done with my project.

 

Reflection

During the activity, the majority of the time was spent constructing the design in photoshop. The physical works were quick, unlike the name tag project. However, the most challenging part was assembling the stickers. As you can see on my final product, there are air bubbles, and the arch reactor is slightly misplaced. Even though I was using transfer tape and was extremely cautious, it was challenging to make it perfect. 

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Snowball from Overwatch (Vinyl Sticker)

In my free time, I spend it playing a video game called Overwatch. One of the characters (Mei) has a little helper robot called snowball. I wanted to have an Overwatch sticket, so I thought to make my own! All of the pictures I found all had a fair amount of shading (as is seen in the original picture) and some rough edges. I thought I would use this as an opportunity to use inkscape to manipulate it into what I need it to look like.

Original image

To start, I used a color trace method in inkscape , the result was…less than good. I was able to get 4 layers that gave me the primary shapes, but they were very incomplete and distorted. This was going to require a lot of path and node manipulation.

Color traced image

Exploded image of the layers I got

I needed a way to work on each of these layers without moving them so I could see them and then needing to layer by eye or snaps which did not work great due to the odd shape. So, I actually sent each layer to its own inkscape layer, where I could then hide each layer, or expose while I worked on the paths almost like working with transparency film.

Layering in inkscape used to keep everything aligned but still allowed me to work on each path individually.

From here, it was a lot of splicing paths, joining paths, connecting paths, and switching between node types to get a final image that I felt was a good representation of Snowball, but that had all the right path shapes I needed to be cut.

Final look of the illustration

From there it was time to pick out my colors, I got three out of my four colors from the scraps bin, but for the last I had to buy a foot of vinyl.

I then prepared my material by cleaning with some 99% isopropyl alcohol to make sure everything would stick to itself without issue.

My next hurdle was going to be how to apply these layers so they line up as best as possible, my hands are not steady enough and the material not forgiving enough to do this freehand. So I came up with a method to help me. I started by adding a rectangle around the image that I wanted the cutter to cut (ideally all the way through, but I could not find the right depth, and I did not want to risk damaging the machine). This rectangle was unique because it was referenced to the image, so it would be a constant, fixed, and predictable location for every layer. I would cut each layer, then first peel off the vinyls to the outer rectangle, then cut the square backing to match. 

rectangle around whole image

Then remove the unneeded sections to prepare for layering. For my base layer, I secured it to the table with tape, then I would line up the edges of the backing paper of next layer over top of the base layer. Then I would place my transfer tape on top of all of it, making sure to have enough tape at the top that also grabbed the table. 

Then I would peel back the tape using the top part on the table like a hinge, then remove the backing.

Finally, I would just squeegee the tape back over the base layer, therefore depositing my next layer perfectly placed on top of my base. 

This procedure was repeated for each layer, providing me with the finished product.

Overall, I liked how this came out. I am happy my idea for lining up the layers worked as well as it did. In the future, I would use a more sticky tape to affix the base layer to the table. I used the transfer tape itself which I had to be very careful with because it would want to lift up with each layer application, so I had to keep an eye on it and move slowly.

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Ashley Jun Name tag

Design and build process

When discussing this assignment in lab, one of the instructors mentioned that we could make our nametag into whatever shape but preferably not something sharp for obvious reasons. I immediately thought of circles which led to the idea of clouds. Also, though several of the nametag examples given in class were very intricate, I knew that I wanted mine to be very simple as I consider myself as such. After looking through several Google images of cloud silhouettes I thought of layering different pieces of material on top of each other to make the nametag more interesting.

I also decided to add a still from the movie Ponyo which is one of my favorite movies and thought it would fit the almost child-like cloud design. As for my name, I decided to make it a vector on both cloud layers. For the material, I figured that the illustration would be burned into the wood best and decided on a blue acrylic for the top cloud layer.

I superglued both layers after laser cutting them and the final product is pictured below.

Reflection

Considering how I wanted my final product to be very simple, I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Looking back, I wish I had found a different type of wood or possibly stained it to be slightly darker. Also, though I imagined the blue acrylic to be a bit more translucent, I am glad I was at least lucky enough to find a blue material that would contrast with the wood. I’m very thankful I had to help of the staff at the Fab Lab especially when it came to set up the laser and ensuring I had the right color and width for my design. If I had to do this project again, I would reconsider the materials to make my vision come true of a playful and simple nametag.

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Amine Ahmed Yahia – Laser Name Tag

Studio Reflection

First drafts

Second draft

Final draft

 

What were you inspired by?

            I drew inspiration from other projects as well as random google images.

What idea were you building on? How are yours different?

            I built on a standard name tag design and added a cat with swirls.

Did you have all the tools and knowledge you needed?

            Yes I had everything I needed right in front of me.

What were you excited about? What were you worried about?

            I was excited to see the laser machine work but I was also worried I would cause a malfunction.

 

While working on your project:

 

What would help you explain this to a peer?

            It’s almost self-explanatory. I would guide my peer through steps or have them watch a video.

What are some pitfalls others can avoid if they were doing this project too?

            Do not have too many vectors cutting close to one another or they’ll burn.

Why do you care about this?

            The freedom to create/design anything helps me relax and work out my creativity.

Do you do stuff like this at home? Why or why not?

            I make, but I do not have nearly as many resources as I could.

 

After finishing your project:

 

What do you need to learn still in order to meet your goal?

            How to vary the shading intensities.

If you had more time, what would you change?

            I would make my tag a lot more involved and maybe handcraft some shapes.

What were you inspired by?

            Other projects as well as the internet gave me the inspiration I needed to start.

Did you end up encountering someone else’s idea in the process that shaped your work?

            I saw many other ideas and used them as examples, but I did not want to steal ideas.

Who/what helped you?

            The professors helped me remember older tutorials for laser cutters.

At what point did you decide you were going to finish your project?

            When I started working on it, I had already decided to finish it.

What mistakes did you make?

            I burned the swirls because the cuts were too small and grouped close.

What was your goal? Did you meet your goal?

            My goal was to make a unique piece of art with my name on it and I did that exactly

What is something that worked?

            The machine worked for all its intended purposes.

When did you make a revision, and why?

            I made a revision right before printing to add the box cutout that was to be the actual tag.

Name 3 unexpected things that happened

            A file failed to save, I forgot to vector the actual box for the tag, and I burned my kitty ☹.

Describe a “big moment” that moved your project forward.

            When I decided to stay after class to finish. I do not efficiently get work done at home nor on weekends, so I knew my best decision was to stay until I had everything mostly done.

What there a time you doubted you could finish? Why? How did you make it through?

            I doubted myself at the start but fixed myself when I got the ball rolling.

Did you give up? Why? What did you do next?

            No. I just kept adjusting and moving on.

What was the most frustrating part?

            Learning how to physically operate the laser cutter, and it was not even bad.

What did you like?

            Everything from the freedom of choice to the design work on Inkscape.

What bit are you most proud of?

            I was supposed to be proud of the swirls, but they came out wrong. Instead, I like the star cutouts that I could glue back on.

Which part of this was the most fun? Why?

            The most fun part was watching the laser etch and cut. After the difficult creation phase, we get to relax and enjoy the machine as it makes our designs.

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Gianni Pezzarossi – Linux Name Tag

Design and Planning:

For my name tag, I wanted to pick something that not only would represent me, but that I could actually use in my day-to-day life. When I’m not in classes, I am a full-time Linux Systems Administrator for the University’s College of Engineering. As such, I was thought I’d make the name tag have something to do with Linux and computers in general. So I had to start by having the Linux mascot on there, so Tux was used to represent my Linux involvement. I then also used my name converted into ASCII binary and placed it underneath my name in regular ASCII. I also wanted to show that not only was I a Linux enthusiast, but I am also an administrator, so a little command line excerpt from Linux to show that I am root also seemed appropriate. That was for the front. for the back, I figured I could try and get fancy. I added the Commodore logo which was the brand of the first computer I ever used. I also included a QR code that would correspond to a vcard with my contact information. This still seemed to simplistic for me, and I had work-provided name tags that were no real different. So I thought, what if I had it hold my business cards that was I can take it to conferences and have them at the ready! and my idea was born! Finally, I decided to use the same font that is used on most computer terminals, and I downloaded the custom font pack and chose one I liked.

Construction:

To accomplish the ability to hold business cards, I decided to try a three piece construction, a front and back, with a spacer to give room for ~10 cards. The back had a cutout to allow the top edge of the cards to be seen, as well as a finger cutout to make it easier to pull out a card. Earlier ideas had the slot for the cards on the side, but without complicating the design further, it was going to be too easy for the cards to fall out, as such I opted to use gravity to my advantage.

Final set of pieces cut out of 1/8″ clear acrylic on the Universal Laser. Since gluing acrylic can be tricky and I decided to use a mechanical means of fastening the three pieces. This then would also make it such that I could print multiple backs and fronts and swap them out depending on the occasion. Since the software would be far more precise than I could be with a drill, I opted to have the laser vector out the holes for the screws.

In doing this, I did discover that sometimes (either by my hand or a bug with inkscape) my drawing has been nudged by ~1/64″ and since I was working at a precision of 1/32″ I needed to correct this. So a lot of fine detail work and use of inkscape’s snapping tools helped me make sure the three pieces were as identical as I could make them.

Reflection:

Overall, I am quite happy with how it turned out. things I would need to address if I could do it again would be to find a way to give the rasters more contrast since they can be a bit hard to see. Also, my QR code ended up not working, I think due to the contrast issue described. Otherwise, my meticulousness with the measurements was fruitful, everything fit together great, the slot for the cards fits like a glove, yet allows them to be pulled out easily. Furthermore, it was functional as I was able to wear it!

I did add a piece of orange paper (go Illini) to the front to help with contrast. I tried to use paint pens and sharpie to color in the rasters, but I could not get it to look right, so I wiped it all off. Furthermore, printing it in a mirrored manner so that the rasters are actually on the bottom/inside instead of the outside would eliminate the shadowing effect which might make it easier to read.

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Daniel Shin – Assignment 1: Laser Name Tags

Motive & Initial Design

At first, I thought the name tag is a boring topic to work with. I wondered how I would be able to make a name tag to be something interesting and useful at the same time. During the lab section, I heard one of the instructors mentioning the word “maze,” and I immediately came up with an idea for my name tag. I wanted to include a mini-game where a ball would navigate within the maze made of my name. Having a mini-game within the name tag would make my name tag interesting and useful.

The initial design included four layers: base, a maze of my name, solid lid, and the transparent lid.

Construction 1

I encountered two problems during my first construction. First, I had difficulty finding a ball small enough to fit the maze. The smallest ball I was able to find was the head of a pin that I had to cut off the pin, but it wasn’t entirely round and still wasn’t small enough to freely roam around the maze. The second problem was that there wasn’t any glue that would work well with wood and transparent acrylic plastic because it would leave glue marks visible. Also, the glue would spread to the maze itself, causing the ball to stick to the ground preventing it from rolling.

Construction 2

 

On my second design, I added an extra layer that would prevent the transparent lid from falling apart. This way, the lid would stay in place without needing to glue it, which solves one of the problems. I also increased the overall size of the name tag, which allowed the ball to move around freely without needing to find a smaller size ball. I changed the body material of the name tag from acrylic plastic to wood and added extra space on the size, which allowed me to use wood glue and preventing the glue from spreading into the maze. To fill up space on the side, I added some rasters on the side with the shape of a Gameboy which fits the theme. After sanding the edges, I ended up with a clean, functioning name tag with a mini-game function.

 

Reflection

There were two critical things that I learned from this process. First, no matter how good you think the design is, there are going to be flaws and factors that need to be changed. Second, the final product is going to be so much better if it went through the improvement process after the rough draft. I encountered multiple problems during the first construction that I did not expect, such as finding a ball and gluing issues. Once I spent the time to fix the problems I noticed during the first construction, I was able to improve my final product significantly.

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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.

 

Rules:

Setup

  • 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.

 

Attacking

  • 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.

 

Power-ups

  • 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.

 

 

 

[1] https://makezine.com/2016/04/01/what-is-a-maker-you-are/

 

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